[sdiy] OT Tape play heads

Phillip Gallo philgallo at gmail.com
Mon Apr 30 02:28:35 CEST 2018

Sounds like a fun project.

The fidelity of playback audio depends in a major way upon:
-Playback vs. original recording rate of travel for the tape,
-Matching alignment of tape orientation for record/playback,
-Degree of intimacy between tape and and tape head gap.

Would seem to me the bow methodology frustrates all the above but most
likely in an interesting and highly listenable way.

As to tape head it would be my guess that a Full-Track Mono playback head
would be the best solution to reduce output variation due to tape
I doubt a transcription quality head vs. a commercial audio head would
provide much difference and mono heads in the transcription arena are
easier to source.
I've assumed you are using a 1/4" tape format due to your mention of Reel
to Reel.

I had the thought that if you record with a stereo format that differing
angular approaches to the mono head could vary well result in interesting
timbral change, at least to some degree.

The speed of the recorded material vs. playback rate would seem to be an
interesting issue.  When you drag the bow slowly,  high-frequency record
bias could enter the audio frequency range.
If you record at 15ips vs 1- 7/8ips ( pls. excuse the S.O.M) manual bowing
(playback) would produce very different sounds for an identical recorded
audio target.

As to the electronics, two crucial characteristics govern the frequency
response for output, tape rate of travel and the heads natural 6dB/8ve
roll-off.   Since you have a variable rate for tape movement it could be
that just compensating for the head response, rolling off high end at a
frequency you just might empirically determine, is the way to go.

Lots of opportunities for fun!  Don't hesitate to post some audio and keep
us up to date on progress.

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