I can’t help feeling that I’ve been harsh with Memorex tapes over the course of this blog. The generation with which I had the most affinity (early ‘80s) were not well designed for the long term, and the high bias variants I used did not produce the sparkling trebles of their rivals. But in a recent test, I found that the actual tape contained in an early ‘80s Memorex MRXI (a normal bias Type I) acquitted itself very well sonically once the design flaws in the cassette were resolved. That prompted me to evaluate a later Memorex Type I…
This is a Memorex dBS+ 60 from around 1990. It’s a Korean-made Type I which was a step up from the baseline ferric option, boasting low noise, high output, and clear, lifelike sound reproduction. The dB element in the name stood for Decibel, and signified “a measurable difference in sound level”.
The casing on these cassettes was much more conventional than that of the early ‘80s generation. Bizarrely, the ’82 / ’83 Memorex tapes look and feel more substantial and solid than the 1990 equivalents, but whilst the 1990 casing looks and feels cheaper, it performs a lot better here in 2015. There was no need for tinkering with the pressure pad, and although this cassette does suffer from drag, it’s not so stubborn a mover that it causes problems with my particular cassette deck. The orangey branding looks like it’s on the cassette casing, but the casing itself is in fact blank, and the branding is instead printed onto the internal slip sheets – fine in aesthetic terms, but the slip sheets don’t seem as effective as they should be.
Performance wise, for once, I don’t have any complaints about this Memorex – indeed I was very impressed with it. As I kind of hinted in my comment about the drag, I wouldn’t want to be using a tape like this with a weak-motored cassette player, but in my test the tape recorded very well, playing back a loud (as the dB designation implies) and full bodied slab of sound, with no glitches or noticeable pitch wavering, and very good brightness for a Type I. One of the mysteries of Memorex is that, at least in my experience, the Type Is have had better than average brightness, but the high bias stuff has been noticeably less bright than the norm.
I found the Memorex dBS+ 60 pleasant listening, and having compared it directly with the results from a PMD Magnetics Professional (a sort of benchmark high-performance Type I), I can confirm that it’s in that kind of ballpark as regards fidelity. The PMD is better, but you have to listen carefully to tell the difference, so for a glorified ferric formulation with a low original price point, the dBS+ did very well indeed.