Q: What is a test (alignment) tape

A: A test tape is a specially produced original master recording of various test signals that allow a tape recorder to reproduce and record signals based on standards for both level, frequency response and azimuth. Specially designed tape transports, heads and laboratory equipment are used in the production of each alignment tape. Unlike commercial pre-recorded tapes, alignment tapes are actual master recordings, recorded in real time and undergo QC inspection before being shipped.

Q: Why would I need an alignment tape?

A: Using an alignment tape, you can verify the performance characteristics of your tape machine against factory specifications and provides the proper signals to adjust playback and recording circuits equalizations and levels. For playback, this allows for full frequency response with proper playback levels. For recording, it ensures full frequency response recordings as well as proper recorded levels for minimum distortion and proper playback on other machines.

Q: What are operating levels?

A: Simply put, the operating level relates to the amount of signal that has been recorded on the tape. The higher the operating level, the more signal that the tape provide, this is measured in nanowebers per meter (nWb/m). There are many industry standard tape levels to meet the requirements and capabilities of the tape and recorder.

Q: I noticed that your test tapes are recorded at 185 nWb/m, Why don’t you use higher operating levels such as 250 or 320 nWb/m?

A: Our tapes are geared primarily towards the serious audio enthusiast with consumer and prosumer recorders. 185 nWb/m is the operating level that is used primarily with these machines. Although many users have used higher fluxcivity levels, such as 250 or 320 nWb/m, this increased operating level cuts down on the available headroom on these machines. The electronics used in professional machines have much greater headroom and allow for these higher operating levels.

Q: Why would I want to use an operating level higher than 185 nWb/m?

A: The main reason would be to reduce noise as a higher operating level would increase the signal to noise ratio. This is not an absolute however, some recorders electronics are not designed to run at a higher operating level and may introduced distortion to the signal before it’s recorded on tape.

Q: I would like to setup my machine for a higher fluxcivity than 185 nWb/m, can I still use your test tape?

A: Even though our tapes are recorded at 185 nWb/m, they can be used to set up a machine at different a operating level by using a conversion factor. Here are some conversion factors for various poplar operating levels:

200 nW/m = -0.7db
250 nW/m = -2.6db
320 nW/m = -4.8db
360 nW/m = -5.8db

For example, if you wanted to set up your machine for 320 nWb/m using our tapes, you would simply adjust your playback levels 4.8db below zero, at -4.8db on the VU meter. Consult the service manual for best way to make this adjustment for your machine. Now when you playback a tape recorded at 320 nWb/m or record at 0db, your operating level will now be at 320 nWb/m.

Q: Do you ship internationally?

A: Yes. We offer reduced flat rate shipping to 90 countries.

Q: Why are your tapes recorded full track? Can this tape be used on a 4 track stereo or 2 track stereo machine?

A: Absolutely. A full track tape is preferred for many reasons and provides many benefits most notably being track format agnostic. Our tapes can be used with any 1/4” track configuration from mono to 8 track and anything in between. For example, you could use our alignment tape to align your 4 track stereo tape deck as well as your 2 track mastering tape deck without having to purchase two separate tapes.

Q: Why are Anlen Audio pre-recorded music tapes more expensive than other media such as vinyl albums or CDs?

A: Unlike vinyl albums and CDs, which can be pressed and stamped out by the tenths of thousands or more, Quality pre-recorded tape production is inherently expensive to produce requiring specialized equipment and processes. Also, we use Recording the Masters tape stock, known for its high-quality, for all of our open real and cassette products. In addition, every pre-recorded music release is remastered to exploit the capabilities specific to magnetic tape and all of our tapes undergo an extensive QC process ensuring that the tape you receive is defect free and adheres to tight tolerances for frequency response and recording level.

Q: Are there any special tools or equipment I need to be able to adjust my machine with Anlen Audio test tapes?

A: Very basic recorder alignment can be done without any special equipment or tools but preferably you should have the following: an oscilloscope or a quality DVM or AC voltmeter, some tape stock of the tape formulation and brand you will use to record on, a signal generator capable of generating frequencies from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz and a small screwdriver (Tweaker).

Q: Is it necessary to demagnetize my heads before using a test tape?

A: Yes, stray magnetic fields can destroy a test tapes accuracy and longevity. Depending on the materials used during manufacturer, stray magnetic fields can develop on various contact points in tape path. In addition to the actual heads themselves, the entire tape path were tape contacts a surface should be demagnetized as well, this includes any rolling guides, stationary guides and even the capstan. Consult the documentation included with your head demagnetizer for instructions on it’s proper use.

Q: Why would I want to buy Anlen Audio tapes? What is unique about them?

A: The answer is simple, quality tape along with quality equipment combined with attention to detail in production, topped off with extensive quality control, equates to tape products with outstanding performance and value.