tape blog

‘Celebrate What?’ St Pauls Carnival 1968, Bristol

A documentary we transferred and created DVD access copies for its director recently. He only had a VHS copy of the 8mm original unfortunately but it’s still a great piece of history about St Pauls, the St Pauls Carnival and Bristol.

If anyone can recognise themselves or anyone else,..

Posted by greatbear in Video Tape, 0 comments

U-matic transfer and video preservation of Bristol reggae band Black Roots

2 u-matic video tapes were discovered of a Black Roots live performance in Bristol in the 1980’s. We were able to restore, digitise and make the umatic transfer of this recording as a high quality, uncompressed Quicktime file then encode and author a DVD for future release by Bristol Archive..

Posted by greatbear in Video Tape, 0 comments

NTSC U-matic transfer of The Members – Solitary Confinement

Unseen to 32 years, although there could possibly be other tapes in the vaults at Abbey Road.
This ntsc umatic transfer to uncompressed quicktime files was a damaged tape that at some point in it’s life had been ‘eaten’ by a greedy u-matic machine! The tape shell also had some..

Posted by greatbear in Video Tape, 0 comments

reel to reel tape transfer of rim drive or capstan free recordings

The capstan drive tape recorder is (or was) very common and was used in a huge range of cassette tape audio, video and open reel machines from cheap domestic to very expensive broadcast tape machines.

Occasionally we receive quarter inch tapes, always be on small 3 inch spools, that reproduce..

Posted by greatbear in Audio Tape, quarter inch tape, tape machines, 1 comment

Video time base corrector self destructing mains socket

We have several time base correctors and frame synchronisers at our disposal. One recent addition is a new old stock (NOS) CEL Tetra. This is an early 1990’s motion adaptive Standards Converter for PAL, SECAM, NTSC 3.58 and NTSC 4.43 systems. A very flexible unit with composite, Y/C (S-Video),..

Posted by greatbear in Video Tape, 1 comment

tape repair and restoration

We often receive enquiries about audio and video tape that is not in the best condition having been stored in humid conditions, suffering from binder hydrolysis (sticky shed) or not wound on it’s reel well but we were surprised when we received this tape recently.

It literally is a bag..

Posted by greatbear in Audio Tape, 2 comments

Switch mode power supply (SMPSU) repair in For-a FA-310P time base corrector

We use time base correctors and frame synchronizers all the time in the transfer and digitising of analogue video tape.

One of our more flexible and high quality units had recently developed an annoying and very obvious fault on it’s video outputs. While the unit was working there were..

Posted by greatbear in reel to reel video, Video Tape, 1 comment

Audio data recovery from external USB drive using ddrescue

High resolution audio and video digital tape conversions can use large amounts of computer storage. 8 bit uncompressed Standard Definition (SD) PAL video runs at 70 GB per hour and 24 bit 96 kHz audio files at 2 GB per hour.

As a result of this many of our analogue to digital tape transfers..

Posted by greatbear in Audio Tape, GNU / Linux, Information Technology, Video Tape, 0 comments

Powerful tape conversion tools using SoX, LAME and Bash Scripting

One of our recent and ongoing jobs is a very large, over 2000, NAB 10.5 inch reel to reel archive of quarter inch professional tape recordings.

To fit into the budget but maintain quality we needed to find a way to streamline our workflow in converting the high resolution 24 bit 96 Khz master..

Posted by greatbear in Audio Tape, GNU / Linux, quarter inch tape, 1 comment

HTC Desire in the toilet

Not our normal type of post but the new HTC Desire Android smart phone has been so useful with it’s open source applications, fast speed and wifi that I couldn’t believe I’d just put the phone in my shirt pocket and leant over the toilet!

Panicking, I fished it out and messed..

Posted by greatbear in Information Technology, 1 comment

Replace Tascam BR 20 Capstan Belt

We have two of these excellent machines in addition to our Sony APR 5003 and Studer A80’s. The Tascam BR-20 was Tascam’s last and top of the range 1/4 inch reel to reel tape machine and available in two track stereo and stereo with centre timecode option.

The capstan drive in the..

Posted by greatbear in Audio Tape, quarter inch tape, tape machines, 2 comments

Tascam BR 20 reel to reel new in box (not for sale)

This is something you don’t see everyday! An almost unused and boxed 1/4″ 2 track reel to reel tape machine, a Tascam BR20 one of their highest quality machines sometimes installed with a Timecode head for broadcast and editing applications.

This machine somehow turned up at an..

Posted by greatbear in Audio Tape, 12 comments

JVC PV-4800E 1/2 inch EIAJ colour portable video recorder

A recent addition to our video arsenal is this rare 1976 vintage 1/2″ colour reel to reel machine.

This has needed some work to get it functioning well such as new belts, hardened grease cleaned off the mechanism, etc but is now able to transfer colour recordings made in this format of..

Posted by greatbear in reel to reel video, Video Tape, 0 comments

Information Terminals M-300, cassette tape transport alignment gauge

The regular service of analogue machines which will involve the mechanical alignment then electrical alignment / calibration is really important if you’re attempting to get optimum transfers and reduce any risk of damaging the potentially fragile tape.

