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Getting an Ampex MM1200 16 Track 2". Setup help???
Old 23rd January 2010
  #1
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James Lugo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Getting an Ampex MM1200 16 Track 2". Setup help???

We get our new studio on the 1st and it's really amazing, triple the size of my current spot with an 800 sq ft live room. We're tricking it out. So I'm getting a 2" machine for the studio. My thought is to track drums, bass and guitars on the Ampex and then dump to pt.

How do you integrate into protools? Cables? Patchbay?
How does it work with the click in pt? Or does it?
Is there a way to get pt to sync with the machine and use the pt click and grid?
What's the best way to dump?
Who's the local tech in LA to maintain it?
Where's the best place to get tape? What's the best tape?

I've used these for years as an artist making records, so I know a bit about them but have never owned one. I do know this machine sounds insane. I do know it's a little finicky but it will just be for certain records and will be maintained to the max by whoever in town is the best.
Any help is appreciated.








A beast with all discrete components, the greatest drum and bass sound on earth, and a transport from the stone age. This particular unit is in great shape and has been loved and maintained by its owner. A few particulars:

Includes remote box and remote cable.
Includes extra play, record, and bias cards
includes extra VU meter lamps
Includes 2-year old MRL calibration tape, with 15IPS and 30IPS tones
Includes Take-up reel, 1 reel GP9 scratch tape for calibration, 6 used reels of 499
Includes Variable speed box
Includes Manual with schematics

PURC Bias cards on channels 5-13, for gapless punch-in

Cosmetically restored when I bought it - repainted the front and side doors and thoroughly cleaned it top to bottom. Looks amazing.

Heads are in great shape. While I never had a head report done, Michael Gore says that they are fine, and I've had no problems recording with them.
Recapped all electrolytics on play, repro, and bias cards with Sprague Atoms.
Replaced C32 tantalum on all record cards with Sprague Atom - this is a safety feature, because if that tant blows, it will fry the record head
Recapped playback coupling capacitor in card cage on 12 out of 16 channels.
Spent $800 having Michael Gore of BASE in San Francisco get it up to snuff when I bought it.

This deck will give you the greatest recorded sound in the world, and I have gone to great lengths to maintain and repair it. If you're only used to recording into a DAW or onto small format analog tape, you will laugh with joy the first time you hear recorded music come off this thing.
Old 23rd January 2010
  #2
Louder Than Liftoff
 
🎧 20 years
Congrats James!

Check out the videos linked in my signature for some ideas about how to use your new tape deck with your DAW.

Brad
Old 23rd January 2010 | Show parent
  #3
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James Lugo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan ➑️
Congrats James!

Check out the videos linked in my signature for some ideas about how to use your new tape deck with your DAW.

Brad
Wow that's a post reply! Great video!
Old 23rd January 2010 | Show parent
  #4
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Patch bays are definitely now going to be your friend, especially if they're half-normalled. heh

An additional thought: this was a gem I found elsewhere on GS. I always wondered why things sounded so different on analog machines back in the day, and now someone's done the work to answer the question.

Response Curves of Analog Recorders

I would suggest you consider your tape speed choice and your bias and eq settings based on what you intend to record and how you want the sound colored.

Last edited by Steck; 23rd January 2010 at 06:06 AM.. Reason: additional thoughts
Old 23rd January 2010 | Show parent
  #5
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James Lugo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan ➑️
Congrats James!

Check out the videos linked in my signature for some ideas about how to use your new tape deck with your DAW.

Brad
Is this the plugin?
Audio latency compensation plugin - Latency Delay - Voxengo

It doesn't look like it works for Mac protools HD, is there a comparable plug by another company for my rig?
Old 23rd January 2010 | Show parent
  #6
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Hi James I got to use this for a few days a couple months ago, it's really bloody awesome,

think you'd find it very handy for long term integration

diagram!!
http://www.endlessanalog.com/wp-cont...tools-HD-4.jpg

endorsements!!
SYNC Β« Endless Analog

videos
Video Tutorials Β« Endless Analog
Old 23rd January 2010 | Show parent
  #7
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vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Some of the top techs in LA are working part time, so you can probably hunt one down fairly easily.
Old 23rd January 2010 | Show parent
  #8
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Deuce 225's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Great Post Steck !

