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Thread: cassette tapes that won't play

  1. #11
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    OK, on the basis of somewhat limited information, I'd suggest that there is a problem with your cassette player(s) and with the Sony cassette.

    The player may have a slight problem with the motor, or the rubber band connecting the motor to the drive mechanism, and it's losing a proportion of its power. The SONY tapes may have lost a bit of their lubrication, and they need a little more effort now to play. When the machine is in FF or RW mode, ALL the power goes to those functions, and there is more power, so this works fine. The TDK tapes do not have the lubrication problem, so they work either way. When you try to play the SONY tape, some of the power goes to drive the capstan and some goes to pull the tape onto the take-up spool, and the machine struggles, it senses End-of-Tape and stops.

    If this is the case, I'd expect that hand winding the SONY would feel slightly stiffer than doing the same with a TDK, but you didn't answer that question. If you can use a more robust cassette player, then both tapes may work OK.

    I'm just trying to fit the facts (?) to a hypothesis. The above seems to fit.

    I'd suspect that the SONY tapes are NOT 'new' - do they show a date of mfg. They may also NOT be mfg by SONY, but maybe in China (or somewhere else in SE Asia) under licence. Either way, the tapes may be OK, with a machine with more power.

    Geoff
    Last edited by GeoffB17; 04-11-2020 at 06:23. Reason: spelling

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffB17 View Post
    OK, on the basis of somewhat limited information, I'd suggest that there is a problem with your cassette player(s) and with the Sony cassette.

    The player may have a slight problem with the motor, or the rubber band connecting the motor to the drive mechanism, and it's losing a proportion of its power. The SONY tapes may have lost a bit of their lubrication, and they need a little more effort now to play. When the machine is in FF or RW mode, ALL the power goes to those functions, and there is more power, so this works fine. The TDK tapes do not have the lubrication problem, so they work either way. When you try to play the SONY tape, some of the power goes to drive the capstan and some goes to pull the tape onto the take-up spool, and the machine struggles, it senses End-of-Tape and stops.

    If this is the case, I'd expect that hand winding the SONY would feel slightly stiffer than doing the same with a TDK, but you didn't answer that question. If you can use a more robust cassette player, then both tapes may work OK.

    I'm just trying to fit the facts (?) to a hypothesis. The above seems to fit.

    I'd suspect that the SONY tapes are NOT 'new' - do they show a date of mfg. They may also NOT be mfg by SONY, but maybe in China (or somewhere else in SE Asia) under licence. Either way, the tapes may be OK, with a machine with more power.

    Geoff
    Thanks for that info. I use my pyle casseete deck, and my pc with audacity software to convert tapes to digital. The good news, is I got the tape playing, and digitized one side of the tape today. I found a walk man in storage, that I used to do the ff, and rewind thing for that tape. I hope that process will also work for the other side of the tape, and the rest of the tapes. I still need to do the comparison of the sony, and tdk tapes you mentioned. You are probably right that more quality players, may play the tapes, but I need to use the gear I have. Also, the sony tapes are from 09 and 2010.

  3. #13
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    A couple of weeks ago, I decided to transfer my earliest tapes dating back to 1977. Some worked. Some played but sounded like there was a pillow over the speaker. A few even did what your do, play for a couple of seconds and then just stop. I simply took another cassette that I did not need, open it and transfer the problem tape to the new one. A couple of times, I still got you problem of stopping. I fast forwarded and rewound and it was still no good. I was playing the cassettes from a Techniques dual cassette deck. Just when I was about to give up, I tried the other side of the dual deck and it played. I think some cassette decks are more sensitive to a taleís resistance and simply stops. Try offering decks. It will work in one of them

  4. #14
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    From a technical point of view this problem can be many things until one by one they are ruled out.
    When a tape doe snot play in my decks and I do fix a lot of decks, I test the tape by turning with finger or a old BIC pen outer body that was shaped perfectly for this purpose. If the reel turn easy then it is not a slip sheet problem or a tape pack problem but might actually be stiction of the tape.
    Back in the 90's an Indian person came to many tape manufactures and offered a new binder that was cheaper- dollar signs got in front of their eye and like in most cases where bean counters are listen to the final product was a disaster for companies like Ampex, Scotch and also Sony.
    Those companies that smartly told the guy to take a hike were BASF and Maxell. What the results were from such bad choices were things we now know as sticky tape in the reel to reel business. Cassette tapes from Scotch were also known to squeal and not be able to be played. I know because I had some and although TDK and Maxell tapes played on my Teac A450 perfectly the Scotch would not.

    You may be dealing with a stiction condition and a sign of that is the screeching sound as the tape no longer slides across the head but get stuck to it. You might try a Nakamichi deck that has pad lifters but there is no guarantee that it will play there either. It is just that the head contact is made worse when pads are involved.

