Richard L. Hess
Mastering and Tape
Restoration Projects

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Richard L. Hess
Contact Information—How to get your tape restored

We provide high-quality transfers/copies
even from hard-to-play tapes.

While we will continue to add projects to this page, we now have a
Project Notes category in the Tips & Notes section of our Web site.
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Here is a PARTIAL list of projects that I've undertaken and where you can find the results.
All tapes are 1/4-inch, two-track unless otherwise noted.

Recent Projects
Bob Lankston's page on this project. We recently transferred six hours of seismic exploration recordings for a geological client. These recordings were made circa 1970 and only existed today on a reel of 1/2-inch wide 7-track instrumentation tape, recorded at 1.88 in/s using FM recording. We were able to recover the data, demodulate the FM and provide a 1 ks/s file to the client. I do not think that I could have found a better person than Richard for the transcription job. — Bob Lankston, Geoscience Integrations
SFMNHP Web Site 75 hours of reel-to-reel oral history of seamen and captains recorded in the 1950s and 1960s for the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park Association.
  Ongoing work for
  Several 8-track tape recovery projects.
  Recovery and transfer of multiple micro-cassettes.
  Transferring several dozen 3-hour reels for a private client.

Diana Credit

Some Client Comments
  • Transferring a 1970 quarter-track live recording of a Barbarshop Quartet concert, with multiple quartets.

    The CDs sound fantastic, even better than I remembered the original tape sounding. I'm extremely pleased and I'm sure my friend, who is featured on much of the tape, will be absolutely thrilled to hear a recording of his old quartet after 35 years. If there is anything else you could have done to improve the result, it's certainly beyond my limited knowledge to suggest. — Paul Eastman
  • Transferring, repairing, and remasteing a well-recorded 1966 quarter track stereo reel of a good amateur barbershop quartet earned us this unsolicited comment:

    Wow. I didn't realize those four guys who got together years ago to drink beer and sing had any talent. Thanks for bringing out the best in what we did! I greatly appreciate the great work you did. — Peter Anderson

  • This comment was received after we transferred a home-recorded 8-track cartridge of a country and western singer:

    I was thrilled with what Richard was able to do - for sure, he is the one to contact. He displayed great care and knowledge and completed our project on schedule. His work absolutely surpassed my hopes.
    — Aaron,

  • I received the CDs today. The sound result on the CDs far exceeds my expectations. I am tremendously moved at the quality and accomplishment of safely digitizing some tapes that have survived my chaotic life for 30 years. Thanks so much. — Sumner Nelson

  • Thanks for your great work, you have exceeded my hopes and expectations.

  • I received the CD sounds great -- I can't thank you enough...

  • I received the CD today, and I am absolutely delighted with it! I am amazed that you were able to make such a good recording from such an old tape. It is a real treat to relive an old, dearly loved childhood memory - when I was small, I listened to that tape countless times and for years I have longed to hear it again. I find it as delightful now as when I was 6!

  • Excellent work, Richard.

Restoration of very old tape stored on hubs only

These photos show three instances of pancakes that had significant problems. All three were salvaged and played well after the necessary work. This work was funded in part by a Grammy Grant.
My July-August 2001 article in the
Journal of the Audio Engineering Society
Concerning restoration of some of the oldest tapes in the U.S.
is now available for viewing (pdf file).

Tape pancake showing severe edge damage, many splices, and mixed tape types. A tape pancake that had lost its center.A pancake that had lost its hub and was less-than circular.
Click each image for a more detailed view.

Sound Archives of Saskatchewan
We made preservation copies of four reels of paper tapes, the oldest tapes in the archive. Three of the reels were recorded in 1948 and one in 1951. The 1951 tape was alleged to be recorded at 3.75 in/s but we were able to use the hum to determine that it was recorded at 4.4 in/s...and then we removed the hum using a software notch filter.

Cross Cultural Dance Resource
CCDR Web site We made preservation copies of approximately 35 reels and cassettes from this archive of dance. Two audio CD-R copies were made from each tape for preservation purposes.

Private Client
A gentleman came to me after having seen my name on a list of tape restorers from the National Air and Space Museum with tapes of his father and Charles A. Lindbergh discussing their barnstorming days. We made 18 audio CD-R copies of these tapes that were distributd by the client.

