Digitizing Reel to Reel Audio Tapes


Reel-to-Reel tape deck

One of the earliest forms of audio recording tape are reel to reel, or open-reel magnetic tape. Those who still have music or voice recordings from the 1950s and 60s on reel to reel audio tapes hold a bit of history in their home—or closets, wherever the giant reels may be hiding. In order to save these precious memories and nostalgic collections, it’s time to consider digitizing reel to reel tape.

Why Digitizing Reel to Reel Audio is Important

If you own any audio on reel to reel tapes, it could contain the voices of your family, friends, or music popular back in that time. The fragile tape wound on these wheels grow even more delicate as time goes by, making them harder to play, and eventually harder to transfer. The brittle tape can break during the process, diminishing the quality of sound.

Plus, these reels are large. It’s not like like the pocket-sized cassette tapes that came after them. The tapes are wound around a spindle, and there’s no protective case to shield it like cassettes have. Storing your collection of old reels will also require something bigger than a shoebox.

How to Digitize Reel to Reel Tapes

Transferring audio from a reel is easy if you have the right equipment. There are tape recorders available that will transfer reel to reel audio to a blank CD. Thread the fragile tape through the deck carefully and use headphones or speakers to hear what you’re recording. This also allows you to hear if the tape accidentally breaks during the recording session.

Depending on the type of recorder you’re using, you can hook it up to a computer, a sound mixer, or another external recorder that transfers the sound onto a hard drive or SD card. Then you can edit the recordings with software and save to a CD or DVD.

Let the Pros Handle the Hard Work

To save yourself from buying equipment you may only use once, or the hassle of working with finicky tape, put your precious tapes into the hands of professionals. Bring the beloved sounds of the 50s and 60s into this century and save the memories forever.