    I also had a deck returned to me as one that would not play commercial tapes. It was found that the cheaply made commercial tapes had sticky or decaying pads that caused high wow and flutter and causing the cartridge to be elevated in the holder lessened the effect. Onec can NOT use commercial tapes for evaluation of a decks worthiness as most of the time they are garbage. I put a Maxell UR tape in the deck and it played
    perfectly fine without issue so if you can use the least made media and get better results than the commercial tape- well you can determine where to place the commercial tapes quality wise.

    fast wind only make a fix for tapes that are poorly packed or with poor slip sheets. In these you can transfer a tape to a new shell to recover the audio but it will do nothing for stiction.

    Some good results have been had with Nu Finish car polish on tapes I know were sticky. The problem is that cassette tape is so thin and delicate that you would need to build a special mechanism to process the tape so that it was not damaged. The process is to remove moisture with an alcohol and then treat the oxide surface with the surfactant that is in new Finish that seals the tape from moisture. it is unknown how many times a tape can be used after treatment but I have had reel tape alignment tapes that have passed at least the 50 play limit before needing another treatment. The surfactant does wear off apparently. It is easy to treat it again.
    Best regards,
    Skywave Tape Deck Repair, Chicago area

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    Quote Originally Posted by grh View Post
    I pulled out a number of the cassettes you use to record from the years 2009, and 2010. Out of that large number, I have 3 sony tapes that refuse to play. They fast forward, and rewind how they should, but when use press play, it plays for a second, you can't hear anything, then stops. The tapes were fine years back. My tdk tapes have less detoriation than the sony tapes, and all play fine.
    Just an option, which might go along with the machine noticing the lack of proper tension in the tape and shutting off. Look at these three tapes and make sure the pad is under the tape, where it shows, between the two reels. They usually have it on a spring kind of thing, in more expensive tapes, to give continuous pressure on the heads when recording and playing back. It's just a thought and maybe these three tapes are missing that pad. If so, you'd probably want to either move the tape to another cassette, if you don't have another cassette of the same brand that you could steal the cushion from.
    Music ~ the International Language

  6. #16
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    Seems to me I remember slamming cassettes that wonít play on a flat surface. I know youíll all be skeptical, but when I spilled coffee on my old Apple keyboard, I put it in the dishwasher and itís been working fine ever since. Of course YMMV.

  7. #17
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    Yes, banging the flat cassette on a flat surface is a perfectly valid solution for a specific problem, and this MAY be relevant for OP here.

    If the tape has spooled slightly incorrectly, so that each layer of the tape is NOT PERFECTLY aligned with the previous/next layer that the width of the spool will be larger that it ought to be, and if it's too large then the spool will not be able to rotate within the cassette housing. Banging the whole thing, on one side, then the other, will cause the spool to flatten, maybe not totally but enough so that the spool will rotate within the housing. The bang needs to be hard enough to settle the tape, but not hard enough to damage the cassette housing. If worried about just how hard, experiment with a trash cassette first.

    I've done this MANY times over the years, and never broken one. Yet!

    Hmm - not tried the dishwasher mind you. Don't think it's relevant here.

    Geoff

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    Quote Originally Posted by trusso11783 View Post
    A couple of weeks ago, I decided to transfer my earliest tapes dating back to 1977. Some worked. Some played but sounded like there was a pillow over the speaker. A few even did what your do, play for a couple of seconds and then just stop. I simply took another cassette that I did not need, open it and transfer the problem tape to the new one. A couple of times, I still got you problem of stopping. I fast forwarded and rewound and it was still no good. I was playing the cassettes from a Techniques dual cassette deck. Just when I was about to give up, I tried the other side of the dual deck and it played. I think some cassette decks are more sensitive to a taleís resistance and simply stops. Try offering decks. It will work in one of them
    I will take that advice, and transferring tapes that are all the way back from 77 haha.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffB17 View Post
    Yes, banging the flat cassette on a flat surface is a perfectly valid solution for a specific problem, and this MAY be relevant for OP here.

    If the tape has spooled slightly incorrectly, so that each layer of the tape is NOT PERFECTLY aligned with the previous/next layer that the width of the spool will be larger that it ought to be, and if it's too large then the spool will not be able to rotate within the cassette housing. Banging the whole thing, on one side, then the other, will cause the spool to flatten, maybe not totally but enough so that the spool will rotate within the housing. The bang needs to be hard enough to settle the tape, but not hard enough to damage the cassette housing. If worried about just how hard, experiment with a trash cassette first.

    I've done this MANY times over the years, and never broken one. Yet!

    Hmm - not tried the dishwasher mind you. Don't think it's relevant here.

    Geoff
    I was able to digitize 20 minutes of the other side of that tape, before it started to decay. I pulled the cassette out, and the tape was a little bent.

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ladewd View Post
    Seems to me I remember slamming cassettes that won’t play on a flat surface. I know you’ll all be skeptical, but when I spilled coffee on my old Apple keyboard, I put it in the dishwasher and it’s been working fine ever since. Of course YMMV.
    I never heard the banging one before, and putting a keyboard in the dishwasher sounds like a story I would make up to be funny.

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