metal or at least chrome tapes. brand: I prefered TDK for tapes and still use them for MD, and have great results. at some point however, I ran into some local drugstore's home-brand chrome tape, which was just better than the regular TDK I was using. so definately get chrome tapes (metal are even better IIRC, not sure here).
Does it have a switch with "metal" or "type iv" as one choice? 2nd on the TDK with a current preference for MA110s. BTW, TDK is no longer distributing metal cassettes in the USA. Thank God for my Alesis MasterLink 9600 (review to follow).
As I remember you can only play metal tapes in cassette recorders that handle metal. It affects the bias and Eq and metal is hard on playback heads not intended for metal tapes.
I like Maxell tapes. I have a box of XLII tapes ready to go.
In the 70's, when I did the comparisons the Maxell were my favorite, the TDK SA was my second favorite, and Sony was third and worked well on Sony cassette players. I did not like memorex or basf.
I also preferred to not use dolby when recording, I found it took out too many of the highs on playback.
In my opinion, if a cassette deck do have a metal button, it doesn't necessary mean the machine can handle metal tapes well... try to do a recording on a metal tape with the machine to see if any low end distortion exists (especially the boomy bass notes) to determine if your deck can indeed make good use of metal tapes. I think you can also use the bias knob (if there's one) to optimize recordings...
Personally, I've had excellent results with Sony Super Metal Master (white & heavy ceramic composite casing with aluminum carrying case) for TypeIV bias, and Fuji ZII (black casing with slim carrying case) for TypeII bias. I used to only buy TDK SA / SA-X / AR-X / AD to do recordings until in recent years when I've noticed their quality is slipping... Maxell makes good tapes too but they never seem to hold recordings well over a long period of time.
Some say TDK MA-XG Fermo is the best blank tape money can buy, if you can actually find any that is... Another high end tape is Maxell Metal Vertex (also hard to find). Sony still ships SMMs to retail stores even tho the production line was finished years ago...
Originally posted by krayzie Personally, I've had excellent results with Sony Super Metal Master (white & heavy ceramic composite casing with aluminum carrying case) for TypeIV bias, and Fuji ZII (black casing with slim carrying case) for TypeII bias. I used to only buy TDK SA / SA-X / AR-X / AD to do recordings until in recent years when I've noticed their quality is slipping... Maxell makes good tapes too but they never seem to hold recordings well over a long period of time.
The Sony Super Metal Master is an awsome tape... It had the most dynamic range compard to any of the more common tapes I've used.
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Aug 12, 2001
i use the discontinued maxell mxs90 metal tapes. they have the widest frequency range and lowest noise i've heard from sub $5 tapes. these tapes can be tricky, as the treble can seem harsh when dubbing from a poor source (such as a poorly adjusted turntable). under ideal circumstances treble is liquid and sparkles without being bright (from an analog source).
the tdk metals tapes are also nice, but have more noise and less headroom than the maxell mxs90 tapes (some prefer this "warmer" sound).
the maxell xl2 tapes are actually type one tapes with ferrite particles ground up fine enough to just barely qualify for type 2 standard. imho they are very noisey and have a colorless sound. note these are different than the excellent xl2s maxell tapes, which are true type 2 tapes. (if you don't believe me about the maxel xl2 formulation try to find the formulation information on the cassette case. it isn't there.)
the maximum length you should buy is 90 minutes. more than that and the quality degrades because the tape must be made thinner.
dolby b, c, and s all place a veil over the music, so i don't use any dolby. dolby s is based on their spectral recording (dolby sr) technology from film soundtracks, and is the best of all three, except that it compresses the dynamic range.
i think the advantages of analog tape are lost when you record from cd. i only record from vinyl when i make tapes, and md for cd: analog for analog and digital for digital.
Sorry for bumping up an old thread, but the selection of blank cassette tapes has really dwindled down. Maxell Corp. Of America now distributes only the XLII (Type II) and the UR (Type I) tapes. SonyStyle USA now only has the CD-IT (Type II) and the HF (Type I) tapes. TDK USA still sells the MA (Type IV), SA-X (Type II), SA (Type II), CD Power (Type II), CD Bass (Type I) and D (Type I) tapes for the "consumer" market - but most stores that I've been to now stock only the D tapes; the others are typically sold in 10-packs directly from TDK. There are also three models of TDK tapes for the "professional" audio market, and sold through pro-audio dealers: SM-X (Type II), SM (Type II) and AM (Type I). The formulas for those three are like the SA-X, SA and D, respectively.
As for which tape type is superior, I agree that Type IV is the best of the current tape types - but only if you have a deck that can handle it. But Type II is NOT superior to Type I in every aspect: Type II tapes do have less noise than Type I tapes - but they sacrifice the high-frequency headroom, and sometimes overall headroom, in order to achieve such low noise (in fact, some "true" Type II tapes distort at input levels even at or slightly below 0dB VU). Type I tapes can generally accept higher input volumes than Type II tapes - but oh, the hiss!
And I do agree with the decline of the quality control of TDK's audio cassette tapes in general: Except for the budget-priced D tapes (which remained fairly consistent - and relatively high compared to that of most other Type I tapes), the TDK audio Compact Cassette line had been suffering with erratic mechanics and excessive dropouts in recent years.
That leaves hardly any really good choices in cassettes today. If you must buy cassette tapes today, the safe (read: decent) choices are the Sony line, and the aforementioned TDK D. (I don't trust Maxell these days, because their XLII barely qualifies as a Type II tape, and their UR doesn't perform as well as the Sony or TDK Type I tapes, IMHO.)
And fuggittabout RadioShack as a source of decent audio cassette tapes: They sell only three models of tapes: HC (Type II) and XR (Type I), both made by Maxell, and the LN (Type I), made by some third-tier company in China. Expect the HC and XR tapes to perform similarly to the currently available Maxell-brand tapes.