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Thread: Old tapes play back slowly on re-purchased Fostex X18

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    Old tapes play back slowly on re-purchased Fostex X18

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    Hello: Newbie Chang here, with a question that perplexes me deeply!

    In a nutshell: tapes made on a multitracker owned years ago play back slowly on newly-purchased same model multitracker...

    In the early 90s I taped a lot with a Fostex X18 (bought in Indonesia where I lived). Recently I bought the exact same recorder (now in the UK) with the hope of backing up the tapes, but the tapes all play back at something like half the speed they should.

    The varispeed dial doesn't vary it that significantly, and there's no option for half-speed recording or similar. Regular tapes play correctly, all my old 4 tracks are half speed.... It's a shame as the replacement recorder was in immaculate condition. What could be going on here? Could a tape player be tweaked to play back the tapes faster? Much thanks in advance if anyone can help.

    Cheers!

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    Hi there,
    Seems there's an X-18 and an X-18h.

    I'm going out on a limb but is there any chance the x18h is a high speed/two speed version and that's what you had before?
    ---------- Steenaudio Website ----------

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    Good point!

    On the 8 track versions, the Fostex X28 and X28H, the 'H' indeed stands for 'high speed' (so it says here)

    I've no way of knowing what I used 20-odd years ago, but I do remember it could play tapes at regular speed, which would imply it had a high speed/regular speed option...

    Thanks for going out on that limb!

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    Just curious..

    When you put a regular tape in and play it, you say it sounds like it should. How is the variable pitch knob set when your playing the tape back (12 o'clock, 5 o'clock etc...)?

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    Regular tapes seems to sound 'normal' at about 12 o'clock.
    The old tapes I'm trying to back up sound much slower than the slowest setting you can play back a regular tape with the varispeed. I'm getting more convinced that all my tapes were made on the high-speed 'H' version of the X-18. It feels like it's something as obvious as that.

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    Digitize a clip of your old tapes playing on the new machine. Load it into a computer, and make it play back at double speed (Audacity or something would help). If it sounds normal, that would pretty much clinch it that they were recorded on the high-speed version.

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    I have a Fostex X18 and I use to have to set the knob to about 1 o'clock to be in correct pitch with regular tapes..Sounds like it might be the high-speed as suggested...
    I'm pretty sure that you could adjust the motor speed of the tape internally, but you may have to take it to someone and pay them a few bucks to do this.

    Another option is if you can get hold of another 4 track, you could transfer the "halfspeed" tapes (with the vari-knob cranked all the way up) to the other machine. This should now allow you to adjust the tracks to their proper speed on the 2nd machine.
    Last edited by RIPDimeCFH; 02-16-2012 at 09:24.

  8. #8
    Beck Guest
    If you have no other tools one way to test approximate tape speed is to run the shortest standard blank cassette tape you have from start to end and time it with a stopwatch. So for example, using a 60-minute tape it will take approximately 30 minutes to play one way if the tape speed is normal cassette speed of 1-7/8 ips (4.75 cm/sec). If it is high speed commonly found in many cassette multitracks the tape will only run approximately 15 minutes in one direction. High speed is 3-3/4Ē ips (9.5 cm/sec), which is double normal cassette speed.

    If a 60-minute tape takes some odd time in between the fast and slow speeds, say 20 minutes to run or much longer than normal cassette speed such as 40 minutes to run in one direction, then you have a problem with the machine.

    In this case youíll probably find that your old X-18 was an X-18H, which does record and play at double normal cassette speed. If you have the basic X-18 now, itís playing your old tapes at half the speed they were recorded.

    The pitch control only changes the speed +/- 10% so it would take several generations of bouncing up to higher speed before you got to the correct speed. By that time your tapes would be awash is tape hiss and distortion with significant high frequency loss. Best thing to do it look for a cassette 4-track running at double speed. There are many from Fostex, Tascam, Yamaha and others, but only a handful with Dolby B noise reduction (NR) like the X-18. No big deal if you switch NR off, but it will be a bit noisier.

    Hereís the manual, which covers both the X-18 and X-18H.

    http://www.fostexinternational.com/d...ers_manual.pdf

    Best of luck with your project

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    Thank you Beck for the reply, likewise jpmorris—really appreciate the suggestions. Interesting to know that other brands of high speed 4-track recorder could do the job, I was always a bit worried that the speed of the machine might be exclusive to that model.

    Many thanks again,
    Cheers

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