Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Last Manufacturer of Pro Analog Audio Tape Closes

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the reel-too-real dept.

Music 550

goosman writes "Quantegy, the last manufacturer of professional reel-to-reel analog audio tape in the world has closed their plant in Opelika, AL leaving a reported 250 workers without jobs, according to the Opelika-Auburn News. Emtec (the former BASF, which used to be AGFA) was the last European manufacturer and ceased manufacuring in 2002. An audio account of the closing can be heard at NPR."

cancel ×

550 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11270891)

fp

Re:fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11271151)

cngrtz 2 u

Oh well.. (0, Troll)

jangell (633044) | more than 9 years ago | (#11270892)

We loose old school tapes.. We gain half-life 2.. i'm happy.

First post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11270896)

It's been a while

Re:First "I failed it" post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11270920)

Fuck, looks like it will be a little longer.

Re:First "I failed it" post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11271055)

Given your lack of abilities I think a 'Fuck' may take you much longer than you expect as well.

Re:First "I failed it" post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11271224)

I'm a 36 year old virgin. I suspect "Fuck" is never going to happen. I think you're wrong.

Irony (4, Interesting)

Embedded Geek (532893) | more than 9 years ago | (#11270899)

Does anyone else find it ironic that NPR has posted a digital stream of this story about the analog tape industry?

Re:Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11270932)

By the great beard of Zeus! That's the first time in... I don't know how long... that I've witnessed someone using the term ironic in an appropriate context.

Re:Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11270995)

Now THAT is irony.

Re:Irony (5, Funny)

xjerky (128399) | more than 9 years ago | (#11270936)

Well, at least it recursively explains why they had to shut down.

Re:Irony (3, Interesting)

grennis (344262) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271046)

This word recursion. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Re:Irony (1)

PrinceAshitaka (562972) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271200)

I think he was right to use recursively. http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=recursive ly

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11270951)

No, it's not ironic -- NPR posts digital streams of all Morning Editions.

Re:Irony (5, Funny)

jaavaaguru (261551) | more than 9 years ago | (#11270962)

My soundcard's not working. Does anyone have a copy of this story on reel to reel tape?

Re:Irony (2, Insightful)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 9 years ago | (#11270963)

Ironic, no. Logical, yes. Inevitable, certainly.

Re:Irony (1)

Kufat (563166) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271198)

No. It would be ironic if they'd posted a digital stream about the death of the digital stream industry. This would be an example of the opposite of irony; things occur in the way they'd be expected to occur.

Re:Irony (4, Insightful)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271310)

Does anyone else find it ironic that NPR has posted a digital stream of this story about the analog tape industry?

No, irony would be an employee at OSHA dying in an accident caused by unsafe workplace conditions. This is just the radio media reporting on something having to do with outmoded audio tape. If they had claimed that the plant should have stayed open because reel to reel tape is an ideal medium for distributing radio content while they themselves don't use it, that might be considered irony.

Great story (5, Informative)

SIGALRM (784769) | more than 9 years ago | (#11270902)

Almost 60 years ago, the story was different. "In 1945, after capturing several German 'Magnetophon' tape recorders from Radio Luxembourg, the American Signal Corps recorded a speech by Gen. Dwight Eisenhower to be played to the people of occupied Germany. Due to a shortage of recording tape, the speech had to be recorded on a reel of used German tape. Due to a problem with the German tape recorder, the tape was not completely erased and the voice of Adolph Hitler was intermittently heard along with Eisenhower's voice. This caused a great deal of fear and confusion among the German people
Wouldn't you have loved to be there for that little mishap? Here's a little more info [quantegy.com] on that story in case you're interested.

Wah? (0, Troll)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 9 years ago | (#11270918)

They lost it? It get washed away or something?

Damn you Digital - Damn you to Hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11270921)

Digital changes things. Someday something will come along to wipe out digital.

What will it be?

If I knew I'd be working on it.

I'm not that smart.

Or am I?

Re:Damn you Digital - Damn you to Hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11271250)

It's quantum tecknology, get working.

8 tracks? (0, Offtopic)

Digital-A (844879) | more than 9 years ago | (#11270950)

Did they stop producing 8 tracks? I really hope so, those thinks were quite monstrous.

