Why is tape considered a bad medium. - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 26 Old 10-04-2013, 12:33 PM - Thread Starter
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I just purchased Sgt peppers lonely heart club bands on tape, I was expecting lots of hiss and bad quality. I was shocked to hear no hiss and the quality was good (Dolby B NR is on) so why does everyone act like tape was such a horrible format? Don't say things like; "you can't skip," becaue vinyl is the same or "because it's analog."

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post #2 of 26 Old 10-04-2013, 02:34 PM
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It does have some hiss, but not much thanks to the Dolby processing. More importantly it lacks the dynamic range of digital recordings and dolby cassette tapes have an overall dark sound which results from the Dolby compression/expansion process. I use a state of the art Nakamichi cassette deck with Dolby A,B and C. and nothing about it compares to what a CD can do. It isn't that tape cassettes are bad. It is that CD's are better in every respect. That's why they put the cassette deck out of business.
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post #3 of 26 Old 10-04-2013, 03:30 PM
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Well, That album was recorded in 1966. The technology back then was in infancy, so there is only so much that you can retrieve. A good cassette tape (Metal/CrO2, Dobly B) today might be as good as original studio release, so there is no way you can tell the difference.
Once you get to better recordings, a CD will show the true potential.
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post #4 of 26 Old 10-04-2013, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by kbeam418 View Post

I just purchased Sgt peppers lonely heart club bands on tape, I was expecting lots of hiss and bad quality. I was shocked to hear no hiss and the quality was good (Dolby B NR is on) so why does everyone act like tape was such a horrible format?

For a real thrill ABX a transcription of a cassette tape with the master it was made from.

Heck, back in the day we grossed ourselves out by comparing cassette tape playback with the master it was made from.

Good high speed 1/2 track 1/4" tape masters can be compared with digital, but it still sounds a little different. But cassette tape, even metal tape, tapes made with Dolby HX, and all the rest are pretty easy to hear problems with.
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Don't say things like; "you can't skip," because vinyl is the same or "because it's analog."

If by analog you mean 15 or 30 ips 1/2 track 1/4" tape copies, they are really pretty good and will make you even sweat a little if you try to compare them back to the analog original or a digital master.
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post #5 of 26 Old 10-04-2013, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by SoNic67 View Post

. A good cassette tape (Metal/CrO2, Dobly B) today might be as good as original studio release, so there is no way you can tell the difference.
Once you get to better recordings, a CD will show the true potential.

No, not even close. They were making some incredible recordings in the 1950's but the high fidelity medium of the day was the vinyl record. When the cassette tape was introduced it was always inferior to a vinyl disc, let alone to the original master tape. The CD in the early 80's was the first medium that could outperform the vinyl record and it pretty much put the vinyl record out of business just like it did the cassette.
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post #6 of 26 Old 10-05-2013, 03:44 AM
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. A good cassette tape (Metal/CrO2, Dobly B) today might be as good as original studio release, so there is no way you can tell the difference.
Once you get to better recordings, a CD will show the true potential.

No, not even close. They were making some incredible recordings in the 1950's but the high fidelity medium of the day was the vinyl record. When the cassette tape was introduced it was always inferior to a vinyl disc, let alone to the original master tape.

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The CD in the early 80's was the first medium that could outperform the vinyl record and it pretty much put the vinyl record out of business just like it did the cassette.

I guess you missed the brief fling that we had with 7 1/2 ips 2 and 4 track open reel tape. Especially 1:1 duplicated. Circa 1963-1966. Better than vinyl, only a tad worse than 15 ips half track masters.

Later on they cheapened open reel with 3 3/4 ips and high speed duplication. Cassette at its finest eclipsed that. What they did with cassette from its initial introduction as a dictation medium to a semi-serious music medium was pretty impressive. But as Scotty said "I canna change the laws of physics, captain".
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post #7 of 26 Old 10-05-2013, 03:49 AM
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. A good cassette tape (Metal/CrO2, Dobly B) today might be as good as original studio release, so there is no way you can tell the difference.
Once you get to better recordings, a CD will show the true potential.

No, not even close. They were making some incredible recordings in the 1950's but the high fidelity medium of the day was the vinyl record. When the cassette tape was introduced it was always inferior to a vinyl disc, let alone to the original master tape.

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The CD in the early 80's was the first medium that could outperform the vinyl record and it pretty much put the vinyl record out of business just like it did the cassette.

I guess you missed the brief fling that we had with 7 1/2 ips 2 and 4 track open reel tape. Especially 1:1 duplicated. Circa 1963-1966. Better than vinyl, only a tad worse than 15 ips half track masters.

Later on they cheapened open reel with 3 3/4 ips and high speed duplication. Cassette at its finest eclipsed that. What they did with cassette from its initial introduction as a dictation medium to a semi-serious music medium was pretty impressive. But as Scotty said "I canna change the laws of physics, captain".

