back to article Home taping revisited: A mic in each hand, pointing at speakers

I once tried to do it standing on one leg, arms pressed against the wall for stability. On other occasions, I would do the business with arms and legs akimbo. In fact, I have variously tried it huddled in a corner, sitting on a ping-pong table, at both ends of a teak sideboard, straddling the back of a leather sofa and even …

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Happy

Re: Oh my...

Ah, the OGWT theme.

Wonderful piece of music in its own right. Not sure if that's just because of what it's associated with in my tired old mind

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Luckily for me, both of my parents were in the film business, my mother a sound recordist and my father a lighting cameraman. This gave me unfettered access to a whole editing suite at home of professional quality, stacks of C90's lying around and most importantly of all - a decent two deck cassette recorder!

I think I made a pretty penny (spent on actual penny sweets) dubbing off copies of albums for friends, as well as spectrum and c64 games too! Pirate at the age of 8 years old I was.. Miss those days with a passion!

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Gold badge

I'd forgotten that. As a teenager I did sound for my church - and we had a proper tape copying machine - as sermons were recorded, copied and sent out to people who couldn't make it to church to share the boredom in person. This was dead useful for making good copies of tapes. It had proper inch square coloured buttons that lit up when you pressed them - and stayed lit until the process was finished. Did a C90 in just a few minutes.

The world needs more light-up buttons and glowing dials. Controls on computer screens just don't cut it. Give me a big old panel full of chunky glowing buttons and toggle switches any day.

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Anonymous Coward

" Give me a big old panel full of chunky glowing buttons and toggle switches any day."

The second generation EELM KDF8 (RCA 501) was something that the general public thought really looked like a computer should. It had a large operator's panel which was a matrix of large, rectangular, coloured light buttons.

When the room lights were out on the night shifts it positively glowed. The operators developed callouses on their thumbs from doing a sliding set/reset along a line of buttons.

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Anonymous Coward

There is a video of the RCA 501 showing the operator in virtuoso console action***. The colours are rather muted possibly due to the age of the film. The KDF 8 had glorious red, blue, yellow, and green - which lit up when selected.

***on KDF8 there was a console teletype device - but which was output only.

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Flame

Re: my parents were in the film business

The insulting anti-piracy messages on bought video disks. Most Video Piracy is done in cinemas or at the studios or of pre-release distribution. Not by home users.

Piracy of live Pay TV is mostly industrial pirates. They used to use special adapted cards and send the keys over the internet. Now an HD camera, decent 4K TV and streaming. YET we are all paying extra for HDCP in every player, setbox and TV set that uses HDMI. DRM is pointless stupidity that only hurts the home consumer and in the long term contravenes copyright law.

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Devil

Re: my parents were in the film business

"The insulting anti-piracy messages on bought video disks"

The U.S. release of 'Excel Saga' had some fun with this. They integrated the anti-piracy warning with the evil organization 'Across' and its dictatorial leader, 'Ilpalazzo' with punishment involving being tarred and feathered, and something to do with a depraved walrus. Or something like that.

There's a reference to it here: http://allthetropes.wikia.com/wiki/Digital_Piracy_Is_Evil

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Anonymous Coward

"Not by home users"

Just as long as it is difficult enough for the average home user. Of course if you can make enough money you will also attract more capable people who aren't easy to stop.

But when copying LPs and audio/video/software tapes was easy enough, a lot of people do it to earn money, not just to give a copy to the girlfriend. While when I was a teenager I could exchange LPs with a couple of friends because nobody of us had the money to buy all of them - but each of us bought some - I never bought nor sold pirated stuff, but there was some who attempted that to make money that way, it was far to easy to make many tapes, although of course to make hundreds you needed a professional copying machine.

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Re: "Not by home users"

But when copying LPs and audio/video/software tapes was easy enough, a lot of people do it to earn money, not just to give a copy to the girlfriend.

I remember the general stores and gas stations used to have racks of bootlegged 8-Track tapes. Never understood back then how they could get away with it, but then again it was the remote regions of New England.

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Ahhh, dual tape recorder decks made copying protected Speccy (and others) games a snap :)

I can recall my nephew trying to record some speccy game, using two portable tape recorders and only air in between... didn't work.

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I have heard that did work if the speakers and mic quality was good enough. May have been C64 or Atari or something though.

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Why bother recording over the air? If you had 2 cassette player/recorders, you could connect them using a line-in to line-out setup and record just like if you had a twin deck. That's the way my friends and I used to do it, anyway.

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LDS
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"Why bother recording over the air?"

