reel to reel transfer

Does anyone know the most effective way to transfer reel to reel recordings to cd using a computer?
I want to transfer them thru my computer but do not know what the best programs to use are. Also what kind of sound card should I use?
Any advice on how not to damage the tape? I heard that they only have a few playbacks befoe they start to deteriorate.
These recordings are from 1970 to 1998.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
I can't offer any help with the computer, but can offer help with the tape. First, you will need to bake all of your back coated tape, prior to playing it. If you don't the tape will shed itself all over the top plate of your deck. Guess what is contained in those pieces of plastic? The dynamic contrast of the music, that's what. Depending on how much music is to be transferred, you can buy a professional tape oven that slowly takes the tape up to 140 degrees F, and slowly back down for around $400 used. If this is too much, you can buy a fruit dryer and a bakers thermometer for less than $50, and experiment around with the drying racks until you find the proper amount to give you the desired 140 degrees F.

Next, you will want to have many different types of headstacks, so that you get the best transfer from the reel. Some reels were recorded on heads with tight head gap, some were not. Mating the correct head with the reel will make a so-so sounding recording sound incredible. (It is worth the effort).

You may also wish to insure that your tape transport is in proper mechanical condition. Is the capstan motor clean and strong? Disassembling the capstan motor and cleaning/lubricating it can greatly reduce wow and flutter.

Kind regards,
I'd suggest testing a few of the tapes to see if they are shedding before baking them all, especially the more recent tapes. For more details on baking, check out this link:
Just remember, the tapes that shed on you will most likely be ruined. So, if you chose to play them first, prior to baking them, make sure that it isn't anything that you care much for. I'd lost a portion of the first minute on a production master of Heart "Magic Man", song Dreamboat Annie, by trying davebachmann's method. That was a costly mistake.

The 1970's into the mid 1980's back coated tape had the majority of the shedding problems. I have some experience with reel tape, owning over 300 master dubs/masters, and countless pre-recorded reels. Feel free to contact me with questions.
Thanks for your advice. I have a TEAC A-6300 reel. It is not functioning right so I am looking for a repairman. Do you know anything about this model? Any leads on repairmen on the East Coast? I am very new to the reel to reel machine and am a little concerned that I may ruin tapes with the baking method. I am going to check out this website that Davebachmann left.
Hello Matt,

I'd be more concerned about NOT baking the backcoated reels, or you'll find the same fate that my Heart master dub had. If you don't believe me, try it on a loser reel for yourself. Besides ruining the recorded media on the reel, you can also look forward to anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes cleaning your machine.

To properly bake a reel, you need to slowly bring the tape temperature up to 140 degrees in over an hours worth of time, let the reel stay at 140 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes, then slowly reduce the temperature of the reel over an hours time. The professional ovens designed specifically for this cost around $400 used, which is what I'd paid. They are very hard to find. I have friends that have used a fruit dryer with a decent baking thermometer, a timer and a small Variac that have gotten great results on a budget. Do you have some patience to experiment? If so, try it out. If not, go back to easier format, as reel is anything but easy and convenient.

If you need any further advice as to starting temperatures/temperature intervals, feel free to e-mail me directly. Be aware that my business has me away from my home for the next several weeks, so please be patient with me. I'm ususally around on the weekends.

Kind regards,
Brian Weitzel
After the mid '80s do the tapes have the same problems? Do you think tapes from the late '80s and '90s would work without baking? I am looking into using a fruit dehydrater to bake.