Magnetic Tape: Not Dead Yet

Last month, we reported that audio engineers with a yen for magnetic tape were hoarding their remaining stockpiles in the wake of the Chapter 11 restructuring–inspired shutdown of the Quantegy plant in Opelika, Alabama. What a difference a month makes! Two new sources have come to the rescue.

Here in the States, there's, ATR Magnetics, a division of ATR Services, a company best known for refurbishing and updating studio-quality Ampex magnetic tape recorders. Actually, ATR Magnetics was created in response to the 2004 closing of the Munich BASF/AGFA manufacturing facility. The plan was to come on-line with ATR-formulated tapes by mid-2005, but the company sped up its schedule in the wake of Quantegy's closing. The company should have tape available by May 2005, with full-scale production beginning in its York, PA facility by June.

In the Netherlands, the Recordable Media Group International (RMGI) has acquired production and formulation patents from EMTEC (previously the tape division of BASF), once a major supplier of magnetic tape to the European, Middle Eastern, and African markets. RMGI's Oosterhout factory was one of the first European facilities to produce audio tape, beginning its life as a division of Philips NV in 1968. Many of its current technical, production, and marketing advisors are former EMTEC employees. RMGI predicts that it will have some pancake tape configurations (read: bulk cassette tape for mass-market manufacturing) available by early March 2005, with production quantities available by April. "EMTEC-quality audio" tape configurations should be available by May.

Don't count Quantegy out, either. Pro Sound News quotes Quantegy president and CEO Richard Lindenmuth, "We are definitely coming back. We have a crew working in the factory building on our current work-in-progress analog tape. Our next step will be to restart the operations from scratch."

There are reportedly at least two parties interested in rescuing Quantegy and continuing to manufacture professional magnetic tape products. Legal advisors in Opelika believe that the company's problems can be resolved by late March and that it can be restored to profitability by new owners.