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Dynamic Range Limitations in Tape Recording

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Limitations are imposed on the dynamic range of a tape recording by the type of tape, track width and tape speed. Dynamic range will increase as tape speed decreases, and as track width decreases; the style of tape will also control dynamic range. Equipment can limit the maximum signal by adding amplifier distortion, by incorrect bias, or by introducing even-order distortion from magnetized heads or unsymmetrical bias. Misalignment of track height between recording and reproducing heads can degrade the dynamic range. The common noise contributors are: dc noise from magnetized heads or unsymmetrical bias; noise caused by too low a bias frequency; modulation noise (both AM and FM), and reproducing head and amplifier noise. It is, however, perfectly feasible to build a recorder that poses no practical limitation to dynamic range. Even with low-noise tapes and narrow track widths, the noise is limited by the tape itself.

JAES Volume 12 Issue 4 pp. 294-297; October 1964
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AES - Audio Engineering Society