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Analog tape crisis
March 16, 2005 8:18 PM   Subscribe

Quantegy, the last remaining branded manufacturer of professional audio tape, closed its doors and filed for Chapter 11. But it seems there's hope that they'll bounce back.
posted by starscream (14 comments total)

 
Old news, mang.
posted by kenko at 8:19 PM on March 16, 2005


The only real industry in my mother's hometown... a lot of my family still lives in Opelika, but none still work for Quantegy.

I think after we've lost a generation of knowledge that was stored on hard drives and the like, that can die with one little scrape of the heads, some of this older technology will come back into vogue.
posted by BoringPostcards at 8:36 PM on March 16, 2005


See also.
posted by neckro23 at 8:41 PM on March 16, 2005


There has been a lot of stockpiling going on for a while now. Should be interesting to see the sort of economies/cottage industries that spring up on Ebay, et al.
posted by shoepal at 8:48 PM on March 16, 2005


BoringPostcards, I understand the impulse, but the problem is, audio tape is also a magnetic storage medium, and if anything more fragile than harddrives (which can be ruined by a head crash, but at least they're in a well-engineered container; a 2-year old can shred an audiotape). I would like to just say good riddance to bad rubbish and be done with it, but I gotta admit I've got a lot of nostalgia for audio tapes, and even a few good hours of music that I can't find on any other medium. *sigh*
posted by rkent at 8:55 PM on March 16, 2005


the last remaining branded manufacturer

Are there unbranded manufacturers still? Given the small size of the market, are they not sufficient? Honest questions.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 9:55 PM on March 16, 2005


Sad days. And so many of the cassette decks that sold in the $400-500 range in the 80's and 90's are now available used for $25-50 on ebay.
Had at least 50 Maxell XLIIs tapes, 80's and 90's stuff on both sides... could not sell a single one; and later had no takers on even having them for free.
Tape is nostalgia; tape is gone. Maybe make a mobile out of an 8" floppy and cassettes this mayday? HA HA HA HA.

Tape was always so organic.
posted by buzzman at 11:08 PM on March 16, 2005


Well. If I can still get parts for my camera built in the 60s, I think we should be able to get as much tape equipment as is necessary for the next couple decades...
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:55 PM on March 16, 2005


And so many of the cassette decks that sold in the $400-500 range in the 80's and 90's are now available used for $25-50 on ebay.

And some of that stuff is ab fab, too, really top gear that sounds great.
posted by Wolof at 12:07 AM on March 17, 2005


They're not talking about 1/4" home cassette tape, they're talking about 1"+ professional recording tape - for multi-track real to real machines. The amount of good quality pro tape is dwindling, as people are starting to horde the stockpiles. This will affect you as the user as more and more recordings go digital (most studio have already have switched over).

It's just another piece of the "vintage sound" that will be further removed from todays recordings, like really good mics, mechanical reverbs, tape delays, RCA tubes, old P-90 guitar pickups, germanium transistors, vinyl records etc etc etc. All of these pieces can still be grouped back together along with an experienced engineer to get a good live vintage sound, but the time and expense proves to be a bigger hurdle with every piece of the puzzle that gets pushed to the back of a pawn shop or ebayed off as "vintage" with a pricey "buy it now" button.

Listen to some old country. Listen to some old Jazz. Listen to the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Sabbath and the Who. Then listen to Yellowcard, Taking Back Sunday, Velvet Revolver, and Ashlee Simpson. You'll see what I'm talking about.

That's the real reason that this sucks.
posted by password at 6:20 AM on March 17, 2005


Really good mics have not gone the way of two inch tape. People still use them to make both good and bad records. And Ashlee Simpson would sound like crap regardless of the equipment used for the recording.

What you should really be pissed about is pitch correction. More than Pro Tools, pitch correction is corroding popular music by lowering the bar on talent and effort required to make a record that sounds radio worthy.
posted by tomharpel at 7:00 AM on March 17, 2005


...and don't forget compression...
posted by dragstroke at 7:36 AM on March 17, 2005


Really good mics have not gone the way of two inch tape. People still use them to make both good and bad records. And Ashlee Simpson would sound like crap regardless of the equipment used for the recording.

What you should really be pissed about is pitch correction.


Yes, and yes. I also wonder why you'd include "old P90 guitar pickups" in that list. I don't think P90s are necessarily more special than any other electric guitar pickups, and I don't think we're going to stop seeing analog electric guitars any time soon.

In any case, digital recordings can sound just as good, and just as "analog," as analog recordings, if they're done right. But quite frequently they aren't, and pitch correction and over-compression are often major culprits.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:11 AM on March 17, 2005


tomharpel:
What you should really be pissed about is pitch correction. More than Pro Tools, pitch correction is corroding popular music by lowering the bar on talent and effort required to make a record that sounds radio worthy.

I think you mean, pitch correction is raising the bar on pop-singer attractiveness required make a video that's TV-worthy.

Pop music, meet A&F commercial! Soon it'll all be one big medium, we won't even need to use the plural anymore.
posted by rkent at 3:16 PM on March 17, 2005


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