A cassette tape spins at 1 7/8 ips (inches per second). Reel to Reel spins at 3 ¾, 7 ½ and 15 ips. When more tape is used to record the same amount of music the quality improves. A 4-track spinning at 3 ¾ will make a nice tape. At 7 ½ you will use twice as much tape – thus better sound. At 15 ips you will use 4 times as much tape than the 3 ¾ speed – thus better sound yet.
When recording and playing 4-track you use side one and side two of the tape which gives you a fair amount of playing time. A 2500 foot reel recorded at 15 ips gives you a total of about 75 minutes; at 7 ½ ips you get 150 minutes and at 3 ¾ ips you get 300 minutes. A 2-track tape will get half of the recording time than what is on a 4-track. 15 ips gives you 38 minutes; 7 ½ ips gives you 75 minutes and 3 ¾ ips gives you 150 minutes. Less playing time = better quality.
A 2-track recorded at 15 ips will use 8 times as much tape as a 4-track recorded at 3 ¾ ips. When you use that much more tape the quality increases dramatically. As an example, a cassette tape is narrower than a reel to reel tape and spins very slow ( 1 7/8 ips) so a reel to reel 2-track at 15 ips will use 32 times as much tape to record the same amount of music as a cassette. No cassette ever made at any price can come close to the performance of a reel to reel 2-track running at 15 ips.
When using a great tape, with a machine that is properly calibrated for that tape, you will be amazed by the level of performance. We use ATR tape to conduct the set up of our machines and the sound is fantastic. Hearing is believing – once you hear a J-Corder perform you won’t forget it. The sound is astonishing and they look good too.