The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 All  This Thread  Reviews  Gear Database  Gear for sale     Latest  Trending
Tape formulations 2016
Old 6th September 2016
  #1
Lives for gear
 
chet.d's Avatar
 

Tape formulations 2016

You folks using tape regularly, please chime in regarding Your recent experiences.
I've personally had some mixed results w 1/4" ATR in the last year or so.
(Though I don't like saying so as they're good people). I haven't yet tried RMGI.

As one considers if they could make a 2" or 1" machine make sense for their specific needs in 2016-17,
It seems to me (& some older folks with much experience) that tape itself is of significant concern.
Old 6th September 2016
  #2
Lives for gear
 
deuc647's Avatar
 

PM burns46824, dude works with 2 inch on the regular.
Old 7th September 2016
  #3
Lives for gear
 
crosscutred's Avatar
This is a pretty good resource

-Degrading Tapes « Restoration Tips & Notes

I have been very happy with the Pyral Sm900.

Mostly that at 30ips. 2" and 1/4"

Getting really tired of 456, it's all got sticky shed if it says Ampex on it as far as I can tell. Quantegy branded seems to be going bad year by year too.

BSAF 911 is good too.
Old 7th September 2016
  #4
Gear Nut
 

only the best experiences with recent Pyral RMG 900 and 911 - tape actually never seemed to be that good ever in wear and freq. responses - just had 2 weeks of basic track recording - used 9 reels of new 2" tape over and over - there was not the slightest dirt on the heads, absolutely nothing - the engineer I was working with was very surprised - same experience with the 1/4" tapes - don't know if a less good deck will wear them out faster - all Telefunken M15a here, which are very kind to tape...
Old 7th September 2016
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Plush's Avatar
All HAIL chet d!

RMGI tape was taken over by the French firm Pyral a few years ago. Pyral moved the RMGI (ex-BASF) manufacturing equipment to France from the Netherlands and tweaked the machines for super operation.

Last year Pyral was bought by Mulann Industries.
Pyral tape is in the process of being rebranded as "Recording The Masters" tape.

It is outstanding tape with very good quality control.

Here in the US, Don Morris runs the operation for "Recording The Masters." He has set up a good distribution network that is comprised of pretty much the same dealers who sold RMGI tape.

Here I use SM900 1/4" and 1/2". This is a +9 tape. SM911 is a +6 tape suitable for older machines. SM911 is the world standard archiving tape.
Fantastic performance and sound. Uniformity is also excellent.

ATR tape is made in Penn. I don't use it so I cannot comment on its performance.
Physically it is a thicker tape than SM900 which may not run as well on your machine without transport adjustment.

Zonal is out of business.

Other countries manufacture low quality tape and these should be avoided.

All HAIL the French prouduct.
All HAIL Don Morris!
Old 7th September 2016
  #6
Lives for gear
 
chet.d's Avatar
 

Great info Plush!
Old 7th September 2016
  #7
Lives for gear
 
burns46824's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by deuc647 View Post
PM burns46824, dude works with 2 inch on the regular.
I'm currently running Pyral 911 at +6, 30 IPS on my MTR-90III. Way less oxide residue on the heads than the ATR I was using five years ago. Very, very little, in fact. A little "dust shedding" here and there, but not egregious, IMO. I have not recorded on ATR with my MTR-90III yet.

I have a new reel of ATR here, as well, so I might try that out in the coming months. I assume ATR is making a good product and I have certainly used a lot more ATR than RMG or Pyral in the past.

As for 1/2" on the A80 VU mkIV in my studio, I have yet to compare the two. Gimme some time on that...
Old 7th September 2016
  #8
Lives for gear
 
deuc647's Avatar
 

How many times do you guys reuse a 2 inch reel? Just curious as to the longevity of it or the amount of use people have per reel.
Old 7th September 2016
  #9
Gear Guru
 
Sounds Great's Avatar
 

I bought and used some ATR 2" and 1/4" a couple of years ago. As good or better than any tape I've ever used.
Old 7th September 2016
  #10
Lives for gear
 
burns46824's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by deuc647 View Post
How many times do you guys reuse a 2 inch reel? Just curious as to the longevity of it or the amount of use people have per reel.
Once. I don't dump my mixes into ProTools. I keep 'em.
Old 8th September 2016
  #11
Lives for gear
 
deuc647's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
Once. I don't dump my mixes into ProTools. I keep 'em.
So you dont sometimes erase the reel and reuse it if you did a song you dont mind getting rid of?
Old 8th September 2016
  #12
Lives for gear
 
burns46824's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by deuc647 View Post
So you dont sometimes erase the reel and reuse it if you did a song you dont mind getting rid of?
No...considering the amount of time that goes into ANY song, even if it sucks, I don't erase it...if just for posterity. Tape ain't all that expensive when you consider the price of, say, a stereo compressor or a high-quality converter.
Old 16th September 2016
  #13
Gear Addict
 

Retailers for tape 2016?

