Sound Advice: How to Hold Onto Your Old Reel-to-Reel Audio Memories
March 7, 2019
Time is running out for old reel-to-reel audio tapes. The fragile material wrapped around each reel degrades as the years pass. Don’t wait until irreplaceable memories and invaluable history waste away. Here’s what you need to do to preserve these blasts from the past in an accessible, dependable format for future generations to enjoy.
About Reel-to-Reel Audio
To explain reel-to-reel audio, consider the cassette and its thin magnetic tape on little wheels inside a plastic case. Instead of being protected by a case, reel-to-reel tape, also called open-reel magnetic tape, is exposed on larger spools. The tape runs through a machine and re-wraps around an empty secondary spool when played or rewound.
Reasons to Preserve Your Reel-to-Reel Audio Tapes
The bottom line is that the tape degrades over time, and this older medium has been around for a while already. Also, it’s harder and harder to find reliable “old” equipment to play it on. Now replaced by digital devices, these archaic machines are often dysfunctional or dirty, not somewhere trustworthy you want to place your treasures. By playing the magnetic tape you risk damaging or destroying memories, and possibly a piece of history.
Digital formats make sharing easy and accessible. You may not have an old (or one in working condition) tape machine around to play, but digital audio files are easily shared using laptops, phones, iPads, etc. Imagine how much joy your parents or grandparents will experience listening to these special moments. The now-modernized memories make great birthday or holiday presents!
Transferring Your Treasures
Converting reel-to-reel to a digital format requires the right equipment. If you have an old tape player, great. If not, look on eBay, Craigslist, or at thrift stores. Be sure to check that it’s clean and functioning before inserting the delicate reels. Download audio recording software such as Audacity or SoundStudio that lets you record and edit tape.
To transfer onto your computer, use an analog-to-digital converter. It has input jacks to connect cable from the tape machine. After loading the reel onto the machine, connect the audio-out jacks to the computer’s line-in port. First, record to your hard drive. Once the audio has been digitized and edited you can burn to a CD or upload to share.
To properly preserve your reel-to-reel audio, trust your precious memories to a pro. At Disc Hounds, we have state-of-the-art equipment for the digitizing process. Call us at 610-696-8668 today to start reminiscing the special moments and share them with loved ones.