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Analog Tape FAQs

Why Tape?

"Tape running at 15 inches per second (ips) involves approximately 80,000,000 oriented and randomly stacked particles per track second. It's not just the particle count but the random stacking that turns this super binary resolution into pure analog playback. This is why even a narrow track width recording still sounds so detailed despite the lower surface area.

"Music is an intrinsic part of the human soul. It plays to our emotions, it talks to us, it calms us, it makes us rise to our greatest accomplishments and brings back our warmest memories. Why not record it on the best medium to achieve the best quality of sound?" 

- Mike Spitz, ATR Magnetics

Companies still make tape?

Yes, there are currently 2 companies still manufacturing new analog tape. ATR is located in York, PA and RMGI is located in France. ATR makes only one Studio Master formulation and RMGI makes the old BASF/ EMTEC formulations of SM468, SM900, and SM911. Quantegy (formerly known as Ampex) and 3M no longer make analog tape, however you might find used (one-pass) tape being sold on the open market (we do not recommend purchasing used tape as you have no idea if the tape has been stored properly).

There are different formulations of tape? Which one should I buy?

It depends ultimately on the sound you are going for. Here is a chart to help guide you:



Similar To 

Used for


High bias studio tape offering excellent dynamic range over the entire frequency spectrum, minimal print-through, high level uniformity up to the highest frequencies, excellent winding even at high speeds, allows flangeless operation. archive-ability, long term stability, worldwide proven.

Ampex 456, RMGI 911

for use in music studios, broadcasting and archives, for multitrack and mastering operation


Offering high output wide dynamic range, high level uniformity up to the highest frequencies. low print-through and excellent DC noise

Ampex 499, Quantegy  GP9, ATR

for use in music studios for analogue recording for multitrack and mastering recording


Standard bias studio tape, offering high level uniformity up to the highest frequencies and excellent DC noise, excellent winding even at high speeds

Ampex 456, RMG SM468

for use in music studios for analogue recording for multitrack and mastering recording


A new formulation providing ultra-low noise, high output, high resolution performance. Due to a new and innovative manufacturing process ATR Master Tape works well with all tape recorders

Ampex 499, Quantegy GP9, RMGI SM900

for use in music studios for analogue recording for multitrack and mastering recording

What's this dark stuff all over my tape machine?

It's likely your machine is in need of service. If you're in the Los Angeles area, call Adrian and he'll fix it:

Adrian Pro Audio Services

(818) 347-9271

21431 Sherman Way

Canoga Park, CA 91303

My machine is fine, but this tape sounds funny. What gives?

You might need to re-bias your machine to match the tape you're using.

Re-bias? What does that mean?

Bias is a 100kHz tone that is used to prepare the tape for recording. Talk to your machine tech to make sure your machine is biased to match your tape formulation.

How many reels should I buy?

Depends on how long your songs are and at what speed you are recording at (ips = inches per second).

7.5 ips yields 66 minutes

15 ips yields 33 minutes

30 ips yields 16 minutes

Ok, I'm done recording. How should I store my reels of tape?

After you are done archiving, tape should be stored at room temperature in low humidity environments. Always store your tapes at play speed, tails out, vertically, and away from magnets and speakers.

Here's a cool video to help explain bias and tape alignment:

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