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The first reel to reel tape recorder was invented in Germany in the 1920s and started to gain popularity in the U.S. in the 1950s. While the sound quality of the audio reel was far superior to the audio cassette tape, cassette players were less expensive, smaller, and portable. As such, by the 1980s, many reel to reel manufacturers ceased production. Old reel to reel machines were consigned to the audiophile dust bin, dark corners of basements, or donated to thrift shops.
Perhaps you uncovered a treasure trove of reel to reel audio tapes at an estate sale, or maybe you inherited them from a relative and have fond childhood memories of the bulky and fascinating machine that played them. Today, reel to reel tapes and players have become prized possessions for audiophiles in much the same way as vinyl has enjoyed a resurgence. A new consumer line of tape decks was introduced and you can still find used ones. For everyone else, reel to reel tapes are an intriguing, archaic, and unplayable media gathering dust, with potential musical or personal treasures hidden within.
If you’re looking for a service to convert reel to reel to digital, look no further. ScanCafe is award-winning and has garnered glowing customer reviews because we treat everyone’s precious memories like our own. We understand that your reels may have recordings with personal meaning or maybe even musical masterpieces. And at ScanCafe, all services are performed at our state-of-the-art processing facility in Indianapolis and never outsourced. We deliver the digital files and originals back to you in 3 to 4 weeks.
At ScanCafe, we go above and beyond to ensure your reel to reel tapes are digitized securely and with the best sound quality. Our vast experience ensures that services are performed correctly, efficiently, affordably, and safely. We appreciate how important musical memories are to our customers, so we go the extra mile to protect them, door to door. In fact, we take this so seriously, we track your order with video surveillance and offer up to a $1000 safe handling guarantee.
At ScanCafe, the process we use to transfer audio reels to digital closely mirrors how we transfer film. We use a state-of-the-art deck to capture the sound from your reels from start to finish without missing a beat, and then convert this to a .wav file. Keep in mind we don’t offer track separation since post processing of the files isn’t performed.
All you need to do is ship your reel to reel to us and we’ll take care of the rest for you.
Your reel to reel tapes will be digitized at our Indianapolis lab, with a 3-4 week turnaround time.
The end result is memories safely transferred from reel to reel tapes to a .WAV file and your choice of digital download for cloud storage or USB drive.
ScanCafe customers love the quality of our top-notch services, as well as our flexible delivery options. Our convenient options make it easy to download sound files to your computer or any device connected to the internet. You can choose from the following delivery options:
Our standard delivery method is a digital download with a link that remains active for 30 days from the time of "Checkout". If you choose our standard method and wish to continue downloading content after 30 days, you must contact our customer service team prior to this date at [email protected] or call us at (866) 234-3909. Otherwise, our servers will automatically delete content after 30 days. Also, please keep in mind that the reactivated link is only valid for 7 days.
Generally, a small 3" audio reel is 150ft, a medium 5" reel is 600ft, and a large 7" reel is 1200ft. If there is audio signal recorded to both Sides 1 and 2, the length is effectively doubled, which is often the case.
That depends on the original inches-per-second (IPS) setting. Most tape was recorded at 3 3/4 IPS or 1 7/8 IPS. We digitize at 7 1/2 IPS, and the final digital audio file is anywhere from a few minutes to over an hour.
We run every audio reel through our reel-to-reel machine twice to check both sides for a signal. We capture at mono unless otherwise noted on the box or by the customer. We set the proper playback speed during post-processing, remove any dead space, and amplify any relatively quiet portions. The customer will receive a WAV file from us for each reel they sent that has a signal.
Note: Any issues inherent to the original recording (background noise, mic too far from source, etc.) or poor condition (stretched tape, flaking metal, etc.) are often out of the scope of our editing process.