New York, NY (February 25, 2005)–In the midst of an analog tape crisis brought on by the announcement that Quantegy shut down operations last month, pending Chapter 11 restructuring, two new tape manufacturers have emerged. York, PA-based ATR Magnetics, a new division of ATR Services, and The Netherlands’ RMG International, the latter acquiring production and formulation patents from EMTEC, are just months away from distribution. Meanwhile, a very promising report from Quantegy assures that the Opelika, AL-based company is on its way back.
Quantegy president and chief executive Richard Lindenmuth guarantees, “We are definitely coming back. We have a crew working in the factory building on our current Work-In-Progress analog tape. Our next step will be to restart the operations from scratch.” According to Lindenmuth, an overwhelming response from the industry, including calls from studio engineers in the midst of tape-based projects and SPARS stepping up to organize runs of various Quantegy tape lines, has encouraged the company to move quickly in resuming the manufacture of its audio products. Lindenmuth continues, “As we come back, there will be some reasonable price increases to cover our costs, but nothing like the price gouging that is going on in the market at the moment.”
ATR Services, supplier of re-manufactured analog tape machines, began developing its offshoot tape manufacturing division, ATR Magnetics, over a year ago, kicking into high gear when the Munich BASF/AGFA plant closed later in 2004 and ATR acquired new coating lines, slitters and further technical consultation. While ATR expects to be supplying its own unique analog tape formulations before June of this year, the team–including ATR founder Michael Spitz and partner Carl Rusk–were prompted to go public earlier than planned with the panic set off by Quantegy’s Chapter 11 announcement.
“We receive literally hundreds of e-mails and phone calls a day from people who are terribly concerned about the future of analog recording and expect us to do something about it,” Spitz comments. “ATR is absolutely committed to ensure that high-quality analog tape continues to be available.”
While the final phases of construction on the ATR Magnetics plant in York, PA are completed, the company has been developing formulations in a temporary location. Once finalized, ATR will produce and distribute enough tape to get through the changeover period, moving equipment and personnel over, and getting operations up and running in its new factory. Fifteen years of experience in constant contact with the recording industry has helped Spitz gauge how to structure the new company, as well as survey the marketplace for realistic long-term demand for analog tape and its preferable formulations.
“We have conducted and analyzed the results of hundreds of user surveys to gain more detailed information on exactly what is needed,” adds Spitz. “Part of the process of creating high-quality audiotape is to study what has been done well before, but we have not modeled our flagship formulation on just one particular line. We absolutely intend to have more than one formulation so that we can stress the qualities of one aspect or another and cover as much of what people are looking for in analog recording as possible.”
According to Spitz, raw-materials acquisition hasn’t been an obstacle for ATR, as the company has located multiple sources for all relevant materials. Tape manufacturers have faced waning resources in the past, as oxide manufacturers grew reluctant to produce audio oxides in the relatively small quantities needed for the job. Certainly, positive results to a careful evaluation of the availability of materials was prerequisite to The Netherlands magnetic tape manufacturer, RMG International, entering the studio tape market, according to RMG consultant, and the former head of EMTEC marketing, worldwide sales and applications engineering studio products, Gerd Cyrener.
RMG (Recordable Media Group) International entered negotiations with the EMTEC insolvency administrator in July of 2003, and the company actually acquired the EMTEC production and quality assurance equipment and procedural documents in October of 2004. The physical transfer of equipment to convert and complete the Oosterhout production lines to EMTEC standards for audiotape production started in November. Since then, RMG’s been developing a prototype coating running for 3.81 mm audio pancake tape, and expects sample quantities to be available at the end of February/beginning of March 2005, with production quantities scheduled for April 2005.
RMG’s “EMTEC-Quality audio” studio tape samples are slated to hit the market in May 2005, with continuous supply starting in June 2005. According to Cyrener, RMG is currently in discussion with partners for importation and distribution of the tapes in the U.S. and worldwide.
With Quantegy getting back on track and ATR gearing up to enter the marketplace, it seems the U.S. analog tape stock is not running out anytime soon. At the moment, Lindenmuth encourages those in need of tape to call Quantegy’s customer service number at 800-752-0732, where “Ruth Trimble will be glad to take orders.”
Spitz, who pledges commitment to “ensure the survival of the art of analog recording,” defies the analog death threats of the near future. He assures that, “ATR intends to release other products to make high-quality analog recording more available to those who have come into the industry through digital, and are about to discover how truly superior analog recording and mixing can be.”