Re:8 tracks? (0, Offtopic)

Raijin Z (685276) | more than 9 years ago | (#11270969)

Oh come on, with an 8-track player in your dashboard, nobody by the most hard-up audiophile would steal your stereo. Bring them back!

Significance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11270957)

Does this mean cassette tapes (with their internal reel-to-reel mechanism) are no longer going to be manufactured? What about similar video tape technology (VHS, BETA, etc.)?

Re:Significance? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11270970)

Cassette tapes aren't pro tape.

250 people lost their jobs? (4, Funny)

sakusha (441986) | more than 9 years ago | (#11270982)

I didn't know there were even 250 people who still used analog reel-to-reel tapes. Perhaps there were more people making the tape than using the tape.

Re:250 people lost their jobs? (1, Insightful)

gentoo_user (843424) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271053)

People with money and ears choose tape. People lacking either one of those go digital ;-) Tape is far from dead, the worst that could happen is that digidesign buy them out. Then it would be time to "emerge ardour", and you know what; with my CFLAGS I'm willing to bet it whips PT on a similar specced machine...

Re:250 people lost their jobs? (1)

Jozer99 (693146) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271172)

I use 1/4" reel to reel for some of my home recording (I go digital, then run it through my old tape recorder to get that great old analogue sound. At the recording studio my band records at, they still had lots of 2" tape lying around, even though they mostly did stuff with a PowerMac and a Firewire A/D converter.

Re:250 people lost their jobs? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11271272)

I go digital, then run it through my old tape recorder to get that great old analogue sound.
You mean noise? Or is your tape recorder oiled with snake oil?

Re:250 people lost their jobs? (4, Funny)

Squareball (523165) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271322)

Those poor people.. how would they have ever seen it coming?

Damn (4, Interesting)

the arbiter (696473) | more than 9 years ago | (#11270987)

Seriously, Quantegy was the last munufacturer of the 2" analog reel-to-reel tape that is used in high-end recording studios. And of the 1/2" tape used for analog mastering.

A dark day for those of us who loved the old analog sound.

Re:Damn (1)

pmbuko (162438) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271032)

The "analog sound" -- which basically equates to rolled off high frequencies -- can easily be replicated digitally.

Re:Damn (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11271068)

No. You're wrong. There's a certain compression that highly-driven tape produces, which is much more complex than some lowpass filter.

Re:Damn (4, Informative)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271082)

The finest consumer tape deck ever produced, the Pioneer RT-909, had a frequency response to 30kHz. Studio decks that record at 15 inches-per-second have response clear out to 40kHz and beyond. A CD has response to only 22.05kHz, and even studio digital equipment has a hard time working up to 48kHz.

Re:Damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11271132)


My humble home studio was built on a budget of roughly $500, and I can record at 96khz/24-bit, so I'm guessing pro studios can easily do this as well. The biggest cost at this point is the storage medium, which is why I usually reserve it for vocals or acoustic instruments.

Re:Damn (1)

furiousgeorge (30912) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271216)

>>My humble home studio was built on a budget of
>>roughly $500, and I can record at 96khz/24-bit,

I'm willing to bet thats 96khz SAMPLING.... which equates to a 48khz audio response. c.f. Nyquist sampling theorm.

Re:Damn (5, Informative)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271222)

Cheap studio gear can write "24/96" all over the package but achieving that accuracy digitally is very difficult and expensive. Most low-end equipment I've managed to peek inside of contain poorly implemented clocks. In a digital system the timebase is the most important factor, but Edirol and that crowd spend $0.10 on the clock. A good clock would make "96kHz" closer to the truth, but then it wouldn't be $199 anymore.

An actual 24-bit system has a theoretical Dynamic range of around 140dB but you'll be hard pressed to get better than 80dB with most gear. With analog recording there are at least two well-known foolproof methods to improve dynamic range and SNR: get a bigger tape, and run the tape faster. The dynamic range and SNR on 2", 32ips tape is amazing.

And of course tape can be driven to +9dB recording levels in some cases, but a digital system will clip hard at 0dB.

