Analogue Recorders - Final considerations

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The high quality that analogue recorders guarantee, explains why they are still being used today in the professional contexts. However, it also has its drawbacks and, in order to guarantee high-quality results, they must be crafted following very expensive criteria:

  • High-speed rolling: the ribbon's speed is proportional to the quantity of magnetic particles which pass beneath the recording head per time unit. The higher the speed, the greater the amount of magnetic particles, therefore allowing a more accurate reproduction of the electric signal.

  • Considerable ribbon width: for the same reason, the wider the ribbon, the more particles get involved in storing the electric signal. Clearly we speak of multi-track recorders, where each track is assigned one part of the ribbon.

  • Sophisticated noise reduction system: one of the most undesired effects that arise when using magnetic ribbon is loud background noise due to randomly orientated particles, even after magnetization of the ribbon has taken place. The background noise decreases as the ribbon's speed increases due to its magnetation properties [Hysteresis cycle ] . However, even at its highest possible speed, it can still be heard and therefore a noise reduction system becomes necessary [Noise reduction ] .

The main defects of magnetic support systems are:

  • Deterioration over time: the proprieties of a magnetic ribbon tend to deteriorate in time, and this hinders the creation of permanent analogue archives.

  • Continuous calibration of the recorder: we have seen how delicate an analogue recorder's architecture is and how it periodically requires calibration.

  • Great dimensions of required magnetic media: due to its high rolling speed, an 18" reel (the format generally used in practice) lasts about 30 minutes. Due to it measuring 2" in width, in order to record half an hour of music, we'd need to use a massive reel (especially if we compare it to the dimensions of other sound media systems)

Regardless of the costs and the many disadvantages, analogue recorders are still used today in the best recording studios in the world because of their absolute high quality.


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