Although I have received several inquiries about these recordings, we regret to inform you that they are NOT available for sale.

Marie-Lynn Hammond Albums
Available through Richard L. Hess

Marie-Lynn Hammond and Vignettes Marie-Lynn Hammond and Vignettes

The original master tapes were recorded in 1978 and 1983. The 1978 tapes had sticky shed and dbx Type 1 noise processing. It took three dbx decoders until I found one that sounded “right.” The 1983 tapes were gorgeous 30 i.p.s masters. After the successful transfer (the 1978 tapes required retransfer of several songs to get it right), little was done other than match levels in the computer.
Impromptu Impromptu

This album contains all the songs originally released on Impromptu (1985) and Impromp2 (1994) plus three bonus tracks. The best recordings of the 1985 material were from a 15 i.p.s. reel, but it probably was not the original mix master as the tape had been through several incarnations. The 1994 material was on several DATs and some of them would not play in my primary machine. Oddly, a consumer DAT machine played them. The bonus tracks came from reels, one track was a 1/4-track 7.5 i.p.s. check copy, and not the master. That required some dropout repair in the computer. The last track had been recorded on an ADAT 8-track tape and mixed to two tracks of that tape. We applied a few dB of overall noise reduction that caused the entire recording to sparkle the way it should.
Black and White...and shades of grey Black & White ... and shades of grey

The original master tapes were recorded in 1990 at 30 i.p.s. and were gorgeous. The interesting item is that the artist and I both felt that the 2000 transfer of the analog masters sounded better than the 1990 CD transfer. I suspect that it was related to the tape playback machine and/or the analog-to-digital converters used to make the digital signal...or both.

Kristin Lems Albums
Please check availability on Kristin's Web site.

Oh Mama Plus Oh Mama Plus

This was a dbx Type 1 tape that had significant dropout problems and suffered from sticky shed. There was also tape damage that require both mechanical intervention at playback and ultimately some additional repair work in the computer. The final, classical piano, track had some original recording problems and we had to modify the levels through the duration of the piece and added more reverberation to make it sound more like a small recital hall than the dry living room in which it was originally recorded. These changes were done with the knowledge and approval of the artists.
Work has been completed on We will Never Give Up and In the Out Door. “Never Give Up” was specially restored ahead of the rest of the project to be included in Smithsonian Folkways Grammy-nominated The Best of Broadside 1962-1988: Anthems of the American Underground from the Pages of Broadside Magazine 5 CD boxed set.
  In 2006, we transferred and restored Kristin's dbx master of "Sharing." She plans to release it sometime this year.

Cindy Mangsen Album
Available on CD.

Long Time Traveling

Long Time Traveling was Cindy Mangsen's first album, recorded in 1983 at WFMT in Chicago by Rich Warren. I was able to also get a DAT copy of Rich's backup F1 digital recording made from the master tape which was substantially inferior to the original master! This required pre-treatment and manual intervention at a few dropout points. This Dolby A tape restored very well.

We've done additional projects for Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangsen.

Pat Paget Project
Private restoration for the artists, not commercially available.

Pat Paget Project The Pat Paget Project - 1986 - Tobuique River Music

Performers: Colin Linden, Caitlin Hanford, Marie-Lynn Hammond, Paul Mills, Gord Lowe, Margaret Christl, Pat Paget, Gwen Swick, Eclectricity (Miriam Sturm), Friends of Fiddler's Green, Tim Harrison, Jude Johnson, and Heather Bishop.

Tapes suffered from sticky-shed and were treated. There were substantial problems with the splices and leader tape as well as a few dropouts. All were corrected during playback.

This CD restoration includes scans of the original covers and other artwork as data files in a CD-extra portion of the disc.

St. Thomas Church, New York City
A Cappella At St. Thomas and the two Dupré cuts from Organs of NY Vol 1 have been re-released on
Priory Records The Saint Thomas Tradition PRCD910.
Silent Night At . . . Saint Thomas has been re-released on Priory Records PRCD912.
These are available through St. Thomas Church or through Priory Records.

