Tape Manufacturer Quantegy Shutters

Last analog vestige files for Chapter 11.

Quantegy, the last remaining U.S. manufacturer of analog audio tape, shut down operations on Dec. 31. The Opelika, Ala.-based company, which has 250 employees, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The news spread like wildfire through the pro audio community, which is dependent on the tape for archive and preservation efforts. According to Quantegy president Dick Lindenmuth, the once-profitable company -- successor to the famous Ampex brand -- saw its revenues fall precipitously as the industry moved to digital recording media, particularly in the last five years.

"Everybody was fired," Lindenmuth says, "including me." He says Quantegy employees are volunteering to try and save the company "by figuring out a future business strategy."

Recording on analog tape is now a niche market, although record companies are dependent on the stock for stable backups of masters. For example, Warner Bros. Records, like the other majors, had just completed a program to back up its masters with 15 ips analog safeties.

According to Lindenmuth and other sources, there has been a run on remaining Quantegy-Ampex reel-to-reel stock in U.S. pro audio outlets across the country, with some stores reporting empty shelves. Some of the tapes have already been offered on the eBay auction site.