8 track tape vs 1st press vinyl

Sam here and the fact that 8 track tape is a tape to tape transfer from the master reel to reel tape gives it the edge as far as overall tone and soundstage although vinyl has a wider stereo image it sounds more 2d than 8track 3d soundstage in my opinion. 
Is there a question here?
In an AAA transfer the lacquer master is also cut from master tape. Whats the premise here?
sam here vinyl is a different format to the master tape and 8 track is the same plus vinyl has eq applied and 8 track does not so will 8 track have better tone and soundstage than vinyl? i'm using logic here friends
... plus vinyl has eq applied and 8 track does not ...
No, you’re mistaken. There is substantial complementary EQ used on tape recording and playback, not entirely unlike LP with its RIAA curve.

Master Tape and tape copies played with excellent mechanical transport system, enough track width, fast enough speeds (IPS) can beat an LP. Not 8 track, not Cassette, not 3-3/4 IPS, not 1-7/8 IPS.

see tape use chart here

8T was originally designed for only a small amount of tape inside (less weight, smaller ratio of inside/outside diameter, less slip/compression). For pre-packaged single advertising content. DJ just jammed that cartridge/ad in the player. End of AD campaign, toss it in the trash quickly.

Wider tracks and/or faster speed simply uses more magnetic material to capture the content. Anything with narrower tracks than 1/4" tape 4 track and/or slower speed than 7-1/2 IPS cannot beat an LP.

My 1/4" wide tape 4 track tapes, at 7-1/2" IPS, can beat an LP which can beat the CD. 4 track, 3-3/4 IPS loses to LP and/or CD. 1/4" wide 2 track (wider track width) beats my 4 track, and 15 IPS beats 7-1/2 IPS.

Magnificent masters were made on 35mm tape at 30 IPS (modified movie film). I have some 2 tracks made from those masters, best sounding tapes I have. I did have 15 IPS 2 track for a while as well as 15 IPS 4 forward tracks, but gave them to musician friends.

Ever take one apart? 8 skinny tracks on the same 1/4" tape, running 3-3/4 IPS, using the cleverly hideous physical design of a slip sheet.

Inside: how do you put lots of tape on the larger outside circumference, and take small amount of tape off the smaller inner diameter? Tape constantly slip/sliding/compressing as it moves from the outside to the inside, then, to get out of the tightly compressed inside of the reel, the tape is pulled up, constantly wearing the edges of the tape.

A small amount of tape for a single 1 minute AD, that’s one thing, but 40 minutes of tape, it’s incredible they didn’t stretch, or break, wait, I seem to remember, they did stretch and break, and the metal strip fell off, and the glue joint broke, and the pressure pads rotted, and the moving heads got misaligned, holy crappp indeed.

8 Track became extremely popular because they were a revolution of portability, take, share, play in car ... freedom from pre-packaged radio content. The sound quality, beyond ’good enough’ not even considered. Some, not that many, made their own recordings.

Cassette, 1/8" tape, only 4 tracks so essentially same track width as 8 track, but now only 1-7/8 IPS, Originally for dictation, offices, classrooms, not music.

Cassettes benefited from very good transport mechanism, and noise reduction, and of course portability and the Sony Walkman revolution. More people made their own cassette tapes, another big acceptance factor.

Hello CD, goodbye ..., oh, is that an LP, hmmm I’ll be dammmmned.
8T, 3D, that's funny,

It just occurred to me, they could have used 8 forward tracks, better transport, noise reduction ....

1 for subwoofer, had 7.1 surround sound so long ago, 
Get an 8 track a convertible and listen to the Beach Boys rock out.
I'm 71, been there, done that. I only drive convertibles (after 25 years of station wagons), and I still have an 8T player in my home system, and a few tapes, for fun/history actually.

When Cassettes were blowing 8 tracks to the curb, I could buy 6 8T's for $5.00, with tax about $0.88 each. I decided, I'll buy 5 every payday, specifically music I would never risk any real money on, things that caught my curiosity, then when the kids are out of the house, I'll discover ... Didn't know the pressure pads would all rot. Oh well. 
sam here and i realize 8 tracks had  negative side effects like audio bleed in from other channels along with drop outs however i'm talking about the fact that a good 8 track tape sounded much more alive than 1st press vinyl and you could hear and feel that. listen to this audio sample of the lead solo from steely dans kid charlemagne (1976) 1st press vinyl into 8 track tape let your ears expose the truth friends. 1 sample 2 versions.

But what about the dreaded middle of the song track transfer?

