What Is a Calibration Tape?

A "Calibration Tape" is also called a "Test Tape", "Alignment Tape", "Standard Tape", or "Reference Tape" (but see the note below on a different meaning of "Reference Tape"). A "Calibration Tape" contains test signals used to calibrate (that is, measure, adjust, or both) your tape reproducer so that it will conform to the accepted standards. Various test signals are available, depending on what you want to measure, for instance:

1000 Hz for calibrating the reproducer gain.

Tone(s) for calibrating the frequency response.

3150 Hz tone for calibrating the reproducer speed and flutter.

The name "Calibration Tape" comes from the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Standard 60094 (formerly just 94), "Magnetic Tape Sound Recording and Reproducing Systems" (several parts). It is defined as a "tape for making adjustment and comparative assessments of the reproducing performance of both professional and domestic magnetic tape recording/reproducing equipment." "Each standard calibration tape shall have at least the following sections: 1) reference [fluxivity], 2) azimuth, and 3) amplitude/frequency response."



Note that a "Reference Tape", in IEC terminology, is a BLANK tape of known characteristics, used to calibrate the recording functions of a tape recorder, and to measure the recording characteristics of other blank tapes. In the IEC terminology, then, "Calibration Tape" and "Reference Tape" are two completely different things!

minor update 2011-11-02

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