Digital is definitely the future but right digital recording has its problems. Next time you go to the record store notice how many High Resolution DVD-Audio recordings are being mastered from tapes.

Re:Damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11271142)

And this is supposed to explain why tapes sound like crap? If it's such a great technology, why is it dropped now? It's useless to show us those weird numbers when you've only got out-dated and expensive devices.

Re:Damn (1)

justforaday (560408) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271199)

hey dipshit, please don't confuse 2" reel-to-reel at 15 inches per second with 1/8" compact cassette at 1-7/8 inches per second. there's a fucking world of difference...

Re:Damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11271152)

What are you talking about? An Audigy2 can record at 96kHz with no problems, and this is the sample rate of DVD-Audio. It all depends on the input device - a microphone which is only sensitive to frequencies below 20 kHz isn't going to improve because you sample it more times per second.

Re:Damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11271237)

From http://www.soundblaster.com/products/audigy2/specs .asp [soundblaster.com]

That's 96kHz sampling, which would have a nyquist limit frequency of 48kHz. (The poster you replied to wasn't talking about sampling rates.)

Re:Damn (3, Informative)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271241)

Hello sir, I hate to break it to you, but the front-end analog electronics and jittering timebase on the Audigy limit it to dynamic ranges of around 80dB and SNR of around 60dB, giving about the same performance as a good 20-year-old cassette deck.

Re:Damn (1)

the arbiter (696473) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271139)

I hate to be like this, but you are so wrong. It's not high-end at all.

The difference is in resolution, much like a digital camera. A one-megapixel image is OK for a 3x5 picture. A five-megapixel image is OK for an 8x10 print. But if you really want a big picture (24x36 or larger), full of detail with no visible pixels, you still gotta go with real film.

And tape is exactly the same way. Digital recording is wonderful (I wouldn't go back to analog for a million bucks) but if you want the detail, analog is still where it's at.

Or was at.

Re:Damn (1)

Heftklammerdosierer! (846009) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271293)

If you wanted a 24x36 you'd need a medium format camera, though.

Re:Damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11271230)

Not really.
Tape has a wacky transfer function, and compresses with high levels.
It also brings up low level detail, as the transfer function becomes non linear as it goes through 0.
(It becomes curve that kinda flattens off a little, so it's a bit like compression)
Film does much the same thing, so areas in shadow can be seen better than on video.
There are plugins that purport to do the same thing, and some rather expensive ($3000+) rack mounts too, but it's never quite the same.
One you learn how a particular tape stock and machine work together, you can drive it predictably, and use that as part of your production process on certain sounds.
All in all, record on a studer a80, and it sounds great. Record to a DAW, and you have to fiddle to get the same excitement and energy.
Both have their qualities, but are not interchangeable.

Re:Damn (1)

petsounds (593538) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271282)

That's simply not true, or there would already be a software plug-in which does so. Many producers and recording engineers, even those who work with pristine-sounding top-40 pop acts, still regularly use tape reel-to-reels to "warm up" the sound after initially recording and editing the music in ProTools or its ilk. This is often done right before sending the recordings off for mastering.

In fact, there has been quite a resurgence in the use of analog gear in the past few years, so it is disappointing to see analog tape marked for extinction.

Re:Damn (2, Interesting)

madprof (4723) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271040)

That's the kicker. Analogue tape can produce a certain sound which producers sometimes love. It's not about the accuracy.
Having said this it can't be long before some manufacturer brings out a piece of software that can mimic the sound of analogue tape...

Re:Damn (4, Funny)

Atrax (249401) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271066)

A dark day for those of us who loved the old analog sound.

It's OK, you can build a cheap simulator withtwo cell phones and a crinkly plastic bag.

(takes tongue back out of cheek)

Re:Damn (4, Informative)

Dasein (6110) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271261)

This is multi-track tape. So you need 32 cell phones and 16 crinkly plastic bags.

Re:Damn (2, Interesting)

limegreenman (719290) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271193)

It may be one of those scenarios where they have enough stock to easily cover the market for the foreseeable future. For example, the plant that my preferred watermarked paper comes from has been closed for about 5 years, but they're not likely to run out for another 10 years or so based on current rates. I'm also aware of a whisky and a clothing-soap in the same situation.

