Hands-On Review:A New Name; A Proud Legacy

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Mention the name EMTEC, and you may get quizzical looks. Then drop the name BASF, and you immediately get nods of recognition. And that's no wonder. BASF has been at the forefront of developments in magnetic media since 1935. The company's pro recording tapes have become a staple in audio and video production facilities worldwide while its various data media products have grown to become the de facto standard in digital production.


Now, to mark its leading role in the development and manufacture of small format digital media, the organization has adopted the EMTEC moniker that stands for European Multimedia Technologies. But before we look at the company's current array of products, a little history is in order.


A brief history
1935 was quite a year for music. Bing Crosby was at the top of the charts and planning to go into movies. In Tupelo, Mississippi, one Elvis Aron Presley was born. And, capping two and half years of experimentation, BASF began full-scale production of the world's first magnetic audio tape.


If BASF didn't exactly invent magnetic tape - that honor belongs to a chain of inventors stretching back to 1878 - the company was the first to develop a magnetic medium stable enough for mass production. At the German Radio Exhibition of 1935, BASF debuted a magnetic tape that used a base of cellulose acetate and a mixture of cellulose acetate and carbonyl iron for binding. Because of low dynamic range, the tape was sold for voice dictation. But in 1936, BASF began using iron oxide as magnetic material, significantly increasing dynamic range. Modern music recording was thus born.


To show off the new medium, BASF produced the world's first concert recording on November 19, 1936, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. These recordings are still playable today - testimony to the durability of even the earliest BASF magnetic tapes. Fifty years later, extracts from this recording were included in a boxed set of cassettes commemorating this historic event.


In the six-plus decades since, BASF has led the way in magnetic media products. In 1939 it increased dynamic range using superior iron oxide. This was followed by the introduction of high-frequency bias in 1940; the first tape for domestic use in 1950; the first commercially available compact cassettes in the early 1960s; and high-fidelity tapes, using chromium dioxide, in 1971. With the advent of video cassettes in the '70s, BASF pioneered the use of chromium dioxide to achieve remarkable sound and picture quality.


That was then; this is now
As the family of BASF magnetic storage products grows to meet the needs of rapidly developing recording technologies (including digital audio and video formats), so has the company making these products been transformed to address business in the 21st century. In January 1997, the manufacturing group responsible for BASF brand magnetic tape and data media became known as EMTEC Magnetics GmbH.


Analog is dead? Well, not exactly
Though most of the recent cutting-edge developments in audio and video recording technology have been happening in the digital realm, BASF/EMTEC has continued to be the prime source for pro quality analog media. And this is as it should be.


Many renowned audio engineers and producers still insist upon BASF's range of two-inch tapes for laying down their tracks. These industry pros argue that it is only with the unique sonic effects of tape saturation that they can achieve the high-energy sound they seek. Though these recordists may dub tracks into digital formats for the longevity and durability that approach provides, these guys maintain that when you want plenty of bottom, analog masters are the way to go. It is their contention that great recordings aren't made using technologies that render perfect sound. They prefer the artistic artifacts that tape saturation introduces into the recording process.


EMTEC Pro Media - they make what you need
Despite its preeminence in the world of analog media, EMTEC hasn't let developments in digital recording pass it by. Rather, the company has staked out the high ground here as well, by offering an array of products that sets the standard for the industry. EMTEC Pro Media is the exclusive U.S. distributor of BASF's line of small format digital media products. Here's a rundown on their analog and digital media available from Musician's Friend:


Studio Master SM900 is a high-output analog magnetic tape perfect for multi-track recording and mixing. It is designed for recording at elevated levels with a wide dynamic range, low noise, and low print-through characteristics. SM900 is the choice of engineers and producers everywhere who seek that hot, saturated tape sound.


Formatted ADAT Master, another EMTEC exclusive, is available in both 16-bit, 48kHz and 20-bit, 48kHz configurations. Formatted tapes eliminate the time-consuming need to format tapes before recording and extend the recording life of your ADAT recorder by eliminating the "drum-on" hours needed to format tapes in advance. Formatted ADAT Master has all of the features of BASF's original ADAT Master.


ADAT Master is designed for the Alesis ADAT format. The special, back-coated formulation and high-impact ABS shell provide excellent running properties and low error rates. A sliding erase-lock tab is convenient for protecting your tapes or reusing them on another project.


Formatted DTRS Master is an EMTEC exclusive and is available in 16-bit/44.1 kHz and 16-bit/48kHz configurations. Preformatting eliminates the time-consuming need to format tapes before recording and extends your DTRS recorder's life by eliminating the "drum-on" hours needed to format. Formatted DTRS Master has all of the features of BASF's original DTRS Master Tape. It is available in lengths of up to 113 minutes.


DTRS Master was specifically developed for the Tascam DTRS format. Ideal for use in both studio and post-production environments, this rugged, metal-particle tape easily handles the extreme demands of editing and multiple takes over the same section of tape. It is available in lengths of up to 113 minutes.


DAT Master Tape has been tested and proven for use in demanding production environments. These BASF DAT cassettes are made with a precision coating of ultra-fine, pure metal particles, and a highly polished tape surface to ensure the lowest error rates, even after more than 500 passes.


CD-R Master is specially designed to work at a wide variety of writing speeds. Its EMTEC-exclusive, hardened, white ceramic coating offers extra protection for the stored information and its silver reflective coating offers improved reflectivity values. Art for these discs can either be silk-screened or applied with a thermal printer.


Bulk CD-R is suitable for writing speeds from 1x to 8x. Its silver reflective coating offers improved reflectivity values and its blank surface is suitable for silk-screening or for use with a thermal printer. Packed 500 per case.


It is noteworthy that world-class recording gear manufacturers such as Alesis, Yamaha, and Studer ship EMTEC/BASF-branded media with their recording gear. That these industry leaders choose to bundle BASF media with their products is a clear indication of the superiority of the company's media.