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did pre-recorded reel to reel tapes sound boomy ?  

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Someone recently sent me a CD-R copy of a pre-recorded
reel to reel tape...

Harry Nilsson album from 1972...

The CD-R sounded extremely boomy... way way too
much bass.

I ended up changing my receiver set-up from
"5 large speakers - no sub-woofer" to "5 small
speakers plus sub" in hope that I could eliminate
some of the bass (I don't have a subwoofer -
so telling my amp that I do - was a deliberate
lie :-) )

That helped - but I still thought the bass
was way overboard.

I made a comment to the guy who made the CD-R
and he said "all reel to reel tapes sound
boomy" and he assured me that he didn't
go nuts with an equalizer...

Does anyone have an idea why this is happening ?

Seems like something somewhere isn't calibrated
or there's an equalization curve that's missing -
much like you would get with a turn-table...

I know they used to purposely notch down the
bass when cutting an album because bass corresponds
into wider grooves (i.e. less time) and the
pre-amp or receiver was responsible for boosting
it back...

But the only reason I can seem to think that
a reel to reel would typically sound very
bass heavy was because the engineer was
so happy that he didnt have to worry about
vinyl problems - that he would go a little
crazy and "show off" - much like a lot of
people do today with a sub-woofer (which
are greatly mis-used in my opinion)

Or did I uncover some generic problem with
my speakers that heretofore has gone un-noticed ?

Not sure if the tape was 3.5 ips or 7 ips.
post #2 of 5
A "properly" recorded open reel tape should not sound bass-heavy. There are several things that could have go awry to reduce the high-frequency response and contribute to a bassy sound ("bassy" is a term that is used to describe a sound that is lacking in high-frequency energy, and subsequently sounds "bass-heavy.")

1. The tape is very old and has become partially degaussed. When self-erasure occurs the highs are the first thing to go.

2. The tape has been played until worn-out, causing a loss of HF response.

3. The playback head is worn (bye-bye highs...)

4. The playback EQ is not set correctly (open reel decks, like cassette decks, incorporate both record EQ and playback EQ at low-frequencies and at high-frequencies. There are internal adjustments for all. Playback EQ and head azimuth are set while playing a calibration tape. Record EQ, record head azimuth and record bias frequency and bias depth are set while recording test tones on a tape stock of choice for good playback on a deck which has been previously calibrated for playback.)

5. The CD dub was made while playing the wrong side of the tape (Don't laugh...I've seen people do this!)

There does exist the possibility that the pre-recorded (distributed by the record label, not dubbed from an LP by someone) was high-speed duplicated incorrectly by the distributor and suffered excessive HF loss (a certain amount of HF loss plus azimuth error would be expected in high-speed dubbing but not and excessive amount if it was done correctly with properly aligned decks.)



[This message has been edited by Dave McRoy (edited 05-17-2001).]
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
I hear what you're saying about the loss of high
frequencies... and I understand how this would
increase the perception that there was more bass...

But in my case - I'd say it sounds more like
a sub-woofer that's been turned up way too loud.

The person who sent me the CD-R assures me that
the reel-to-reel deck was set-up correctly.

In any case, I thought it was interesting that
he's heard this comment before - perhaps from
other people who've traded tapes and played the
tapes on different machines...
post #4 of 5

I used to own reel to reel tapes from that era and many were EQ'd "bass heavy" as you describe. Much different than their LP counterpart. I don't know why.

post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Were there some pre-recorded tapes that escaped
this phenomena ?

I'm thinking maybe the market for pre-recorded
reel to reel tapes was so small - no one ever
bothered to address the problem...

It would seem like it would be a hassle to produce
different master tapes for different formats - and
I'm thinking maybe it was easy to use the wrong
one... I could imagine an engineer EQing some
extra bass onto a master tape if he was trying
to defeat the RIAA curve - which would pull the
bass down when the vinyl master was cut...

So if the master tape for vinyl was the same
master used for a reel to reel - you could get
a problem...
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AVS › AVS Forum › Audio › Speakers › did pre-recorded reel to reel tapes sound boomy ?