Didn't they used to be Ampex? (4, Informative)

BigBuckHunter (722855) | more than 9 years ago | (#11270991)

Or did they buy the audio division when Ampex went to "Ampex Data Systems"? If I am to believe the article, then there would be no further sources of 2" reels. There are a lot of 24 track studios out there that still use this tech.

BBH

Re:Didn't they used to be Ampex? (2, Funny)

raeler (463406) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271086)

That's okay, there's an entire decade of music reels that can be recycled. Finally, a use for 80's music!

Re:Didn't they used to be Ampex? (1)

dunng808 (448849) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271128)

Yes, they were a part of Ampex. And there are still sources for open-reel tape, even 2" tape. Total Media Inc. [totalmedia.com] being one.

In my opinion open-reel may be analog, but it had so many signal degrading problems! Hiss, print-through, edge damage, drop-outs, breakage, flutter and wow. Don't be fooled into thinking that analog tape provided anything pure or natural; it was a kluge.

Re:Didn't they used to be Ampex? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11271174)

You might notice that all but two of the items on the page you linked to are currenlty backordered i.e. not currently available.

B

This is going to tick off audiophiles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11271007)

A lot of pros still incorporate analog tape in the mastering process, and I imagine they are going to be really ticked off by this move. I'm surprised they weren't able to raise prices over the years, to compensate for a shrinking market. I would think some folks would be willing to keep paying premiums for the medium they choose to record in. I mean heck, you can still press records and buy turntables.

In other news... (3, Interesting)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271010)

Eastman Kodak, the last remaining manufacturer of silver halide professional photographic film ceased production today, 1500 workers in Rochester, New York are now without jobs.

Maybe not today, but soon...

Re:In other news... (1)

ral315 (741081) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271096)

That won't happen, simply because Kodak has adapted with the change. Kodak makes Digital Cameras, and with development of your 35mm film, many stores will give you a "Kodak Picture CD" Quantegy, while they do make other digital items, had no jobs for their other workers.

Kodak is shutting plants... (1)

Goonie (8651) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271107)

They closed their Australian manufacturing plant recently, at the loss of several hundred jobs.

I suspect, however, that there will continue to be a small level of demand for film from analog photography hobbyists for many years to come. It might become a cottege industry, but there'll be an industry of sorts.

Re:In other news... (1)

muntumbomoklik (806936) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271116)

Kodak has been trying to eliminate some aspects of their film manufacturing sector, specifically old super-8 film. However, a large protest by film teachers that super-8 film is -the- way to teach students about film production has kept the film alive. [city-net.com]

Cottage industries and film fanatics keep film stock going, and I really can't doubt that someone will begin to manufacture old audio stock again in small batches. Old technology like this always resurges one way or another.

Re:In other news... (1)

CypherXero (798440) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271308)

Screw Kodak, I'll take Illford [ilford.com] Delta 400 Professional. IMO, Illford has higher quality and shorter developing times than Kodak.

Okay, how is the evolution of communication news? (0)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271016)

Did this really come as any surprise to anybody? I know that many audiophiles out there will be dismayed as reel-to-reel consistently was considered to be one of the highest quality media available for audio recording; but does this plant closing come as any true shock to anybody here? In a world where "digital" means "superior" in just about every aspect of technology (even when it technically is not, particularly in the realm of audio) and more and more audio is going to digital, is this really a headliner?

I guess that this is all Bush's fault somehow.

This would be just as news-worthy as hearing about the last vinyl LP plant closing or the last floppy disk going off the assembly line. All of these instances indeed are (or eventually will be) the closures of chapters in history, but not enough to be given such importance on Slashdot. There is more emotional impact by (what I deem to be) the unethical business method by which those people lost their jobs (Surprise! You're fired! Merry f**king Christmas!) as opposed to the fact that they lost their jobs due to the totally unexpected decline in the use of reel tape.

Re:Okay, how is the evolution of communication new (1)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271044)

I probably need to specify that "totally unexpected decline" was sarcasm, given the rampant grammar and spelling problems on /., some of which I must confess to contributing.

