1990 That’s EX 90 Audio Cassette

1990 That's EX 90 audio cassette tape

The That’s brand made some truly excellent audio cassettes, and in the early 1990s I used little else for my most serious home recordings. Probably the most impressive thing about That’s was the durability of their tape, which kept ‘drop-outs’ and qualitative interruptions to an absolute minimum. That’s as a brand offered some of the smoothest recording available on audio cassette tape. The That’s EX was unusual in that it had a metal tape formulation, but a Type 2 classification (and thus bias), which would normally be the preserve of a chrome (CrO2) cassette. Metal tapes were typically classed as Type 4s and ran with a higher bias.

Because some recording devices did not make any provision for Type 4 tapes, they would normally be incompatible with metal formulations. Portastudios and other home multi-trackers were a case in point. However, The Type 2 rating on That’s EX cassettes made them compatible with such home recording devices, albeit at the possible risk of voiding the warranty. Some home multi-tracker manuals clearly stressed that metal tapes were not to be used (essentially because they were known for inflicting excess wear on the heads), and so if any problems did arise, the user would be exceptionally lucky to get any sort of redress.

I took the risk, simply because these tapes were phenomenally good. If I had to pick an absolute winner for performance in a Portastudio, of all the tapes I tried, this would be the one. Over time I dare say my decision to use these metal formulation products did have a negative impact on the recording machines, but today that matters a lot less than the sound quality of the recordings I made.