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De-Gaussing tape heads

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    Posted: 01 Oct 2017 at 8:42pm
Not sure if this is DIY Audio but I thought it was the most likely section.

I came across my old cassette tapes, I thought a trip to the dump but checking them I realised some of them included some of my favourite albums that I didn't have in any other format.
No problem, I would record them to CD and bring them back to life. Out came the old cassette player.
Disaster, the output from player was muffled and lacked all top frequencies. A clean of the head made little difference. What to do next? Perhaps de-gauss the head but it is not a piece of equipment I have.

Has anybody done this? 
Does it make an improvement? 
Is there a 'best' buy for de-gauss's?

Thanks

Peter
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fatmangolf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Oct 2017 at 8:52pm
Degaussing the heads uses a mains powered iron that you turn on a metre or more from the tape heads and slowly move in, then away again. It is relatively straight forward but other things can cause muffled sound...

Tape fade is one especially if they've been in a warm place. The level meters will show if this is the case. The Dolby noise reduction will cut the treble on lower level signals so I would try some louder cassettes to hear if the sound is brighter. Generally my pre-recorded and metal tapes have fared better if that's any help for you?

Another possibility is the player's mechanism has loosened or the pinch rollers shrunk/perished so not pushing the tape against the head. If your player lets you see the tape and the head, have a good look. If you have another cassette player or a friend's nearby the comparison may help.

Jon

Open mind and ears, whilst owning GSP Genera, Accession, Elevator EXP, Solo UL, Proprius amps, Cusat50 cables, Lautus digital cable, Spatia cables and links. and a Majestic DAC.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fatmangolf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Oct 2017 at 9:00pm
What is your cassette deck Peter?

Jon

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote peterb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Oct 2017 at 9:24pm
Thanks Jon,
I have sort of 'been around the block' with this. 
I have a Technics RS TR575, a Panasonic Walkman copy and an Akai GXC 325D.
I started with the Technics, low and muffled. cleaned no better. I thought the tapes must have died.
Tried the Panasonic and the sound was loud and clear with high frequencies.   ????
Dragged out my dad's old Akai. Again quiet and lacking top.

The Technics and Akai have been in storage in a cold unheated building so they both have been switched on for 24hrs before trying.

The tapes I have been trying are commercial recordings, Queen, Rolling Stones and The Goons!
  
Peter
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fatmangolf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Oct 2017 at 7:56am
I've got a similar model, the TR-474 and used it out a few years ago to play some old tapes. I found some tapes sounded normal and other quiet and dull, unless I turned the Dolby off. Then the music was brighter but with hiss, still relatively quiet. Does your Panasonic Walkman copy have Dolby, ifo so is it switched on?

The degaussing iron I have is like the Anxxxgue Stxxio unit on various websites. They are relatively cheap and worth having one. Ditto for tape head cleaning kit.

Would the service manual for my TR-474 help you at all Peter?

Jon

Open mind and ears, whilst owning GSP Genera, Accession, Elevator EXP, Solo UL, Proprius amps, Cusat50 cables, Lautus digital cable, Spatia cables and links. and a Majestic DAC.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote peterb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Oct 2017 at 9:53am
Thanks, I have the manuals for both the Akai and Technics, the Akai is particularly daunting!
I did try turning off Dolby on them and it gave the brightest sound, but still very poor. The Panasonic doesn't have Dolby.
Without doubt some of the tapes are in poor condition so I am struggling to identify where the problem(s) is/are.I think it is likely a combination of source and equipment. I don't think it is worth investing too much time and money it solving it, that is why I thought an inexpensive degaussing tool could be worthwhile.
The Technics is not too special but the Akai could be worth saving as it has a very good spec.
 
Peter
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Hood/Hart 30W MosFet Integrated amp.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fatmangolf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Oct 2017 at 10:42pm
Sorry Peter I meant the service manuals not the owners manual. It was in case an internal adjustment that might help boost the levels. As my precorded tapes were loud enough I eliminated this option. In your case both decks are doing the same thing so maybe it's a storage environment issue.

Turning off the Dolby on the Technics and Akai giving more treble confirms the levels are low but not why. Odd that both decks have the same problem. All of which is where your diagnosis has obviously got to already. Yes I too would try degausssing in case it helps and it's a good cheap maintenance tool to own if you plan to play cassette tapes in future. I would lend you mine but the postage out and back would probably cost the same as new unit.

Sorry to write this but I presume you have already checked the decks are set for playback of the same tape formulation as your cassettes, presumably ferric or ferro-chrome. If they are manually set on metal or chrome I think the expected levels are higher and so it's worth checking, although I may be wrong on this!

Another suggestion you have probably tried already is to record some music onto a blank cassette using one of the cassette decks, setting correct type and bias etc. Then see how it plays back on the Technics and Akai respectively. My Technics is the model below yours and has a bias setting process using the new tape, then recording with your chosen levels.


Jon

Open mind and ears, whilst owning GSP Genera, Accession, Elevator EXP, Solo UL, Proprius amps, Cusat50 cables, Lautus digital cable, Spatia cables and links. and a Majestic DAC.
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