Can anyone suggest a 1” tape brand/type NEW for Tascam m-3500 plus MS-16?

I saw a post from SweetBeats the legend about how it’s not as simple as “pick the highest gain tape.”

I thought I might get some great suggestions here.

I’m looking at the ATR 1” Master tape on the blue reel.

My use will be in a home studio. I plan to reuse the same reel or two reels over and over.

Besides biasing, do I need to calibrate anything else with a modern tape?

My ideals: tape compression, low hiss is important but not critical, “warm analog tone,” overdriven tape sound, durable
 

RRuskin

Rick Ruskin
Set tape & machine up for 250 nano-webers per meter. That's what the machine was designed for. Anything hotter will just run you out of headroom faster than you want.
 

bmg

Member
I've always found 1" tape to be the rarest format out there.
1/4" and 1/2" are pretty common, as is 2" in the professional world, but 1" was always the mysterious size to me.
(Never saw that many machines that used it, I guess.)
 

jamesperrett

Active member
I don't record on analogue much these days but my most recent tape purchase was some Recording The Masters SM911 which has worked fine on machines that would previously have used Ampex 456. No experience with ATR as it isn't so widely available here.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
I'm intrigued by the 'overdriven tape sound' - I can understand the idea on the master, but overdriven tracks on multitracks were never a good thing because everything goes tits up. The over saturated tape is hard to erase and with a few cycles it gets nasty quite quickly - it also spreads to adjacent tracks. For multitracks when I used them, it was be very careful with levels - you could do saturation things with the two tracks of course, but it was just dangerous to use on multitrack tapes (certainly, frowned on by my superiors at the time). I can see your idea, but it's a bit quaint and going to be quite limited on the number of passes before you get incomplete erasure. It's quite expensive tape for this kind of use - or is this a sort of process everything kind of project? Are you actually recording on it to use, then mixing, or simply using it a processor and recording into a DAW?
 

jpmorris

Tape Wolf
Bits and pieces of this have already been said, but to try and summarise, TASCAM decks from this era tended to be designed for Ampex 456 at 250 nwb/m. The modern equivalent tape is RTM SM911, so the machine will be happiest with that.
 
Wow, that’s good to know about over driving tape. Maybe I’ll keep an old reel around if I want that effect on a track.

Right now I’ll be mixing through my Tascam and sending the master buss into my DAW. I have an Otari Mx-5050 that I can do mixes to tape with but I’ll probably only use that if I’m going to send something in to make a vinyl record.
 

sweetbeats

Reel deep thoughts...
If you use ATR tape you will need to modify all of your R/P amp cards in the MS16 in order to properly bias the tape.

Are you using noise reduction?

If the answer to the above is yes, then you have to be careful about saturating the tape because the distortion can cause tracking errors if you are using dbx n/r. If you are using noise reduction it is best to, as said above, set the machine up for “0” at 250nWb/m using a “+6” tape like SM911 as designed, and keep your levels conservative. If you decide you do want tape saturation during tracking, then you may need to bypass the dbx and I would recommend, again, not the ATR tape for that scenario. In order to saturate the ultra high standard operating level (SOL) ATR tape, you risk clipping the amp circuitry on the MS16. Better to use a lower SOL tape and be able to saturate it more easily without working the amplifier circuitry on the MS16 too hard. Here again a “+6” tape would be good…can even experiment with “+3” tape if you can find some that isn’t sticky, but SM911 will give you the most options…clean with dbx, no dbx and some saturation. If you want to avoid using noise reduction and track hotter but clean and maximize your dynamic range then it’s a “+9” tape like SM900 or higher like the ATR tape, but in either of those case you’ll need to do the bias mod.
 

