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Project SIS Music Master S2; Background Music System

 
crustytv
(@crustytv)
Vrat Founder Admin

Background (Ooo.. excuse the pun)

For a while now, I've been on the lookout for a period background music system for the museum. I know one simple solution would be just having the TV's running with test card music playing but. However, I don't really want to have the TV's running all the time, the sheer cost of electricity, heat generation and wearing valuable cathode emissions, makes it a non-starter.

Yes I could have gone down the cassette route with auto loop, but I wanted something period, something that you would have been used in a shop back in the day, so the hunt was on. I'm currently using my Fergy 3T27 with some Test card tapes.

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One system I had fancied, was the Rediffusion Reditune system. However, these just never turn up. The closest I got was an advertisement tray, so the hunt continued.

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Reditune

Was founded by Rediffusion in 1956 supplying a background music service for commercial and industrial applications.  Once established in the United Kingdom, the Reditune operation was extended to overseas Rediffusion companies and, where no Rediffusion company existed, franchise agents were appointed. The first of these was in Belgium in 1961, and eventually Reditune operated  in seventy countries with a combined subscribership of more than 35,000.  Reditune became the largest world-wide background music operator outside of the United States.

redi

The SIS System; The one I've Found

Eventually I managed to find one system, it came out of a closed down Television Audio shop, in fact the same shop that I got a lot of my recent signs and memorabilia for my museum.

Before it arrived I did in fact contact Mat (Techmoan) sending photos for his thoughts on the player, he believed it was based on the Fidelipac system, which turned out to be the case. By the way,  If you're a subscriber to Techmoan, you may be familiar with the various systems used which go way back to the 50s. Mat has on occasion covered various background music cartridge systems. If you're not, I highly recommend a watch of his channel, highly addictive and full of old and new technology reviews.

The unit is a fairly large and heavy beast made by SIS limited. The model being a Music Master S2.  It has 100V line outputs and standard 4-OHM speaker output. DIN MIC input for voice over, and tone control to the rear. On the front there's track change, system start/stop and volume level.

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Upon opening up, the capstan belt, although in place but on the verge of snapping in various places. Luckily, I have a large belt stock, so a suitable replacement was found and installed. I've not powered up yet, reason being the 2x 3300uF 40V electrolytics have puked and need replacing. Sods-law, none in stock, so I've placed an order today. Other than that, it all looks very clean.

The System Internals

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The tapes

The system employs the large 7" carts with a 4-track play head, with a large swing up pinch roller. This was known as the “Fidelipac”, or more commonly known as a “NAB cartridge” or simply just “cart”. It's  a magnetic tape sound recording format, used commonly for radio broadcasting for playback of material over the air such as radio commercials, jingles, station identifications, and music, but also used in many stores. I bet as kids you remember wandering around Woolies or Fine Fair, especially at Christmas, hearing what is best described as elevator music.

 

Fedelipac or NAB, cartridge

NABfed
fed1
fed2

These tapes are equally hard to find, but again the gods were smiling on me, and I've managed to get some, which I'm waiting to arrive. I believe they've been wiped, which is a real shame, but we shall see. If they have, that will be my next challenge, how to get music onto the carts. If this is the case, I wonder if it's possible to find someone with a Reel-to-Reel. I could then open up a cart, spool the tape onto a standard reel, and record music onto it, and the re-spool the cart. That will only provide me with 1-track though, so maybe a 4-track recorder?

Fingers crossed this all pans out, I will then have a continuous background music system for the museum. I hope that was of some interest and not something you've often seen. More to follow after I've replaced the two large caps and have received the carts.

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Topic starter Posted : 13/11/2021 1:29 pm
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Cathovisor
(@cathovisor)
Illustrious V-Ratter Registered
Posted by: @crustytv

If they have, that will be my next challenge, how to get music onto the carts. If this is the case, I believe what I would need to do is find someone with a Reel-to-Reel. I would then need to open up a cart, spool the tape onto a standard reel, record music onto it, and the re-spool the cart.

You'll need a computer as well as a four-track tape recorder - because these cartridges only play in one direction, you'll need to record two of the four tracks backwards on your tape recorder, hence the computer... of course, if you find a full-width four-track machine like an Otari or a Teac you're laughing!

Assuming the track layout to be the same, you should be able to do it with a mono 1/4" 4-track machine as described - the tracks that would be recorded with the tape turned over would be the 'backwards' ones.

Also, what is the speed of the tape in this machine? I'm vaguely familiar with cart machines thanks to Sonifex cart players.

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Posted : 13/11/2021 3:56 pm
crustytv liked
crustytv
(@crustytv)
Vrat Founder Admin
Posted by: @cathovisor

Also, what is the speed of the tape in this machine? I'm vaguely familiar with cart machines thanks to Sonifex cart players.

The honest answer is, I don't know 7-1/2ips? I've seen that mentioned on some other carts, were they recorded at other speeds? I believe Fedilpac, NAB, Sonifex, are all the same.

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Topic starter Posted : 13/11/2021 4:29 pm
Alex728
(@alex728)
Trusted V-Ratter Registered

@crustytv for broadcast use the standard speed was 7.5 ips - I don't know if this machine may have used 3.75 ips or slower as it would have been intended to play longer background music whereas carts in broadcasting were about 3-5 minutes max and many only about 30 seconds - 1 minute for jingles and adverts.

I once extracted a cart from the autodialler of an old burglar alarm, this was recorded at 3.75 ips but it was one of the consumer 8-track cartridges. 

TBH by the time I started working in community radio they had already given way to Minidiscs and playout of digital files from PCs, but I remember hearing about how all the music on the offshore station Laser 558 was copied onto carts (as vinyl records could be problematic on a vessel in the North Sea!)

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Posted : 15/11/2021 8:33 pm
Cathovisor
(@cathovisor)
Illustrious V-Ratter Registered
Posted by: @alex728

I remember hearing about how all the music on the offshore station Laser 558 was copied onto carts (as vinyl records could be problematic on a vessel in the North Sea!)

In the 1950s Garrard sold a 78rpm turntable that sat within a gimbal for precisely this situation...

A friend of mine brought in something he rescued from Anglia TV many years ago - a 2" Quad VT cart for adverts!

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Posted : 15/11/2021 9:43 pm
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RichardFromMarple
(@richardfrommarple)
Trusted V-Ratter Registered

@cathovisor Some of the pirate radio stations often taped old pennies to the pick up arms to keep them from jumping, but in rough conditions they had to play from a tape.  Some of the sponsored material I presume came on tape, such as the American religious programming Kenny Everett was sacked for spoofing!

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Posted : 15/11/2021 11:29 pm
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crustytv
(@crustytv)
Vrat Founder Admin

What is that saying about buses....... Oh, and the other one about a certain earthy law!

A 1976 Reditune TP80 player only went and turned up on eBay, well I had to have it, sadly no cartridges with it though.

This is where that earthy law kicks in, last week, Jim tipped me off to a Reditune cart that he thought might fit SIS2 player. It was on eBay but located in Japan, I looked and confirmed it was not compatible. It was for the Reditune TP.80 machine, which of course I didn't have........but I do now! Aghhhhhh

Of course, the listing ended without sale but has not been relisted and I cannot find the vendor.

The pain, oh the pain..... 🤣 

Here's the TP80 I bought, anyone got some fairy dust, rocking horse poop, unicorn hair or a TP80 cart?

tps80
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Topic starter Posted : 25/11/2021 11:18 am
Alex728 liked