More about “Coffeehouse – Pork Pie Hat.”
So I played Side 1 again. Seemed much clearer this time, so I decided I’d be replacing some tracks before I move on to the next tape.
This proved quite interesting. A reminder for those less obsessed than I am: I’d played this tape three times. The first time was basically just to clean the gunk off, and I didn’t even keep the Audacity recording. It sounded like utter crap.
The second time mostly sounded okay. I transferred it all to MP3.
I played back the Audacity recording of the third, and compared it, song by song, with the MP3s I made from the second play-through.
The first three tracks were clearly superior on #2 — crisper, clearer highs, generally sharper. But the fourth track (“Maggie’s Farm”) was much less obvious. I wound up keeping #2, but it required playing bits of each version against each other to judge them, and it was close.
And with tracks #5 and 6 — which I haven’t identified; I think 6 is just the band jamming — Recording #3 is clearly superior. I’m replacing the earlier versions. By the end of track 6, Recording #2 was muddy sludge, where #3 is still pretty crisp.
But I cleaned the tape heads twice during Recording #2 (and not at all during #3), so I needed to see what happened when I got to those points.
And I made an unpleasant discovery.
The sound quality was significantly better on #3, but I couldn’t use a lot of it — Audacity skipped stuff. A 13-minute jam is 11 minutes — that’s the worst, but at least four tracks have skips.
I needed to do it again.
So I did Recording #3 of Side 2, then checked it to see if it was better than what I had.
It wasn’t. It started well, but by fifteen minutes in it was noticeably inferior to the previous take. I think the tape’s fading and probably won’t survive many more playings.
I only saved a couple of tracks from this pass. The last iteration of “Summertime” got swapped out, and I’m saving the last “Spoonful” until I figure out why it’s 20 seconds longer. But that’s all.
I needed one more pass, to get those cuts from Side 1 that got munged, and then the tape goes away.
But wow — I got some much nicer takes this last time around, and replaced tracks #8 through 15. Serious improvement — but I don’t know why. (Tracks #1-5 or so weren’t as good as before; on #6 and 7 the differences were inaudible to me.)
And here’s a weird thing — the timing was different. The tape apparently ran faster the fourth time through, where previous recordings (at least, all that I checked) matched. WTF. It’s never more than a few seconds, and some of it may come from trimming in slightly different places, but several of these are 2 – 6 seconds shorter than previous versions.
Anyway, it’s done. I have thirty decent tracks, from three different play-throughs. I still need to identify some tracks — but that should be easier now, because I can actually hear the lyrics on some of them now.
On to the next tape!