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1/2" Digital Tape
1/2" Analog Tape
1/4" Analog Tape
1/4" Longitudinal...
1"C Videotape
16mm Film
16mm Magnetic Print
17.5mm Film
2-pop
2.0 Mono
2.0 Stereo
3-pop
3-stripe Mag
3/4" Videotape
35/32mm Film
5.1 Multi-channel Audio
6.1 Multi-channel Audio
7.1 Multi-channel Audio
8-track Cartridge

1/4" Analog Tape

From Chace Audio

1/4" analog audiotape was the first form of magnetic recording tape. It is a strip of tape with an iron oxide emulsion either on acetate stock, or, in later years, polyester stock. Sound is recorded to and played back from the emulsion on the tape with the use of magnetic record and playback heads.

1/4" analog tape is capable of recording and playing back up to four tracks of audio. The most common format is two-track, but one- and three-track formats have also been used. Four-track recording was most commonly used in music for either stereo or multi-track recordings. The four-track format can record two stereo pairs, the first up one side of the tape, and the second down the other side. This used to be commonly known as split track stereo.

In film and television, the most common 1/4" analog tape format was two-track. Program can be either mono or stereo. In production, a sync pulse was used to synchronize the tape recorder with the film camera, as both ran off wall current, which could be either 60Hz (NTSC) or 50Hz (PAL). These pulses can then control the speed of playback through the use of an external resolving device such as a Lynx for synchronization with picture.

Audiotape speed is measured in inches per second or "ips.” Speeds will vary depending on how the tapes were recorded, but as a general rule, the faster the speed, the better the sound quality. Standard professional speeds are 7-1/2, 15, and 30ips, but slower speeds are possible with domestic recorders.

One downside of 1/4" analog audiotape is deterioration. If a tape was made from acetate stock, both vinegar syndrome and warping are potential problems if it is not consistently stored in a cool, dry environment. With polyester stock, sticky shed syndrome can occur, in which case specific preparation methods may be necessary to playback the tape.

For many years, 1/4" tape was the primary recording format used by audiophiles and professional recording studios. By the 1980s, digital audio recording techniques began to allow the use of other types of media (such as DAT cassettes and hard disks) that have gradually supplanted 1/4" analog tape in the film, television, and music industries.

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