Great thread! Thanks for sharing experiences, very helpful.

I've got my JH110A 1/4" 2 track finally up and running nicely.

I want to support new tape manufacturers, so i'd like to try some Pyral.

Where do you buy Pyral tape in 2016?

and important>>> does it ship fast?

I'm pretty sure I want a 2500' roll of sm900.
But I might just want smaller reels of different formulas, to test them out first.

Also I am interested in ATR tape.
I've seen plenty of negative comments about ATR and RMGI.
But I think some of that might be user/machine setup error
Any recent positive experiences with ATR?

thanks!
Old 16th September 2016
  #14
Lives for gear
 
burns46824's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by heyhey View Post
Great thread! Thanks for sharing experiences, very helpful.

I've got my JH110A 1/4" 2 track finally up and running nicely.

I want to support new tape manufacturers, so i'd like to try some Pyral.

Where do you buy Pyral tape in 2016?

and important>>> does it ship fast?

I'm pretty sure I want a 2500' roll of sm900.
But I might just want smaller reels of different formulas, to test them out first.

Also I am interested in ATR tape.
I've seen plenty of negative comments about ATR and RMGI.
But I think some of that might be user/machine setup error
Any recent positive experiences with ATR?

thanks!
Probably best to try them all out and see what you like best. I will say, I'm still getting a decent amount of hiss running at +6/30IPS. Dunno if that's the tape or just the Otari repro electronics...probably the latter. Doing a recap soon.

I get Pyral from Splicit. Owner's name is Roger. Nice guy.

Splicit Reel Audio Products
Old 16th September 2016
  #15
Gear Addict
 

Thanks Burns!

I've seen some positive posts about Splicit, actually that's who I was wondering about. They have an Ebay store it looks like. But now I know, I'll probably order direct from them.

And, what do you know... 'Recording the Masters' has a website, and it looks killer! This along with the positive comments on forums about quality, its a great thing to see. There is a "dealers" page. Looks like it lists the former RMGI dealers, (Splicit is on there) ...Also I noticed JRF, though JRF's page still says RMGI.

Re: Tape hiss...
Before you recap, I would use a frequency analyzer on that and experiment hitting tape with a strong high shelf EQ boost (+5 to +10), and counter that on repro (-5 to -10), see what that sounds like. Take a look at how its performing on the frequency plot before and after. Some engineers would record like this as standard practice, since the 50's I imagine (maybe only +2 or +3dB....).
...warning though: its VERY frowned upon by the more knowledgeable engineers. I guess because there's no reason to do this IF the machine is "properly" aligned to provide that extra pre-emphasis/de-emphasis for you. And proper alignment is tricky, depending of nanowebers of test tape, the machine, the head gap, the speed. Everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) is a variable, and I've made mistakes more than once.

Sorry if you already know this stuff. Tape was on the way out when I started to learn recording, I'm just learning as much as I can.
Old 16th September 2016
  #16
Been using RMGI/PYRAL 468 with a Scully 284 1 inch 8 track and a Ampex MM1000 2 inch 16 track. Recently had to use some 911 on the Scully because ran out of 468. Was usable but preferred 468.
Old 17th September 2016
  #17
Lives for gear
 

I just switched over 468 for my scully ,
Not sure which I like better yet
Old 18th September 2016
  #18
Lives for gear
 
Plush's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by heyhey View Post
Thanks Burns!

I've seen some positive posts about Splicit, actually that's who I was wondering about. They have an Ebay store it looks like. But now I know, I'll probably order direct from them.

And, what do you know... 'Recording the Masters' has a website, and it looks killer! This along with the positive comments on forums about quality, its a great thing to see. There is a "dealers" page. Looks like it lists the former RMGI dealers, (Splicit is on there) ...Also I noticed JRF, though JRF's page still says RMGI.

