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Thread: Differences between Analog tape

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    Question Differences between Analog tape

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    Besides tape length, thickness and amount of oxide, what are the other differences between Quantegy tapes 407, 406, 456, 457 etc .. which classifies these as being "biased" for a certain machine over another ?

    I guess I'm still confused on the "bias" issue.

    Thanks!

    Daniel

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    [I]People always say digital is better,but there is no sound like analog
    [COLOR=Magenta]God will only take away what you are willing not to give[/COLOR] :)

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    Quote Originally Posted by starbaby
    [I]People always say digital is better,but there is no sound like analog
    Great .. but this has nothing to do with my question ..

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    No, it doesn't.

    But it is a fine attempt at a complete sentence. Maybe he was trying to say he is biased towards digital...

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    Quote Originally Posted by DigitalSmigital
    Maybe he was trying to say he is biased towards digital...
    Uh .. I think if he were "biased" about one then I think it'd be to Analog .. but that's just my humble opinion ..

    ~Daniel

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    Beck Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by cjacek
    Besides tape length, thickness and amount of oxide, what are the other differences between Quantegy tapes 407, 406, 456, 457 etc .. which classifies these as being "biased" for a certain machine over another ?

    I guess I'm still confused on the "bias" issue.

    Thanks!

    Daniel
    Hey Daniel,

    406, 407, 456 and 457 all use the same bias setting. Bias is an inaudible high-frequency signal that is applied to the tape during recording. In layman's terms, it excites the magnetic particles so they can be more precisely manipulated by the recording process. The bias signal was discovered by accident in the early days of analog. It reduces unwanted distortion.

    The thickness of tape has more effect on Azimuth, saturation, and tape-to-head contact. On many consumer decks and some semi-pro equipment, such as the Tascam 388, the thicker tapes (406 & 456) work, but are not ideal. The reason is that the tape is too rigid to physically conform to the heads within factory spec. The lack of a snug tape-to-head fit reduces high frequency response and overall clarity.

    Another difference between 40X and 45X is the type and density of magnetic particles. 45X will accept 3 dB more signal than 40X. However, if your machine's electronics can't handle the higher signal without introducing distortion then the higher capacity of the tape is wasted. Depending on the machine, 406 and 407 will be favored over 456 and 457 because the pleasing effects of analog distortion are realized at lower levels. So while 45X can be hit harder, the machine in question may not have the capacity to hit it hard enough. Therefore many recordists have discovered mastering to 406 or 407 gives them the much sought after "analog effect" they are looking for.

    On a related issue -- some machines don't have enough power to fully erase thicker tapes, so the erasure will be out of spec.

    So while all the above tapes are bias compatible they are not necessarily physically compatible.

    It comes down to a balancing act -- trying to avoid distortion introduced by the electronics of a machine while benefiting from musical distortion from tape saturation. It's an art.

    Whether it was Tom Scholz of Boston and his beloved 3M 226, or Steve Perry of Journey and his favored AGFA/BASF 468, back in the day, successful artists and engineers were quite serious about finding the "magic tape" to best capture their signature sounds.

    I encourage anyone serious about mastering this art to experiment with as many types and brands of tape they can get their hands on. Especially now while new-old-stock tape by companies no longer making it is still available. Some day it will all be gone.

    Tim
    Last edited by Beck; 12-16-2004 at 04:46.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beck
    Hey Daniel,

    406, 407, 456 and 457 all use the same bias setting. Bias is an inaudible high-frequency signal that is applied to the tape during recording. In layman's terms, it excites the magnetic particles so they can be more precisely manipulated by the recording process. The bias signal was discovered by accident in the early days of analog. It reduces unwanted distortion.

    The thickness of tape has more effect on Azimuth, saturation, and tape-to-head contact. On many consumer decks and some semi-pro equipment, such as the Tascam 388, the thicker tapes (406 & 456) work, but are not ideal. The reason is that the tape is too rigid to physically conform to the heads within factory spec. The lack of a snug tape-to-head fit reduces high frequency response and overall clarity.

    Another difference between 40X and 45X is the type and density of magnetic particles. 45X will accept 3 dB more signal than 40X. However, if your machine's electronics can't handle the higher signal without introducing distortion then the higher capacity of the tape is wasted. Depending on the machine, 406 and 407 will be favored over 456 and 457 because the pleasing effects of analog distortion are realized at lower levels. So while 45X can be hit harder, the machine in question may not have the capacity to hit it hard enough. Therefore many recordists have discovered mastering to 406 or 407 gives them the much sought after "analog effect" they are looking for.

    So while all the above tapes are bias compatible they are not necessarily physically compatible.

    It comes down to a balancing act -- trying to avoid distortion introduced by the electronics of a machine while benefiting from musical distortion from tape saturation. It's an art.

    Whether it was Tom Scholz of Boston and his beloved 3M 226, or Steve Perry of Journey and his favored AGFA/BASF 468, back in the day, successful artists and engineers were quite serious about finding the "magic tape" to best capture their signature sounds.

    I encourage anyone serious about mastering this art to experiment with as many types and brands of tape they can get their hands on. Especially now while new-old-stock tape by companies no longer making it is still available. Some day it will all be gone.

    Tim
    Thank you for the most thorough and down-to-earth explanation, Tim. Some of the stuff can get quite complex and it's real refreshing to read something that can be understood by the common folk as well . I recall reading, on rec.audio.pro I think, that some called the 407's sound "neutral" and preferred it to the rather "glassy" sounding 456 .. so I see what you mean by capturing one's own "signature sound". Anyway, I'm looking forward to getting the 407.

    Thanks again for replying to my question,

    Daniel

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    Even I learned a few things from Tim's post!

    Good stuff!

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