You needed:

1) Something with the line-out connectors

2) The needed cable(s)

3) Something with the line-in connectors

4) The knowledge about how to do it - which is very simple, once you know it.

1) and 2) may not have been both available in the devices you owned. 3) could have been also an issue when there were far less electronics stores - no onlinge catlog - and hi-fi were sold in specialized ones. 4) was also an issue when you were a young teenager and there was no Internet and Google to answer to all your questions.

My first non-fully-toy deck came with a complex DIN plug - the manual had a full wiring diagram and explanation of what every pin did, but I wasn't able to understand it... nor I knew where to get one of those plugs - I was eleven, living in a small town.

But it was funny when some years later I gave a schoolmate a tape recorded directly from a turntable to cassette on an hi-fi system - he said the recording was not good as his ones - I made a big laugh when I saw later he recorded putting a single, mono mic in front of a single speaker.... exactly because he didn't know how to connect the devices in any other way.

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It's on Tidal

I am not sure why I would want access to that track, but it is available for streaming on Tidal.

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Re: It's on Tidal

One thing I like about Tidal: the audio quality is far superior to that of the others.

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clock hacker!

I once managed to obtain the time from the speaking clock using a payphone and no money.*

After several rings and listening to the 0.5 seconds of connection before the "put money in system" kicked in , I managed to piece together the time.

*I dont know why this was necessary, and at roughly age 12 it probly wasnt

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Re: clock hacker!

The technical term is "recovering clock".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: clock hacker!

In the 1960s our company introduced a "9" prefix for local calls from our desk phones. They quickly added a bar on TIM the speaking clock.

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Pint

the good old days

I have now got nostalgia for the Argos catalogue and looking at new models of consumer electronics.

My first television, a Sony KV-M1400D which I bought with my paper round money. Costs £200 as I recall. It was a real quality thing. My parents bought a VHS player very late, in 1994. The remote control had a clip up cover with buttons for start time and end time. Those were the days! Sadly both were stolen in a burglary.

I don't think charity shops accept VHS these days. No one would know what to do with it!

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Angel

Re: the good old days

http://retromash.com/argos/

No need to thank me.....

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Re: the good old days

Mum got one of those videos that you could program with a barcode scanner. But I don't think they ever caught on, so the papers didn't print the barcodes with their listings.

So you had this plastic card that you could scan to set up your recordings that was even more user-unfriendly and hard-to-use than just programming the thing by kneeling in front of it and pressing buttons.

I've used some shockingly bad technology over the years!

My CD Walkman was pretty good though. It had enough memory that it neve skipped, but conversely you could skip tracks in a way that made your tape walkman look positively archaic. Came with rechargeable batteries, which was just as it was hungry for power. And came with a case that held 10 CDs. It was far less of a problem than my various knock-off tape walkmen - and didn't destroy any of my CDs in the way that ate tapes.

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Re: the good old days

Ah, VideoPlus+ codes!

I do remember them in newspapers. But only for a short while in the 80's.

I always suspected that what really killed them was that TV is, in no way, dependable. At the time that they were published in the UK we only had four channels. Any major event would require a news bulletin, ruining the schedule. Any overrunning sports event would ruin the schedule. A squirrel farting would ruin the damned schedule.

It may have been easy to program the video via VideoPlus+ codes, but that didn't mean you were going to get your programme. IIRC I think they allowed a few minutes each way, but that's all. Smart people usually allowed 5-10 minutes at least both before and after the program.

So it may have been more convenient, but it was no more likely to succeed than manual programming. And therefore not quite worth the money.

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Re: the good old days

My recollection was that it started the recording on the dot of the listing, without allowing for a few minutes beforehand - as you'd do when programming manually. But that might be because there was a setting you could change, buried deep in the manual.

I'd completely forgotten it was called Video+. And that the things had been printed for a brief time - sadly I think they were still selling them after the papers had dumped it for lack of users. I don't recall ever seeing another one.

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Re: the good old days

Mum got one of those videos that you could program with a barcode scanner

You think that was pointless? My Laserdisc player has two remote controls, one is sized and shaped like a facing brick and uses infra red or can be connected to the player with a 3.5mm lead. The other, sleeker, one has an IR transmitter at one end and a barcode scanner at the other. A sheet of barcodes, totally pointlessly, allowed you to scan the code for "play" or "stop" or "next track" and then transmit it to the player.

M.

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Re: the good old days

It may have been easy to program the video via VideoPlus+ codes, but that didn't mean you were going to get your programme

No, for that you needed VideoPlus with Programme Delivery Control (PDC), where the broadcasters actually put a flag up at the start and pulled it down at the end of every programme.

