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Wednesday
May112016

Retro Tech: The 3M Cantata 700 Background Music Machine

Another delve into unusual audio technology from the past. In this video I take a look at the 3M Cantata 700, a format that boasts the largest music cartridge ever made.

If you think 8-track tapes were a bit bulky, wait until you see this. 

If you want, you can CLICK HERE to download a 1hr MP3 of Music recorded from one of the Cantata tapes (I forget which one). This is all I am able to capture at the moment as the machine has now taken to chewing up tapes and making horrible rattling noises.

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Reader Comments (63)

Hi !! Last might I looked at both Dropbox and P-cloud, may go directly to P-cloud. Note to Adam: when I made the transfer recordings I used a sound compressor unit that keeps whispers and bullet shots at the same volume when the unit is adjusted to near maximum. The results sound similar to the resonance heard in a shopping mall when all sounds of music and shoppers reflect off the building walls.

May 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRalph Baker

Good evening !!....or Good Morning to all of you in England. Last night I started an account with pCloud, and I uploaded a first sample. Now, I'm totally new at this storage site, so maybe you can guide me before I upload more music samples. The song is so familiar, I just don't know the title at this moment. It is from the Cantata Variety tape V165; in my PC files I list it as Skip001, and at pCloud I created a new Music folder named 'CantataBGM'. I moved the uploaded file into the folder and renamed the file as 'Sample#1'.Once there, I cued the file to open - and it played PERFECTLY !!

Now see if you can find it with the information that I described. If you cannot access it, PLEASE TELL ME what the next step is. If I should click the 'Share' option, who do I share it to?? And what is the next step beyond sharing? OK, your turn.....

May 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRalph Baker

OK, the next step. Go to the folder on Cloud that contains your music file. If you hover your pointer over it, you'll see a chain link icon appear on the right with the word SHARE. Click on that Share button and a Link window will pop up.
Right at the top of the window it will say "Get Short Link" Click that. Then click the Green button that says GENERATE LINK.
There will then be a box that says "Short Link" containing grey text that says something like http://pc.cd/wWMdtalK
Press the blue Chain Link icon next to it to copy this information
You can then paste that text here, and anyone who uses that link can download your file.

May 23, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

OK, will do, likely this afternoon. I have errands to run this morning, so my free time starts after lunch. Thanks !!

May 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRalph Baker

OK Techmoan, I followed your instructions and gave it a try. At some point the short link got a see-thru blue box around it, but I couldn't go further - so I don't know if you can/cannot access the folder at this moment. So I'll type it here.

http://pg.cd/V9MctalK


Now I'll create this reply and see if the short link goes blue.

May 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRalph Baker

You got 99% of the way there - but you needn't have typed the link out - a CTRL-V in this text box should have pasted the link for you.

You had a slight typo in your link - but luckily it was at the beginning so I could guess it - the correct link is http://pc.cd/V9MctalK

I've downloaded the clip and it plays fine. Many thanks.

May 23, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

HOORAY !!!! OK, I'll do the CTRL-V thing next time, should be tonight. Sorry about the misspell...I type too fast. But you got the file to play, and that's excellent. Now I can load new files into the folder and provide lots of great music from the total. I have over 100 favorites from Rhythmics 1 and 2 plus Melodics from the Christmas tapes plus several from the Variety tape. But let me try typing the link here once more....

http://pc.cd/V9MctalK

...and if it doesn't bluelink this time, at least all of you know where to find the folder & file. Plenty more coming; I'll add a new file each night. May the music of the Cantata 700 be in your dreams !!

May 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRalph Baker

Hey, I think I'm getting the hang of this operation !! Second file - 3M002 - is in the folder now. Remember the singer Connie Francis? Here's the 3M orchestra doing one of her greatest hits; I have it on the Christmas Melodic tape MX-266 (every 5th song is a Christmas song, all others are from M-165 and M-266)...and this is "In My Little Corner Of The World".