RRuskin

Rick Ruskin
If you use ATR tape you will need to modify all of your R/P amp cards in the MS16 in order to properly bias the tape.
Are you sure about that? If set up for 250nWb/m, an MS-16 should be able to provide enough bias current. At least that's what I was told. Just because a tape can handle "+ godknowswhat" doesn't mean you have to go that route.
 

sweetbeats

Reel deep thoughts...
Are you sure about that? If set up for 250nWb/m, an MS-16 should be able to provide enough bias current. At least that's what I was told. Just because a tape can handle "+ godknowswhat" doesn't mean you have to go that route.
Biased +9 or ATR tape? I’m not talking about the operating level set procedure. I’m talking about bias.
 

sweetbeats

Reel deep thoughts...
I guess the takeaway is to not assume it’ll do it. Former member evm1024 has a thread on here about the issue, and others corroborated the concern. The mod is simple. Maybe later versions of the R/P amp card addressed it, but it’s a known issue with at least some 58 and MS16 machines. Question: how did you determine the bias level on your machine with the ATR tape? Did you use recommendations from ATR or some other method to verify the correct level (like the low frequency modulation “bias rocks” method)?
 

RRuskin

Rick Ruskin
I guess the takeaway is to not assume it’ll do it. Former member evm1024 has a thread on here about the issue, and others corroborated the concern. The mod is simple. Maybe later versions of the R/P amp card addressed it, but it’s a known issue with at least some 58 and MS16 machines. Question: how did you determine the bias level on your machine with the ATR tape? Did you use recommendations from ATR or some other method to verify the correct level (like the low frequency modulation “bias rocks” method)?
Operating level and bias are interdependent as far as I know. If you don't align for anything higher, the TASCAM units should be able to bias @ 3db over @ 10kHz. At elevated levels, all bets are off. BTW - This "Tape Saturation" stuff is sonic bull, IMHO. Nobody I knew wanted it back in the day if for no other reason than that even though it might sound impressive for a while it wouldn't stick around after as many passes as most tapes go through during production. It was like trying to put 10 lbs of something in a 9 lb bucket.
 
I guess the takeaway is to not assume it’ll do it. Former member evm1024 has a thread on here about the issue, and others corroborated the concern. The mod is simple. Maybe later versions of the R/P amp card addressed it, but it’s a known issue with at least some 58 and MS16 machines. Question: how did you determine the bias level on your machine with the ATR tape? Did you use recommendations from ATR or some other method to verify the correct level (like the low frequency modulation “bias rocks” method)?
I modified all the amp cards of the MS16 to be 15ips EQ instead of 30ips. I used the mod someone posted on here.

The author of that mod said it increases the available bias(?) as well.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
Many years ago, when I was just out of education, I knew it all. I applied to be an engineer at the BBC. Unknown to me the guy interviewing me had stepped in last minute and was the head of engineering, and my ham fisted explanation of what bias was lost me the job. However, he took the time to explain how they did it. They had people produce tables of all variations that adjusting bias, pre-emphasis and level for each type of tape approved for use. The aim? optimum recordings. If a piece of music would have considerable dynamic range - certain pieces of music, perhaps, then noise at the quiet end and compression but low distortion at the other would determine the tape to be chosen, and the alignment of the machine. Tweak this to X, adjust Y to Z and open a box of XYZ tape. They had lists for every combination. Adjusting bias current was not a be all and end all adjustment. Technically, everyone looked for the linear section of the S curve, and then you'd work out how to record on that bit, and what creeping into the bottom or top would do. I learned more from failing that interview than I had learned before. The people developing these mods have done the donkey work, but unless people follow every part of it, and record the same type of music at the same level, it falls over rapidly. I later discovered that everyone followed the BBC specs, but many added their own little tweaks, unofficially - but line-up always followed the rules. Nowadays, people seem to see bias and EQ in the same way they tweak other 'processing'. They tweak away but then shove huge levels onto the tape, well away from the 'optimum' area their tweaks created?
 
I went from “I can put a cassette in the machine and hit record, how hard can multitrack tape recording be?” to “now I know why these guys are called engineers” and I’m sweating…

I’m learning more than I realized there was to know!! I only hope I can respectfully carry a torch to the younger generations and say THIS is how good tape can sound!
 
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