• Brand: Sony
  • Type: SLH, ULH
  • Reel: 7" (18cm), 10.5" (26.5cm)
  • Lengths Available: 1200' (360m), 1800' (550m), 3600' (1100m)
  • Thickness: LP (1.0 mil)
  • Tape Grade / Performance Level: 4-High Ouput / High Bias +3
  • Base Material: Polyester Backcoated
  • 2024 Advice: Playback Only - Do Not Record, Sticky Shed - Must be Baked Before Transfer
  • Where Produced: Japan
  • Mfg Years: Late 1970s, 1980s
  • Sale Condition: Used - At your own risk
  • Description:

    Sony ULH was Sony’s last top end, low noise, high output tape, classified as a +3 (type 4) for the consumer market, roughly equivalent to Maxell UDXL or Ampex Grand Master available in the 1970s-1980s. As new tapes, they were excellent, even at 3-3/4ips. They were available through the 1980s until Sony exited the reel to reel tape business. The product range is shown below:

    ULH Shiny Back – No Back Coating, No Sticky Shed

    ULH-72-370 – 7″ Large Hub Reel, 1200 ft (370m) LP

    ULH-7-550 – 7″ Reel, 1800 ft (550m) LP

    ULH-10-1100 – 10.5″ Reel, 3600 ft (1100m) LP, also available with a lower cost plastic 10″ reel instead of metal.

    ULH w/Back Coating, Sticky Shed in Some Lots – Need to Check

    ULH-5-275-BL – 5″ Reel, 900 ft (275m) LP

    ULH-72-370-BL – 7″ Large Hub Reel, 1200 ft (370m) LP

    ULH-7-550-BL – 7″ Reel, 1800 ft (550m) LP

    ULH-7-740-BL – 7″ Reel, 2400 ft (740m), DP – rare DP version, one of the only DP +3 tapes made

    ULH-11-740-BS – 10″ Reel, 2400 ft (740m), SP – rare SP version of the ULH

    ULH-10-1100-BL – 10.5″ Reel, 3600 ft (1100m)


    • You can identify the ULH has a much darker brown – almost black, finish.  The series was available in the LP thicknesses in 7″ and 10.5 metal reels for the shiny back version and in LP, DP and SP thickness with back coating. Like many Japanese tapes, the 1200 ft version used a 7″ reel with a larger hub with the same LP tape thickness.
    • Unfortunately like many tapes of this period, they suffer from Sticky Shed and cannot be played without baking. In fact, many batches cannot even be WOUND without baking as the oxide can be stripped off and the tape permanently destroyed. We have encountered some tapes that are less sticky than others, but there is no way to tell as the sticky shed condition seems to be dependent on the humidity of the environment they were stored in…and it has been over 40 years. If there is any valuable program material, these tapes need to be baked first.
    • In addition, Sony tapes – if the batch does not suffer from Sticky Shed – it might also suffer from the SBS (soft binder syndrome) that causes some tapes to squeal. These might need other treatments to play.
    • As we have recently learned, in Japan and other countries, this tape was also available in a non-backcoated version. We have tested this tape and the quality seems to be high, and our small batches do not suffer from either SSS (sticky Shed) or SBS (soft Binder Syndrome). These *might* be OK for daily use. We have received some large lots of this tape from Japan and found that some of it is good and can be used.
    • Available Refurbished: Update 10/2023: We now sell some ULH in our stores. Refurbished tapes have been wound and tested to have no sticky shed in both shiny back and back coated versions. Untested back coated versions are sold for less used. Tapes with sticky shed need to be baked.

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