May 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRalph Baker

Four additional songs are on the plate now: 3M003, 3M004 "On The Sunny Side Of The Street", 3M005 and 3M006. Can all of you access them okay??

May 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRalph Baker

Ralph you will need to share a link for each individual file....or the easier way is to click the share button next to each file you want people to have access too...so make sure the share button is not greyed out on all the files...then drop back a folder and share the whole folder. So for example if you have a folder called 'music' and the files are in there...share the 'music' folder and make sure all the files in it are set to have sharing turned on.
Hope that makes sense.

May 26, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

It makes PLENTY of sense - but I did put the folder (CantataBGM) on 'Share' after moving file 3M002 into it. From your reply I now assume that each file must be 'Share'd individually?...even when all files are in the folder? Hmmmmm....OK, I'll do that. The folder has 6 files in it at present, with many more to come.

May 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRalph Baker

All 6 files are on 'Share' now, hope it helps.

May 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRalph Baker

Thanks Ralph that's great, they're all there now.
I think quite a few people were interested in having the full tapes as a long 26hr(?) recording - did you keep any like this?

May 26, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Yes, I kept all 6 of the Cantata tapes that I bought - Rhythmic R165 and R266, plus the Christmas tapes Rhythmic RX266, Melodic MX266, Christmas Vocal VX167 and Continuous Christmas CX167. From them I recorded at least 95% of the total onto 15 reels of Scotch #150 - 1 mil, 3600 feet each on 7" reels - and two hours of the music is further recorded on cassettes that I created the files from. Concerning a complete Cantata tape of 26 hours duration, I'd best leave that project for someone else because so much of the music - especially on Rhythmic 165 - is below average. Rhythmic 2 is MUCH better in overall orchestration !! R165 does have SOME really worthy orchestrations, so I'll include them in the file total as I fill the folder. The songs I choose for the folder are among my true favorites, so you'll get an overall impression of Yours Truly; by the 6 files you heard now, you have a head start.

May 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRalph Baker

Thanks again Ralph, when I get a few minutes I'll update the blog entry and add details about how to download your files.

May 27, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Techmoan, have you noticed something odd about this Page 2? So far it's just you and me !!! The other commenters are still back on Page 1. Okay, I added four more files to the folder, 3M006 through 3M010. More coming tomorrow.

May 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRalph Baker

Ralph - thx for your efforts, I was waiting until you figured out the mysteries of file sharing. Your compression on the files is a bit odd but works well enough. I can't imagine that those tapes had much dynamic range to begin with but the effect is a bit ethereal. A Swedish musician "Musette" authored a couple interesting albums by sampling old, lo-fi reel to reel instrumental tapes. My favorite is Drape Me In Velvet. He'd likely have a field day with these Cantata tapes.
I was hoping to have a longer upload of any Cantata tape, unedited in the original song order but this will do for now. I wonder when the last actively used Cantata machine finally had its plug pulled? I hope they had a ceremony.

May 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Sanborn

Hey David, you finally caught up !! As background music the recordings were lower 'Fi' than the machine is capable of; you heard the music on the factory paging system but were not distracted by it. That is very intentional in the music's arrangement and creation. I was one who DID pay attention to it during coffee breaks or the half hour lunch break, and I liked the music so much that I bought a Cantata700 in early 1970. I had it until 1998 when I couldn't get the pinch rollers any more unless I paid a king's ransom for them. No thanks !!! So I gave the machine to a repair shop but kept the tapes, re-spooled onto 10.5" NAB reels. Concerning the present, there are Cantata 700s still playing to this day under attentive care by users who genuinely see future use of the units.

May 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRalph Baker

The next four files are in the folder now, 3M011 through 3M014. I have a 5th file ready, but the folder didn't take it; a red bar appeared in the progress line along with a message "Error: Upload Interrupted". Does this mean that I used up my free space allotment?? The readout says 86.?% of whatever space there is, but it indicates 1% of 10 GBs of space. If I must delete 1 or 2 files to make room for additional files, I'll do that....but PLEASE get copies of the files available so far. I don't want you to miss ANY of this great music !!!

