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Electrical measurements of the intrinsic media signal‐to‐noise ratio are made to examine the future impact of increasing recording density. Intrinsic media signal‐to‐noise measurements are made on oxide, on several thin‐film‐plated and sputtered longitudinal media, and on sputtered CoCr vertical media. Integrated spectrum noise versus write frequency and performance data are presented and contrasted for the different media. The character of the oxide and vertical media noise are shown to be produced by a uniformly distributed source whereas the noise of the thin‐film longitudinal media is shown to be caused by localized fluctuations in the zig‐zag transition region.