“Mystery” reel-to-reel tape of shortwave radio broadcasts

Reel-to-reel

Several weeks ago, an SWLing Post reader (sorry–I’m missing your name in my notes!) sent me the following YouTube video. The video is essentially a review of the Pioneer RT-707 reel-to-reel tape deck. The reviewer is using a “mystery” tape of shortwave radio broadcasts in the deck.

You’ll recognize a number of broadcasters in his audio clips:

Click here to view on YouTube.

I’ve actually asked this YouTube reviewer if he would digitize the tape so that I could add it to the shortwave archive. I love lost and found recordings like this.

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9 thoughts on ““Mystery” reel-to-reel tape of shortwave radio broadcasts

  1. John Mosman

    What an interesting tape, brings back so many memories – multiple receivers, multiple locations. I still own my first, a National NC-60 and a over the past few years a Icom R75. I live in the NW burbs of Chicago and turning on the radio (with a short single-wire antenna) gets nothing but hash. i am not technical so the many cable boxes, power lines through the backyard and close neighbors keep the noise pollution high. Fun listening to the tape and the video author not understanding SW stations and international broadcasting back in the day.

    Reply
  2. David - EA4998URE SWL

    Hi everyone,

    I’m the SWLing Post reader who tweeted Thomas about this video! I just happened to come across it on YouTube while watching related videos and thought it would be interesting to share it in my Twitter feed, for him (and my other followers) to see!

    I’ve been a keen ‘general coverage’ LW-to-‘as high as I can’ ( πŸ™‚ ) listener for a number of years now (I would say 6 or 7 as of now, I don’t know exactly… time flies!). During the last year or so, I’ve also developed an interest in HiFi audio hardware, which made me take the decision to improve the home stereo system… I relocated a rather simple but effective Kenwood M-505USB mini-component system to another room (and eBayed a pair of Realistic Minimus 7 speakers for it) and replaced it with a Sony DHC-MD373 ‘main unit’, a Technics SL-DD20 turntable (with a Behringer PP400 phono preamp), and a Pioneer CT-W505R cassette deck. I also use a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B as a digital audio and internet ‘radio’ player (with the RuneAudio OS and a HiFiBerry DAC+Pro digital-analog audio converter card), and an Apt-X enabled Bluetooth receiver so that I can stream audio from the computer or smartphone into the system. Future plans include adding a reel-to-reel deck. Open reel tape is (still today) considered to be one of the best audio quality sources and I would love to be able to have the capability to play it back (and record on it!).

    Of course, as an SWLer, I couldn’t forget to add that RF flavor into the system! There’s an audio line running, from my Icom IC-R8500, into one of the inputs in the back of the switching array that I use to select the audio source, and the component to send it to (for recording and/or playback through the speakers). Whenever I find a good sounding SW station, I can plug that cable into the headphones connector of the ‘8500 (I find it sounds better than the REC OUT line output, and it’s wired for two-channel mono operation, while the REC OUT is one-channel mono only and I have to use an adapter on it) and simply enjoy the sound! I find CRI Spanish to be one of the best stations for that. Their 20 KHz wide signals on 7210 KHz and 6020 KHz, TX’d directly from China (and from the Cerrik, Albania relay as well) are booming here on an almost daily basis and, while they may be controversial for the amount of space they take on the band, I certainly cannot deny that listening to a wide, booming signal from China containing recent pop hits of the country, in great mono quality, through the stereo system, is an outstanding experience! Plus, it has broadened my musical horizons as I’ve discovered lots of cool sounding songs that I hadn’t heard before πŸ™‚
    I also use a car FM stereo TX that I use for transmitting any audio originating from either the radio or the music gear into any device which happens to have an FM broadcast receiver in it, within the limits of my QTH (I managed to extend the coverage of that TX by using a telescopic whip from a non-functional Tecsun PL-600 that I keep as a parts donor). For example, I can use the Panasonic RX-EX1 boombox that’s in the bedroom to listen to music from a vinyl record that may be playing on the turntable or to a SW station that may be tuned on my IC-R8500 πŸ™‚

    The conjunction of both those interests has also led me to the discovery of C-QUAM AM stereo. Having listened to some samples of 10 Khz-wide signals from US AM/MW stations on YouTube (and from SW pirate X-FM) I have to say that the sound quality is great! I’ve wondered lots of times if C-QUAM would be the solution for SW international broacasting stations to be popular amongst the general public again, over other ways to broadcast audio at an international level… Not only can C-QUAM sound much better (with the necessary bandwidth) than digitally streamed audio, through RF, or even the internet, (as it’s an analog signal and it’s not digitally encoded in lossy, compressed MP2 and MP3 codecs streamed at a low bitrate), but it’s more compatible as well. Any traditional mono AM receiver demodulates the signal just well, as it simply ignores the pilot tone and the L-R subcarrier. So there would be zero disruptions to the usage of existing SW RXs with the new C-QUAM signals… It would be great to have the remaining SW broadcasters TXing in stereo… I figure that, because they are fewer than in times past, it wouldn’t be an unsolvable problem to make all the signals fit in the bands on a particular point in time even if the bandwidths used were larger (to enhance the audio frequency response). If I only could receive the above mentioned CRI signal in good quality C-QUAM stereo, all would be well for me!

    All in all, i’m sorry for the long-winded, somehow off-topic comment! I’m more of a listener/watcher/reader (in the internet as well!) as I know I can go on and on if I try to write a comment… Like now… But I hope I’ve not been boring to anybody at least!

    73 and good DXing from Barcelona (Spain)!

    David – EA4998URE SWL

    Reply
  3. Brian D. Smith, W9IND

    As the YouTube comments indicate, there are transmissions from several clearly discernible shortwave and utility stations on this tape. The owner just doesn’t understand it because he’s not into SW radio and has probable never heard an interval signal before.

    Not only are Deutsche Welle and VOA (Monrovia, Liberia) on this tape, but also obscure gems like “This is a test transmission for circuit adjustment purposes” from Cable & Wireless Ltd. in Georgetown, Guyana.

    Hope the guy still has the tape. He considers it strange and mysterious and thinks it has poor audio quality, but to me, that’s shortwave radio!

    Reply
  4. Cap

    I have always wondered why international broadcasters do not include something like ‘This is VOA’ or ‘This is Radio Romania’ along with their interval signal. It would make everyone’s job in identing stations a lot easier πŸ™‚
    I am sure there is a reason behind it? also guessing that the interval signal cannot go on too long before the station has to identify to keep in within licencing conditions (15 mins?).

    Reply
    1. Keith Perron

      There was no need. The music used was also something connected with the country.

      Intervals run as long as how long before transmission starts. Most international broadcasters would run it 1 min to 30 seconds before. Others like Radio Netherlands depending on the service use to sometimes run it 3 to 4 mins before the start of the program at the bottom of the hour.

      International broadcasters do have anything like the 15 minute mandatory ID.Which seems to be excessive. Most will say it at the beginning and ending of news. or at the end and beginning of a program. Sometimes even once an hour depending of the length.

      Now on some of the early BBC World Service newscasts, which you can see here at certain times. They do it in the middle of the news. This is so stations that are relaying it can make that newscast shorter. ABC RN do with with Radio Australia. In Canada the CBC do it as well. Because some CBC stations depending on the time zone run either a longer or shorter version of the news.

      Reply

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