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Dave's Music

If I'm listening to the radio here in Colorado Springs, I am almost certainly listening to KEPC.

Or else I may well be listening to one of my tapes:

Cassettes:A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

I have been recording cassettes for nearly 30 years now, and have been maintaining a list of them on computers (an Apple ][, a Z80 Altos (192K RAM, 3-user!), then a 286, and now a 486-80) for the past 19 years. The vast majority of these recordings are of much higher quality than those run off at high speed on marginal media by the record companies, by paying close attention to a few details...

One 'trick' is to set record levels much lower than you might imagine. Remember that the frequency response of your cassette recorder is specified at -20 dB! And even the best cassette decks in the world, using the best cassette tapes in the world, can only reproduce out to about 16 KHz once the record level has risen to -4 dB. So when you record your tapes with the meters peaking up in the red, consider that, during those loud passages/instants, frequencies above 10 KHz are simply not being reproduced; the tape is saturated. As such, I try to drastically limit the amount of recording time during which my meters are above -4 dB (with respect to the Dolby level; there's probably a "double-D" emblem at either 0 or +3 on your meters).

Another 'trick' is to avoid recording on a deck that does not provide a front-panel record-sensitivity adjustment. Otherwise the deck cannot possibly compensate for the varying efficiencies of the various tapes that will be used, which will result in Dolby 'mis-tracking'.

And the last trick is to pay very careful attention to the azimuth setting of the tape head(s). Decks come from manufacturers set "all over the place", which can wreak havoc with high-frequency performance when played back on other equipment. Dolby has set more stringent standards for head positioning in those decks equipped with Dolby 'S', but it is still important to make sure that the azimuth is set compatibly with (hopefully) all the tapes in your collection.

So now there are well over 1000 titles in my collection. Sometimes, when away from home (like, say, in a record store) I want to know the quality/condition of my copy of a particular album. Well, for years I needed a terminal and a modem and a phone line that could call home. Now, I can retrieve my tapes data from anywhere with web access (if I've forgotten to bring along my HPC, that is).

The three columns without headings are for quality (recording[0-9]/tape[alpha code]), if the tape is erasable/why[alpha code], and which Dolby NR system was used.

During the '90s, I began using Dolby 'C'. While 'B' was sufficient for recording LPs, with all their surface noises, the extra measure of hiss reduction afforded by 'C' seemed more appropriate for capturing CDs. But now that over 1/3 of my collection is 'C'-encoded, I've finally found a cassette deck whose implementation of Dolby 'S' is impeccable, and have begun encoding nearly everything I record with Dolby 'S'. 'S' does not provide very much more hiss reduction than 'C', it mainly just seems to do it's job more transparently, with the added benefit of sounding better on playback equipment that has no Dolby, or Dolby 'B' only.

A good Dolby 'S' recording with good equipment is virtually impossible to distinguish from the original source. So guess how eager I was to invest in DAT or any other recordable audio medium! So it's taken me 'forever' to finally begin recording CDs...

Now, if only someone could inform me of a source of a good solid affordable chest of drawers custom-made to hold audio cassettes, I'd have more room to fill with discs.

Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Trades? Flames? Send them to me! Hear for yourself!

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