8-track cartridge

Eight-track quarter-inch endless loop audio tape cartridge
cream-coloured opaque plastic cartridge labelled: capitol 1, 40 minute

8-track audio cartridge

introduction to 8-track cartridge transfer

At Greatbear, we carefully restore and digitise 8-track (aka Stereo 8) audio cartridges.

We offer a range of delivery formats for our audio transfers. We use the International Association of Sound & Audiovisual Archives Guidelines on the Production and Preservation of Digital Audio Objects, delivering 24-bit/96kHz Broadcast WAV files, together with mp3 audio file or audio CD listening versions. We're happy to create any other digital audio files, according to your needs.

We can provide the appropriately-sized usb media for your files, or use media supplied by you, or deliver your files online. Files delivered on hard drive can be for any operating system MacOS, Windows or GNU/Linux and filesystems (HFS+, NTFS or EXT3).

Due to varying tape durations and extent of physical tape degradation, it’s not always appropriate to create fixed prices for our services. We’ve found that assessing tapes prior to confirming costs a more accurate and fair method.

We offer free assessments please contact us to discuss your project.

8-track cartridge machines

Thorpe Grenville TD 145 8-track stereo cartridge player and others.

8-track cartridge format variation

text to be written
end view of cartridge showing brown magnetic tape, with part of silver-coloured cardboard tape box, labelled Scotch 45 Low Noise 'Dynarange'

8-track cartridge close-up, showing ¼ inch / 6.35mm tape

1970s-style cartridge player, brushed steel in wooden box, with blue Bib tape head cleaner cartridge inserted.

(Top) Thorpe Grenville TD 145 8-track stereo cartridge player

cream-coloured cartridge with rulers indicating width by height: 4" × 5¼" × ⅘" (10.2 x 13.3 cm)

8-track cartridge dimensions: 4" × 5¼" × ⅘" (10.2 x 13.3 x 2.2 cm)

8-track cartridge risks & vulnerabilities

8-track and NAB cartridges use ¼ inch analogue magnetic recording tape just like reel-to-reel tapes. This tape is joined as an endless loop with conductive tape between sections or splices for easy and quick access. Because of this, many of the issues that arise with reel-to-reel tape can and do arise over time with 8-track cartridges.

These include mould growth if the tape has been stored in damp or humid conditions, sticky shed syndrome and general oxide shedding. Fortunately these issues are treatable and most tapes can be recovered, but it is a process that is complicated by the endless loop design in the cassette shell.

The best way to recover problem tapes is to remove the tape from the cartridge shell and play it on a ¼ inch reel-to-reel machine with a specially-made repro head for the 8-track format.

8-track cartridge recording history

Eight-track cartridges were a consumer market magnetic tape sound recording technology popular in the United States from the mid-1960s through to the early 1980s. Relatively unknown in many European countries it was, however, popular in the United Kingdom during this period.

The popularity of the highly portable 8-track cartridges grew with the booming automobile industry. Ford fitted the first 8-track tape players in their cars in 1965, and optional 8-track players were available in many cars and trucks through to the early 1980s.

Eight-track players became less common in homes and vehicles in the late 1970s when audio compact cassettes were used more widely. The last eight-track cartridges were phased out of retail stores in the US by 1982.

The eight-track format maintains a cult following with avid collectors even after its demise on the open market.