The most fundamental, necessary is to clean the heads and tape path of the tape recorder regularly.
Open Reel Tape Handling
The first thing to know about handling magnetic open reel tapes is that reel-to-reel tapes should be stored “tails-out.” This means that the end of the recording is at the outer edge of the reel. A tape that is stored tails-out is placed on the take-up (right) side of the machine and rewound before playback. For storage, the bit of tape that dangles from the reel should be secured to the reel flange with a short piece of low-adhesive “hold-down” tape specially made for this purpose. Blue tape indicates the tape is stored tails-out; red tape means the tape is stored heads-out.
Why should tape be stored tails-out rather than heads-out?
A phenomenon called “print-through” causes the magnetic field on one layer of tape to partially magnetize the layer it is pressed against in the tightly wound pack around the reel. In severe cases, you can hear print-through as a “ghost” of a signal, particularly if there’s a quiet passage where the print-through occurs. If the tape is stored heads-out, the print-through occurs before the recorded signal, making it much more audible. Tails-out storage doesn’t reduce print-through, but the print-through is more easily masked when it occurs after, rather than before, the wanted signal.
Caring For The Tape
Tape should always be stored ‘tail-out’ to prevent print-through. Keep away from any magnetic field such as speakers. Clean and demagnetize the tape recorder heads regularly. Store in a dry place. The ideal environment is between 154C-26″C (59’F-78’F) and Relative Humidity of 45%-70%. Open-Reel tapes are best stored in a constant-temperature and low-humidity environment. Keep them away from strong magnetic fields, including loudspeakers with their powerful magnets. It’s a good idea to put leader tape at the head of the tape. This non-magnetic plastic tape allows you to handle the tape for threading through the transport without having to handle the tape itself. Leader tape can also be inserted between tracks to make it easier to find the starts of songs. You’ll need a splicing block, razor blade, leader tape and splicing tape specially made for this purpose.
Cleaning Heads and Tape Path
All the parts of the tape path that come in contact with the tape must be cleaned on a regular basis as frequently as every hour of play, depending on the tape formulation. Some of the oxide on the tape “sheds,” leaving a brown deposit on the idlers, heads, capstan, and pinch roller. Disconnect the machine from mains electricity and set it flat on a table so that you can see the tape path easily. Remove the head cover of the machine. This is usually achieved by evenly pulling the cover upwards, but sometimes there are a couple of screws to be undone first. Some machines have two covers to give excellent access to the heads and guides. Be careful on older machines as plastic parts often become brittle with age.
A Q-tip mounted on a wooden stick dipped in some isopropyl will do the trick, but you should not use 99% type of isopropyl on the rubber pinch roller, which will cause it to dry out. Keep the Q-tips and cleaning solution right next to the reel tape recorder and get in the habit of giving the tape path and heads a quick clean on a regular basis. Do not leave the cotton buds or the isopropyl alcohol lying around, as they can both be dangerous if mishandled. Two more very useful items are a tiny dentist's mirror and a strong working light. You can use a magnifying glass as well, to get a really clear view of the tiniest parts. Never use any metallic tools anywhere near the tape path. Pay attention to the guides where the tape touches first on it's journey from the supply spool.
It is the best practice to demagnetise or degauss the heads and guides of any tape recorder regularly to reduce the possibility of permanently magnetised parts, which can cause hiss, crackles and loss of high frequencies. Tape heads and metal parts in the tape path build up a residual magnetism that must be removed with a tape-head demagnetizer, also called a “de-gausser.” Residual magnetism on the tape heads and metal parts will gradually erase high frequencies from the tape. You must use extreme caution when bringing a demagnetizer near a tape machine. The demagnetizer must be turned on and turned off well away (several feet) from the machine or the sudden powerful turn-on or turn-off pulse can permanently magnetize any metal parts near it. After being turned on at a distance from the machine, the demagnetizer is moved very, very slowly over the metal idlers, tape guides, and heads, and then moved away from the machine very slowly before being turned off. The idea is to gradually randomize the magnetic domains until the net result is no magnetization.
What’s old is new again - Nothing sounds sonically better than reel-to-reel tape
The truly HiFi audio systems usually had an audio tape recorder and for decades, right through to the 1990s, magnetic audio tape wound across a pair of open reels was the established medium for master recordings in the music world.
Listening to music on reel-to-reel tape will allow you to discover details in the music you were never able to hear before. Nothing sounds better than music on audio reel-to-reel tape.
This is a high-fidelity audio tape recording offering a new experience in analogue recorded sound. It is capable of providing the reproduction of the highest possible sound quality. To help you obtain the best results from these remarkable recordings a few details are given below.
Playing Master Copy 15IPS 2-Tracks Tape
The tape tail out! Before playback, please rewind the tape to the start and then play it. Always only use good quality NAB Adapters.
Happy Listening Music On Reel-To-Reel Tape - Long Live Analog!