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New Cassette Tapes vs Old Cassette Tapes, New cassettes keep getting chewed up but old ones play fine
geoff_hano
post Apr 3 2014, 05:09
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Hi there
So, I have recently begun purchasing new albums on cassette because I have a tape deck in my '94 Pontiac Trans Sport (his name is Leonard) and also because it's a really cool and cheap throwback alternative when I get sick of streaming stuff off of my iPhone.

Anyway, the same day I bought my first new cassette, I also purchased an old, used Michael Bolton tape (don't laugh. okay, laugh. it's awesome though).

Inserted my first new cassette and the pitch was instantly higher than the album usually is (I'd heard this album before). Then, after a few minutes, it started doing the wonky fade-in-and-out thing. Played it a second time and played fine, pitch and all. Now, the whole cassette plays horribly and the reels are visibly uneven looking in the preview pane (not flat).

Popped in the Michael Bolton as a control in my experiment: played just fine.

Thought maybe the record company just did a sloppy job on this "limited (to 500) edition cassette version" of the new album.

Purchased another new cassette after a concert ($5!). Played fine the first time through the whole album.
Went to play it again: wonky, warbly fade-in-and-out syndrome.
Again, popped in old MB tape: he plays fine.

When i flip the cassette over and look at where the tape is running across the bottom, the new cassettes look cut-up or "stamped," if you will, with this arrow/chevron pattern incision...like someone took an arrow shaped cookie cutter to them: ">>>>>>>" <something like that.
Old Michael Bolton tape? Smooth and tight as can be.

Any ideas whats going on here?

Few things to note:
--deck is auto-reverse and OEM.
--chewed up cassettes are new, intact cassette is vintage (late 80s i believe)
--have tried rewinding and starting tapes over again to maybe "re-tighten" them, if that might've been the issue.
--have "sort-of" tried cleaning deck; i have a cleaner cassette with bristles, but no alcohol spray, so i moisten them with a little spit first.

Thanks so much for all your help and sorry if a bit verbose, but thought i'd be thorough so I'm not leading people to slowly draw info out of me bit by bit.
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Glenn Gundlach
post Apr 3 2014, 09:27
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QUOTE (geoff_hano @ Apr 2 2014, 20:09) *
<snip>

--have "sort-of" tried cleaning deck; i have a cleaner cassette with bristles, but no alcohol spray, so i moisten them with a little spit first.

Thanks so much for all your help and sorry if a bit verbose, but thought i'd be thorough so I'm not leading people to slowly draw info out of me bit by bit.


I hope you're kidding about the spit.

G
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probedb
post Apr 3 2014, 09:45
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Have you tried these tapes in a proper cassette deck? I.e. not one in an old car? Car cassette players were never the best.
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2Bdecided
post Apr 3 2014, 10:13
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The pinch roller in the car deck is almost certainly dirty and maybe perished. You need to clean it properly. That's quite tricky in most car cassette players. You can/could get decent cleaning tapes (most are complete crap - running a slightly abrasive tape through the mechanism doesn't help!) which properly clean the roller with a captive cotton-bud / q-tip kind of thing.

This is good:
http://www.neal.co.uk/products/CleaningCassette.htm

This won't help:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/comm...HeadCleaner.jpg

If it's slightly sticky, it might stick more to some kinds of tapes than others. If it's perished, you'll need to replace it.

You're certainly getting the authentic cassette experience though! wink.gif

Cheers,
David.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Apr 3 2014, 13:09
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QUOTE (geoff_hano @ Apr 3 2014, 00:09) *
Hi there
So, I have recently begun purchasing new albums on cassette because I have a tape deck in my '94 Pontiac Trans Sport (his name is Leonard) and also because it's a really cool and cheap throwback alternative when I get sick of streaming stuff off of my iPhone.

Anyway, the same day I bought my first new cassette, I also purchased an old, used Michael Bolton tape (don't laugh. okay, laugh. it's awesome though).

Inserted my first new cassette and the pitch was instantly higher than the album usually is (I'd heard this album before). Then, after a few minutes, it started doing the wonky fade-in-and-out thing. Played it a second time and played fine, pitch and all. Now, the whole cassette plays horribly and the reels are visibly uneven looking in the preview pane (not flat).

Popped in the Michael Bolton as a control in my experiment: played just fine.

Thought maybe the record company just did a sloppy job on this "limited (to 500) edition cassette version" of the new album.

Purchased another new cassette after a concert ($5!). Played fine the first time through the whole album.
Went to play it again: wonky, warbly fade-in-and-out syndrome.
Again, popped in old MB tape: he plays fine.

When i flip the cassette over and look at where the tape is running across the bottom, the new cassettes look cut-up or "stamped," if you will, with this arrow/chevron pattern incision...like someone took an arrow shaped cookie cutter to them: ">>>>>>>" <something like that.
Old Michael Bolton tape? Smooth and tight as can be.

Any ideas whats going on here?


In the old days cassette tape coatings included whale oil lubricants which by most accounts were superior lubricants. They were replaced with a variety of synthetics, many of which cause problems such as sticky shed:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sticky-shed_syndrome

http://www.richardhess.com/tape/history/HE...ournal_39-2.pdf
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DVDdoug
post Apr 3 2014, 19:07
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A CD player wouldn't be "inappropriate" for 1994. I've got a '94 van that I bought in late 1993. It came with a cassette player, but I soon replaced it with a CD player. I think it was still 1994. Now,the van has a diskless head unit that works with my iPod.

Most-likely the problem is the tape deck. I don't know if it's even possible to get it repaired, and it's unlikely that having it repaired would be economical. (My diskless head unit cost a little more than $100 USD).

I'm not sure if your car is old enough, but you can buy "vintage look" CD players. Check out VintageCarRadio.com.

QUOTE
...when I get sick of streaming stuff off of my iPhone.
Does your iPhone plug-into your car stereo? If not, as a "cheap compromise" you can get a Cassette Adapter. The adapter will work as long as the electrical part of your cassette player is working.
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southisup
post Apr 8 2014, 15:48
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Apr 3 2014, 19:13) *
The pinch roller in the car deck is almost certainly dirty

Note there will be two pinch rollers in an auto reverse deck.
While I recommend following David's advice, the job can certainly be done by hand - with patience and determination. You just need isopropyl alcohol and cotton buds. And maybe a head torch.
Trigger the play mechanism with a finger, and wait to see if it auto stops after a few seconds. If it does then you'll have to carry out the whole pinch roller cleaning process while simultaneously turning the take-up reel turner (can't remember its name) with a spare finger.
To clean the rubber pinch rollers, wet a cotton bud with IPA and rub whichever roller is moving until it's clean - this could take several cotton buds. If the cotton bud jams between the roller and capstan, press stop and eject.
Repeat for the other roller by reversing the play direction.
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pdq
post Apr 8 2014, 16:12
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The biggest problem with pinch rollers may not be dirt. In the hot environment of a car the rubber will gradually lose its plasicizer and become hardened, so that no longer has enough friction against the capstan and the tape. This would then cause slippage, and stuttering during playback.

There are products that restore, to some extent, the plasticizer in polymers, but I don't recall ever hearing that recommended for restoring pinch rollers. Note, however, that solvents like IPA could have the opposite effect, further removing plasticizer.
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