Dessicated history can be rehydrated!

A dried out audio cassette can’t be played. Cassettes that are stored in dry places lose the lubricant that allowed the tape to run over the playback heads. We have had several cassettes that were seemingly unplayable, and caused screeching noises you can hear in the room as the tape is played, and also on the captured digital signal. The example below is the same tape played pre-lubrication (up to 7 seconds) so you can hear the screeching, and then post-lubrication after 7 seconds. The files from these tapes are now in the JHER collection in PARADISEC.

Sam King repairing playback equipment in the Melbourne PARADISEC lab

In 2013 we received a box of 14 cassettes from Joyce Hudson and Eirlys Richards in Walmajarri (Kimberley, WA). The tapes had been kept at Fitzroy Crossing and Broome. When we put them into our playback machine some tapes screeched and stopped moving and so were not playable. In discussion with the depositors, we decided to hold onto the tapes in the hope of being able to play them in future.

On the left, Sam King repairs playback equipment in the Melbourne PARADISEC lab. The lubrication machine Sam designed and built with colleague Doug Smith at AIATSIS adds microdrops of silicon lubricant to the cassette, just enough to allow free movement, but not too much to foul the heads of the playback machine. Sam took the problematic tapes to AIATSIS where he used the machine to get the result you can hear in the clip below.

Sample of noise reduction by lubrication of the tape, listen to the change in quality around 7 seconds into the clip

This is the lubricating machine Sam and Doug Smith built at AIATSIS.

Here at Endangered Languages and Cultures, we fully welcome your opinion, questions and comments on any post, and all posts will have an active comments form. However if you have never commented before, your comment may take some time before it is approved. Subsequent comments from you should appear immediately.

We will not edit any comments unless asked to, or unless there have been html coding errors, broken links, or formatting errors. We still reserve the right to censor any comment that the administrators deem to be unnecessarily derogatory or offensive, libellous or unhelpful, and we have an active spam filter that may reject your comment if it contains too many links or otherwise fits the description of spam. If this happens erroneously, email the author of the post and let them know. And note that given the huge amount of spam that all WordPress blogs receive on a daily basis (hundreds) it is not possible to sift through them all and find the ham.

In addition to the above, we ask that you please observe the Gricean maxims:

*Be relevant: That is, stay reasonably on topic.

*Be truthful: This goes without saying; don’t give us any nonsense.

*Be concise: Say as much as you need to without being unnecessarily long-winded.

*Be perspicuous: This last one needs no explanation.

We permit comments and trackbacks on our articles. Anyone may comment. Comments are subject to moderation, filtering, spell checking, editing, and removal without cause or justification.

All comments are reviewed by comment spamming software and by the site administrators and may be removed without cause at any time. All information provided is volunteered by you. Any website address provided in the URL will be linked to from your name, if you wish to include such information. We do not collect and save information provided when commenting such as email address and will not use this information except where indicated. This site and its representatives will not be held responsible for errors in any comment submissions.

Again, we repeat: We reserve all rights of refusal and deletion of any and all comments and trackbacks.

Leave a Comment