Audio Tape Digitisation Workflow

1.1. Inspect for damage

Visual inspection of an original tape may reveal physical and chemical problems that will need to be dealt with to preserve the tape and to capture the best-possible signal from it. The physical and chemical problems may even lead to serious damage during replay.

First analysis of general condition after opening the box: Smell the tape to see if it smells of vinegar (but only with tapes not showing signs of mould - health risk!). Vinegar smell is caused by acetic acid that is given off due to a decay process commonly called the Vinegar Syndrome.

Inspect the tape visually for any mechanical or physical damage:
Document unusual findings (i.e., take photos). If the tape is obviously damaged and you have not been trained to deal with the damage, consult an expert!

Attention: Do not rewind or even play precarious tapes! The result may be total breakdown.

Specs Bros: Basic Inspection Techniques to Sample the Condition of Magnetic Tape

Capturing Analog Sound for Digital Preservation: Report of a Roundtable Discussion of Best Practices for Transferring Analog Discs and Tape

National Media Laboratory: Magnetic Tape Storage and Handling

Richard L. Hess: Winding tapes for long-term storage

Gerald D Gibson: Magnetic tape deterioration: recognition, recovery and prevention

AHDS: Creating Digital Audio Resources. A Guide to Good Practice

Chemical windig problem
Chemical winding problem

Acetate deformation
Acetate deformation

Oxide shedding
Oxide shedding
Tape breakdown
Tape breakdown

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