Genealogy: How to buy blank cassettes

Genealogy: How to buy blank cassettesBy Barry J. Ewell

As you look to preserve tapes or continue to use cassettes in capturing family history, start by choosing good tapes. Match the tape you choose to both your tape deck and what you’re recording.

Step by step instructions

  1. Check your tape deck’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  2. Buy “normal bias” Type I tapes for use with mini-recorders.
  3. If you’re playing tapes on a boom box, personal stereo or low-end car deck, buy Type I tapes unless the playback unit has a switch for “high bias” Type II tapes.
  4. Choose “metal bias” Type IV tapes if playing tapes on a high-end cassette deck.
  5. Check the Maximum Output Level (MOL) specification to compare tapes and brands within a type. Higher numbers are better.
  6. Buy Type I tapes for recording speech.
  7. Choose Type I tapes or lower-grade Type II tapes for dubbing from one cassette to another.
  8. Buy Type II or Type IV tapes if recording live music on a deck.
  9. Select higher-grade Type II or Type IV tapes for recording from LP or CD.

Tips & warnings

  1. Higher-grade tapes within a type are typically distinguished by an “X” or a “S” model number.
  2. Most tape decks automatically set the bias for the type of tape by reading notches on the cassette.
  3. “C” indicates the total number of minutes on the tape.
  4. Type II tapes can record higher frequencies than Type I tapes and have a higher signal-to-noise ratio. Type IV tapes are even better.
  5. C-120s use thinner tape, which is more prone to jamming and breaking.