Here’s a cracker from the 1990s – a PMD Magnetics Professional Audiocassette, which I think would probably have been manufactured in 1993 – the year I bought it. The ‘Professional’ designation hints at something fairly magnificent, so you’d expect at least a high bias Type 2 tape – if not a Type 4 metal job. However, this is in fact a normal bias Type 1, with a ferric formulation.
But ‘Professional’ doesn’t have to mean music biz. PMD’s tapes were in fact used extensively in voice recording, with professional bodies such as the government and the police. So the super hi-fi characteristics of chrome and metal tapes would be unnecessary. And, I’d guess, because of the wide compatibility of Type 1 tapes with almost all recording and playing equipment, plus the reduced cost of normal tapes versus chrome or metal, standard ferrics would be preferable for the type of customers PMD were aiming these products at.
Funnily enough, whilst prior to 1993 I typically used audio cassettes for recording music, I bought these for voice recording, when making my first foray into private tuition. My plan was to supplement the face-to-face music lessons with short content summaries, dictated onto audio tape, for pupils to take away with them. These tapes were perfect for an application like that, since they were only C15s, with seven and a half minutes’ recording time per side. I started by buying a number of 10-packs in 1993, and I really liked them.
These UK-made beasties did work very well for music too. In fact, after I’d boasted that I could record absolutely anything on my 4-track Portastudio, someone challenged me to record my own version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. It was a nightmare to record what with the ridiculous amount of track-bouncing required. I think it took about two nights just to program the drums on a Boss DR-550! But once it was finished, quite a few people asked for copies. I ran the copies off onto some of these PMD C15s, and the couple I have left still sound great. You can tell the tapes are ferrics – they don’t sound like chromes or anything. But the fidelity is as good as I’ve heard in a standard Type 1 cassette. It was fair to describe them as ‘Professional’ I think.