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Analog tape - the end of an era?

Surprising as it may seem, analog tape is still used in around 50% of sessions in top recording studios (source - Air studios; one of the biggest and most influential studios in the UK). But now the era of analog may be forced to come to an end simply because of the lack of tape.

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Surprising as it may seem, analog tape is still used in around 50% of sessions in top recording studios (source - Air studios; one of the biggest and most influential studios in the UK). But now the era of analog may be forced to come to an end simply because of the lack of tape.

The two remaining manufacturers of analog tape, Emtec and Quantegy, have shown scant enthusiasm of late for analog tape production, preferring to concentrate on their digital products.

Indeed a BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation - one of the world's biggest broadcasting organizations) insider has reported that they have bought up ALL the stock of quarter-inch analog tape from Quantegy.

This is confirmed by a recent purchase of Ampex brand tape that is made by Quantegy. Out of the box and sealed plastic wrapper, it was found to be wound oxide side out, rather than oxide-in as it should be. The tape was wound backwards on the spool so that the Ampex logo went on the bottom as the tape was loaded onto the recorder. The spool was scuffed and scraped, and looked distinctly secondhand.

It looked like someone had been rummaging through the warehouse to piece something together to complete an order. I guess the warehouse is well and truly cleaned out now.

I don't think that analog will quite die yet, but it looks like enthusiasts are going to have to recycle their old tapes of outtakes.

Will the same happen to vinyl lacquers? When there are no lacquers available to cut vinyl discs, perhaps vinyl too will finally die.

By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004
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