How to use a tape head demagnetizer

Written by jason artman
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After many hours of using a cassette deck, the magnetic particles on the tape heads slowly change their alignment and begin to face the same direction. When this happens, the audio quality of the deck will begin to suffer. A demagnetising (degaussing) wand returns the particles to their original alignment, restoring performance and fidelity.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Audio cassette deck
  • Demagnetising (degaussing) wand

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  1. 1

    Remove all magnetic media, including cassettes, floppy diskettes and computer hard drives, from the room.

  2. 2

    Switch the degaussing wand on while standing a distance away from the cassette deck.

  3. 3

    Bring the wand toward the cassette deck slowly. Be very careful to avoid fast, jerky motions while the wand is turned on.

  4. 4

    Sweep the wand across the entire inside of the cassette compartment, including the recording, playback, and erase heads, and the capstans (the metal pins near the rubber-covered wheels).

  5. 5

    Move the wand away from the cassette deck until you have returned to your original position a distance away, and turn it off.

Tips and warnings

  • Degaussing cassettes can be purchased from electronics stores. On the surface, they appear to be a superior option to wands because of the ease of use. However, every metal part that a tape comes into contact with can become magnetised, and a degaussing cassette will not touch many of these parts. Use a wand for the best sound quality and for the health of your cassette deck.
  • A degaussing wand can do far more harm than good if it is used improperly. Do not turn the wand on or off near your cassette deck, as it can leave the heads more magnetised than they were before you began. Do not use the wand near audio cassettes, computer hard drives, or floppy diskettes--the wand can erase all of these. If you are feeling at all nervous about performing this procedure yourself, a stereo shop can do it for you.

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