Radio 3: pre-echo on Liszt loud piano parts

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Re: Radio 3: pre-echo on Liszt loud piano parts

Post by Tim Gillett »

That could be interesting. I've not come across this problem with sticking stripy leader and am not sure what it even looks like. Any chance of a photo or link to one?

Interestingly on the AES list of 3M tapes manufactured, I couldnt find 256 mentioned at all.
https://www.aes.org/aeshc/docs/3mtape/aorprod-cust.pdf
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Re: Radio 3: pre-echo on Liszt loud piano parts

Post by James Perrett »

Tim Gillett wrote: Sat Jul 24, 2021 3:48 am Interestingly on the AES list of 3M tapes manufactured, I couldnt find 256 mentioned at all.
https://www.aes.org/aeshc/docs/3mtape/aorprod-cust.pdf

I've just checked the box and it says the tape was made in the UK so maybe the AES list only deals with US made tapes.
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Re: Radio 3: pre-echo on Liszt loud piano parts

Post by Kwackman »

Tim Gillett wrote: Sat Jul 24, 2021 3:48 amInterestingly on the AES list of 3M tapes manufactured, I couldnt find 256 mentioned at all.

I think, with absolutely no certainty (!), that this was made for the BBC?
Hopefully someone can confirm, or prove me wrong. Again ;)
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Re: Radio 3: pre-echo on Liszt loud piano parts

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

Tim Gillett wrote: Sat Jul 24, 2021 3:48 am Interestingly on the AES list of 3M tapes manufactured, I couldnt find 256 mentioned at all.

Comes across more as accusative and disparaging than interesting... :think::-|

However, I can easily prove both James and Kwackman absolutely correct.

3M 'Scotch' type-256 wasn't made -- or, AFAIK, made available -- in America and so, probably not surprisingly, it doesn't appear to exist in the American listings.

However, there was a 3M tape factory just north of Swansea in South Wales in a place called Gorseinon that made recording tape for the BBC, amongst others. As it happens, I actually visited that factory in 1981 while at university as Chief Engineer of the university radio station, in a successful attempt to blag a couple of cartons of recording tape for our four studio Revox A77s! I'm afraid I cant remember the tape type I acquired, but it was in orange boxes.

Back in the 70s and 80s the BBC went through many hundreds of thousands of 10.5-inch reels of quarter-inch recording tape every year, so most UK and European tape manufacturers were only too happy to make tape to the BBC's fastidious specifications.

The Beeb needed copious quantities of new tape stock that could be sourced from multiple suppliers but that would work consistently on every machine, everywhere across the entire corporation without the need to continually realign studio tape machines for different types or batches of tape -- something that was obviously impractical on many levels.

Naturally, the BBC's tape spec wasn't entirely bespoke; it was based closely on an existing high quality formulation that several manufacturers either made already or had something very close to and could tweak their formulations a little bit to match.

In reality, of course there were very small differences in the tape formulations from different manufacturers, and possibly between different batches, and so slightly different optimal bias requirements. Consequently, the HF response, in particular, could change slightly and some particularly fussy radio Studio Managers and TV sound supervisors and dubbing mixers expressed preferences for one brand over others... but the differences were always pretty minimal and most never noticed!

Anyway, amongst the various formats and formulations being made at the UK 3M factory in the mid-80s was definitely one called 3M-256, and that version complied with the BBC's then new 'type-200' specification for quarter-inch tape. Here's an image of the box to prove its existence and remove any doubt.
box4.jpg
box4.jpg (10.05 KiB) Viewed 166 times
Zonal 675 was another type-200 compatible brand, as was Agfa PEM468. There may have been others, but those are the only ones I can remember.

However, I do remember that the type-200 spec came into BBC service in the mid-80s because I spent weeks of work in 1984 or 85 with my engineering colleagues realigning shed loads of tape recorders all across BBCTV and BBC Radio in a very short timespan to facilitate the changeover from the prevailing type-102 tape alignment (if memory serves).

The type-200 spec was introduced to take advantage of the improved characteristics of the newer tape formulations that were appearing in the previous years. One of the most significant improvements was in the higher peak flux capability -- the BBC type-200 spec alignment set peak level (PPM6) to 1000nWb/m.

Type-200 tape remained in use across the BBC right up until tape was phased out as a primary recording medium around late 90s.

Not all of the Beeb's legacy tape machine inventory could be persuaded to run with 1000nWb/m, of course, and many of the older models had to be retired at that time. For comparison, the previous BBC type-102 tape formulation used an alignment of 640nWb/m for peak level (and the type-100 before that was 400nWb/m).

You can read more about the beeb's development of recording tape here:

http://www.orbem.co.uk/tapes/media.htm
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Re: Radio 3: pre-echo on Liszt loud piano parts

Post by Kwackman »

Hugh Robjohns wrote: Sat Jul 24, 2021 8:05 pmHowever, I can easily prove both James and Kwackman correct.

That's going onto my C.V.

Hugh Robjohns wrote: Sat Jul 24, 2021 8:05 pmZonal 675 was another type-200 compatible brand

I remember that tape, big purple dots on the front of the box.
I can't remember much technical stuff I learnt, but can remember the colour of the box. :headbang:
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Re: Radio 3: pre-echo on Liszt loud piano parts

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

Kwackman wrote: Sat Jul 24, 2021 8:47 pm I remember that tape, big purple dots on the front of the box.

