Tapes were initially made of paper coated with magnetite powder. American audio engineer John T. Mullin and entertainer Bing Crosby were key players in the commercial development of magnetic tape. Mullin served in the U. His unit was assigned to find out everything they could about German radio and electronics, including the investigation of claims that the Germans had been experimenting with high-energy directed radio beams as a means of disabling the electrical systems of aircraft.
Mullin's unit soon amassed a collection of hundreds of low-quality magnetic dictating machines, but it was a chance visit to a studio at Bad Nauheim near Frankfurt while investigating radio beam rumours, that yielded the real prize. Mullin was given two suitcase-sized AEG 'Magnetophon' high-fidelity recorders and fifty reels of recording tape.
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He had them shipped home  and over the next two years he worked on the machines constantly, modifying them and improving their performance. His major aim was to interest Hollywood studios in using magnetic tape for movie soundtrack recording. Mullin gave two public demonstrations of his machines, and they caused a sensation among American audio professionals; many listeners literally could not believe that what they heard was not a live performance.
He arranged for Mullin to meet Crosby and in June he gave Crosby a private demonstration of his magnetic tape recorders. Bing Crosby , a top movie and singing star, was stunned by the amazing sound quality and instantly saw the huge commercial potential of the new machines.
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Live music was the standard for American radio at the time and the major radio networks didn't permit the use of disc recording in many programs because of their comparatively poor sound quality. Crosby disliked the regimentation of live broadcasts 39 weeks a year,  preferring the recording studio's relaxed atmosphere and ability to retain the best parts of a performance. He had asked NBC to let him pre-record his —45 series on transcription discs , but the network refused, so Crosby had withdrawn from live radio for a year.
ABC agreed to let him use transcription discs for the —47 season, but listeners complained about the sound quality. Mullin's tape recorder came along at precisely the right moment. Crosby realised that the new technology would enable him to pre-record his radio show with a sound quality that equalled live broadcasts, and that these tapes could be replayed many times with no appreciable loss of quality.
Mullin was asked to tape one show as a test and was immediately hired as Crosby's chief engineer to pre-record the rest of the series. Crosby's season premier on 1 October was the first magnetic tape broadcast in America. The taped Crosby radio shows were painstakingly edited through tape-splicing to give them a pace and flow that was wholly unprecedented in radio.
Mullin even claims to have been the first to use "canned laughter"; at the insistence of Crosby's head writer, Bill Morrow, he inserted a segment of raucous laughter from an earlier show into a joke in a later show that hadn't worked well. Soon other radio performers were demanding the ability to prerecord their broadcasts with the high quality of tape, and the recording ban was lifted.
Poniatoff , whose initials became part of the company name soon became the world leader in the development of tape recording, revolutionising radio and recording with its famous Model tape deck, issued in and developed directly from Mullin's modified Magnetophons. The BBC acquired some Magnetophon machines in on an experimental basis, and these were used in the early stages of the new Third Programme to record and play back performances of operas from Germany live relays being problematic because of the unreliability of the landlines in the immediate post-war period.
These machines were used until , though most of the work continued to be done using the established media; but from a new British model became available from EMI: the BTR1. Though in many ways clumsy, its quality was good, and as it wasn't possible to obtain any more Magnetophons it was an obvious choice. The BBC didn't have any multi track tapes. They would copy them onto another tape.
It became the standard in recording channels rooms for many years, and was in use until the end of the s. The machines were responsive, could run up to speed quite quickly, had light-touch operating buttons, forward-facing heads The BTR 1s had rear-facing heads which made editing difficult , and were quick and easy to do the finest editing on.
The Studer range of machines had become pretty well the studio recording industry standard by the s, and gradually these replaced the ageing BTR2s in recording rooms and studios. By the mids tape was pretty well out of use and had been replaced by digital playout  systems. Early professional machines used single-sided spools but double-sided spools soon became popular particularly for domestic use. Tape spools were usually made from transparent plastic but metal spools were also used. The 8-track tape standard, promoted by Bill Lear in the early s, popularized consumer audio playback in automobiles.
Eventually, this standard was replaced by the smaller and more reliable Compact Cassette.
