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Comment count is 21
Jet Bin Fever - 2014-10-14

An hour and a half... man. I usually sympathize with audio collectors, but 8-track is such a hilariously inferior format. I always think of Van Driessen's collection from Beavis and Butthead when I think of 8-tracks. It was a good choice by Judge to choose 8-track instead of vinyl or something much more reasonable.

infinite zest - 2014-10-14

I still love my MiniDiscs, I don't care what they all say about me :)

Old_Zircon - 2014-10-15

I remember in college a professor who had been a small time record producer in the 70s did a demonstration of lossy audio compression by bringing a set of absurdly high end far-field monitors the size of refriderators (from his old studio) and a comparably high end DAC, and doing a level matched, half-blind a/b test between CD audio and a minidisc duplicate of the same CD (transferred digitally). Everyone, including him, thought the minidisc sounded noticeably better, the compression artifacts actually gave it this kind of pleasant sweetness that the CD didn't have.

Old_Zircon - 2014-10-14

I guarantee you I've met at least one person in this, becauuse one of the biggest 8 track collectors in North America is a book buyer for the Harvard book store, and I worked at a record store that had one of the largest selections of 8 tracks in the country (we had maybe a thousand on display at any given time, and I think around 20,000 in storage; she owned maybe 45,000). MTV filmed a thing about her there and I'm in it, but I've never been able to actually find any evidence that it ever existed. It was basically that "my strange obsession" or whatever it's called, except from a few years earlier.

Oscar Wildcat - 2014-10-14

What I remember about the format is the foam pads they use to cushion the tape against the player head decomposed over time. I'm surprised so many are still in playable condition.

Old_Zircon - 2014-10-14

You have to service them,. The better ones used proper leaf springs with felt rather than foam, also.

The worst is the belts, they decompose into a black, sticky tar just like turntable belts but they're much more of a hassle to clean out and replace.

Old_Zircon - 2014-10-14

If you put in the effort, though, they can sound really good.

Oscar Wildcat - 2014-10-14

I always wondered whether anyone took advantage of the 8 possible tracks on the cartridge to make a cheapo home studio 8 track recorder? I've seen a similar thing using ordinary cassettes in a 4 track recorder.

Old_Zircon - 2014-10-14

There aren't actually 8 possible tracks really, it's a two track head that mechanically moves. The best use for 8 tracks is to take the tape out and use it in your Roland Space Echo.

betabox - 2014-10-14

It wasn't just the pads that deteriorated. The "sensing tape" that served both as a splice and as the electrical conductor to change tracks would dry out and fall off.

Also, in order for the tape to run the way it did inside the cartridge, it had to be coated with a dry lubricant which came off with age, and which helped to clog the heads more.

As to OZ's assertion that they could sound really good, I've never experienced that.

Old_Zircon - 2014-10-15

Yeah, the ensing pads are another thing.

Part of the problem with soudn (the majority of the problem, I'd guess) is in the manufacturing process, jsut like cassettes. They duplicated them at really high speed (I think bin cassette duplicators ran at about 27x standard speed). A homemade cassette copy from a record, made with decent quality, well set up equipment, sounds vastly better than any commercial cassette I've ever heard. I assume the same would be true of 8 track since they run at the same speed and are otherwise more or less identical (same track width, not sure about the actual tape formulation though but it's thicker than a lot of cassettes).

Well made cassettes sound GOOD, but not many comanies actually made them that way and it was always typical, conservative "audiophile" stuff:


I guess if you like big band music and the Moody Blues.

Old_Zircon - 2014-10-15

Oh, the lubricant in the tape wasn't a coating it was actually inside the tape itself. The shedding you're talking about would have been the actual magnetic particles separating from the backing, that can happen with any tape if it's stored badly and was a huge problem with tape from a certain period (I think it was mid 70s through mid 80s) when a couple major manufacturers changed the adhesive they used and then discovered that the new stuff had a life span of about a decade before it turned brittle and made the tapes shed. A lot of studio masters from that period are unplayable now because of it.

Shanghai Tippytap - 2014-10-14

when you think about how much contemporary western culture changed between, say, 1955 and 1975, and compare it to how little it changed between 1995 and 2014, it kind of begs the question of why we've been running in circles for the past twenty years

Old_Zircon - 2014-10-15

I don't know, I think it changed more in the last 20 years.

infinite zest - 2014-10-15

There seems to be more of a nostalgia factor: kids who weren't even born when Slanted & Enchanted came out are just as excited for the possibility of a new Pavement album as those of us are who got to see them at a relatively tiny venue in the late 90s. Can't really say the same for most mainstream music of the 1950s: that was just Dad music for kids in the mid 70s. That's not to say that everything in the 50s was Elvis either, but there was a cultural shift that divided the gap. If I told someone that this was filmed a month ago, they'd probably believe me.

boner - 2014-10-15

70's kids liked Happy Days.

infinite zest - 2014-10-15

Did they? I always thought Happy Days, like Don Maclean's American Pie was sort of a reactionary nostalgia trip for parents, saying "remember the good old days before The Rolling Stones, The Who, and the downfall of youth culture in general?" Of course kids could watch and like it, but it wasn't reflective of what was going on in the world.

boner - 2014-10-15

True, but that's how nostalgia works, we remember just the best parts, or things that never happened. Even easier if you never actually lived in that era.

Old_Zircon - 2014-10-15

There was a big 50s revival in the late 70s/early 80s. Hell, the first wave of punk itself was part of a late 50s/early 60s rock n roll revival in a roundabout way. The Ramones were writing early Beach Boys songs with distorted guitars.

Old_Zircon - 2014-10-15

70s dad music was this:


Maggot Brain - 2014-10-15

I guess there's a certain DIY charm considering the format is inherently flawed.

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