 

Agreed all round - I'd add that the recently deceased Ray Dolby's contribution to the cassette medium was also one of the milestones in history which helped the transition of cassette from 'office use' to a viable medium for listening to music.

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post #8 of 26 Old 10-05-2013, 05:44 AM
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I'd add that the recently deceased Ray Dolby's contribution to the cassette medium was also one of the milestones in history which helped the transition of cassette from 'office use' to a viable medium for listening to music.

His success with cassette was preceded by his very helpful noise reduction for studio tape recorders - Dolby A.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolby_noise-reduction_system

Dolby A was a somewhat fiddley multiband system. It was highly dependent on reference levels being just right.

Dolby B was essentially a single band system, but the corner frequency moved down at low levels. The hidden agenda was that Dolby B was also dependent on level matching and was not a truly reciprocal system. IOW the decode phase was not the perfect mirror image of the encode at its best and if the playback level was off, the decoding was even less of a reciprocal and the playback was colored.

All analog tape systems have limited dynamic range at higher frequencies and also compress dynamics pretty heavily. The slower the tape speed, the greater the compression and the lower frequency at which it starts.

With the best modern tapes and tape machines, wide tape and tracks, and 15 ips operation, tape compression is pretty mild in the audio band. When you are talking the tiny tracks on cassette machines and the snail's pace of the tape, the compression starts around a few KHz.

The other audible artifacts of analog tape include flutter and wow (now known as jitter), fringing effects at low frequencies, and drop outs. Many of these slide by unless you can do a direct instant-switched time-synched comparison.

I admit it, I like to torment analog tape bigots by pointing out that the best analog tape machine ever made had jitter that is about 1,000 times more than the worst real world modern digital. But, its true. Good thing that jitter is not all that audible! ;-)

BTW that tape-induced jitter is part of every digital recording that started out with analog tracks. Analog systems were heavily developed over the years and while many of their shortcomings were inherent and had to be there, they pushed into frequency ranges where they were less audible.
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post #9 of 26 Old 10-05-2013, 05:19 PM - Thread Starter
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It does have some hiss, but not much thanks to the Dolby processing. More importantly it lacks the dynamic range of digital recordings and dolby cassette tapes have an overall dark sound which results from the Dolby compression/expansion process. I use a state of the art Nakamichi cassette deck with Dolby A,B and C. and nothing about it compares to what a CD can do. It isn't that tape cassettes are bad. It is that CD's are better in every respect. That's why they put the cassette deck out of business.

The hiss is so low that you can't notice it unless you actually concentrate on the hiss. I always wondered why tapes have that sound, learn something new everyday!

I absolutely agree that CD is better, there's no denying it. I'm more of a vinyl guy though, except for the Pink Floyd re-masters.

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For a real thrill ABX a transcription of a cassette tape with the master it was made from.

Heck, back in the day we grossed ourselves out by comparing cassette tape playback with the master it was made from.

Good high speed 1/2 track 1/4" tape masters can be compared with digital, but it still sounds a little different. But cassette tape, even metal tape, tapes made with Dolby HX, and all the rest are pretty easy to hear problems with.
If by analog you mean 15 or 30 ips 1/2 track 1/4" tape copies, they are really pretty good and will make you even sweat a little if you try to compare them back to the analog original or a digital master.

By master tapes do you mean reel-to-reel?

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post #10 of 26 Old 10-05-2013, 05:21 PM - Thread Starter
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I thought I would mention this guys that I'm not asking if cassette is better than CD because it's not. I just want to know why everyone considers it be unlistenable.

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post #11 of 26 Old 10-05-2013, 06:30 PM
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By master tapes do you mean reel-to-reel?

Yes. Stereo masters were 1/4" tape. Multitrack masters were up to 2" wide.
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post #12 of 26 Old 10-05-2013, 07:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Yes. Stereo masters were 1/4" tape. Multitrack masters were up to 2" wide.

Wow. Correct me if I'm wrong but don't studios still use that for recording?

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post #13 of 26 Old 10-06-2013, 05:32 AM
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Wow. Correct me if I'm wrong but don't studios still use that for recording?

No. The recording medium today is a hard drive. Analog recording is as dead as a doornail.
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post #14 of 26 Old 10-06-2013, 03:36 PM - Thread Starter
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No. The recording medium today is a hard drive. Analog recording is as dead as a doornail.

No Blade studios uses reel-to-reel still.

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post #15 of 26 Old 10-06-2013, 04:16 PM
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No. The recording medium today is a hard drive. Analog recording is as dead as a doornail.

No Blade studios uses reel-to-reel still.

That's one!

Lots of studios have R2R recorders, but do most of their work on computers.
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post #16 of 26 Old 10-06-2013, 06:38 PM
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No Blade studios uses reel-to-reel still.

OK, almost dead.
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post #17 of 26 Old 10-06-2013, 06:51 PM - Thread Starter
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That's one!

Lots of studios have R2R recorders, but do most of their work on computers.

