1997 Konica KX-HR 90 Audio Cassette

1997 Konica KX-HR 90 Audio Cassette

Given the distaste I had for Konica’s photographic film, I wasn’t expecting much from their audio tapes, and indeed stayed clear of them until 1997, when I needed some high bias tapes in quantity, and was swayed by the saving on bulk packs of Konicas, as opposed to more highly respected brands. I was amazed at how good these tapes were, and even though I’d bought quite a number of them, I did buy more. They were actually my last audio tape fad before I switched to entirely digital recording means.

This high bias KX-HR isn’t much to look at, with the printing on the label looking a bit cheap and offputting, but the sound is great. Really clear treble and good bass response, and overall, not noticeably worse than any moderately-priced Type 2s for drop-outs and glitches.

In 1997 I was running live MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) instruments via a computer sequencer. The computer didn’t have sufficient resources to record multi-tracked audio, so elements such as vocals and real guitars still had to be recorded onto a cassette tape-based Portastudio, with a sync box enabling the computerised MIDI sequence to play in perfect time. The MIDI instruments included a Boss DR-660 drum machine, a Korg Prophecy solo synthesizer, a Korg X5 synthesizer, a Hammond XM1 digital organ module, and a Rhodes MK-60 digital piano. The reason this setup worked so well was that the live MIDI instruments retained lossless quality right through the recording process, and in the overall mix it was much more difficult to detect the frequency losses in the ‘real’ sounds as recorded to tape. Simply, the zinginess of the live instruments masked the duller and less vital feel of the sounds on tape.  Provided the tape deck used for final mastering (an entirely separate unit from the Portastudio) was good, and the master tape was at least a high bias Type 2 (such as this Konica KX-HR), then the result could be made to sound very professional.

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