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The future of tape
Old 23rd October 2002
  #1
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
The future of tape

This has been copied from the Studer list. I thought it would be of interest to a lot of people. Especially people like me who do lots of work on analog tape. The original email was from Jay McKnight at MRL.

----------------------------
Hello Recordists,

I passed the inquiry on the Ampex list about the continuing
availability of analog tape to EMTEC, and I received the reply below from Michael Ryan, VP of Technical Services.

Thanks, Michael -- we're glad to get this good news "from the horse's mouth"!


This is a forwarded message
From: Ryan, Michael
To: '[email protected]' <[email protected]>
Date: Monday, October 21, 2002, 2:50:42 PM

Subject: Future of Tape

===8<==============Original message text===============
Hello Jay,

I was asked to respond to the inquiry below from the "Ampex Mailing List".

"Has anybody heard , thru the grapevine or otherwise, anything about the future supply of 1" & 2" recording tape. With the coming of DVD I would think that the mass video tape market would collapse anytime now...!?"


Regarding the future of analog studio mastering tape and VHS tape, we at EMTEC would say that as long as there is a demand for each type both formats will be made for some time to come. Worldwide consumption of analog studio mastering tape is still quite high although people are using computer-based recording systems like Pro Tools more than ever before. If anything, these relatively inexpensive software-based systems have made "recording" more popular and more accessible. With
more people recording projects of all kinds, there is a greater
likelihood that some form of tape will be used during the course of
the project.

As far as EMTEC's production goes, it does not matter if one
particular width of tape is not popular at the time since we coat our jumbo rolls first and then slit the jumbo to the appropriate width later on. For example, the market needs for 1" analog tape nearly disappeared until the introduction of the 1" two-track recording format, which has gained some popularity as a mixdown/mastering format. Our 1/4" tape sales continue to grow as content owners re-archive older masters onto new tape. The reason that institutions (like The Library of Congress) re-archive to analog is because it is the only format that has demonstrated an ability to be stored for 30 or more years and still be playable. There is no digital tape format that has shown that ability to date and the jury is still out on optical media.

Regarding the success of DVD and the future of VHS, sales of VHS still outweigh DVD by a large margin although you would not believe that based upon the coverage by the media. The media likes to tout new products and technologies and there is not much new one can say about VHS. However, as long as so many households have at least one VCR (over 90%), there will continue to be a market for videocassettes (both pre-recorded and blank).

I hope that this answers some of your questions and concerns.

Sincerely,

Michael Ryan
VP, Technical Services
EMTEC Multimedia, Inc.
900 Middlesex Turnpike, Bldg. 5
Billerica, MA 01821

(P) 800-371-0152 x6191
(P) 978-439-6191
(F) 978-439-6192
E-mail: [email protected]
website: http://www.emtec-multimedia.com

===8<===========End of original message text===========

--
Best regards,
Jay McKnight
at Magnetic Reference Laboratory
mailto:[email protected]
=================================================================
This message is from the Studer list : www.recordist.com/studer
Old 25th October 2002
  #2
Han
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Thanks for posting that Jay, quite interesting.

>>re-archive to analog is because it is the only format that has demonstrated an ability to be stored for 30 or more years and still be playable. There is no digital tape format that has shown that ability to date and the jury is still out on optical media.<<

I remember is was Steve Albini -correct me if I'm wrong- who said in an article that we have to make worries about the fact that probably a lot of our art will get lost because it isn't stored on long lasting media, like DAT and CDR.

I also read a while ago, that CD's will loose their content because of a mould.

Very old tapes with an acryl layer can still be played without a problem. A number of tapes from the 70's and 80's will be (very) sticky, but after baking these tapes will run like new.

I was called this week by a friend who has problems with his hard disc recorder. He hasn't used it for almost a year, and now it won't work anymore. Mmmmmm.......food for thinking?

Peace, Han
Old 25th October 2002
  #3
Here for the gear
 
Mike Rhys's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Han

probably a lot of our art will get lost because it isn't stored on long lasting media, like DAT and CDR.

I also read a while ago, that CD's will loose their content because of a mould.


DAT is definately not a long lasting format. I have DATs recorded about about 14 years ago (recorded on the first consumer DAT deck. An AIWA I think it was) and my PCM2700 can no longer get usable data off them.

As for the mold issue, I think that may refer to a problem with production runs from just one UK based factory. Not actually mold but something to do with a chemical mismatch in the plastic layer or something.
This is just what I remember hearing a while back and the 'ol memory is getting like an aging DAT tape!!

Mike.
Old 25th October 2002
  #4
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I remember hearing about the CD thing a while ago, not sure if it's true or not. I do know that some people have actually worn out CDR's. Granted it was data that was played 24-7 in an airport (at a kiosk) over a year or two but the discs developed problems and had to be replaced. One of the inherent problems with digital tape is error correction. Once there are too many errors for the error correction to correct you end up with an unplayable tape.

Like you said, the worst that happens with analog tape is that it gets sticky. Bake it, do a transfer and your good for another 20-30 years. Other then losing a little top and being slightly noisier any tape that was recorded 10 or 30 years ago is just as good today. How many people can still open up sessions from PT 1? Or, will Adats or DA-X8s still be around in 20 years? Maybe as a rental or at a place that specializes in archiving but I doubt they'll be as widespread as they are today.
Old 25th October 2002
  #5
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
i have heard stories of tapes being rendered useless after a single pass from excessive shedding.
Old 25th October 2002
  #6
Han
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by alphajerk
i have heard stories of tapes being rendered useless after a single pass from excessive shedding.
That migh be true. Never play a sticky tape!
Tape should be stored tails out in a proper place.

Always try to run an old tape backwards, most tapes have a blank tail, and find out if there's shedding. A small peice of cloth or toilet paper against the tape surface will do the job.

If so, STOP THE TAPE and bake it. Tapes can be baked many times, so it's not that important to transfer them to another tape.

I have baked a ton of tapes and the sound is just fine, no problems there.

So, Alphajerk is right, but don't blame the tape, blame the engineer who destroyed it.

Peace, Han
Old 25th October 2002
  #7
Lives for gear
 
David R.'s Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Anyone ever "baked" a DAT tape?

Seriously, what part of a DAT fails? Do the magnetic particles on the tape lose their charge and become unreadable? The physical tape is (I think) the same as analog but the tolerance for bad data is greater on analog. Still, if a DAT is to the point where it is unreadable after 10 or so years, what does this say about the degradation of analog? Both use the same method of storing information.

I've always wondered about that.
Old 25th October 2002
  #8
Han
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
I've never heard of sticky DAT or VHS tapes.

It's a miracle that a DAT works anyway, you can't compare a DAT to a 1/4" analog 15/30 ips master.

A DAT has a flying head and a couple of small drops are enough to screw it.

Peace, Han
Old 26th October 2002
  #9
Lives for gear
 
Volodia's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by David R.


SStill, if a DAT is to the point where it is unreadable after 10 or so years, what does this say about the degradation of analog? Both use the same method of storing information.

I've always wondered about that.
The problem with the DAT is that if there is an error or lost data it just won't read whereas on an analog tape you might loose a bit of high end but the sound will still be there :huge difference
Old 26th October 2002
  #10
Lives for gear
 
Steve Smith's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by alphajerk
i have heard stories of tapes being rendered useless after a single pass from excessive shedding.
ahhh AFGA tape.. sounds great for w few passes, then get out the broom, time to sweep up the shed!
Old 26th October 2002
  #11
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
The heads on a DAT machine can go out of alignment really easily and can prevent a tape from being read. Also, I know people that have trashed digital heads with Q-tips by leaving little bits of cotton on the head. Even one fiber is enough to ruin your day.

I've seen sticky shead. If anyone ruins a tape by trying to play it well, your an idiot or just not very experienced with analog recording and shouldn't be doing that kind of thing anyway. Most times sticky shed is noticeable before you even put the tape up. Or you'll start to rewind and the transport slows down and stops after 10-15 seconds. You'll be lucky most of the time if the tape is stored tails out which it should be anyway.

BTW Alpha, if a tape is shedding that much you'll never make it through the whole tape because of the buildup on the rollors and transport. It'll stop after maybe a minute or so. Sure, that one section of tape will be in dire need of help but at least the whole tape isn't ruined like you said.
Old 26th October 2002
  #12
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
wtf do i know about it... im not old enough to have a tape start to become sticky enough to shed. mine are all in still great condition, then again, all my CDR's have not problem reading either... nor do my old ass hard drives.
Old 28th October 2002
  #13
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Geez man, don't get your panties in a bunch fuuck. I'm in my mid-20's too. I've had clients bring in reels with sticky shed and I saw it a few times when I started working at my first studio gig.
Old 28th October 2002
  #14
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
guess i shoulda used smilies tut heh i was kidding around.
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