Information on Audio Cassette Tape Formats and Sizes

Digital audio recorders have quickly replaced tape recorders, but audio tapes are still widely used for various applications. Three primary tape sizes are commonly used and Transcription wave carries out transcriptions on all these formats. Listing them in order of their popularity, the three tape sizes are:

  1. Micro Cassette
  2. Standard Cassette and
  3. Executive Cassette

These tapes have corresponding transcription machines readily available, making it simpler to directly carry out transcriptions using any of these tapes. Video tapes also fall under the category of audio tapes (including VHS, BETA etc), which can all be transcribed by Transcription wave. In the case of video tapes, we would begin by making copies on any of the primary tape sizes listed above. It is important to note that the size of Executive and Micro tapes is almost similar. Try and avoid going for longer regular tapes if you are using these cassette tapes with transcription in mind. Opt for T-60 regular tapes with 30 minutes of recording on each side. The main reason is because longer tapes have a higher likelihood of jamming in transcription machines, which are used during the playback process. On the other hand, Executive and Micro tapes are primarily designed with transcription in mind and they rarely jam.


Despite their slight difference in size, Micro and Executive tapes cannot be interchanged and used for recordings in their respective machines. Executive tape systems are quite expensive, but they offer superior clarity in recordings.

Tape Formats

Recorders mainly record in two formats, mono and stereo. Some recorders have two speeds that you can choose to record with. The higher speed will give you the best quality, but the disadvantage of using this speed is that it uses less recording time.

Certain situations require the use of multi track recorders. Multi track recorders are mostly used where extremely accurate transcriptions are needed. They are also used where more than one person is speaking at the same time. Court sessions use multi recorders to record their sessions. They normally have four track recorders that get audio from different microphones placed on the judge, witness and the two lawyers. It is then recorded on different tracks. The quality of the recordings is very high and one can listen to individual tracks or all at once. Tape format however is being replaced by digital systems.

Dictation Quantity per Tape

Different tapes have different capacities of storage. Several things contribute to this, the pace at which the people speak the length of quiet time and the length of the tape. Putting all these factors in the range can vary from 3000- 12000 words per individual tape. As for the pages they can vary from 5-50 per tape.

Most tapes have capacity of one page per minute and therefore a 60 minute tape may get an average of 60 pages. When recording a fast speaking person or multi speakers pages are bound to be more.

Jessica Miller, Marketing Head in Transcriptionwave, General Transcription Services Company in the US.

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