Thoughts about WAV tapes repository

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Symoon
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Thoughts about WAV tapes repository

Post by Symoon » Sun Mar 31, 2019 8:34 am

Hi,

I'm still transferring tapes, at very slow pace, and still to get a TAP file from them.
This requires making WAV files of the (44kHz, 8-bit), that I'm trashing once the TAP is done.

I've heared a few times that people would be interested in WAV repository. Seems a bit complicated to me, as it is hard to:
- validate the WAV file is 100% error free without doing a complete transfer with error checking (Euphoric TAPE tools). So we should check at least that the file loads
- konw if, in case it doesn't perfectly load, we can alter the WAV file to make it work?
- know without complete transfer if the WAV file I just made differs or not from another (many programs exist in several versions)

BTW should we make it mono or stereo? Stereo has the advantage to show the real tape content and quality; you might notice when the left channel is recorded very low, which explains some "tape bug" experience from Oric users in the 80's. But the counterpart is: why keep a faulty channel, if the right one loads and no the left one?
And should we make WAV files of empty B-sides, just to prove they were empty? And keep the silence 'til the end of the side? Hey, it all depends of what one wants ;)

Also, how to operate this? To me the easiest would be a shared FTP with each contributor managing and sharing his own collection. This way anyone can work with the quality levels he wants to, without interfering with others collection quality standards. This would mean doubles, but just like in reality.
It would require lots of storage, as a tape can be up to 230MB (this is the longest with slow programs: 30min, each side being around 115MB).

Lots of questions, and the most important one: is there a real need for such a thing, and what for exactly? (which could help answering some questions above). Historic archive, simple need to load on a real Oric, ... ?

PS: I'm not starting this project, just asking 'cos I can start keeping WAV files from now on, as storage is not an issue as it was 20 years ago when I began transferring tapes)

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Re: Thoughts about WAV tapes repository

Post by Dbug » Sun Mar 31, 2019 11:17 am

My thoughts on the topic:

- being able to load actual real oric games, complete with all the intro pages (like loriciels ads), anti-piracy protection (like Manic Miner or Starter 3D) would be very nice, that could be done with a simple web page with an embedded player control on it.

- being able to recreate broken oric games tapes: I have some originals that has the tape twist and break, some other that got distorted and don't play a consistent speed, etc... having perfect recordings of both fast and slow content would allow us to rebuild these originals.

- I don't see any benefit in having the files in stereo in the final archiving: It can be useful when doing the transfert on some of these wonky tapes that seem recorded half way on the two tracks, but the Oric itself is mono, as far as I'm concerned all the oric games should be recorded mono, or double mono (same content duplicated on each side) :)

- Regarding the storage, I'm not quite sure how many programs we have on the Oric, but 1000 tapes using the largest size example (230 MB) would still take only 230 gigabytes. If cost is an issue, I don't think we would have a problem pooling together the oric community to buy a few terabytes of disk storage in a NAS or something like that :)

- Regarding the operation, I've no idea, guess it would make sense to have that integrated with the existing oric.org, only for people who are logged in (to limit problems of rights, like it is right now basically), and maybe have people allowed to upload new versions, with some explanation of what they are, and people could vote on the quality, validating that "it loads fine on Oric 1 and Atmos" or "volume is too low", etc...

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Re: Thoughts about WAV tapes repository

Post by Symoon » Sun Mar 31, 2019 1:13 pm

Actually, we would have much more than 1000 tapes I think, but on the other hand, only the very big early programs will use 230MB (slow speed recording, with both sides). Fast speed recordings only take around 50-60MB.

If the goal is to re-create a version that can be loaded, then unmodified TAP file + TAP2WAV could be enough, wouldn't it? Ah, except it won't re-create slow speed WAVs, a new generator would have to be programmed, from a slow speed TAP (ones including CLOAD"",S and not CLOAD"").

If the goal is to re-create the exact original tape sound, then ideally it's full both sides (stereo for purists, if any). It's sometimes necessary if the author is speaking on the tape (yes, they sometimes did), or if one enjoys listening the duplication signal at the beginning or ed of the recording (it's part of the history, isn't it ;) ).

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Re: Thoughts about WAV tapes repository

Post by iss » Sun Mar 31, 2019 1:43 pm

Dbug wrote:
Sun Mar 31, 2019 11:17 am
... that could be done with a simple web page with an embedded player control on it.
I really like the idea to have such on-line player! Sources can be WAV and/or TAP files.
Just for reference take a look at the Apple ][ Game Server Online - IMO - simple, nice and useful.

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Re: Thoughts about WAV tapes repository

Post by Chema » Sun Mar 31, 2019 1:54 pm

I am not sure about the benefits of storing real wavs, sure you mentioned some, but they are relates to purists and collectors. That's okay for me, of course.

But for the normal user, only those tapes with strange formats that cannot be coded as Taps (protections, different encodings,...) would benefit. And, IIRC, we already have a format for those... ort, haven't we?

And what do they use in other platforms... the spectrum community has the tzx format..

Couldn't we just adopt that format?

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Re: Thoughts about WAV tapes repository

Post by NekoNoNiaow » Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:58 am

Note that http://archive.org offers storage space precisely for these kinds of recordings.
Even if the works are copyrighted they usually are fine with hosting them unless the right holders complains since their mission is explicitly to archive all digital content.

We could create a dedicated "Oric Community" collection on archive.org and dump the files there.
This way they would be accessible to everyone and their archival would be ensured by archive.org backup systems (which I think are quite extensive).

Examples of already existing Oric content on archive.org: https://archive.org/details/software?and%5B%5D=oric.