Re:Okay, how is the evolution of communication new (1)

mabinogi (74033) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271061)

> This would be just as news-worthy as hearing about the last vinyl LP plant closing or the last floppy disk going off the assembly line.

Yes, yes it is, what's your point?

Re:Okay, how is the evolution of communication new (1)

Jozer99 (693146) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271196)

I agree. Audio is one of the only fields where the older your equiptment, the better it is. Analogue is really appreciated, and I have a hard time believing that there was a lack of interest in tapes.

Re:Okay, how is the evolution of communication new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11271268)

I guess that this is all Bush's fault somehow.

Most things are. That's the problem when you put a former coke-head in a position of power. Things get messed up. In Reagan's day we had Iran-Contra. In Bush Jr's day we have Iraq-Gonzales. Hail to the Chief!

May not be closed permanently (4, Informative)

eap (91469) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271029)

The article says they're just closed for restructuring. This is vague, but it may not mean they are closed down permanently.

Re:May not be closed permanently (1)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271072)

A quick visit to their web site shows that they are into more products than just analog reel tape. They're probably just figuring out how to compete in an already tough, highly competitive, digital media market.

Re:May not be closed permanently (1)

Xzzy (111297) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271146)

Wait, altering business practices to evolve with a changing market? I find this idea intruiging, please tell me more.

- Cary Sherman

Reel to Reel (1)

matts-reign (824586) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271037)

Wierd that this is the very last manufacturer. But i suppose that with all our newfound digital tech there is no longer any need for high quality analog equipment. High quality analog wasn't cheap either, my highschool had some good reel - to -reel recorders that we used to play around on if a teacher would be generous enough to let us touch them. Now adays we can play around with full audio editing stuff on our computers for no cost (other than a normal Pc).

Market demands (5, Interesting)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271059)

If there is a market for 1/4", Maxell will reintroduce XL. Or some Chinese plant will start making it.

Pro tape, especially 2", is staggeringly expensive. And it still offers some qualities of sound which take a significant effort to duplicate with digital. Yes, this is aberration, but it's a desirable *analog* aberration, and studios that use tape contribute sort of a gestalt to the overall product, an organic quality.

I'm a big fan of digital, and I don't really care about analog tape, but I do sympathize with the folks still using 1" and 2" decks.

Digital recording is only *just now* getting to the point where it can truly take over. (It's been there for playback for decades, sure, but production is another story.)

But it's always been expensive to do 2". In the day, we'd get tapes that had been used once in a voiceover studio and bulk erase them.

Oh well... I feel sorry for the plant workers and anybody still using an ampex console. Somewhere I think i still have a Teac 4-track 1/4", and boxes of unused, or only partly used, tapes. Ebay time?

Re:Market demands (2, Interesting)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271129)

Good reel-to-reel 1/4" decks fetch several hundred dollars on eBay, so you may as well. Collectors buy up recordings in that format, too, but most of the recordings currently offerend on eBay are complete crap.

I still use analogue tape! (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11271062)

I work at the BBC World Service, broadcasting in (approx) 42 different languages around the world - and we still use analogue tape for about 80% of our programmes! We are slowly being digitised, but believe it or not, analogue tape is great to work with, quick to edit, and extremely reliable, both for playback and archiving... I'm no luddite, but as someone who has to deal with on-air disasters, I know that tape recorders don't crash.... Our latest digital system runs on windows 2000... Say no more.

This is horrible, tape is the only archival medium (5, Interesting)

tentimestwenty (693290) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271074)

Now that there are so many digital recording formats, with various numbers of tracks, it is essentially impossible to create legacy recordings. Many programs we use today won't even run in 5 years let alone 100 and all we will have is basic 2 track mixdown masters of many records.

With tape you could use whatever you wanted to record a record, it all got put to the same tape and in most cases the tape lasted a very long time, 50 years plus. Better yet, often times the recording equipment was better than the tape playback so as time went on you could get better sound off the same tape because technology had advanced. Digital is locked in stone forever, never to reveal any improvements. Even as a crude 2nd step backup there is the potential to bounce your multi-track masters to multi-track tape for preservation.