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steck ➑️
Patch bays are definitely now going to be your friend, especially if they're half-normalled. heh

An additional thought: this was a gem I found elsewhere on GS. I always wondered why things sounded so different on analog machines back in the day, and now someone's done the work to answer the question.

Response Curves of Analog Recorders

I would suggest you consider your tape speed choice and your bias and eq settings based on what you intend to record and how you want the sound colored.
Thanks for this post ! Endino's site has a lot of cool info.

Best,
Tim Cochran
Old 23rd January 2010 | Show parent
  #9
Louder Than Liftoff
 
🎧 20 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by James 'LA' Lugo ➑️
Is this the plugin?
Audio latency compensation plugin - Latency Delay - Voxengo

It doesn't look like it works for Mac protools HD, is there a comparable plug by another company for my rig?
Someone once told me there was a stock PT plugin that allows you to do the same thing as the Voxengo plugin. But I've never looked into myself. Let me do some research and get back to you.

Here's one solution to convert the VST plugin to RTAS:
FXpansion - VST to RTAS Adapter v2.0

Aha...this seems like it could work for you:
Mellowmuse Software

Brad
Old 23rd January 2010 | Show parent
  #10
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James Lugo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by zboy2854 ➑️
Why would you need a plugin though? At one of the studios I work at, we routinely have locked Pro Tools to the 24 track analog machine via SMPTE. Click and grid runs in Pro Tools like normal, we track to the analog machine, do punches, then once it's all good we rewind the tape and dump it to PT, all with PT slaved to the analog machine. Easy, breezy.
Yeah, wow. This has turned into a complicated concept. I think there's a simple solution. The other thing is this doesn't have to be something with a mainstream solution, what I mean is if I can figure ways around things that's fine. This is mainly for me and what I do so if it's a little bit of a funky solution like bouncing scratch tracks to tape, then recording all the tracks to the remaining 15 tracks on the tape and then bouncing to protools with a 2 pop and lining up I don't care. It's doesn't bother me either. I'm not saying that's the solution I'm just saying if the way around the problem is a little left of center I'm not stressing it. Hell I started out making recordings as a kid with tape decks and cassette 4 tracks, if there's a will there's a way. And to this day some of the old 4 tracks from high school are still some of my most beloved recordings.

I spoke with Chris at Clasp this morning, he's coming to LA next week and we may meet up.
Old 23rd January 2010 | Show parent
  #11
Registered User
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
In 1991 I went to AES in New York and attended a Q&A with Roger Nichols and Bruce Swedien (I think Phil Ramone was also one of the panel members).

Bruce said he recorded onto the Ampex 16 track 2" and then came right off the repro head into digital so the sound did not live on analog tape for long, used it as a tape predelay. All of the speakers at the Q&A said they thought sound got degraded if it remained on analog tape for very long (print through, degraded frequency response from magnetized heads, oxide shedding after multiple plays).

It's interesting seeing how things have evolved over time. That AES show was the very first public showing of the ADAT 8-track tape recorder and I was at the first demo on opening day (purely by accident, I knew a rep and he dragged me there). There were 6 people in attendance. There were two guys in the back row of the demo room that groaned repeatedly as the ADAT features were revealed. Those two guys were from Mitsubishi digital, makers of a prominent and high-end brand of digital recording gear. Mitsubishi exited the digital recorder manufacturing business about six months later, they saw the handwriting on the wall.

Congrats on the new tape machine purchase, it's definitely a classic and very good looking.
Old 23rd January 2010 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Guru
 
Sounds Great's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
thumbsup
Old 24th January 2010 | Show parent
  #13
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themaidsroom's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
that is great news james
that ampex machine will sound
beautiful.
especially with the
67......



be well


- jack
Old 24th January 2010 | Show parent
  #14
Registered User
 
🎧 10 years
If you just want things to hit the tape before the DAW, why not just record the signals to tape and take them directly right back off the repro heads in repro mode into PT as you are recording?

Then you just have to shift them ITB by a constant amount (whatever the delay is between the write head and repro head) and you've got (most of) your tape sound ITB as soon as you click 'record'.

