Video Introduction to Sony Reel to Reel Tapes

Sony was a manufacturer of low cost one motor reel to reel tape decks in the 1960s through the 1970s, and was very popular. They also produced a line of reel to reel tapes that has unfortunately proven to be problematic. The started with the A Series, a type 1 (standard) formulation similar to the Scotch 111/150, available in Mylar and Acetate. This became the S-Series and later the PR-150 in the late 1960s, which was very popular with owners of those Sony decks, which were all biased for it. In the 1960s they also offered the High Fidelity line of standard tapes, with a slightly better performance than the other standard tapes.

Later they introduced a low noise (type 2) called SLH, later upgrading to a Low Noise / High Output SLH with back coating (type 3) and the ULH, a type 4 tape to compete with Maxell’s UDXL. Although these tapes performed competitively in the day, they primarily suffer from loss of binder lubricant (LBL) causing the tapes to squeal, and many lots of back-coated SLH and ULH suffer from both squealing AND sticky shed syndrome. Sony also produced a Ferrichrome reel to reel tape, which also suffers from LBL AND sticky shed, sometimes both at the same time. Ferrichrome tapes show poor performance stability these days due to the dual oxide later configuration.

We have since revised our recommendations on Sony tapes. We found some tapes that are still usable, and they include early batches of PR-150 and Super, as well as early SLHs without back coating. The Older Sony High Fidelity are high quality standard tapes as well good for older machines. Later ULH and PRA with shiny gray oxide and no back coating are also good tapes, but they were largely only available in Japan. Because RRW has a volume source for used tapes in Japan, these might be available in our stores as refurbished.

How to treat the individual tapes, if you need to transfer the contents of the tapes to digital or make an analog copy, are found on the individual tape pages. You will have to be careful with Sony tapes as there is a high variability in quality over the same tape series.

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