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Author Topic: Beta Testing The New 1mil ATR MDS-36  (Read 6554 times)

Offline Lance Lawson

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Beta Testing The New 1mil ATR MDS-36
« on: February 06, 2016, 08:45:15 AM »
I was selected to Beta Test the new tape from ATR.  My reel of ATR MDS-36 arrived this morning and I wasted no time getting it ready for testing.  After unboxing the 10.5” metal reel I transferred half of it’s contents onto a 7” reel as I do not have the capacity to run 10.5” reels at this time.  However this is a true consumer test done on quality consumer ¼ track decks that are representative of the vast majority of consumer machines.  I am using the TR-3000 (TEAC X3) as the primary audio test rig since it is virtually in new condition and was recently serviced and rebelted.

Prior to getting the ATR I made test recordings of what I feel is a suitably universal quality recording that will be musically appealing to the most people.  The track is Bruce Hornsby’s Hot House Ball.  It features a selection of instruments and musical textures and is sophisticated enough in sound to give a good cross reference of how the tapes perform.  The tracks were recorded directly off of the heads during recording and all tapes were set to peak at +3db  The tapes used were Quantegy 457, Pyrol LPR-35, ATR Master Tape and ATR MDS-36.  The tracks have been given the same playback volume which did not vary appreciably.  Forced normalization was not employed.  The digital recording sample rate was 44/24 and the sample track was recorded from CD to tape to SONAR through a Focusrite Scarlett audio interface.

Accompanying the tape was a letter explaining the new tape and giving a very nice explanation for how the nomenclature of the tape was arrived at and   I agree 100% with it’s designation. 

Physically the tape has the finest surfaces I have ever seen on reel to reel tape.  The phenomenal quality of both the oxide surface and the back coat.surfaces rival and in some cases surpass high grade cassette tape! In fact when I first saw the sheen of the polished back coat I did a double take as I thought for a moment that the tape was not back coated!   In this age head wear and difficult replacement the quality of this tape comes at a most opportune time.  I had a conversation at length about the candling process with ATR this week BTW.  Right now as I type this my little studio is awash in the fragrance of the MDS-36.  It smells good a bit sweet and not at all like crayons the way RMGI 468 and AMPEX 357 can smell.  This tape is truly new and is a virtual started from scratch product.  In comparing it to the color of the tapes I tested it with I noticed the following.  ATR is the darkest least ruddy in color, followed by the MDS-36, followed by the Quantegy 457 followed by the Pyrol LPR-35.  After spooling the tape onto the smaller reel I snipped a bit and gave it a pull test.  The oxide and back coat stayed firmly in place in spite of the tape being heavily stretched.  I couldn’t do that with most of my older AMPEX now that is for certain.  After running the tape for the full side of the reel I swabbed the transport.  As expected it came up perfectly clean.  With tape candled this well there is little friction to create deposits.

Now as for the sound that speaks for itself.  But it is easily the equal to it’s “big brother”  ATR Master Tape and none of the tapes I tested it against had anything better going for them.  IMO the MDS-36 is like a fine studio microphone.  It gives you back exactly what

you put into it which is what great tape is supposed to do.  I didn’t include an example of how Quantey 407 performs against it because the 407 was decidedly not up to the
standard of the tapes I tested.  MDS-36 has been a long time coming and it’s pretty much surpasses everything in it’s class.

This youtube video  will let you hear the full ATR MDS-36 track and the full LPR-35 track.  The MDS-36 plays first followed by the LPR-35

Offline ironbut

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Re: Beta Testing The New 1mil ATR MDS-36
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2016, 02:08:27 PM »
That's awesome Lance!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
I'd love to hear if you have any issues with print through since that is one of the problems encountered with tapes that are thinner and highly modulated.
I'm sure that ATR has done their own testing though.
Can't wait to see it hit the market!
steve koto
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