This article is from the rec.audio.* FAQ, by with numerous contributions by Bob Neidorff others.
See 14.22. Just as cassette tape recorders are set up
specifically for one type of tape, reel-to-reel tape recorders
are equalized and biased so that they are best with one specific
brand and model of tape. Just as more expensive cassette tapes
will last longer and have less noise than cheaper ones, you can
expect fewer dropouts, better quality control, and lower noise
from more expensive reel-to-reel tapes.
The major brands in reel-to-reel tape include Ampex, Scotch
(3M), AGFA/BASF, and Maxell.