Air guitar solo interrupted, then a couple bars must be repeated!
Post removed 
Speaking of 8 Track tapes - do they still make book matches?

Not certain if I could still remember which matchbook to place where for each tape.

   Most of the technical specifications presented in this post are accurate. But comparison of 8T to vinyl presents too many variables to derive at a conclusive verdict.
   Let's take a pristine vinyl recording played back on a good system. Then take the same tape recording played back on a good 8T machine (if you can find one these days) played on the same system. The vinyl will win out every time. The comparison must be done using the same system for playback and the best quality of each media available.
   When 8T players first came out it was all the rage. Portability meant taking your music anywhere. And the most popular place was in the car. As a teen, I put one in my car and was thrilled. Then cassettes came out later. Beside being more compact the players and the cassettes were more reliable. 8T tapes and players, as they aged, were prone to "eating tape" and jams. Cassette makers probably learned what not to do.
   As far as sound goes, the 8T was superior to cassette due mostly to the tape size and speed (IPS) which has been mentioned here. If 8T had been more reliable I would have stayed with it over cassette. Then came CD. Another new world. I like CD's but there's no denying my devotion to vinyl.

It was 8 track, LZ 1 and a Road
Runner for me rolling past The Cellar 2.
Without researching, my memory has Bill Lear, of Learjet, inventing 8-track tapes?
There was, and is, NO 8T ever made that was better than a “decent” cassette tape or deck. Very few cassettes could better a decent LP on a decent table with a decent cartridge!

why are we even discussing this??

8T tapes were recorded enmass just like cassette tapes were. There were no Hi-Res or HiFi 8T tapes made, unless at home; Certainly not commercial 8Ts!! And finding a HiFi 8T deck?? Forget it!! 

Name one! If you can!

8T recorded from Master Tapes?? Name ONE!

i have 117 8T tapes, and the best Lear deck I could find, fully restored and cleaned and aligned. Tho OP here is as high as my 1976 neighbors were!! 

Yep, Lear Jet safe time fly on, 8 track.... not so much
With an 8 track, every guitar is a slide guitar....
The signal to noise on the 8 track player could be improved by 3.1459 db simply by shutting off the fan, 10 db could be achieved by turning the Audi Fox ignition to off....
8T was originally designed for only a small amount of tape inside (less weight, smaller ratio of inside/outside diameter, less slip/compression). For pre-packaged single advertising content. DJ just jammed that cartridge/ad in the player. End of AD campaign, toss it in the trash quickly.
Actually, that was the Fidelipac cartridge. It originally had two tracks on 1/4-inch tape, one monaural program audio and a second for cueing. Later stereo versions had either three tracks (two program and one cue) or two stereo tracks and a foil tab for cueing. These ran at 7.5 IPS for broadcasting. They weren't thrown away but bulk erased and reused. Unlike the 8-track, the pinch roller was part of the player, not integrated into the cartridge. When used with quality and well-maintained equipment they had decent fidelity. They needed special tape with the back side lubricated to allow slippage for the continuous loop. The typical size was the same as 8-track tapes for a commercial spot or popular top-40 song up to 10 minutes but larger carts were made that could play for an hour or more.

The identical mechanical cartridge format became the 4-track tape sold by Muntz Stereo-Pak as an add-on accessory for cars and each pair of stereo tracks held an album side. These, like the 8-track, ran at 3 3/4 IPS. They used a foil cueing tab for track change.

Automotive manufacturers and Lear came up with the 8-track to compete with the aftermarket 4-track. Same size cartridge but the pinch roller was built-in to the cartridge and tensioned by a V-shaped notch in the side of the cartridge. Thinner tracks resulted in poorer fidelity than the 4-track and the pinch roller setup was troublesome.
Ever have homemade 8-track?
Marginally better SQ. Rare recorders.
The big problem was the splicing tape always let go. Making the recordings more fragile than shellac 78s.
I think my dad had an 8 track recorder.  I think it was tossed into the attic after a couple months.
Sam here and i'm not saying 8 track was as dependable as cassette or vinyl however to my ears it sounded more organic and natural like you were live in the studio the drums for sure sounded alive that is why i use 8 track frequencies to apply to digital and the digital just comes alive.
Guitarsam, I like how you roll. Job well done. I will never forget the nostalgia of being young and stupid while listening to my 8Ts in my Pacer. In retrospect, what a sweet appreciation for that time in my life.  No one could make the argument that 8Ts were better than just about anything available now but it sure was a lot of fun.
I remember that cassettes came in different formulations in order to extend their frequency response . Plus cassette players were design in order to take advantage of this plus dolby got into it to lower signal to noise ratio with dolby b and c . 

thanks for the history, I was passing on what I read somewhere, you certainly filled in some blanks.

rimci, the Pacer, you got me to LOL. Did you ever see the movie with Danny Devito, Drowning Mona where a Yugo was a central player? YWLYAO


yes, the premium tapes also used special equalization settings (your machine had to have those options), and DBX came along as an alternate to Dolby Noise Reduction you mentioned.