M.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: the good old days

@peterm3; "I don't think charity shops accept VHS these days."

Some of them had *already* stopped accepting them the better part of a decade back. Presumably there was such a glut of unwanted tapes and their value was so low it was barely worth charities time to deal with them.

(Figure the cost of getting, sorting and taking up shelf space for bulky cassettes that had low resale value- and then the cost of getting rid of bulky masses of unsold tapes. You can see their reasoning.)

I remember passing a disused shop- which was probably being used for storage- and it was full of old video cassettes.

Most people would have been getting *rid* of unwanted tapes they'd replaced with cheap back catalogue DVDs, so those who *did* want them had their pick. In response to this, one guy complained that it was unfair on people like him who enjoyed picking up five tapes for a quid from charity shops... I pointed out that was exactly *why* it was barely worth their time!

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Pirate

Home Taping

Was good for "swapping" computer games too. Apparently.

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Hmm, cheakskate Indy kids.

Title such as 'Press eject and give the tape' and 'Got it on tape'

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Gapless Playback

Was IS this so difficult for music providers to build this into their bloody platforms?

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Boffin

Re: Gapless Playback

According to pub chat, that the tracks are encoded in 2 second blocks or so, and the replay software just decompresses all the blocks, which likely includes empty space at the end of the last block, rather than stopping the track when the total track time (as stored in the header) has elapsed.

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I've got a box with ...

... about 250 C90 cassette recordings of John Peel from the mid '70s. The few I've listened to recently sound like hell, but I keep them in the hopes that someday I'll be able to recover some of the rare shit he played. For example, the complete pre-release of Siouxsie_and_the_Banshees "The Scream", which was remastered by the studio a couple days later for the official release ... The two recordings are quite different, and my younger self quite preferred the original. (No, not the Peel Sessions, this was the actual album.)

Yes, I know, there is too much noise & not enough signal on that old rust ... and I did digitize them all almost two decades ago. Logic says I should probably just junk 'em. And yet I won't. Memories :-)

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Re: I've got a box with ...

There's a fairly good chance you have the only copies in existence of some of that stuff! No idea if the BBC are still set up to deal with it, but they did something about it a few years back. (More).

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LR14 !?!?

I presume you mean HP2s or HP11s - nobody in the 80's had heard of things like D size or LR14

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Anonymous Coward

Re: LR14 !?!?

I think it was probably early 80's when the old fashioned "Ever Ready" british "HP2" (high power) or "SP2" (standard power) style designations were slowly being replaced by trendy USA designations like "C" and "D".

Lets not forget "9 volt transistor radio" battery as detailed in the Tandy catalogues, known to everyone else as a PP3.

I still have no idea what a LR14 is.....

My first cassette recorder was a Christmas present when I was 11. Within about 2 months I had l mastered my first interface protocol - how to connect the "tape out" socket on the existing hand-me-down portable radio to the "aux in" on the recroder with a 3.5mm jack cable. Much better sound quality.

Many memories......

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Re: LR14 !?!?

I still have no idea what a LR14 is.....

The Unreliable Source says it's an HP11, aka "C".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_battery_sizes

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Facepalm

Re: LR14 !?!?

> My first cassette recorder was a Christmas present when I was 11. Within about 2 months I had l mastered my first interface protocol - how to connect the "tape out" socket on the existing hand-me-down portable radio to the "aux in" on the recroder with a 3.5mm jack cable. Much better sound quality.

I have a vague recollection of taping records with a din-din lead between a dansette style record player and a portable cassette player/recorder, which I subsequently discovered didn't turn its microphone off when the cable was connected ... which was a bit annoying to discover later.

Fortunately due to having a computer we had a "spare" unit that behaved.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: LR14 !?!?

"My first cassette recorder was a Christmas present when I was 11. "

In the 1960s my school pal had a proper large reel-to-reel tape recorder with three speeds. We used it to do Goon Show imitations.

My parents bought me a "portable" Grundig tape recorder - valve technology. You had to plug it into the mains - but it was relatively lightweight. Reel to reel but only 1-7/8 speed mono - with small diameter reels.

Recovered it from my sibling's loft storage a few years ago - and surprisingly it still worked. Was disappointed that the tape with it was one of my recordings of music from the radio - rather than my teenage voice.

When cheap transistor tape recorders came on the market they were similar - small reels and only the slowest speed. To cut the cost the erasing head was just a lump of permanent magnet rather than an oscillating signal.

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Re: LR14 !?!?

