I have recently acquired a TEAC A-2050 tape player.
From what I know, its a pretty standard, consumer level, 1/4" tape recorder.
I have a stash of Ampex 406 Audio Mastering Tapes which I attempted to use in this player.
When record enabled, the audio path and VU meters lead me to believe I am recording. However, when I playback what I tried to record, I hear it VERY faintly.
First of all, am I using the right kind of tape?
Can anybody shed some light on tape types and formats?
I would assume the TEAC is a three head machine which should have a "Record" and Play" switch on the front panel, or something to that effect. Have you flipped this switch when trying to listen to your playback?
"Shed" is not a good word to use when discussing vintage magnetic tape formulations. The Amperex may have become brittle with age and will shed oxide when used quickly making it worthless, at best, to run through the TEAC. Hopefully not, it largely depends on how the tape has been stored. At this point in time, I would stick with whatever tape you can find in sufficient quantity. If you decide to use a particular tape, take the machine into a shop that is familiar with TEAC and have the technician bias the deck for that specific tape format. The technician will probably be willing to spend some time with you discussing tape types.
Yes, I did return the switch to 'Playback'.
I also read up on the 'shedding' which seems to be characterized by de-lamination and presence of a white residue. Upon first glance, my tapes seem to be in great shape. They also run through the heads smoothly with no squeaking.
I'll try to find someone to service this thing.
If you aren't familiar with R2R tapes, read up on the info suggested by others.
There were at least two major types of tape backing material (the plastic on which the magnetic oxide is placed). An older type was Acetate, and later many used Mylar. You can tell the difference. Acetate tapes will pull slightly and snap into two, acting brittle-like. You can splice a broken acetate tape with splicing tape (NOT off-the shelf scotch tape).
Mylar will stretch into a small, round, string shape from a flat tape, making it useless. Sometimes the tape box you have may state the type of tape. Either type can be cut and spliced with appropriate splicing jig.
I am not sure, but I think the Teac you got is a 1/4" tape machine, as others have stated here. My guess is that it's also a 7" reel diameter machine, as opposed to a 10.5" machine that TEAC also made. There were other machines that ran 5" reels, and portables that ran 5" or 3" reels. Does your machine have an auto-reverse feature?
As far as I can remember, consumer machines used 1/4" width tape, with 4 tracks (called quarter track machines), two stereo tracks in the forward direction, and two stereo tracks in the reverse direction. You could also record four mono tracks, two forward, and two reverse.
Some comsumer machines had the option to do only two tracks in the forward direction, using half-track recording heads; the machine comes built that way, as it's non-switchable. The advantage is more signal is recorded over a greater width, I think supposed to reduce noise.