Way back, before 8T, Dolby was available for 4 track 7" reel to reel tapes, Barclay Crocker issued a lot of Dolby R2R. My Teac R2R machines have DBX Professional Noise Reduction as an option, not Dolby. I haven’t seen a R2R player with Dolby option, anybody?


One of the advantages of any Tape format is the physical separation of L from R, separate pickup by the heads, then played back with greater separation.

Phono cartridges have varying degrees of separation during playback, good/better/best cartridge, good/better/best stylus tip to make good/better/best groove contact, not to mention the combo of cantilever/arm/deck/feet of a TT.

I suspect your memory of ’not so 3D’ LP was what you heard from a not so great cartridge/stylus shape/cantilever/TT, Thus LP less separation than your memory of 8T, especially in an era when track separation and experimentation was prevalent.

My new MC cartridge has channel sep of over 30db, channel balance 0.5db. It just retired my former favorite with sep 25db, bal 1.5db. I am sure the greater separation is why I prefer it.

My TT in the days of 8 Track was ..... certainly crappp

So, I’ll concede to your 3D memory, but never on 8T IQ.


found this link, a site I didn’t know about


" in 1964 the 8-track was created by Ralph Miller, an associate of Bill Lear "

It seems 8T arrived in cars first, home players later, I had forgotten that.

I really enjoy eight track when the song stops in the middle and clicks over and restarts on the next track.
GUITARSAM 8-track tapes in 1969 were junk how is it that it be came gold in 2020 8track tapes have a 3D soundstage only with a sonny 3D space age stereo in pure white
AUSTINBOB if bill lear invented the 8 track tape 3D soundstage only at fifty thousand feet in a lear jet not on this plane called earth
vinyl is a different format to the master tape and 8 track is the same plus vinyl has eq applied and 8 track does not so will 8 track have better tone and soundstage than vinyl? i'm using logic here friends
Both formats have EQ applied. But 8 tracks were made from tape copies that were one generation removed from that of LPs. The reason for this is that 8 tracks were made using a high speed duplication technique that tended to wear out the source tape pretty quickly and so it had to be replaced often.

The LPs OTOH were often made from the master tape; if not that then a 1st generation copy, since once the LP was mastered, tens of thousands of LPs could be stamped without significant degradation if the 3-step stamping process were used. It should be noted that the LP has lower distortion, dramatically lower noise and dramatically wider bandwidth than any tape format and especially 8-track, even if you were using Dolby noise reduction. 3 3/4"/second simply isn't a good tape speed if you want to get those things right- as others have pointed out this medium was created as a convenience for Lear jet sound systems back in the 1960s.

I used to service 8-track players and recorders quite a bit when I worked at Allied Radio Shack back in the 1970s. Even then it was obvious that both reel to reel and cassettes had better performance. Another obvious thing is that no-one ever made a decent 8-track transport!
OP's point, impression, memory, is that, for him/her, 8 Track gave more of a 3D listening experience.  The mistake is to to explain why, especially to say crapp was better than milk and honey.

My only guess is greater separation.
Sam here and vinyl has a wider stereo seperation however 8 track had a more open sound stape and perhaps due to the negative side effects causing a slight phasyness made the music sound more alive
I bought a very expensive 8 track player in the early 80’s. It was attached to an Oldsmobile Tornado. I don’t miss either.
Sam here and yes 8 track tapes are unrealiable however the sound signature of the media is outstanding and is superior in sound quality to  even hi-res audio including sacd
Yes that is the problem, unrealiability. Alan Parsons greatest early recordings were all done direct to 8 track. I would play you one, but the player ate the tape.
Erich here and to my young ears when 8 Track was in it's twilight, it was nowhere close to being superior to vinyl. The amount of tape hiss was the worst of the tapes I ever listened and cassette simply blew it away. Reel to Reel....no question it sounded better than vinyl of the day. Like what was mentioned above...why is this even being debated....
There’s good technological reasons for that. The things that make for high fidelity with tape are high speed, wide tracks, fresh tape, and head alignment. 30 ips is better than 7.5ips is better than 3.75 ips. 8 track tape moves at something like cassette tape speed of around 1 ips. The wider the track the more room for signal. Half track tape is better than quarter track, is better than 8 track.