While some of our machines are serviced..

Posted by greatbear in Audio Tape, 7 comments

U-matic transfer to DVD, Uncompressed Quicktime and Digi Beta

We’ve been honored recently to have won a large contract to help in the digital migration of an extensive educational video archive by the transfer from U-matic archive copies to uncompressed video files.

While the archive had been stored in an suitable environment and rarely if at all..

Posted by greatbear in GNU / Linux, Video Tape, 10 comments

DVD video restoration / editing helps convict serial Bristol flytipper

greatbear recently helped the Streetscene section of Bristol City Council in an investigation in a serial flytipper.

DVD footage of the flytipper had been taken by a member of the public of flytipping activity but this DVD had other unrelated footage on that needed removal. The DVD was also..

Posted by greatbear in Video Tape, 0 comments

Microcassette Transfer to CD helps Crown Court case

We’ve recently been happy to be involved, with Mobray Woodwards Solicitors,  in the audio transfer of important evidence in a  local Crown Court case.

Even given the poor quality or the recordings, made on the slowest tape speed of 1.2 cm/s we were able to make transfers to CD which..

Posted by greatbear in Audio Tape, 0 comments

Video Tape Transfer, Copy to DVD, DV or uncompressed AVI

Over the last 12 months we’ve seen this side of our business grow and adapt to the range of transfer needs that individuals, businesses and media creation organisations have.

We are able to support a wide range analogue and digital, consumer and professional video formats from the late..

Posted by greatbear in Video Tape, 0 comments

Focusrite Saffire LE SPDIF problems

I’ve owned one of these Saffire LE firewire interfaces for a few years now and it’s very useful as a backup to my RME interfaces especially when I need to record and transfer audio at another location as it’s small, light and portable. It’s a very good sounding interface and ..

Posted by greatbear in Audio Tape, Information Technology, 0 comments

Acer 1360 laptop motherboard replacement

I recently had a dead Acer 1360 laptop on my hands.

The power supply tested fine so it seemed likely the main board was at fault. This is a one piece board and of course it requires a full dismantling of the laptop to remove and replace.

I took a chance on an eBay board that arrived..

Posted by greatbear in Information Technology, 6 comments

how not to pack a reel to reel

I use eBay alot. I have to, nobody makes new tape machine anymore and about two or three years ago it took over from the local freeads papers as a way to sell things you didn’t want.

I recently bought an old Teac X7 4 track 1/4″ reel to reel. Seemed like a good deal and I took a..

Posted by greatbear in Audio Tape, 0 comments

service manuals on eBay

Are you fed up of sifting through all the, often Public Domain, PDF Service Manuals listed on eBay?

Apart from the fact that as many of them are public domain they are freely available to download they get in my way on searches for interesting old stuff. Take a search on Studer tonight, over..

Posted by greatbear in Audio Tape, 1 comment

reel to reel transfer

Over the last few years we’ve gradually built up our equipment inventory so we can now offer a wide range of audio and video transfers.

We’re very happy to offer all track formats and speeds of 1/4 inch reel to reel tape transfer.

15 inches per second (ips) and 7.5 ips speeds..

Posted by greatbear in Audio Tape, 1 comment

Tascam 234 4 track cassette capstan belt replacement

I’ve had these belts sitting around for a few months now and they’ve finally come around on my to do list. Thinking this would be nice and easy like the Teac C-3x belts I whipped the cover off my 234 eager to put it back to work transferring those thousands of undiscovered bedroom gems..

Posted by greatbear in Audio Tape, 25 comments

Teac C-3x capstan belt

I recently ordered and replaced the capstan and counter belt on this cassette deck. These parts are easily available from Fred Marrs who sells a huge range of correctly sized replacement belts through his eBay shop. He has even gone to the lengths of remanufacturing the Nakamichi OC 8096 capstan belt..

Posted by greatbear in Audio Tape, Video Tape, 13 comments

PC World terrible customer service and support

A customer recently came to me after an unhelpful, incorrect and ultimately expensive experience at PC World.

Their Dell Inspiron laptop had stopped working, after initially refusing to look at it, the ‘tech’ person grudgingly agreed after a complaint to his manager. After being..

Posted by greatbear in Information Technology, 0 comments

Advent 7055 laptop overheating repair

Just recently I’d been asked to repair what seems to be a common problem with PC type laptops over a couple of years old. Dust gets trapped in the copper fins and the fan of the CPU heatsink and reduces the efficiency of the cooling resulting in regular power off’s by the laptop as it..

Posted by greatbear in Information Technology, 3 comments

moisture damaged vhs tape

Recently a customer sent me a VHS tape for transfer which looked like this:

I didn’t even attempt to play it in my machines as I didn’t want to be cleaning the transport all day but I did find an interesting U.S. based company that specialises in restoration of very damaged video..

Posted by greatbear in Video Tape, 0 comments

blank tapes….

Growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s I had a lot of these and still do but they’re covered in my scrawly handwriting unlike the fine collection here:


I think this is originally form a Japanese site that ‘disappeared’..

Posted by greatbear in Audio Tape, 0 comments