To my understanding: the signal-to-noise ratio (roughly the equivalent of dynamic range, noting the absence of quantization noise but presence of tape hiss) of a professional reel-to-reel 1\/4 inch tape recorder would be between 60 and 70 dB at the recorder's rated output... though that includes "hiss" (hence why Dolby NR A\/B\/S were in widespread use on cassette decks)\n\nAnd that's when it's pristine. Wear from friction between the tape and the heads, guides, and other parts of the tape transport as the tape slides over them. The brown residue deposited on swabs during cleaning of a tape machine's tape path is actually particles of magnetic coating shed from tapes. Sticky-shed syndrome is a prevalent problem with older tapes. Tapes can also suffer creasing, stretching, and frilling of the edges of the plastic tape base, particularly from low-quality or out-of-alignment tape decks. Wow and flutter are back in play as well.\n\nMeanwhile an SACD is 120db and suffers literally none of the above issues.\n\nQuibbles about what's good enough \/ the non-suckage of tape aside: I think we primarily agree. The modern digital formats are more convenient and capable of higher fidelity; but suffer from inattentive or misguided mastering.\n\n\nI think the issue is the music genre rather than the medium.\n\nOn the whole in the pop world sloppy mastering and production is the rule rather than the exception. This is especially true when it comes to dynamic range compression.\n\nYou cant compress classical music as it sounds ridiculous and no one would buy it.\n\nNow as I have pointed out before you are limited in the amount of dynamic compression you can use mastering an LP or you end up with very short playing time.\nOn the other hand you have to use some dynamic range compression when mastering most classical productions to LP. On the other hand CD and other digital formats allow for greater dynamic range than LP. So digital recording becomes the preferred choice. The only LPs that can match that are DBX 2 encoded LPs. They sound fantastic but are very rare.\n\nAs far as tape is concerned mastering at 15 or 30 ips with really good tape on a good machine will give you about 70 db dynamic range, but if you use Dolby A or DBX1 you can push it to about 120 db. There is the problem of shedding with age due to the binder deteriorating, which varies from brand to brand. The other problem is reel to reel is that it requires highly skilled tight razor blade editing. I can assure you good software on a DAW is much easier and faster.\n\nAs far as multi channel is concerned, for most music the only advantage is better preservation of the ambient environment. Most music has the performers in front.\nThere are some works that do have spatially placed groups, especially early Italian compositions. There are other antiphonal works which benefit. In this regards, Benjamin Britten's War Requiem particularly comes to mind.\n\nSACD though is a format that needs to die. DSD digital is hard to use, especially for mastering and editing. Everyone has now moved to PCM and encodes the final master in DSD. So there is no need for this to exists and should be replaced by Audio only BD. And actually for a lot of productions if you are going to use BD format you might as well add the picture. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra issue their recordings in high grade heavy vinyl, CD, audio only multichannal BD and Multichannel BD with video. So we still have format wars!\n\nYou can here what a 15 ips stereo tape master DBX 1 encoded sounds like below. The recording is a phase coherent intensity difference recording rather than the usual phase difference stereo recording.\n\n\n\nHere is a phase coherent intensity difference digital recording.