Steve Albini, one of the world's best recording engineers has a good lecture about the importance of tape here [mtsu.edu]

Re:This is horrible, tape is the only archival med (1)

grennis (344262) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271101)

Im pretty sure that in 5 years, Winamp will still be around and still be able to play MP3's.

Re:This is horrible, tape is the only archival med (1)

justforaday (560408) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271264)

Im pretty sure that in 5 years, Winamp will still be around and still be able to play MP3's.

Yet another person confusing consumer playback with mid to high end production. He's talking about the multitude of multitrack recording programs out there. Will there be a program in 50 years that will be able to open the Cakewalk files someone made in their basement in their youth (assuming that person becomes the next Lennon or somthing)? Will I be able to open the tracks that I recorded 7 years ago in Deck II on my old Mac? (I honestly haven't tried opening them in anything recently). This is what he's talking about, not about whether there will still be something that can play CDs...

Re:This is horrible, tape is the only archival med (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271299)

I can't say for sure, but I would guess yes. Someone has got to have the software around somewhere. (Does the LOC take software?) Then it just becomes a point of finding hardware to use it on, same as if you need to play back a reel-to-reel tape.

What will happen now is... (1)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271076)

A small group of the best employees will get together and buy up enough of the equipment to keep one line running. They will buy the rights to the Ampex name and continue as a boutique manufacturer for high-end enthusists.

Everytime they change formats you have to upgrade. (4, Funny)

Momoru (837801) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271090)

Great. Now I guess i finally have to upgrade to an 8-track.

Re:Everytime they change formats you have to upgra (1)

IvyKing (732111) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271274)

From a 4-track I presume?? I actually did know someone with a 4-track in their car (1974) and have a friend with a few 8-track's in his collection.

Yikes (0)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271092)

Sad to see analog equipment being replaced by digital.

Digital is more convenient, but its NOT better quality.. cant be.. ever..

It may get to the point the average person cant tell the difference, but its still not the same as the original analog source.

Its a sad day.

Re:Yikes (1)

spywarearcata.com (841806) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271131)

You mean the *actual* source...

Analog tape has a finite Nyquist limit because of grain size and transport speed, unlike a digital recording which in principal is only limited by the sampling rate.

Re:Yikes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11271186)

that's a good point. Do you know what the actual Nyquist limit of high-quality analog tape is?

Re:Yikes (4, Insightful)

deathcloset (626704) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271296)

Digital is better.

In every respect.

I am an audiophile, and If you are to play vinyl through headphones to someone in the next room they will not be able to tell the difference between the original source and a digital recording of the vinyl playback. A digital recording can have a superset of all measurable audio components - spectrum and amplitude.

And as for the aliasing of digital recordings, when the sound hits the air it IS analog it becomes analog. When you use very high quality digital audio recordings you can capture and reproduce sounds that begin to (and for all intents do) border on the limits of they physics of sound itself.

Digital is superior in every way to analog. it is a myth that a person can hear the difference in a sufficciently high sample-rate recording.

Imagine an analog recording like a wooden box. You can hold it and carry it around. eventually it will begin to wear and tear.

Digital is like the knowledge of how to build that box. everytime you want to use the box you can build it from scratch instantaneously and you have a perfect, brand new box.

Sure, it's made out of wood from a different tree than your last box - but it is in better shape and the wood which you construct it out is of the same type and is stronger since it is unworn.

Furthermore, with the eventual advent of exponentially more sophisticated computation we will see the ability to record sound and reproduce it in such a way that it could be called seamless.

This will be accomplished not by a direct imprint on some meduim, but via an informational representation (analogous to digital) which will so dwarf the capabilities of the ancient idea of analog recordings that those who said analog is superior will be gaffawed in a similar fashion as we laugh at the gentleman below for his statements.

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value."
- Marshal Ferdinand Foch [Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre] (circa 1911)
He was Supreme Commander of Allied forces, 1918

He held a similar attachment to the classical way of doing things and saw inherent superiority in his beliefs.

He was wrong for reasons blatently obvious from the perspective of the modern day.

