I was always a fan of Maxell, but it may have been that it was their marketing and packaging that apprealed to my senses more than the sonic quality of their tapes. Come to think of it, it was mostly price at any given time that caused me to choose one brand over the other.
Glad the 1-7/8 inches per second cassette days are over.
TDK-SA was a good choice and was Maxell-XL.
Maxell, but they're close. Depending on the level of tape quality, they get closer at the top. I made my own cassettes from vinyl for years and still have some that sound good.
IMHO they both excellent brands. I was always a Maxell man, but you can't go wrong with either.
Fuji also made a really good cassette tape, back in the day.
TDK SA90. Box of 10 ran about 20 bucks.
It was always Maxell for me back in the day, TDK's just did not seem as well constructed to me.
A toss up in my opinion. There were a lot of good tapes back in the day.
It all depends on the deck being used. You should try both and see which brand gives you better results!
One important issue is which manufacturer made the most consistently good HIGH BIAS tape vs METAL tape where the prices became a significant factor, but were still within reach of most consumers.
But i wouldn't make an argument over "metal-master" grade tapes ($5 or more for one tape) since i have never performed any comparisons on that level.
yogiboy is correct. Your deck matters here. I have a 3 head Aiwa that sound better with Maxell. But my 3 head Nak? TDK was the way to go. Either will give great results in the right deck.
Both are well made. I still have tapes I made in the 70s and 80s, and they seem to be holding up quite well physically. Magnetically? Don't know. I occasionally had pressure pads fall off though.
The tapes I used were TDK SA or Maxell UD-XLii
I remember I used to buy tape by the case at a pro audio shop on Canal Street in NYC. Haven't been their in years and years. The TDKs were a quarter cheaper per cassette.
The real trick was biasing the deck for a specific tape type. Different tapes required somewhat different biases. These had to be set using an oscilloscope for almost all decks. I liked TDK SA better than Maxell UDXL II; it sounded more lively. But as Johnd said, they were a bit spotty on construction. The best sounding cassette tape I ever heard was Sony UCX-S. I still have my Tandberg TCD 440A biased for it as the chromium oxide selection and it sounds terrific. They were well enough constructed that I have tapes I made in the mid 80's that can't be distinguished from the original vinyl. They also outperformed the TDK MA-R tapes, especially for the cost difference.
In my past experience, the Maxwll UD had a more extended top end, but the best TDK (can't remember the name) was really smooth and refined.
But my 3 head Nak? TDK was the way to go.
Makes perfect sense, since TDK manufactured the tape that Nakamichi sold under their name.
I used TDK on my (2)Nak . I also used Maxell and BSF with great results . Try them both , but stick with co2 or metal !
"The real trick was biasing the deck for a specific tape type"
That's what I found out as well. My Pioneer CT-F1000 worked best with Maxell XLII-S.
Now I'll have to dig out my tapes from the 70s and 80s and see how well they've held up.
+1 Effischer and Lowrider57. If you pick a tape and then bias the deck to the tape, you could get either one to perform at it's best.
I remember Audio Magazine, Or maybe Stereo Review had some rather impressive tests done with a survey of various tapes. the scores were in round graph type display and it was clear most tapes did pretty well. Each one had a few better areas, and a few weaker.
The Type II and Metal tapes were the types to use.
As for brand. ?? I do not remember. TDK and Maxell were both good though.
Something I have always wondered is what brand of cassette tape was most widely used by the record labels' dupe facilities.
Much higher quality when doing my own recording.
My Toyota Avalon has a cassette unit in it & I still listen to music I recorded years ago on UDXL2 tapes form Maxell. I am amazed how well they sound today.
It seems to me that the dark chocolate vs milk chocolate colored tapes were always better sounding. I think almost all the pre-recorded tapes I bought were the milk cocolate type and my home recorded versions off of LP's were much more superior. Feel free to yuk it up at my non-techno tape description. Simple things for a simple mind as my wife always says.
Another thread where the findings are Maxell and TDK are the best.http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/archive/index.php/t-88956.html
Another comment that having the cassette deck bias tweaked for the tape was crucial to best performance ...
Analogique in Manhattan did this for me and the difference was not subtle.
Bias is HF signal above audio band (usually 50-100kHz) used to reduce distortions of the tape. Too much bias on the other hand causes drop in high frequency response. High frequency content in music also plays role of a bias and by controlling total sum at given moment much better extension can be achieved without increasing distortions. Inexpensive tapes can sound like best chrome tapes. I had this long time ago in my Aiwa Deck and it was called HX-PRO. It is "servo" on the bias. Tapes recorded on this deck sounded much better than the same tapes pre-recorded.
Once TDK came out with the SA-X and Maxell with the XL II-S tried those too. Prefered the originals!
All this tape talk as me eyeing another Nak.