   Please see my Web site for the albums I plan on restoring:
  • 20th Century Services . . . at St. Thomas - 1977 - Stereo LP released by the Church
  • A Concert in Memory of Benjamin Britten on the first anniversary of his death 4 December 1977 - Released by the author, stereo 2 LP, Hessound S1001, S1002
  • Organs of New York Vol. I - Judith Hancock at St. Thomas Church - 1978 - Released by the author, stereo LP, Hessound S1003
  • A Cappella at St. Thomas - 1979 - Stereo LP released by the Church
  • The Great Service by William Byrd - 1981 - Stereo LP released by the Church
  • Silent Night At . . . Saint Thomas - 1982 - Stereo LP and cassette released by the Church
All tapes are Dolby A except the first which is Dolby B (I learned my lesson after the first one). Only the last tape suffers from sticky-shed. For the last tape, the original edited master was lost. I have gone back to the session masters, treated them, and transferred all the original portions. I now need to assemble the final version...again, almost 20 years later.

I will also be restoring a select group of other concert, recital, and special service recordings made at the church.

Stringband Albums
A 2-CD Retrospective Set is now available

Canadian Sunset
National Melodies
Thanks to the Following
The Maple Leaf Dog
The following tapes were restored:
  • Canadian Sunset – 1973 – Nick 1
  • National Melodies– 1975 – Nick 2
  • Thanks to the Following – 1977 – Nick 4
  • The Maple Leaf Dog – 1978 – Nick 5
  • Stringband Live! – 1980 – Nick 6
  • Across Russia by Stage – 1983 – Nick C1
  • Bossin’s Generic Cassette– 1986 – Nick C2
  • Bossin’s Home Remedy for Nuclear War and Related Ailments – 1986 – Nick C3
  • Bossin’s West Coast – 1986 – Nick C4
  • Bob Bossin: The Way We Was (Bossin’s Greatest Hits Vol. 1) – 1994 – Nick 008
  • A variety of concert and other miscellaneous tapes in all formats and speeds.

The album tapes were all 15 i.p.s. and were in a variety of conditions. The humid West Coast climate in which they had been stored exacerbated the sticky-shed problems of those tapes having that problem. The earliest tape was on Racal Zonal which played well, except it was marked as Dolby A and it turned out not to be encoded with the noise reduction! There were the usual splice problems and some dropout problems. The concert recordings and other miscellaneous tapes posed an equally daunting challenge, and I still have a box of cassettes to go through! The concert and miscellaneous tapes were in a variety of formats. Bob Bossin: The Way We Was (Bossin’s Greatest Hits Vol. 1) was recreated from the restored masters. Stringband Live! was dbx Type 1 encoded and the decoder that worked well for Marie-Lynn Hammond also worked well for this album.

The planned retrospective CD will include a CD-extra portion that will include some alternate takes in MP3 format as well as some comments and remembrances of fans and friends and other items that we develop. This technique will keep the cost reasonable (a 2-CD set) while making it a richer experience than would otherwise be possible at this price level.
Across Russia by StageBossin's Generic CassetteHome Remedy for Nuclear War and related ailmentsBossin's West CoastThe Way We Was

Nancy White Albums
Ordering information for Unexpected will be on Nancy's Web site.

Unexpected - The reissue Unexpected - 1983/2001

30 i.p.s tapes in good condition except some clicking at the beginning of reel two. This was removed by use of a declicker software plugin.

Reissued in April 2001 by Borealis Records. One song was replaced by a newly mixed recording (from the original session tapes). It took a lot of work to get this to match as it was mixed using 2000 equipment and sensibilities. The rest of the album, of course, was mixed in 1983.
Sort of Political Sort of Political - circa 1982

15 i.p.s. master tapes in reasonable condition. Tapes suffered from poor winding and edge damage.
Bimbolandia Bimbolandia - circa 1988

15 i.p.s. master tapes in reasonable condition. Tapes suffered from some edge damage.

Other Work
While the above represents the majority of my public projects, I have done a number of private restorations, or have them ongoing. I have restored from vinyl for several people who have the vinyl in their collections of albums that have never been released on CD. I have also restored from the original masters Severin Browne's first album made while he was in high school. This, again, for private use of the band members. I have a tape archive of The Great Neck Symphony that I recorded in the mid 1970's that I may restore. I have restored some of the shows that I recorded for the Village Light Opera Group of New York City.
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