Re:Yikes (1, Troll)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271325)

Sorry, but i don't agree. Digital is a lower quality representation packaged in a more convenient format.. Nothing more. Nothing less.

And I CAN tell the difference.

However, i will agree that the quality does degrade over time with analog. Digital does not.

The equivalent of... (1)

Rikardon (116190) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271098)

...being around to hear "last buggy-whip manufacturer goes out of business" last century. Truly the end of an era.

I remember even ten years ago, when my DJ company would get shipments of new music on vinyl, the Canadian record companies were having to bring the records in from the U.S. because there were no pressing plants left in Canada.

And now there's not even any analog tape being made in N.A.! Does anybody else smell a cottage industry opportunity?

Well... (0)

TheDarkener (198348) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271102)

"An audio account of the closing can be heard at NPR."

Let's just hope they're not on those old-ass reel-to-reel tapes. Those things SUCKED!

Damn!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11271122)

I guess my buggy whip business will be the next to go.

Nowadays the only thing keeping me in business is the leather crowd out in San Fran.

welp, not too surprising (2, Interesting)

Internet_Communist (592634) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271124)

one of my friends is a huge analog fan when it comes to his music making, all analog equipment, especially when it comes to sound processing and such, and he refuses to use computers in the process, but even he now uses a hard drive based 16-track recorder with a cd writer in it...previously he used a 4-track analog tape recorder.

analog can be of high quality, particularly when it comes to balanced signals and such for all your inputs...but analog reel to reel? I can definitely see why that's going.

First you got digital tape, of course DAT would be the most well known (at least it's the one I know) and while I doubt it can fill all the niches (particularly when it comes to multi-track recording) it can fill many.

That's not to mention a 24bit/96khz sound card can be had for mighty cheap these days...of course if you need one with 10 inputs it'll cost a bit more. This kind of technology can probably fill much of the demand for multi-track reel to reel recording...still change is never easy, especially when you're talking about hundreds of recording studios who probably use the stuff still...

I wouldn't be surprised if much of the cost of the upgrade would be negated by the fact you don't have to spend cash on tape all the time. Plus once it's in a digital format you can literally put it on anything, CD, DVD, tape, raid array, what not, and not have to worry about loss...of course this is assuming you're writing it on there uncompressed, or losslessly compressed.

farewell analog tape...

Where 2" reel-to-reel is used (5, Insightful)

algae (2196) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271130)

To those of you who are saying "BFD, nobody uses analog tape anymore", have a good look at the liner notes of one of your audio CDs (and don't you dare say "BFD, nobody uses audio CDs anymore."

Somewhere in those notes, there'll be a logo that says either AAD, ADD, or DDD. If your CD is either one of the first two, then the original instruments were recorded to 2" tape. If it's the second, then the 2" tape was mastered to 1/2" tape.

A LOT of professional recording studios still use this technology. For one thing, if you send too much signal into an analog tape, you get a nice sounding tape compression, whereas if you send too much signal into a ADC, you get really horrible sounding digital clipping.

\/me wonders what several hundred recording studios in L.A. are gonna do now.

Soft clipping in the digital realm (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271251)

For one thing, if you send too much signal into an analog tape, you get a nice sounding tape compression, whereas if you send too much signal into a ADC, you get really horrible sounding digital clipping.

That's why you use high-resolution ADCs and run them at a safe margin less than full scale. Then, when you load the file into your mixer, you take the arctangent of each sample to get soft clipping.

Re:Soft clipping in the digital realm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11271311)

Then, when you load the file into your mixer, you take the arctangent of each sample to get soft clipping.

BZZZT!!! WRONG!

No, you take the arctangent of each sample to simulate soft clipping. They are not the same. Any guitarist worth his tube amp will tell you they don't even sound close.

Digital loses again.

Oops, time to stock up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11271141)

No, I didn't RTFA so I may be a bit off, but I use a Fostex A-8 reel-to-reel 8-track analog recorder. I also have a Mac with a good MOTU 8-port firewire interface which is nice and easy, but I still like the recordings done on the ol' A-8. (No, it's not low-fi like some noobs may think, many early CD's were actually recorded using this exact hardware and later "digitized" and burned to CDs. While early-day CDs didn't have good fidelity and depth, this was often due to bad digitizing, and not a bad master tape recording, which is apparent with recent "re-master" releases.)