May 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRalph Baker

David,
This is such a great review! I've been streaming the mp3 though my McIntosh Hifi from my phone. The quality level is perfect for the subject matter. If there is any way for you to get the whole tape on or some of the others, it would totally annoy my family. I know you are up to the challenge. Wonderful job as usual!
Barry

May 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBarry

Hello ? Anyone here ?? I want to hear from Techmoan and our other commenters before I delete any files to make room for more files. Sounds like you all went on vacation !!

June 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRalph Baker

Fantastic work!
I just grabbed whatever you had uploaded and it is playing on my old bogen PA as we speak.
Keep up the good work.

July 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSigmaz

Sincere thanks, Sigmaz !! I have plenty more Cantata music ready to post, but the other commenters haven't chimed in yet. I may have to delete 1 or 2 files to make room for the next files. Don't want anyone to miss out, but time is RUNNING out - so I'll give them this week as the last chance before the next file posting. Want to hear from Techmoan, too.

July 9, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRalph Baker

All right guys, I'm a bit late to the conversation but, I just got my own Cantata 700 altho my player is from 1983... and does not have a built in speaker, or 1/4" jacks, just screw terminals... I have found some information that may be helpful, a patent, someone who will rubber the pinch roller, and I've taken a ton of photos of the inside of mine... I would love to find a manual for it... and or a service guide... but doubt i will find one... so I may have to write one... here's the info I currently have:

My photos: http://imgur.com/a/DOhtf (i'll keep adding to the album as I get them taken)
Patent: http://www.google.com.na/patents/US3549823 (mech looks more like the one techmoan has, mine is a simpler mech)
Guy who re-builds Pinch rollers: http://terrysrubberrollers.com/

Note: voltages from transformer to "top board" as follows: (readings I just made on my player)
Red (either one) to Red / Yellow = 16.5VAC
Red to Red = 32.85VAC

Now I just need to find tapes... all I currently have is Billboard Christmas Memories XM-603
Also, the only thing that does not seem to work is the celinoid on the top of the player... it doesn't seem to get voltage...

July 10, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTJ

Ralph - I have mirrored your files at https://mega.nz/#!w0BCTYjY!BIr-DuefY26UsMcXgnIdTcTpYhzBt9KxGVAxzCoRE70 so you can delete yours. Thanks for placing them online!

July 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSeagull

Ralph, apologies for not replying before...I'm doing a lot of travelling and have limited internet access. I'm not using the clips myself, but I will be attempting to capture my Rhythmic Library II tape at some point in the future (when time and tech allow).

July 12, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Can your recordings be uploaded somewhere else? That pcloud thing wants me to pay

August 3, 2016 | Unregistered Commentergeoffrey

Hello, Geoffrey. I don't know where else to post more music - if I ever get around to posting more music. The past two weeks left the northeast USA stuck in a heatwave with high humidity, so my tapes have stayed in a cool dry place where the weather can't affect them. Regarding pCloud: I'm on the lowest level where whatever storage space I have is free for the time being. I'd LIKE to put a few on YouTube, but the video would be still photos while the music plays - and it would cost ME plenty to do so. Ask Seagull, maybe he has the answer; his reply above may be helpful.

August 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRalph Baker

Just use my MEGA URL, Geoffrey.

September 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSeagull

I am downloading this to an mp3 and wondering if there is a way to create a motion activated player I can hide in my elevator at work. I work in an 100 year old historic building with possibly the slowest moving elevators in the world. I could open the panel in the ceiling ( I am assuming there is an access panel because there is one in every movie elevator scene ) , place the player up there with magnets or something. Then sit back and enjoy the groove. I think it would make everyone less crabby in the mornings.

I always enjoy your great reviews and ancient tech articles. My brother has 100 real to real tape decks, My other brother has a 4 foot high plate reverb from a radio station and my 3rd brother has a collection of early hand made vacuum tubes. So I feel like I am visiting family when I see your reviews! Have a good day.

December 11, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbarteglobal

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