Of course and I think that it sounds better too. Pro tools 10 has a 32 bit float at 192Khz all digital except for the initial conversion at the mixer or input on PC. Everything gets done in digital so there's really only one conversion necessary.

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post #18 of 26 Old 10-06-2013, 07:17 PM
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No Blade studios uses reel-to-reel still.

OK, almost dead.

Most of the companies producing magnetic tape have ceased production. There is said to be exactly one producer of magnetic tape in the USA - ATR magnetics http://atrtape.com/shop/
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post #19 of 26 Old 10-07-2013, 05:41 AM
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OK, so close to dead that there is only one studio left to kill. smile.gif
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post #20 of 26 Old 10-07-2013, 10:09 AM
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A few years back Shelby Lynne tore out her all digital studio and went all analogue. She records all her songs since, Just a Little Lovin' on a Studer tape recorder w/2 inch tape. Also for kicks, to get even more retro, check out Capsule Recording Studios in LA. They do live Direct to Disc recordings. I have some Sheffield Lab vinyl that was done in the 80's quite good. Nothing is ever totally dead you can usually put a mirror under the nose and detect some faint breath.smile.gif
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post #21 of 26 Old 10-07-2013, 01:11 PM
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She records to tape so that the recording can later be dubbed to digital for mastering and distribution. Hard to imagine a point in that. She is a fine singer, though.
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post #22 of 26 Old 10-07-2013, 03:22 PM
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The initial recording of Just a Little Lovin' was totally butchered. They had plating problems and as a result they chose to go w/the 24/96 digital version. They then went to Doug Sax at the Mastering Lab w/the original 2" Studer tapes and remastered through an all analogue board and re-released the album on 200gm vinyl. I think the label is Analogue Productions. I know the Elusive Disc carries it. Compare the early digital pressing w/the all analogue version and you will hear the difference. Also Doug Sax was the recording engineer for Sheffield Labs and the Direct to Disc records that were produced in the late 70's and early 80's. smile.gif
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post #23 of 26 Old 10-07-2013, 04:11 PM
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I know the owner of The Elusive Disc. We are both Hoosiers and we've tipped a glass or two in my office. I've bought many audiophile records from him back in my vinyl days. I know who Sax is but I don't know him personally. He has a strong reputation. I suppose if you're going to master to vinyl, you might as well have the preceding steps done in analog for the sake of nostalgia. Nostalgia is big part of the audiophile world, for some reason.
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post #24 of 26 Old 10-07-2013, 08:31 PM
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Not always about nostalgia. I think we get all tied up in the technical side we forget the singers and musicians are artists first. So they look for a unique sound that best expresses their music. Sometime that will be in the analog form. John Mellencamp recorded No Better Than This 3 years ago w/T-Bone Burnett at various locations including Sun Studio and a Texas hotel room that Robert Johnson recorded in back in 1930's. All the equipment they had was a mic and a 1950's portable Ampex tape recorder. Not high tech but it conveyed the sound they were after. Just a different canvas to express their music. If you view Saving Private Ryan you'll notice muted colors. Spielberg did that on purpose to set a certain mood. My belief is there are many different ways to express a work of art. I still enjoy B&W Film Noir.smile.gif
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post #25 of 26 Old 10-08-2013, 06:31 AM
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John Mellencamp recorded No Better Than This 3 years ago w/T-Bone Burnett at various locations including Sun Studio and a Texas hotel room that Robert Johnson recorded in back in 1930's. All the equipment they had was a mic and a 1950's portable Ampex tape recorder. Not high tech but it conveyed the sound they were after.smile.gif

I view that as nostalgia. I think it is fine to emulate or play Robert Johnson's music. But it makes no sense to emulate Robert Johnson's recording technology. If we want that kind of sound, we can listen to Robert Johnson's recordings directly. I'd rather have an accurate rendering of Robert Johnson's live performances but, obviously, the quality we have is the quality we have. I have a Clapton recording called Me and Mr. Johnson where he does Johnson's songs. It is a good rendering of the man's music well recorded and well performed. Nothing nostalgic about it. No games. Just a good tribute to Robert Johnson's music. I have several Robert Johnson's recordings and, personally, I'd rather listen to Clapton because of the sound quality.
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post #26 of 26 Old 10-08-2013, 09:23 PM - Thread Starter
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I view that as nostalgia. I think it is fine to emulate or play Robert Johnson's music. But it makes no sense to emulate Robert Johnson's recording technology. If we want that kind of sound, we can listen to Robert Johnson's recordings directly. I'd rather have an accurate rendering of Robert Johnson's live performances but, obviously, the quality we have is the quality we have. I have a Clapton recording called Me and Mr. Johnson where he does Johnson's songs. It is a good rendering of the man's music well recorded and well performed. Nothing nostalgic about it. No games. Just a good tribute to Robert Johnson's music. I have several Robert Johnson's recordings and, personally, I'd rather listen to Clapton because of the sound quality.

Not nostalgia. wink.gif

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