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Philips ' development of the Compact Cassette in and Sony 's development of the Walkman in  led to widespread consumer use of magnetic audio tape. In , the Compact Cassette was the dominant format in mass-market recorded music. Since their first introduction, analog tape recorders have experienced a long series of progressive developments resulting in increased sound quality, convenience, and versatility. Electric current flowing in the coils of the tape head creates a fluctuating magnetic field.
This causes the magnetic material on the tape, which is moving past and in contact with the head, to align in a manner proportional to the original signal. The signal can be reproduced by running the tape back across the tape head, where the reverse process occurs — the magnetic imprint on the tape induces a small current in the read head which approximates the original signal and is then amplified for playback.
Many tape recorders are capable of recording and playing back at once by means of separate record and playback heads in line or combined in one unit. Modern professional recorders usually use a three-motor scheme.
One motor with a constant rotational speed drives the capstan. This, usually combined with a rubber pinch roller, ensures that the tape speed does not fluctuate. The other two motors, which are called Torque Motors, apply equal and opposite torques to the supply and take up reels during recording and play back functions and maintain the tape's tension. During fast winding operations the pinch roller is disengaged and the take up reel motor is supplied with a higher voltage than the supply motor.
The cheapest models use a single motor for all required functions; the motor drives the capstan directly and the supply and take-up reels are loosely coupled to the capstan motor with slipping belts, gears or clutches. There are also variants with two motors, in which one motor is used for the capstan and one for driving the reels for playback, rewind and fast forward. The storage of an analogue signal on tape works well, but is not perfect. In particular, the granular nature of the magnetic material adds high-frequency noise to the signal, generally referred to as tape hiss.
Also, the magnetic characteristics of tape are not linear. They exhibit a characteristic hysteresis curve, which causes unwanted distortion of the signal. Some of this distortion is overcome by using an inaudible high-frequency AC bias signal when recording, though the amount of bias needs careful adjustment for best results. Different tape material requires differing amounts of bias, which is why most recorders have a switch to select this or, in a cassette recorder, switch automatically based on cutouts in the cassette shell.
Variations in tape speed cause flutter , which can be reduced by using dual capstans.
Higher speeds used in professional recorders are prone to cause "head bumps", which are fluctuations in low-frequency response. There are a wide variety of tape recorders in existence, from small hand-held devices to large multitrack machines. A machine with built-in speakers and audio power amplification to drive them is usually called a "tape recorder" or — if it has no record functionality — a "tape player", while one that requires external amplification for playback is usually called a "tape deck" regardless of whether it can record.
Multitrack technology enabled the development of modern art music and one such artist, Brian Eno , described the tape recorder as "an automatic musical collage device". Magnetic tape brought about sweeping changes in both radio and the recording industry. Sound could be recorded, erased and re-recorded on the same tape many times, sounds could be duplicated from tape to tape with only minor loss of quality, and recordings could now be very precisely edited by physically cutting the tape and rejoining it.
In August , Los Angeles-based Capitol Records became the first recording company to use the new process. Within a few years of the introduction of the first commercial tape recorder, the Ampex model, launched in , American musician-inventor Les Paul had invented the first multitrack tape recorder , bringing about another technical revolution in the recording industry. Tape enabled the radio industry for the first time to pre-record many sections of program content such as advertising, which formerly had to be presented live, and it also enabled the creation and duplication of complex, high-fidelity, long-duration recordings of entire programs.
It also, for the first time, allowed broadcasters, regulators and other interested parties to undertake comprehensive logging of radio broadcasts for legislative and commercial purposes, leading to the growth of the modern media monitoring industry. Innovations, like multitrack recording and tape echo , enabled radio programs and advertisements to be pre-produced to a level of complexity and sophistication that was previously unattainable and tape also led to significant changes to the pacing of program content, thanks to the introduction of the endless-loop tape cartridge.
While they are primarily used for sound recording , tape machines were also important for data storage before the advent of floppy disks and CDs , and are still used today, although primarily to provide an offline backup to hard disk drives. By providing a range of tape speeds, users can trade-off recording time against signal quality with higher tape speeds providing greater frequency response. There are many tape speeds which are in use in all sorts of tape recorders.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about machines used for audio sound recording. For video recording, see video tape recorder. For the tape systems used for computer data, see tape drive.
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