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The recording performance of perpendicular media with amorphous CoZrNb, nanocrystalline NiFeNb, and exchange-pinned FeMn/NiFeNb soft magnetic underlayers (SULs) has been studied. A method has been proposed to quantify the spike noises from the SUL. We found that media with higher permeability NiFeNb SULs showed 4 db higher signal-to-noise ratio than media with lower permeability CoZrNb SULs. The exchange-pinned NiFeNb SUL suppresses spike noise and offers good recording performance. Furthermore, the recording frequency dependence of dynamic coercivity (Hc) was strongly affected by the use of different SULs. The increase in dynamic Hc with linear density is negligibly small for media with NiFeNb SULs, whereas dynamic Hc sharply increases with increasing density for media with CoZrNb SULs.