Re: Tape hiss...
Before you recap, I would use a frequency analyzer on that and experiment hitting tape with a strong high shelf EQ boost (+5 to +10), and counter that on repro (-5 to -10), see what that sounds like. Take a look at how its performing on the frequency plot before and after. Some engineers would record like this as standard practice, since the 50's I imagine (maybe only +2 or +3dB....).
...warning though: its VERY frowned upon by the more knowledgeable engineers. I guess because there's no reason to do this IF the machine is "properly" aligned to provide that extra pre-emphasis/de-emphasis for you. And proper alignment is tricky, depending of nanowebers of test tape, the machine, the head gap, the speed. Everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) is a variable, and I've made mistakes more than once.

Sorry if you already know this stuff. Tape was on the way out when I started to learn recording, I'm just learning as much as I can.

No please don't do any of this. It is not needed. You're guessing and setting up a tape recorder is not based on guessing. It is based on scientific measurement.

Calibrate your machine's repro levels and then calibrate its record level. Experiment with overbias.

SM911 is a +6 tape and SM900 is a +9 tape. SM468 is a +6 tape.

If you are in the USA, the best sources for RMGI / RecordingTheMasters tape is Malelo Camera in Chicago or Full Compass in Madison, WI.
Old 18th September 2016
  #19
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Experiment with overbias.
thanks for sharing! Its time I get a better understanding of this, as I barely understood alignment (I just followed the manual and MRL instructions for tape formula like gospel). At the time I thought I knew what I was doing, but now I admit... not really. I was always under the gun of the clock, and didn't want to screw anything up!

But now I'm taking closer look at the datasheets for these different formulas, and its starting to make sense... all the squiggly lines... I feel like these alien scripts mean something!

It appears (on the datasheet) that dynamic range,THD, etc can be VASTLY improved by dialing BIAS just a few dB in the right direction. So if I was 5-8 dB in the wrong direction, I might have 10-15dB less dynamic range. WOW!

Am i reading this right?
Old 19th September 2016
  #20
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
I'm currently running Pyral 911 at +6, 30 IPS on my MTR-90III...

As for 1/2" on the A80 VU mkIV in my studio, I have yet to compare the two. Gimme some time on that...
Not to hijack the thread too much here, but..

Burns, I remember sometime back reading an old thread from years ago when you were on the verge of purchasing an A827 (or an A820-24, not positive) and someone suggested you check out the MTR90 and to spend the leftover elsewhere. It's neat to see how things turned out. Any regrets in not buying the Studer?

Also, I've got an A80 mkIV on its way to me from CA this week - what are your thoughts of the machine operationally and sonically? And have you done any recapping, mods, or updates to the audio circuitry?

I would PM these questions, but we're clearly tapeheads in this thread, so others might be interested in your responses as well.
Old 19th September 2016
  #21
Lives for gear
 
burns46824's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by srs148 View Post
Not to hijack the thread too much here, but..

Burns, I remember sometime back reading an old thread from years ago when you were on the verge of purchasing an A827 (or an A820-24, not positive) and someone suggested you check out the MTR90 and to spend the leftover elsewhere. It's neat to see how things turned out. Any regrets in not buying the Studer?

Also, I've got an A80 mkIV on its way to me from CA this week - what are your thoughts of the machine operationally and sonically? And have you done any recapping, mods, or updates to the audio circuitry?

I would PM these questions, but we're clearly tapeheads in this thread, so others might be interested in your responses as well.
Hi srs148 -

You are correct about my previous interest in buying an A827/A820-24...good memory!

My Otari MTR-90III was a wise purchase. The functionality is top-tier...only bettered by the A827/A820-24 decks, as far as I know. If you're recording vocals and doing a lot of punches, it's best to have a multitrack with really excellent autolocating and remote control capabilities. It's important for the punch-in timing to be fast...which it is on the Otari. Faster than the A820, from what I've heard. (Don't know about the A827.)

Sonically, the Otari is pretty darn good...but I have not done any scientific comparisons to other decks, haha. Having said that, I highly recommend improving the channel card electronics on at least some of the cards...specifically ones dedicated to kicks, basses, etc..any sound with which you desire to retain as much transient detail as possible. The stock cards on the Otaris do not do transients justice, but they are fine for "slower" sounds. This process involves a recap (and a removal of unnecessary caps).

