I have a 20 mm magnetic tape, with 14 channels. The data tape does not have any sound and format in which data has been stored on tracks is as follows.enter image description here

The picture of tape head is as follows. Tape Head I have

enter image description here

The magnetic head received is not fit to be refurbished. I have contacted some companies , but 14-channel magnetic heads are not in stock, and most companies are not responding.

I thought of using sensors from Matesy.de but I am unclear whether they will be able to respond quickly enough to the change in magnetic flux as compared to conventional magnetic heads.

Is there any other way you can think of for doing this project? I am actually thinking of collaboration and solving this assignment.

If anything strikes to anyone, kindly let me know.

Edited Going through the answers provided has actually made me ask new questions, as clearly I wasn't on right path.

  1. Alternative to E-bay Tape Head? Tascam ATR-6 tape head

Tascam ATR-6 Tape Head

For this can anybody provide any reference to the electronic circuit which will be used, after taking wires from pins provided on magnetic tape head ?

Is there any new age electronic circuits (read made), for e.g. the circuit may be a 1 × 4-ch signal receiver, which can read the output from tape recorder and convert it, into digital format. Then I would require four such circuits, to make 4 × 4 channels.

  1. Buying complete equipment like Tascam ATR-60.

Are there any other equipment's like Tascam ATR-60 which use 16 track (1") magnetic head? Also, what could be the authentic store to buy such a machine. I am more interested in getting the complete mechanism i.e. Magnetic Tape Head, with Tape Mechanism and circuits so that I can focus on converting the sound to digital format individually for each track.

  1. As suggested by @user_1818839 , the best posible way could be by using two heads, and arranging them parallaly, I was able to find a device on ebay , but its not available for order. enter image description here

  2. Which formats are used to store the sounds on 14 tracks, is there any frames, subframes with time stamping or all channels contain sounds?

Thanks and regards.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you be more specific? What machine/make/date does it belong to? for what purpose? I heve access to various manufacturers if it can be of help.Cheers \$\endgroup\$
    – racso
    Dec 24, 2021 at 16:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ The datasheets of the sensor does not contain any information about speed or frequency. \$\endgroup\$
    – Uwe
    Dec 24, 2021 at 17:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ You need to make that much more clear in your question. Unless you specify then everyone is going to assume it's a 16-track audio recording system. Also shopping questions are not allowed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Transistor
    Dec 26, 2021 at 10:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi, I have update the same in the post , just got high resolution pictures clicked for the head. \$\endgroup\$
    – dakudiv
    Dec 26, 2021 at 10:58
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It looks like 14 tracks to me, which may be easier to find. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 26, 2021 at 13:13

2 Answers 2


I am sure that would not work, because those sensors do not have the appropriate shape, are unlikely to have he required frequency response, and cannot withstand the rigors of rubbing from kilometers of tape.

In any case, even if it were possible, finding a 16-track head from an audio surplus store will take much less effort that inventing a whole new technology.


1st result: https://www.ebay.com/itm/284274887590?hash=item42301a8ba6:g:rwkAAOSws85giM4d

16-track head

  • \$\begingroup\$ I feel the solution suggested by you might be the best way currently. Is there any site which you can refer for buying such heads , or any professional audio engineer who can help in this project ? \$\endgroup\$
    – dakudiv
    Jan 11, 2022 at 15:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ I feel the solution suggested by you might be the best way Could you please "accept" my answer then? I appreciate it. Is there any site Just click on the Google link I gave you and look through the results. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 11, 2022 at 16:33

Rolling your own head is probably not feasible : discussed in this Q&A : Homebuilt magnetic tape head - I think the mechanical dimensions described there probably rule out Hall effect or other sensors.

If you can't find a 16 track head, maybe you can find 4 track heads with suitable track spacing. That MIGHT allow you to create an assembly of 4 such heads to give 16 tracks (given a friend with a machine shop, for example).

I can see two feasible arrangements : one high risk (be prepared to sacrifice a couple of tape heads) and one that requires a bit of post-processing the audio.

  1. High risk : machine the top and bottom off two head blocks; the top off a third, the bottom off a 4th. This will allow the 4 blocks to be stacked in line, but if the machining bites into the windings, you have probably destroyed the head.
  2. Post-processing : mount alternate blocks staggered, like zipper teeth, so there is the correct height between the top track on one block and the bottom track on the next. This imposes a delay on 8 of the tracks; you'll need some nifty wave editing skills to realign them in Audacity or whatever on your PC later.

Either way, you will want to be able to adjust the height of each headblock, as well as its own azimuth to avoid high frequency loss.

Failing all of these, you might transfer 4 or 8 tracks at a time and raise the head block between passes, but be prepared for major frustration from speed variations between passes.

A better idea is probably to contact professional audio engineers (preferably long established) who still have and maintain a 16-track machine, and contract them to transcribe the tape for you. It'll cost money - or beer (*), but still probably be cheaper than the engineering needed to read it yourself.

(*) 40 years ago, I could have suggested several pubs around Broadcasting House (London W1A 1AA) where a heavy bar tab might have produced results, including the one that likely cost Dylan Thomas his liver, but those days are gone.

Or keep looking. I did the obvious search for "4 track tape heads" and one hit on the first page promised heads "For any format - 1" 16,8 or 4 track" and a re-lapping service for old heads. So you may yet get lucky.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi, I totally agree with your point and suggestions, I have updated the post with picture of the head , I have. Clearly I am extreme novice in the area of magnetic tapes, can you suggest any audio engineer who could get the project going. \$\endgroup\$
    – dakudiv
    Dec 26, 2021 at 11:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ You might ask pro audio suppliers like hhb.co.uk if they have anything suitable for hire. \$\endgroup\$
    – user16324
    Dec 26, 2021 at 16:08

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