OK, here goes.... You will find that 499 will allow you to push more level onto it. However you will also find that 499 sound more metalic, less musical. GP9 is supposed to be the old 3M 996 formula. However, it sound nothing like 996. It does sound more musical than 499. I have both 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch and after weeks of testing with different bias settings and flux levels, I must say that of the 3 Quantegy choices, I opt to stick with the 456. It compresses nicely and is very musical. Of all the flux levels, I found that 456 @ 30ips, @+4 over 185 sounded best. I tried the same test @+6 and @ zero and I must say that the elements all came together better @ +4. I tried SM900 and 911. The Emtec stuff is different, but of the two I'd pick the 911. The 900, though better sounding than the GP9, was still sounding very compressed but cleaner than the GP9. If I cannot have 996 or scotch 250, then It will be 456 hands down. I had a long discussion with John French about it and we bounced ideas off each other but yet the 456 won every time. The tests were perfomed as follows: Same 8 bars of music (heavy bass, drums and guitars etc.). Bias settings to the letter. ( 4dB over @ 15IPS/10K) Test #1: 499 @ 15 IPS +6, same test @30 IPS. Printed results to an Alesis Masterlink @ 96K. Test #2: GP9 Bias to the letter. Left levels @+6 Did both speeds. Printed results to the masterlink. Test#3: 456 Bias to the letter (3dB over @ 15IPS / 10K) Both speeds. Printed results to the master link. Kept the bias setting the same. Reduced the flux level by 2 dB (+4 over 185) Same two speeds. Preinted results. to the Masterlink. I did this for both the 1/4/ inch and 1/2 inch. AfterI copiled and took note on what was what, I did some careful listenning. These were my results. 499 @ 30 IPS was more detailed and was the better overall chice between both speeds / both formats using 499... GP9 sounded best @ 15 IPS on the 1/2 inch machine with lots of bottom and musicality. On the 1/4 inch machine GP9 sounded best @30IPS. 15 IPS on the 1/4 inch machine The GP9 souned very good @ 15 IPS with some noise (expected @ 15IPS). 456 Sounded extremely musical and at 15 IPS / 1/2 inch had fantastic low and high end with minimal noise. 456 @ 30 ips 1/2 inch had an extremely open sound and had almost the same low end of 15 IPS. I was amazed!!! I would still pick 15IPS over 30 with this format. On the 1/4 machine, 15 IPS sound very good and full with the exception of a minimal amount of noise. I would go with 30 IPS on the 1/4 inch machine. Of all the tests perfomed, the 456 became more musical and warm when I ran it @+4 over 185 instead of +6.
A few things to consider: EQ @ 15IPS was CCIR for all tests and of course AES for the 30 IPS. Azimuth was adjusted prior to perfoming all tests.
One interesting thing to share: Just for kicks, I performed some tests using DBX Type 1 NR. I happen to like DBX over Dolby-A. I know of the artifacts with using DBX especially on decending pianos, etc. The DBX unit was the 150X, all balanced going to the machines. Grounds lifted at the DBX side (just to keep the noise floor in check). I experienced an unbleivable amount of musical coloration (if you're into this kind of stuff as I am) using the DBX @30IPS!!! Something wonderful happened to the sound of rock and roll!! The DBX @ 15 did not exibit the coloration although it did keep the noise to a near digital level @ 15IPS!!
All in all, my choice is 456 hands down.
I did not get too invloved with the Emtec tape, although I did get to experiment with it and got really good results. Maybe soon I will perform the same Quantegy tests with Emtec.
On another similar note, I tried the same tests using my Otari 2 inch MTR-90, Q lot MkII and I still cannot get a better sounding result than 3m 996. @+9 30IPS... 456 comes close. Go figure.