That content could also be automatically backup-ed onto a community-financed NAS as DBug suggested.

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Re: Thoughts about WAV tapes repository

Post by Steve M » Sat Apr 06, 2019 12:29 am

How accurate are Tap images? I mean we can combine files to a single tap file so it can include the original loaders and protection.
Can the combined file be turned back into separate files?

I think for preservation of some tapes a Wav would be useful but a Tap file would work for most.

So far I've not had a lot of success with creating Wav files that load. Maybe once I've settled on a technique that works it would seem more viable, but at the moment it seems tricky to accomplish.

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Re: Thoughts about WAV tapes repository

Post by Dbug » Sat Apr 06, 2019 7:45 am

Steve M wrote:
Sat Apr 06, 2019 12:29 am
How accurate are Tap images? I mean we can combine files to a single tap file so it can include the original loaders and protection.
Not really accurate for two reasons:
- Many of the tapes just got the "important part", the actual game, with all the pre-loader, loading "please wait text", etc... removed
- The TAP format itself is just a bunch of byte, so any non standard encoding requiring a custom loader cannot be represent in this format

I see the TAP file a bit like the MP3 you download and play on your computer, but if you wanted to redo a small batch of originals, you would not start from the MP3, you would try to find a gold master of the original recording.

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Re: Thoughts about WAV tapes repository

Post by Steve M » Sat Apr 06, 2019 9:30 pm

OK , that's interesting.

So the mutli-part tapes will be worth doing.

My thoughts were to load the files onto disk and then CSAVE them back to tape so that it gave a fresh recording - but of course this doesn't work when the disk area clashes.
Is there any way of dumping a file into an unused area then dumping it back to tape without it occupying the area of memory it's supposed to be in?
(I'm thinking of things like storing HIRES screens in memory and then calling them up as needed. I'm sure I've seen something like that.)

That's probably getting a bit complicated but I'm finding old tapes are getting harder to load so I'm thinking that making fresh recordings would produce cleaner audio.

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Re: Thoughts about WAV tapes repository

Post by Symoon » Sat Apr 06, 2019 10:17 pm

To me the only safe way to go is to use Fabrice's Tape Tools, on Sourceforge. They require a PC using Windows.
Make a WAV, make a TAP from it with Wavclean and Wav2tap (this checks loading errors!), generate back a WAV file with Tap2wav.
Of course this won't work with special routines.

I was working on a tool called Wavpeak, that was supposed to revive a WAV file from an old and faulty tape, by re-boosting the peaks from the signal and checking if they were correctly set. But the lack of time kills 90% of my projects.

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Re: Thoughts about WAV tapes repository

Post by Dbug » Sun Apr 07, 2019 10:26 am

I was working on a tool called Wavpeak, that was supposed to revive a WAV file from an old and faulty tape, by re-boosting the peaks from the signal and checking if they were correctly set. But the lack of time kills 90% of my projects.
I wonder if it's possible to do a decent software alternative to the hardware "tape filter thingy" box, basically some "WaveClean++", you would record a tape, pass it through the software and it would regenerate a new wave file with normalized volume output, nicely spaced out values, fixed stereo issues, etc... eventually with the possibility to use multiple recordings of the same tape done at different volumes or settings to try to get through reading errors?

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Re: Thoughts about WAV tapes repository

Post by Symoon » Sun Apr 07, 2019 1:08 pm

Dbug wrote:
Sun Apr 07, 2019 10:26 am
I wonder if it's possible to do a decent software alternative to the hardware "tape filter thingy" box, basically some "WaveClean++", you would record a tape, pass it through the software and it would regenerate a new wave file with normalized volume output, nicely spaced out values, fixed stereo issues, etc... eventually with the possibility to use multiple recordings of the same tape done at different volumes or settings to try to get through reading errors?
Well, I wouldn't risk myself in comparing different analog recordings: how to be sure to match them correctly (same length, same speed... ?), and how to know who's right in case of difference?
But for your 1st idea, this is what I tried to do with my tool. I actually had made it for the rescue of Krystal Worlds 1, but ended correcting the signal manually.
The idea here is, when a few samples go in the same direction (up or down), to normalize 2 or 3 samples, thus generating "peaks" that revive the signal. And with a 2nd pass, to check if the time between peaks is normal for a Oric audio signal. If not, add or remove a peak.

It's on my "to do list" with Progress (done), Load Vader (done), and Novalight (done but still being processed ;) )

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Re: Thoughts about WAV tapes repository

Post by Dbug » Sun Apr 07, 2019 3:20 pm

I would not "match analog recordings", I would convert the various analog recordings independently into digital ones, and then do some matching on the result.

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Re: Thoughts about WAV tapes repository

Post by Symoon » Sun Apr 07, 2019 3:51 pm

That's what I'm doing "manually" with a hex editor once TAP files are converted: trying all the recordings on tape and comparing them.
Some will have mistakes, different garbage between parts if you don't convert each part separtely, some will be different but both good (slow version with ",S" / fast version without), ...
So many different cases that I've never figured how an automated process could be designed!

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Re: Thoughts about WAV tapes repository

Post by Steve M » Sun Apr 07, 2019 6:00 pm

I've used programs like Audio Cleaning Lab to boost / improve audio files, but the risk is in overdoing it and creating more problems. Sound can become distorted. There are filters that can be used to try and automatically remove unwanted peaks - like Dolby or like the ones that try and remove click from vinyl records, but they can often remove the things you do want as well. I think the Signal Conditioner keeps things simple but I would have thought should be possible in a software version.

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