This Revox B77 (Mark 2) was used for recording and editing our masters. And yes, I did say editing!
Physically cutting tape with a blade & splicing it back together required nerves of steel. There was no undo 🙂
The B77 is one item that I kept stashed away knowing that one day I would need to digitize 11 years of quarter inch recordings!
So, very recently I dug out the B77 from my loft plus the many reels of quarter inch tape stashed away with it, and got to work transferring them to my laptop. Apart from a couple of snapped toggle switches & a dead light bulb in the left record meter, the B77 was in full working order even after all this time.
However, no soon after I started on the first reel, I discovered a phenomena called sticky-shed syndrome. In a nutshell, this where the binding material in the tape has deteriorated making it feel sticky. Some tapes are affected more than others depending on the binding chemicals chosen by the manufacturer. All my quarter inch tapes are Ampex 456 & they have clearly suffered from this problem.
The effect of this syndrome is such that the tape “peels” away from the tape next to it, rather than effortlessly separating, causing friction and potential stretching & damage to the tape surface. With the benefit of hindsight, I should have carried out this exercise about 10 years ago!
However, using isopropyl alcohol I was able to minimize this stickiness & recover most of the recordings with one or two passes. I did this by carefully sandwiching the tape between two alcohol soaked cotton wool balls as the tape rewound. I also had to frequently clean the transport to remove the material that was being “shed”.
There was only one recording I couldn’t recover, Madeline by Graham Layden – the full orchestral mix. Such as pity as I love the string arrangement on that track. Anyone got a copy?