General Actual Frequently Asked Questions Accumulated over the Decades

General Actual Frequently Asked Questions Accumulated over the Decades

Q: Why would anyone want to make analog tape anymore. I thought digital recording took over.
A:  Hardly. Although there's plenty of digital recording going on, there's a lot of people who record that still like and prefer the analog sound. Also, analog recording does not suffer from constant and expensive software upgrades and the fear of computer viruses wiping out not only your current work files but your backups as well.

Q: What's the future of analog hardware?
A:  There's plenty of analog hardware being made and soon there will be brand new manufacturing of tape decks here in the USA. From US Recording's standpoint, we see analog recording as gaining strength in the last five or six years.

Q: I just got some brand new tape, and the one channel drops out yet none of the other tapes do it. Why?
A: Whenever you get a new roll of tape, it should be run through the deck to help it relax and to allow the deck's standoffs to set the height of the tape pack within the reels. The tape pack can be shifted within the reels through shipping. If this happens, the standoffs may flex the tape trying to adjust the height and may bow the tape very slightly over the heads. You need intimate contact between the tape and the heads.

Q:Someone said I should never use reels with a tape end slot. How come?
A: The tape end slot can cause the tape to dip slightly to span the gap and this can cause a repeating dropout at that same spot over many wraps of tape. This problem can be more pronounced with 1 mil tape because it isn't as stiff as 1.5 mil tapes or especially +9 operating level tapes.

Q:How should I store my tape? Vertically or horizontally?
A: Vertically. In a dry cool place. No attics, garages, hot warehouses, or damp basements.

Q:What does tails out mean?
A: This means the tape is shipped to you as if you recorded through to the end of the tape and all the tape on on the takeup reel. To use the tape, and this is always something you should do anyway with new tape, simply put the tape on the takeup side of the deck (the right side reel position) and rewind it. You can then record on the tape. This process is necessary to allow the tape to relax from manufacturing tensions and align itself to the guides.

Q:What are the reel flanges actually for?
A:They're there simply to protect the edges of the tape from handling. They do not "guide" the tape onto the hub which is the "thing" in the middle that the tape actually winds on.

Q:Why are there large holes in the flanges?
A:  They're called windage holes. They're necessary to allow the air to escape from the reel in fast forwarding or rewinding the tape. Without them, the tape pack could be very uneven.

Q: How come the edges of my older tapes are cupped over in places?
A: Most likely you're not storing your tape in a "played" condition. In other words you're rewinding the tape and storing it that way. Due to the tension on your tape, the edges that stick out can try to curl over. Always store tape after it's recorded or played without rewinding it. Remember, it's the edges of the tape that guide the tape into proper postition over the heads. If the edges are cupped you might have your tape wandering vertically slightly and this can cause changes in the output level.

Q: What advantage does using a high output level tape have? They're more expensive tapes.
A: The more sound level you can lay down on a tape, the lower the noise (hiss) level will be compared to 0 VU on your meters. Also, a half track deck lays down more sound level than a 1/4 track and this also affects the noise level. With a good tape deck and high output tape, noise can be practically inaudible.

Q:  What tape speeds should I use?
A:  At least 7.5IPS for the best performance. Distortion at lower speeds is much much higher. Modern tape is designed to be used at 7.5IPS and above. If you need longer recording time use 1 mil tape like ATR's MDS-36 which is excellent tape for home recording.

Q: What are pancakes and why are they so much cheaper than tapes with flanges?
A: Pancakes are identical to tape without the metal flanges, and it's the flanges that make such a difference. Flanges are very expensive due to the cost of aluminum, stamping, finishing, and anodizing.
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