"a din-din lead"

Ah yes, the horrors of DIN leads. The spec only seems to have ever defined the physical shaped of the plug and pins. The pin layout appeared to be entirely down to the designer of the kit and what he felt like that day. Getting a lead to connect two devices was a black art, especially if the devices were two different manufacturers, but just as likely to fail with different models from the same manufacturer.

Much time was spent with Maplin catalogues and buying plugs/sockets/cables with enough wires to custom make "standard" DIN - DIN leads.

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Pint

C90

My dad picked up one of my TKD AD90s once and asked in all seriousness...

"AD90 - is that another band like UB40?"

The beer I'll be buying my dad for that recollection --------->

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Re: C90

Ah, the AD90. I got through dozens of the things. Much higher quality than the D90s, and better than the Maxel equivalents (IMHO), but much cheaper than the Psudo-Chrome SA90s. The equalization bias was such that they tended to produce a slightly bright sound on most Hi-Fi, so it was best to use a record deck that did not produce too much surface noise.

I remember splicing an extra 5 minutes on some tapes to record the two sides of some LPs onto the single side of an AD90 (although the TDKs had about 46 minutes of tape as measured on my JVC KD720 HiFi deck). I think one of them was Genesis Wind and Wuthering, and I had Meatloaf's Bat out of Hell on the other side (if any record company is reading, I have since bought both on CD, so you still made a sale!)

In general, most LPs were under 20 minutes a side, so would fit on one side of an unadulterated AD90.

I remember there being a country-wide shortage of AD90s sometime around 1980 because it was the tape of choice for most home-tapers.

I avoided Scotch/3M or BASF tapes, because they shed oxide even when new! And I would not touch unbranded tapes at all, and even good C120 tapes suffered from print-through, and tended to jam even on good tape decks.

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Re: C90

Err dont do your old Dad down.

A shoddy means of copying, given a sound much cheaper than the original - tick for both.

A crappy product, prone to tangling and splitting - tick for both.

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Dial a Disc

I'm surprised there's no mention of Dial a Disc - the speaking clock but for music with that oh so high-fidelity medium of an analogue phone line.

The speaking clock is quite useful for testing emergency number dialling without actually calling 999.

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Re: Dial a Disc

I've used it to test a phone system has the outside line configured correctly within the last decade.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dial a Disc

"I'm surprised there's no mention of Dial a Disc"

IIRC the early phone system in 19C London was primarily intended as a subscription service to distribute live performances. You could even get two sets of ear phones so two people could listen.

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Re: Dial a Disc

I'm surprised there's no mention of Dial a Disc

Or dail-the cricket-score? Or dial-a-story?

Discovered a few years ago that the Johnny Morris dial-a-stories about zoo animals (where he does the voices like he used to do on Animal Magic) were available on CD. The (then) young children loved them.

M.

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Re: Dial a Disc

I didn't have the animal stories, but I did have a set of Johnny Morris reading Thomas the Tank Engine on vinyl in the early 70s.

I just checked - Amazon has them as MP3s now.

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Re: Dial a Disc

I did have a set of Johnny Morris reading Thomas the Tank Engine on vinyl in the early 70s.

The best versions ever. I had a set of four LPs, four stories per side therefore two books per LP. My mother left three of them at the nursery school she used to run - probably thought I wouldn't want them now that I was all growed up.

Turns out my firstborn was also a huge Thomas fan, so eBay to the rescue.

I was tempted - though never got around - to edit the first few animated TV stories to replace Ringo Starr with the Johnny Morris narration...

There's an Awdry "museum" at the Talyllyn Railway - claimed to be the first preserved railway in the world, where Awdry himself volunteered for many years and which was the inspiration for the stories involving Skarloey and Rheneas and their friends.

I mention this because among the artefacts on display are some LPs and some singles, which I didn't know existed, some of them read by Willie Rushton I think (it's been a while).

Well worth a visit, though I recognise it's a very long way from pretty much any major population centre!

M.

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Vinyl to Digital

Getting old vinyl records into digital format is still a thing and it is very time consuming. Record the album, break it up into tracks, clean the tracks taking care not to edit out drum hits that look like scratches in the audio wave form, burn to a CD and also convert to MP3.

Takes quite a while to do each album.

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WTF?

Re: Vinyl to Digital

Why on earth do you clean the tracks?

Clicks and pops find their way onto my FLACs, that's the bloody charm of the things!

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Re: Vinyl to Digital

I bought Vinyl Studio and have recorded exactly two records so far, mostly through a lack of time. The first was really fiddly and I was very careful with the bit depth, sampling rate etc. The second (Monyaka, who remembers them?) was much quicker and spent most of the time setting the track start and end points carefully - I let the automation do the rest. Sound absolutely fine in the car and over headphones.

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