TDK SA-X or Maxell XLII-S which is best?

Which of these two cassette's do you all think is the better tape in terms of sound quality,construction and longevity?Thanks for any opinnions.Peace,Keith.
Cassette analog tape is very legacy.
Your machine may die before the tapes fail.
I used the MaxWell's before the JVC 1050 gave up...unrepairable.
Although I must agree with Shasta that cassette is long gone, back in the day I used TDK MA-X. The cost for type four tape was always worth it over type two.

Keep in mind that cassette speed is 1 7/8 ips, which leaves a LOT to be desired.

At this point in time, I'd go with the best ADC you can afford and run that into a decent CDR.

If you REALLY want to play around with analog tape, RTR at 30 ips would be the way to go, but that could be extremely expensive if you intend to use quality equipment and tape.
Maxell is the stronger tape, TDK sounds better BUT!!!

This is assuming you have adjustable bias, consult the bias setting in your manual if the only bias controls you have is normal, High and Metal. The manual may have the answer to your question on which tape will be best for your machine.

Atleast I know I can rememebr things from 15 years ago.
Didn't answer your question, did they. The housing construction is superior on the Maxell as is the tape structure. TDK is decent enough but will throw oxides onto the heads more readily.

Also, if you want to do this right have a tech internally tweak the machine for the exact tape formulation you choose and then run it without dolby. You will have some tape hiss but the trade off will be more dynamics, better detail and no phase shift. Good luck and don't listen to the nay sayers.

Maxell XL II-S is extreme for all but the very best machines such as the upper end Naks. You might just stick with XL II only as the performance return might be minimal.
It depends on which tape your player best matches regarding bias and EQ. Either is a very good tape.
A couple people did a very good job at addressing your question already, but I'd like to add that the "best" tape can be deck dependant. The calibration of a deck can favor one tape over the other, this was alluded to above.
Celtic66 is on the mark.

I strongly second his advice to have the deck calibrated. This is typically done to max out performance with a specific brand / type of tape.

I also strongly second the advice about losing the Dolby.

A good metal tape run without dolby on a top cassette deck that has been professionally re-calibrated can come surprisingly close to the sound of the source.

Analogique in NYC does this type of work and it is not expensive.
Why don't you buy one of each and do a test???
I like the sound of TDK SA-X better than the Maxell XLII-S. But either is CAPABLE of producing good sound. My biggest gripe with the XLII-S is the crumby rollers and/or shells that are currently being used. They are noisy and roll erratically. The XLII-S cassettes have gotten incredibly inexpensive compared to the days when they were made 100% in Japan. They can be bought for $.60 each in bulk from These particular XLII-S cassettes are made in England. Maybe they are cheap because the quality is poor.

On my Nakamichi ZX-7, one can manually adjust the bias, level, and azimuth for each individual tape. The SA-X is biased with a lower reading than the XLII-S (5 points lower on the Nakamichi meter) which causes the SA-X to have a brighter, crisper sound. I have a large supply of NOS SA-X tapes which are superb. I have not tested the currently available crop of SA-X tapes. There are some 60 minute ones available from the above cited source. I also have not tested the currently available crop of XLII tapes, but since they cost more than the XLII-S, which is contrary to what one would expect, my guess is that the XLII tapes are superior because of the lower quality of the XLII-S roller mechanism.

It is also possible that I got a bad batch, but other tapers I know have also been unimpressed with the XLII-S roller mechanism even though the tape is USUALLY okay. I have found the XLII-S tape has dropout problems (where the tape sort of skips or drops out), especially in the first two or three minutes of the tape.

Unless you know your deck has been calibrated SPECIFICALLY for SA-X, or unless your tape deck allows you to calibrate for each individual tape, I would suggest getting Maxell XLII, TDK SA, BASF (Emtec) CE, or Maxell MS since these tapes are all set with bias and level that are very nearly the same. In my experience, the SA-X is alone in having a significantly different bias and a slightly different level.

Good luck. I still love the sound of tapes more than CDs, if recorded off of a good turntable.

I find both tapes to be very similar, though if pressed I usually choose the Maxell XLII-S as I think that the case is a little nicer. I also find that it is much easier to still get the Maxell tapes than the better TDK items. I still do a bit of recording of my more often played LP's and consider a supply of blank tapes still worth while. Of the two, I would get which ever you can get.
I second Jon's enthusiasm for the venerable cassette. Using a top deck like the Nakamichi ZX-7, ZX-9 or the Dragon, an LP transfer can be much more faithfully reproduced than on a CD copier (just my opinion, of course).

I must differ with Celtic's and Raquel's feelings about the use of Dolby. If the deck is well calibrated and maintained, Dolby B is pretty harmless. However, I have not found the sound with Dolby C satisfactory on either of my Naks. I always "hear" Dolby C and that has bothered me since it came into use many years ago. DBX got on my nerves even more.

For serious transfers, especially of classical music, I always choose metal tape and 120eq. I don't like most of the high bias (70eq) formulations any more. Even after using the calibration on the deck, these tapes always give me the sense that the sound is slightly compressed. Plain-ol' ferric oxide (120eq) from Maxell or TDK can be very, very good for some music.

A disclaimer: I do like the sound of many CDs, own quite a number of them and enjoy the convenience. But, I am an old die hard LP spinner and find my pot of gold there more often than in the digital domain. Tapes on a great deck can sometimes come very close to the sound I prefer.

Best regards.