RTM 1/4" tape
Nagravox is now an agent for MULANN INDUSTRIES. Representing their range of RTM Recording The Masters reel to reel tape. We also are a supplier to Mulann - they are an agent for our calibration kits. So, a really good relationship.
We recommend two formulations in particular: SM900 - the best quality studio master tape grade and LPR90 if you want long play tape for a commercial machine. For older commercial machines we recommend SM911 and SM468. We can get and supply all the formulations and can advise from our and our customers experience - just ask. Note: Sadly in 2022 SM468 will be discontinued by the factory.
Please note We cannot keep all formats in all formulations - the stocking is just too onerous. So we have all formulations in pancake and can therefore make up any of the other formats by winding off a pancake. We dont mind doing this but please not 1 x 7" reel - min order qty 2 reels if its 7". If we dont have RTM metal reels we will supply 1x pancake and an empty metal reel and box.
Standard stocked items:
- SM900 pancakes, 10.5" metal reels, 10.5" plastic reels, 7" reels
- SM911 pancakes, 10.5" metal reels, 7" reels
- SM468 pancakes, (Note - RTM has decided to discontinue this line - we still have some stock though)
- LPR90 pancakes, 10.5" metal reels
- LPR35 pancakes, 7" reels
Mulann Industries was formerly Pyral which was formerly RMG which a long time ago was BASF and Agfa. The factory is located in Normandy in France. The new brand name is RTM or Recording The Masters. SM911, SM468 and LPR35 are older formulations whilst SM900 is later (under Pyral) and LPR90 the latest (under Mulann). Mulann has committed themselves to 1st class manufacturing top quality tape for recording studios and enthusiasts. They deserve our support so please DONT BUY 2nd hand or NOS tape - it really is not worth it.
TWO DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF 10.5" METAL REELS
We can supply OEM metal reels or we may (at our discretion if we do not have stock) supply the exact equivalent consisting of Nagravox metal reel with plain care box and a pancake. This is to help with keeping diverse stock and efficiency. The latter is slightly cheaper and will usually more often be in stock.
10.5" PLASTIC REELS
The price is for one and we dont keep a lot of stock as the metal reels and pancakes are more popular.
7" PLASTIC REELS
The price is for two. We dont supply single reels anymore.
We also do stock a limited quantity of ATR Master and MDS36 in pancakes. We do this to supply with our calibration kits. ATR is also excellent tape but a little dearer. If you want ATR Master or MDS 36 in pancake - just ask.
SOME GUIDELINES ON TAPE TYPE and COMPATIBILITY
SM468 This is an older formulation with a lower bias current requirement. It was originally designed to minimise print through & store well. Headroom is limited - nominal 0 Db / +6 Db peak. Good for low speed recorders, older valve recorders & useful in ‘old sound’/‘controlled distortion’ effects. Sadly this formulation has been discontinued in 2024.
SM911 Is also an older formulation with normal bias current requirement. It has a thicker coating and better headroom with lower noise. LPR35 is the long play (thinner) version that gives more tape on a reel but slightly shorter life. We have found up to 1.5 Db difference when using these interchangeably.
SM900 This is a modern higher bias current, higher output / low noise formulation with much higher headroom capability and subsequent low noise / distortion. It is ideal for Pro machines but also works very well on all machines with its forgiving nature. Not good for ‘olde world’ effects as its 'too perfect'. LPR90 is the long play (thinner) version that gives more tape on a reel but slightly shorter life. We have found up to 1 Db difference when using these interchangeably..
ATR Master / MDS36 This is made in America and hopefully its not too ‘simplistic’ when I say – a mixture between SM900 and SM911. I consider it a + 4/6 Db headroom tape. MDS36 is the long play version.
Standard / long play compatibility. The manufacturers say there is compatibility but form ours and some of our customers there are differences.
USING TAPE OCCASIONALLY THAT IS DIFFERENT TO YOUR SETUP TAPE
Generally your machine is set up and calibrated for one of the above formulations. What happens when sometimes you may have to use tape that perhaps your machine was not set up on? The machine and tape will still work and sound reasonable but bias, hiss and levels wont be optimal. “You don’t get something for nothing' and it will be a slight compromise. To use a different tape to what a machine has been calibrated with, here are rough guidelines.
- Long play (thinner tape) like LPR90. LPR35 and MDS36 perform slightly differently (marginal) than their thicker so called equivalent counterparts SM900, SM911 and ATR Master. This is despite the manufacturers saying the magnetic coating is the same. Mostly a slight change in level (0.5 – 1Db) is noticed particularly the before / after comparison. Long play tape will obviously have a shorter life.
- If setup with SM911, LPR35 or SM468 and then using SM900 / ATR Master / LPR90 / MDS36. These can easily be used as replacements for almost any other tape but obviously you wont get the best out of the formulation. You could increase max recording levels by +3 Db when recording for SM900/LPR90 or ATR tapes occasionally.
- If set up with SM900, LPR90, ATR Master or MDS36. Using the older formulations SM911, LPR35 and SM468 – there will be bigger differences. Non linearity’s as regards equalization, level differences, tape hiss, noise and possibly distortion when pushed.
- SM468 is a special case and if the machines has been set up on it other tape types will work but may be compromised in terms of a less linear response, optimum tape hiss, distortion and level changes / discrepancies. Don’t get me wrong – SM468 is a fine tape particularly for older machines and valve machines.
HOW LONG WILL MY TAPE LAST BEFORE IT STARTS TO ‘WEAR OUT’ ?
I suggest the following rough time use guidelines for 1/4" tape
- Re-recording over and over SM900 / SM911 15x Re-recoding over and over LPR35/LPR90/SM468 10x
- Playing pre-recorded. This is dependent on machine but generally I would apply the following:
- Ø Early Revox 36 series & early Studer C/J37 machines 300x
- Ø Revox A77, B77, PR99 and most Japanese / American commercial machines 400x,
- Ø Revox C270, A700. Pro Japanese / USA machines and all Studer machines 200x. Pro and semi pro machines may compromise the life of the tape due to their higher tape tensions and tighter wind.
TAPE LENGTHS and TIMES
- 7" SM900 / SM911 / SM468 - 1200ft (or if wound from pancake 1225ft)
- 7" LPR35 / LPR90 - 1800ft (or if wound from pancake 1804ft)
- 10.5" pancakes, plastic and metal reels SM series - 2500ft
- 10.5" pancakes, plastic and metal reels LPR series - 3608ft