I suppose my biggest gripe with the Otari is that the repro electronics are fairly noisy. Even with no tape running, the repro noise floor is around -70 dBfs, which seems a bit high, in my opinion. I'm pretty sure that figure meets spec, however. I'm not sure how much quieter the latter-day Studers are. Still, -70 dBfs is still pretty low, in the grand scheme of things. I'm not making dead-quiet records, that's for sure. But I'm sure making warm ones!

As for the Studer A80 mkIV 1/2" two-track, there is something off in the alignment. We're getting a rapidly declining frequency response when calibrating the record side of things after 15 kHz. It shouldn't start declining until at least 20 kHz...especially at 30 IPS. Will have to get back to you on that when we figure out what to do...
Old 19th September 2016
  #22
Lives for gear
 
burns46824's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by arrowood101 View Post
Been using RMGI/PYRAL 468 with a Scully 284 1 inch 8 track and a Ampex MM1000 2 inch 16 track. Recently had to use some 911 on the Scully because ran out of 468. Was usable but preferred 468.
Interesting. Without recording the exact same thing with the exact same peak levels, I feel like it's hard to make a proper comparison. What did you like about the 468 more?
Old 19th September 2016
  #23
Lives for gear
 
burns46824's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
If you are in the USA, the best sources for RMGI / RecordingTheMasters tape is Malelo Camera in Chicago or Full Compass in Madison, WI.
I'm sure these suppliers are great, but Splicit is also great.
Old 19th September 2016
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
Interesting. Without recording the exact same thing with the exact same peak levels, I feel like it's hard to make a proper comparison. What did you like about the 468 more?
I agree defiantly wasn't a scientific comparison. Was the same band/album recording same instruments, just different songs. It was a "loud" rock album. Our tech described the differences as when pushed the high freq in the 911 becomes more harsh. Doesn't break up as pleasant. After using both I agree.

When listening to the album no one will be able to tell difference, but do feel like we had to watch levels more with 911.

Like I said both are fine, but right now defiantly prefer 468.
Old 19th September 2016
  #25
Lives for gear
 
burns46824's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by arrowood101 View Post
I agree defiantly wasn't a scientific comparison. Was the same band/album recording same instruments, just different songs. It was a "loud" rock album. Our tech described the differences as when pushed the high freq in the 911 becomes more harsh. Doesn't break up as pleasant. After using both I agree.

When listening to the album no one will be able to tell difference, but do feel like we had to watch levels more with 911.

Like I said both are fine, but right now defiantly prefer 468.
Ah, ok. Yeah, I'm almost never pushing levels. Do you think they sound the same at proper levels?
Old 20th September 2016
  #26
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by srs148 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
I'm currently running Pyral 911 at +6, 30 IPS on my MTR-90III...

As for 1/2" on the A80 VU mkIV in my studio, I have yet to compare the two. Gimme some time on that...
Not to hijack the thread too much here, but..

Burns, I remember sometime back reading an old thread from years ago when you were on the verge of purchasing an A827 (or an A820-24, not positive) and someone suggested you check out the MTR90 and to spend the leftover elsewhere. It's neat to see how things turned out. Any regrets in not buying the Studer?

Also, I've got an A80 mkIV on its way to me from CA this week - what are your thoughts of the machine operationally and sonically? And have you done any recapping, mods, or updates to the audio circuitry?
Congrats!

Is the MkIV a 2-track? I'm a A80 24 track MkII owner. The mkII's can be modified into mkIV's, so I have looked into what makes the mkIV special, as mine has some mkIV upgrades, but not many.

The big differences that I can tell are that studer updated the electronics/heads and etc to be closer to a later a800 in functionality and sound. The erase head is close in proximity to the rec head so punch in is not an issue. The heads are probably .317 heads, which are harder and much longer lasting (mine are the softer .316). The electronics use transformerless design, for better signal to/from the machine (not a bad thing, expect a slightly more modern sound.). Maybe the best thing is they improved the bias so it can drive higher bias tapes. Also the tape tension is improved (oil dashpots), a little gentler and more accurate.

