Mastering for cassette. Lead time?

ashcat_lt

Well-known member
I'm heading toward mastering a project for a client, and I'm not actually sure what media he's shooting for, but I suspect he may want to go to cassette for some reason. He'll probably end up dubbing them himself or handing them to a similar sort of DIY duplication house, but he might just send it off to a "pro" shop for that part. I figure either way, it makes sense to give him a pair of "image files" for side A and side B. I'll figure out how best to split it and adjust spaces between songs to get a relatively even distribution while maintaining proper flow.

My question here, though, is about the tape leader and whether I should include that extra time at the head of these files. Seems like it would just make things easier for the DIY approach, but is it standard procedure when sending to a distribution house? I've never really gone that route myself, but I'd imagine somebody around here is familiar with the process. How do you think I should handle this?

Thanks for any insight you can provide.
 

jamesperrett

New member
When we used to do real time duplication we would never add extra time for the leader on the master - we simply started the master after the leader had gone through.
 

miroslav

Cosmic Cowboy
...he may want to go to cassette for some reason.

I hope it's a good reason. :D

I don't think I've seen a cassette player in a car or anyone's house, etc...for like 20 years now.
Oh I have one in the studio...though rarely use it anymore, but I can see it used in a home production environment...I just don't know if there's some kind of secret niche audience out there that actually prefers them for their playback format and listening experience. :)
 

jimmys69

MOODerator
I thought there was a standard back then. I recall 3 seconds of leader, then best to start recording after 5 seconds. But I was likely stoned when I heard it. :)
 

miroslav

Cosmic Cowboy
I thought there was a standard back then. I recall 3 seconds of leader, then best to start recording after 5 seconds. But I was likely stoned when I heard it. :)

Right...so if you heard it when you were straight...those 8 seconds would be like 2. :p
 

bouldersoundguy

<div><p>&nbsp;</p></div>
I wouldn't put the blank space in the file, I'd either run the tape long enough to pass the leader or I'd manually cue it up with the old Bic pen cap method.
 

witzendoz

Senior Member
I kind of remember that pro tape copiers would allow for the leader to run through then start the master. I also remember that pro tape coping machines used to cue themselves to the end of the leader section somehow? Jee it's been a long time, however I do remember that when I used to master for tape reproduction using a DAT tape as a master we used to leave 30 seconds at the start of the DAT, but that was not due to the cassette leader it was because if the DAT got damaged when loading in the DAT machine the audio was not damaged.

Alan.
 

mjbphotos

What?!?
but I suspect he may want to go to cassette for some reason

Just stop him! Maybe he wants to do it to incorporate 'tape saturation'.
I've still got a stereo system in the living room with dual cassette. Can't remember how many years its been since I used it.
 

Massive Master

www.massivemastering.com
Typically, the plant deals with the leader. Both sides are replicated at the same time - 1 forward, the other backward. They need to create a master bin loop where (again, typically, as excessive blank is usually at the end of side 2) the end of side 1 and the start of side 2 are on the same spot.
 

ashcat_lt

Well-known member
I'm sorry, maybe y'all haven't been out much lately, but cassettes are kind of a thing again. Especially in the DIY punk scene, bands like to have tapes on their merch table because kids like to buy them. It doesn't make sense to me either, but it's definitely happening. It's really not my place to tell my client what media they're going to press. I just refuse to have anything to do with the actual duplication, but I do want to set them up for success if I can.

The last time a group put one of my recordings on cassette, they played the playlist off a computer, through a guitar amp, and had a pair of those old tape recorders with the built in microphones sitting on the floor in front of it. Push record, then play, then he said he had to sit there really quiet until it was time to flip the tapes.
 

bouldersoundguy

<div><p>&nbsp;</p></div>
I'm sorry, maybe y'all haven't been out much lately, but cassettes are kind of a thing again. Especially in the DIY punk scene, bands like to have tapes on their merch table because kids like to buy them. It doesn't make sense to me either, but it's definitely happening.

Yep. Strange but true.
 

ashcat_lt

Well-known member
[MENTION=23296]Massive Master[/MENTION] - Didn't see your post before my reply. I kind of figured you knew the answer. It all makes plenty of sense and is kind of what I figured. Thanks for the detail.

I guess I'll leave the lead time out of it. That's better anyway cause I won't have to make a second set in case they decide to go vinyl.
 

miroslav

Cosmic Cowboy
I'm sorry, maybe y'all haven't been out much lately, but cassettes are kind of a thing again. Especially in the DIY punk scene, bands like to have tapes on their merch table because kids like to buy them. It doesn't make sense to me either, but it's definitely happening.

Like I said... a very niche audience....that Guardians of the Galaxy, retro cool thing to do. :)
I'm just curious where/what they are using for playback...probably old cassette gear off of eBay, 'cuz I don't see much in the way of new cassette players on the market or any cars that come with them, not for a very long time.

I guess I'll hang onto my stash of unused cassette tapes from the early '90s...and wait for their big comeback. :D
 

ashcat_lt

Well-known member
Very often the tapes come with a download code. They never actually listen to the cassette itself. :)
 
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jamesperrett

New member
I guess I'll hang onto my stash of unused cassette tapes from the early '90s...and wait for their big comeback. :D

Still got a box of chrome C46's here just in case...

The last cassette duplication job that I did was over 10 years ago - but I saw a radio cassette machine for sale in a local supermarket last week.
 

mjbphotos

What?!?
I was just reading in Tape Op what mastering engineers had to do when remastering some Somalian cassette tapes. I have a bin full of old cassettes in the basement, guessing I should just chuck them...
 

jamesperrett

New member
I was just reading in Tape Op what mastering engineers had to do when remastering some Somalian cassette tapes. I have a bin full of old cassettes in the basement, guessing I should just chuck them...

Remastering cassettes isn't too difficult provided you have a good, well maintained, cassette player that will allow you to adjust the head azimuth and the level into the Dolby decoder. Most cassettes have survived pretty well over the years (apart from one or two obscure makes that were dodgy right from new).
 

witzendoz

Senior Member
I just remembered something you have to do for cassette mastering, you need to have side 1 and side 2 with a gap in between so that the person making cassette copies knows when side one has finished so you don't get half a song when side 1 of the cassette runs out. Better still make a separate side 1 and side 2 file. I am assuming that you are supplying this as some kind of file so the cassettes can be made from it? You don't want the actual master on a cassette due to noise being added to the copies from the master.

Sound wise master so that it would work on a CD, the cassette tapes that the master is going to will handle that fine and with the tape compression you get on the cassette tape smooth it into analog LOL, when I used to copy CD's onto cassettes for use in the car (in days gone by) they used to sound pretty good.

Alan.
 
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