It was rather distinctive.
box6.jpg
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Re: Radio 3: pre-echo on Liszt loud piano parts

Post by Mike Stranks »

Ah memories, memories... :lol:
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Re: Radio 3: pre-echo on Liszt loud piano parts

Post by Tim Gillett »

James Perrett wrote: Sat Jul 24, 2021 2:20 pm
Tim Gillett wrote: Sat Jul 24, 2021 3:48 am Interestingly on the AES list of 3M tapes manufactured, I couldnt find 256 mentioned at all.
https://www.aes.org/aeshc/docs/3mtape/aorprod-cust.pdf

I've just checked the box and it says the tape was made in the UK so maybe the AES list only deals with US made tapes.

Yes that sounds probable. Thanks James (and Kwackman) for the extra information.
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Re: Radio 3: pre-echo on Liszt loud piano parts

Post by forumuser840717 »

Hugh Robjohns wrote: Sat Jul 24, 2021 8:05 pm
Tim Gillett wrote: Sat Jul 24, 2021 3:48 am Interestingly on the AES list of 3M tapes manufactured, I couldnt find 256 mentioned at all.

Comes across more as accusative and disparaging than interesting... :think::-|

However, I can easily prove both James and Kwackman absolutely correct.

3M type-256 wasn't made -- or, AFAIK, made available -- in America and so, probably not surprisingly, it doesn't appear to exist in the American listings.

However, there was a 3M tape factory just north of Swansea in South Wales in a place called Gorseinon that made recording tape for the BBC, amongst others. As it happens, I actually visited that factory in 1981 while at university as Chief Engineer of the university radio station, in a successful attempt to blag a couple of cartons of recording tape for our four studio Revox A77s! I'm afraid I cant remember the tape type I acquired, but it was in orange boxes.

I'll second that.

256 was indeed made at the 3M plant in Gorseinon, for the european market.

As a child I lived about 7 miles from the 3M plant (my secondary school was about 2 miles away from it) and several of my extended family worked there. When it opened it was the first 3M factory outside the USA. For many years, it made 3M tape products (recording and adhesive) for Europe, including many of the Scotch brand open reel, audio cassettes, video cassettes and sticky tapes (the intentionally sticky kind, not audio tapes that went sticky - though they made those too!). Production of open reel audio tape finished in the late 1990s, not sure about the others, and the plant is now a smaller facility than in it's heyday and produces medical/personal care and automotive products.

With family members working there, I got to do the factory tour several times, and to attend various staff family days which were usually fun. When I got into recording, I ended up with rather a lot of ...er... cosmetic seconds of Scotch tapes, often just boxes of pancakes in plastic bags or in white boxes with stickers to identify the tape type. It included a lot of 256. I don't know whether 256 was specifically for the BBC, I think it was a low print mastering tape for the European market. I know it came in the "serious" brown/rust colcoured boxes and a more snazzy light grey, navy blue and white box with labelling in more than one language - maybe English, French, Italian and.....not sure...Spanish maybe, or German. There was also a lot of 262 which was sometimes in brown/rust coloured boxes stickered "Specially made for the BBC", or occasionally in a mid blue 'Tartan" box which had the BBC line printed on the box rather than stickered (but mostly I got it in white boxes or as pancakes with "262R" stickers (Which I think indicated Rejected for various reasons)).

By a strange coincidence, after not really thinking often about the Gorseinon factory for years, about a week ago I spoke to someone in Gorseinon about something completely unrelated (trying to find out about the history of the Welsh delicacy known as the corned beef rissole! If anyone knows anything about them please PM me!), who told me that, earlier this month, 3M announced that they were starting a 45-day "consultation process" with the remaining 100 or so employees there regarding closure of the plant, with the work transferring to Ireland.

The AES list of Scotch brand recording tape is by no means exhaustive, even for US sourced tapes. A quick look at my own notes (also incomplete) shows:

109/109A Instrumentation tapes
111 A-P as a plastic base version of the 111/111A Acetate base tape,
141 A a silicone lubricated 1.5mil Acetate based version of 141
204 Polyester back double play
212 1mil Polyester Long Play "Dynarange"
213 Double play version of 212
214 0.5mil Triple play version of 212
215 1mil Polyester Long Play "Superlife" (Italian manufacture)
218 High Output
220 Polyester Double Play
223 Long Play
224 Double Play
228 1.5mil Polyester "Highlander" (Economy range)
229 1mil Polyester Long Play "Highlander"
256 1.3mil Polyester Back coated, High Output, Low Noise, Low Print
262 BBC Special
282 1.5mil Polyester
479 Video
801 Instrumentation Tape
AV177 1.0mil "Tenzar" High Strength Polyester Long Play.

The above are a mixture of US manufacture and European manufacture from 3M Welsh and Italian plants. I probably have more detail on them but I'd have to look for it. And I know there are others also not on the US list.

Yes, I do keep notes on the most incredibly boring things! At least that way I don't have to remember any of it! :crazy::beamup:
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Re: Radio 3: pre-echo on Liszt loud piano parts

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

Fascinating. Scotch 262 rings a distant bell, but not much else....
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Re: Radio 3: pre-echo on Liszt loud piano parts

Post by James Perrett »

Hugh Robjohns wrote: Sun Jul 25, 2021 11:51 am Fascinating. Scotch 262 rings a distant bell, but not much else....

Was that the one with the light green back coating?
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Re: Radio 3: pre-echo on Liszt loud piano parts

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

Possibly... although that tinkly bell in the back of my head is suggesting pink... :eh: There definitely was a green-backed tape though...
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