A80's are servo driven, clock based off of 50/60hz grounds voltage for pilot tone. That's probably why they are such good mastering decks, tons of mojo. A timeline lynx-2 has a setting for a more accurate pilot tone for A80 (as you might find in A800 and later), and that will give you a more accurate response, at the cost of some vintage magic. It REALLY shines a light on the highs, IMO. Pretty easy to make the cable, 4 connections each side IIRC. Plugs into varispeed and acts like a robotic speed adjuster. If you want to experiment, I'd try this first.

Also, there was a feature that includes a form of dolby noise reduction in the cards... Dolby HX...
So if you have MkIV (or a MkII... or MkIII) its important to find out if DHX is there/ setup properly, etc.

the FTP manuals and add-on tech sheets will explain.
Be sure to look in the "technical" folder, as I didn't check in that folder the first few years,

ftp://ftp.studer.ch/public/Products/..._MkII-IV_A80MR
Old 20th September 2016
  #27
Lives for gear
 

I use ATR for laybacks in Mastering and as such it gets subjected to way more use than the standard mix tape and probably more than multi-track tape. It has held up here very well. I have been told that after hundreds of passes, tape wears and you start getting more drop outs. As a result I buy a new reel every 6 months or so, but that is more for peace of mind than my hearing something degrading. I haven't had any issues for the last couple of years.

I also tracked a record to 2" a year ago and we used ATR and there were zero shed issues with it.

I recently mastered a record off 1/4" RMGI and it sounded good but it was slit over-wide and I had to mess with shimming the middle guide on my ATR, which involves taking the head assembly off the machine, removing the head shield, pulling the center guide & adding a shim, reinstalling, playing tape and inspecting the tape path with a flashlight and so forth, and then repeating all of this (minus head shield removal) until you get the tape moving between the three critical tape path guides correctly. Its not the end of the world but it is annoying and can make you grumpy when you otherwise should be happily mastering.
Old 20th September 2016
  #28
Gear Addict
 

^^^NICE POST Nice to hear good things about ATR.

I ordered some tapes from Splicit for my MCI and I'm excited!

I've also been using some old 'garbage Ebay' tape while waiting.
It was sold to me as Scotch 206 one-pass. I just bought it for the metal reels.
Listening it has election coverage from 2004, so its radio station tape. probably is literally one pass.

What I'm surprised about is the LACK of hiss.
It sounds pretty much like live radio @7.5 ips
So I guess my machine is probably setup playback somewhat ok for 7.5, (alignment tape is next week)

What's very interesting...

I tried some tracking to it.
At 7.5" it breaks up quite a bit. Hit it hard or light at 7.5 and it sounds great except for the breakup, (think tape plugin on overload).
It makes me wonder how they got such a clean recording from the radio station. So it must be possible... I'm guessing BIAS must be the answer.

At 30 ips, I'm really impressed!
Sending a modern day mix over, it sounds pretty clean, zero hiss. Hiss shows up only if I record -20 db, ...and its dark.. you have to listen for it.

But if I hit it HOT, my console is putting out way over 20dB and meters slamming, it sounds beautiful!
There is definately some audible THD and a slight breakup only on peaks.
But if I wasn't listening close i wouldn't notice, I would think pure sound. WTH?
The cool thing is the hiss is so DARK sounding.

Anyway... I need to align my machine. Actually I need to align everything.

I'm just surprised that this 206 (at +3) can give such non-annoying, pretty sound.
Makes me wonder if this is really 206 or not.
Would PBS radio ever use 996 at 7.5ips?
...Or was 206 still best for 7.5 in 2004?

Last edited by heyhey; 21st September 2016 at 02:47 AM.. Reason: to give thanks
Old 20th September 2016
  #29
Gear Guru
 
Sounds Great's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by heyhey View Post
It makes me wonder how they got such a clean recording from the radio station. So it must be possible... I'm guessing BIAS must be the answer.

The radio station signal going onto tape is very compressed, and the tape did not need to be slammed at all to have a quiet playback because of this.

Taping a fully processed and limited signal is much different than taping a very dynamic live input or uncompressed mix. 7.5 is never going to cut it for that.

And (i.m.o.) 30 ips is not beneficial enough for the extra tape expense over 15 ips, as well as the fact that I find bass to be more natural at 15. Of course y.m.m.v.

I prefer 15 ips for both multi-tracking and mix down.
Old 20th September 2016
  #30
Lives for gear
the 'negative' aspects of tape are QUITE overrated - remember we are still just 'coming down' from the 'digital propaganda' we've all been weaned on.
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump