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Buying Guide

What Type of Tape is for You?

There are a few things to consider when buying analog tape:

Reel Size: Reel size is the most important factor in narrowing down what type of tape you may be looking to purchase. Reels range from 5" to 14" in diameter, but 7" and 10.5" reels are the most common.

Tape Length: Tape length varies but is ultimately dependent on reel size and variety of tape. The recording speed chosen by the user changes the duration of the recording, not the length of the tape itself.

Reel Width: Reel width is vital when selecting tape. The options are 1/4", 1/2", 1", and 2" tape. Most tape is 1/4", if you are using a different width then you likely already know this.

Reel and Hub Type:  The type of center of the reel is important when mounting reels. All 5”and 7” reels have the same mounting form factor, EIA Trident. 10.5” and 14” reels can have either NAB or EIA/Trident centers.

Tape Bias: The bias helps energize the tape oxide to allow the audio to be more easily implanted on the oxide. Since the bias frequency is so high, it is not stored on the tape after being recorded. All that is left is the actual audio. 

Operating Level: All quality analog recording tapes are designed not only to record the best in particular speed ranges, but also at certain "operating levels." Operating levels are all based on tuning. 

Considering All of This:

DescriptionTape BiasSuggested UseSpecifications
LPR-35Long Play
Studio Master
StandardLive Recording &
Studio Master
Click Here
LPR-90Long Play
Studio Master
StandardLive Recording &
Studio Master
Click Here
SM-468Musician Tape
Warm Analog
Grand Master
Lower than 911
Mixdown &
Warm Analog
Click Here
SM-911Latest Formula
Most Popular
StandardTransparent CopyingClick Here
SM-900High Output
High Tansparency
High BiasLive Recording &
Studio Master
Click Here

Additional Information:

Generally speaking, when recording on a good quality deck from a dynamic source, use SM911 or SM900 unless you need longer recording time. In that case use LPR35. There is no long play version of SM900 because of the heavy amount of oxide on the tape. If you're recording live material, we strongly suggest SM900 for the increased dynamic range, headroom, and lowest noise characteristics. SM900 tends to be the most transparent tape with an amazing sound field. Consumer Note: RMGI-EMTEC LPR35 is a drop in replacement recommended by Maxell to replace their now discontinued XLI 90B and XLI 180B. You shouldn't need any deck adjustments either for excellent response, and these tapes are lower noise tape to begin with. Although AMPEX 456 is the widest used of all tape of all time, it was simply because it was most easily available here in the USA, was pretty much first with a +6 operating level, and was heavily promoted in the heyday of analog recording in studios. LPR35 is a long play version of SM911 with the same oxide as SM911 but on a thinner base. Both are +6 recommended operating level tapes compared to +9 for SM900 and +10.25 for ATR Studio Master.