That odd little noise...
August 21, 2005 8:00 PM   Subscribe

Can I download that little test tone they used to play at the start of casette tapes?

I used to love that noise, and I'd like to get wav of it. I located a sine wave sweep, which is like it, but not quite it. My searching has been fruitleess, probably because I don't know the proper name for it.

I seem to recall there being two different sounds. One was similar to the sine wave sweep, while the other was a not a sweep at all, but a little riff. I may be misremembering, though.
posted by synecdoche to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
You could always record it. Assuming, of course, you've still got a tape deck and a cassette with the test signal kicking around.
posted by arto at 8:02 PM on August 21, 2005

The only one I remember is a sequence of eight notes running upward through the octaves, each 0.25 sec long. Wonder if that's the one.
posted by rolypolyman at 8:09 PM on August 21, 2005

Better than the tones, if you are on a PC you can download a shareware test tone generator that can make all kinds of standard test tones, stable and swept.
posted by realcountrymusic at 8:24 PM on August 21, 2005

Or go a little higher end with this -- for all platforms. Very nice looking package. Free download of a dem.
posted by realcountrymusic at 8:26 PM on August 21, 2005

Response by poster: Yep, that's the one, rolypolyman. Thank you for deciphering my gibberish. :)
posted by synecdoche at 9:15 PM on August 21, 2005

I is copyrighted by someone?
posted by Kickstart70 at 9:17 PM on August 21, 2005

Are you talking about the Dolby reference tone?
I used to love that sound, it signalled that soon Queen would be entering the car (through my kickin' 5 1/4" Honda speakers). Man, I loved that Iron Eagle cassette. heh.

Anyway, it's probably copyright by Dolby, you might be able to find an .mp3 or .wav of it somewhere.
posted by madajb at 11:01 PM on August 21, 2005

I was always under the impression that it was supposed to be a copy protection tone, if I'm thinking of the same one. I know that if you dubbed it onto a new tape, it'd make an ugly screech.
posted by klangklangston at 11:06 PM on August 21, 2005

Response by poster: Hmm, I never considered that it'd be copyrighted, given how ubiquitous it was. I think it must be the Dolby tone.

See, I do a radio show on the campus station, and was trying to come up with some kind of intro, and thought I'd use that tone. However, I am not even sure if our SOCAN license would cover the Dolby noise.
posted by synecdoche at 11:50 PM on August 21, 2005

An eight-note sequence might be too short to copyright. I wonder.
posted by hattifattener at 3:41 AM on August 22, 2005

I think the sound you are referring to (and described by rolypolyman) was the tone on all the EMI (in the US, at least) "XDR" (eXtended Dynamic Range) tapes (if memory serves me correctly).

From a Stanford Quizbowl question (yeah, weird ref, I know):

Q. Instead of using standard half-inch masters, this process uses one inch masters that allow for side by side tracking. This leads to wider frequency response and heightened clarity. Improvements in high-speed duplication allow for further clarity of high frequencies, greater bass response, and less distortion. Dynamic range can increase by up to 13 decibels. FTP, name this process or give its three letter abbreviation,


posted by kuperman at 3:44 AM on August 22, 2005

Grrr, the question was supposed to read:

FTP, name this process or give its three letter abbreviation, whose quality control method can be heard in the quick series of high-pitched tones at the beginning of the tape.
posted by kuperman at 3:46 AM on August 22, 2005

synecdoche, I found a XDR tape at home. The toneburst was way quieter than I remember it from my Walkman days. I don't think this particular one would transfer to another medium very well.
posted by scruss at 6:48 AM on August 26, 2005

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