Seems like I should probably stock up on a few reels now before they're all but gone, unless I want to end up hacking some larger format "digital" tape to make-shift 1/4", like is done to construct "Double-8" film. (I hear they modify some kind of 16mm Kodak movie film to the proper size and then roll it all up onto an 8mm film reel... which is actually close to 16mm film reel size for double-8...)

Is analog THAT "out"?? I mean, really, digital is great, quality is coming up while prices go down, Garage Band is deceivingly simple yet powerful, but I can still think of a LOT of uses for analog open-reel tapes. For starters, for a kid that can't afford a full Mac setup, or doesn't want to learn the nitty-gritty just to get started. The A-8 is pretty darn simple if you just want to record. Plug it in, fire it up, select the channels you're gonna record, and just do it! Mixing down can use a simple 8-channel analog mixer and is mostly straight forward. And the tapes themselves are pretty cheap.

Auburn (1)

davidj0228 (543196) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271179)

first the auburn tigers don't get to play for the national championship in college football, then 250 people lose their manufacturing jobs! its a bad week at the prettiest town in the plains.

Not dead yet (2, Insightful)

jsdkl (48221) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271185)

Open reel recorders are still in wide use and will be for some time still. This is just one plant (granted, the last one in the US) laying off its employees and going through Chapter 11 restructuring.

I have a few open reel recorders that get regular use, including a fairly new (less than ten years old) Tascam unit.

Analog audio recording is similar to motion picture film (I have some cameras for that, as well) - digital (so far) just can't compare. There's a special magic to it that can't be replaced.

warm glow (1)

trs9000 (73898) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271195)

An audio account of the closing can be heard at NPR

pfft! ill listen to it when someone puts it on a 1/4" reel to reel... i like my broadcasts with that analog warmth!

Call the FBI (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271236)

Shouldn't the BSA be writing an amicus brief complaining that CD have taken jobs from hard working Americans and demanding that the CD manufacturers pay a royalty to keep the buggy whip, i mean record, i mean reel-to-reel manufacturers afloat?

It's not the end, yet. (4, Insightful)

Artful Codger (245847) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271267)

The magic word is "restructuring".

Quantegy bought the reel tape business from AMPEX... and they're apparently failing as a company.

This will probably resolve itself as:

A) Quantegy gets its act together and the plant reopens, or

B) Quantegy goes under, plant is sold and it reopens.

As others have pointed out, there's still a significant pro market, and many audiophile types, so there's enough market for the right supplier.

Random 4 Letter Names (2, Funny)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271289)

From the post: the former BASF, which used to be AGFA


The company will just change names and start over again. The new name will actually be....


(..pulls four scrabble tiles at random..)


QMAZ!!!


Holy Cow! Triple Word Score!!

as an audio guy... (4, Interesting)

Daneurysm (732825) | more than 9 years ago | (#11271330)

I have a really tough time believing that all of the analog tape ('pro gear' type, as measured in inches...ha) is going to be gone soon.

As an 'audio guy' I have encountered so many 'analog heads' that I think for the wound-up-no-clue-audiophile-asshole market alone this would be worth somebodies while to maintain.

...I only wish I could be one of them. Analog recording offers so many advantages (read: quirks) to the producer/recordist...and not to mention the highest bandwidth available in analog audio media.

Once again, before I ramble too far off topic... I don't believe it. There are far too many studios run by far too many producers which insist--for one reason or another (read: valid or not)--insist on nothing but analog...high quality analog....1" reels, 2" reels...1/2" reels....for mixdown, for final masters...etc. I simply do not believe it. Too many 'big name studios' operate with this techonlogy as the centerpiece of their of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment. There's something to think about.

While I am continually saddened at the migration away for more sturdy analog ancestors of our current-day digital equipment, I simply do not believe that such a market--small but used to paying top-$$$ for everything....even tape--would be abandon outright.

I'm either in disbelief like denial, or disbelief like 'I genuinely don't believe it'
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>