Then there is tape wear. The signal is carried in the magnetic layer of the tape. All tape wears as its played. RTR and cassette tape wears only when moving through the capstan and pinch roller and across the tape heads. 8 track tape has this same wear. But 8 track also is made to be an endless loop. How do you put an endless loop of tape in a box? With 8-track they put the tape on a reel very loosely so it goes in on the outside and comes out the inside. Yeah, can you believe? So the tape is constantly sliding past itself the whole time. Incredible. What moron thought this one up?

Oh and then as if this wasn’t bad enough they splice a bit of aluminum on to trigger the deck to move the heads from track to track. That wonderful track selector button that lets you change tracks is really shifting the heads back and forth. One of the many critical elements in playback, precise head alignment. Hard enough with fixed decks. Clicking back and forth? Recipe for disaster.

No wonder 8 tracks are the worst sounding most jam prone of all tape formats.
It was attached to an Oldsmobile Tornado
But what a car to do a front wheel burnout in!
Smoke could be seen for miles........
I can't believe there are 38 responses to this friendly troll. 8T sucks, plain and simple.
Yes but 37 are taking the pee.... Lol.
LOL Uber (in regard to tornado), yes there was that! 
I'm 63 and helped put myself through college selling stereo equipment at the Sound Machine in Charlottesville VA. My memory of 8-track is that there were no high frequencies (and I mean NONE above about 8000 hz), dynamically compressed, and just otherwise sucked. That said, new releases from Woodstock recorded on 8 track and remastered in high-res (available on Tidal) sound pretty good, although the records (Woodstock 1 and 2) both sucked sonically.

I sold Revox A77 and A700 open reel recorders, and Nakamichi cassette decks, and remember the differences in recordings were LARGE.
The best copy of let it bleed that I remember hearing was on an 8 track In a VW beetle.   It might’ve been because of a chemically altered state of mind.    
Soundstaging of the media was outstanding ? What ? On what planet ? Earth one to Earth 2...can you hear.me ? 
You have got to be kidding me . 8T to me is not even a hi fi media . Since its inception it was compromised mechanically and sonically . It was introduced because of its convenience , not sonics . At the time when you visited a fellow audiophiles home to hear music on his system they always had as source a turntable or cassette player or reel to reel . Never , none of them had 8 track to hear music . Up to this moment , 48 years hearing music in maybe hundreds of systems never , not even once did I hear or see a 8 track player in a audiophile audio system . There is a reason for this . It never was recognized as a true hifi audio source .
I remember the excitement when Toronado was introduced, I was 16. Aside from exciting front wheel drive, it was a 2 door, had HUGE doors, when I closed the door the whole very heavy car shook, seemed like it moved over an inch! Never even rode in one.
Not superior, GS, just different. There is some anomaly that is pleasing to you.
The track breaks are burned into my memory forever. Whenever I hear one of those songs, my mind plays the fade-out, fade-in.
Experiences are powerful. It was ’78, and my buddy’s parents had just bought a new Monte Carlo. As it turns out, between my family’s Sony 8-track player for the home, and his family’s old "all in one" console with TT, the Monte Carlo had the best sounding audio (cassette). My memory is of us, sitting in that car (in the driveway), playing Chuck Mangione’s "Feels so Good" release over and over, marveling at the sound quality. That experience threw a switch for me. The following summer, I worked my ass off at various odd jobs, {raking, mowing, babysitting, and delivering newspapers), just so I could buy a nice stereo system. I was 12 by that time, and already had the bug.
The problem with prerecorded tapes, and especially 8-track, is that the tapes are mass produced at speeds that do not transfer well, because the transfer equipment is set up to go as fast as possible.  What kind of stereo cartridge are you comparing to 8-track?
8-track is an adaptation of the Lear Jet flight recorder, because Mr Lear wanted the cheapest think he could get away with. As it unwinds, it scrapes off the magnetic recording medium, and was not too good to begin with.
I had 8-track built into my Sound Design all in one stereo back in 1976. I used to find QUAD 8-tracks in the cutout bins all of the time all around San Diego County. They were fascinating to listen to on a regular 2-track player. Especially the Isaac Hayes Enterprise releases like SHAFT, Truck Turner and Tough Guys.