No need to sync anything. Though syncing is perhaps theoretically better because you can mix some tracks right off the tape while mixing others right off the DAW.
Old 24th January 2010 | Show parent
  #15
Lek
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Lek's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I have been running an mm1200 16 track (well 24, but I put on 16 track heads). I haven't sync'd up to digital yet - as I mix from analog down to analog atr102 without ever going digital.

However, I'd like now to be able to sync with logic pro. I have no idea at all about smpte striping. Can someone explain in detail how to stripe with smpte, and how I would then sync my mac to the mm1200 (I have a prism orpheus interface)
Old 24th January 2010 | Show parent
  #16
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by zboy2854 ➑️
But then you'd have to do a whole convoluted monitoring setup so that the players don't hear the inherent delay from monitoring off the repro head as they're tracking live.

That's why you need a console and a nice patchbay setup to go along with the multitrack heh, so you can split the signal being recorded to permit the players to hear themselves. They're not gonna hear what tape does to the sound until you do a playback from the daw/tape.

In the "good old days" the SOP would be to monitor "through" the machine, which was accomplished with just a relay in each channel that would pass the input through to the output whenever the machine was record on that channel. Any other channel not in record was being monitored off the record head, so there wasn't any sync issue. At mix time, switch to play head and mix away.

I thought Brad's video link from earlier in the thread explained in pretty good detail how to make tape work pretty painlessly if all you want to do is hit the tape and then grab the results in your DAW. It even works if you have to use multiple tape machines at the same time.
Old 24th January 2010 | Show parent
  #17
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James Lugo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Thanks everyone for the input. This reminds me of when I bought my first pt rig and was reading about farm cards and core cards and thinking to myself 'what the f are they talking about'. lol I've been researching and reading and starting to get a handle on how to do this. Not sure how to wire everything in, I think the track to tape as I monitor in pt in Input mode and then dump to pt is gonna be the best way for me. With moving into a new spot I can't spend a fortune making this happen and the workflow of record and dump to pt is fine with me, I'm not interested in the fasted way. Though I'm still unclear how to plug everything in, I have PT HD with Apogee 16X's and am using the Central Station as my monitoring system, I have no console only a Control 24 via Ethernet for automation. Can someone step by step write out the cabling, routing and work and signal flow and how to exactly do it?

Please bear with me I'm in uncharted territory, again I've made many records on 2" as an artist but have never owned one or was responsible for getting it to run.
Old 24th January 2010 | Show parent
  #18
Registered User
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by James 'LA' Lugo ➑️
Thanks everyone for the input. This reminds me of when I bought my first pt rig and was reading about farm cards and core cards and thinking to myself 'what the f are they talking about'. lol I've been researching and reading and starting to get a handle on how to do this. Not sure how to wire everything in, I think the track to tape as I monitor in pt in Input mode and then dump to pt is gonna be the best way for me. With moving into a new spot I can't spend a fortune making this happen and the workflow of record and dump to pt is fine with me, I'm not interested in the fasted way. Though I'm still unclear how to plug everything in, I have PT HD with Apogee 16X's and am using the Central Station as my monitoring system, I have no console only a Control 24 via Ethernet for automation. Can someone step by step write out the cabling, routing and work and signal flow and how to exactly do it?

Please bear with me I'm in uncharted territory, again I've made many records on 2" as an artist but have never owned one or was responsible for getting it to run.
James....

If it was me (and this is what I did with my current rig) I would have a full patch bay that was normaled for the PT and then another complete set of points for the 16 track.
PT would work as normal and you would just patch in the 16 track as needed.

For some crazy reason I did it just opposite where my JH24 is normalled to my console and my 24 channels of DAW are on separate points.
It works OK, but after using a studio where the PT HD rig is normalled to the console it sure is easy.

No matter what route you take it is a lot of patch cable stuff!

Also, I don't know how you want to work, but if it was me I'd have it where I could track everything to 2"where I'd get all my takes.
I'd then dump it to PT and edit and carry on from there.

You are going to start wanting a console pretty soon!
They do make all of this a bit easier!
Easier once everything is interfaced properly.

When I interfaced my 24 track, console and DAW I couldn't think of a way to cable the rig together that didn't have some sort of a bottle neck unless I used a full patchbay.
Brian McCurry and I talked it back and forth for quite a while on a few nights.
Old 24th January 2010 | Show parent
  #19
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James Lugo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbubba ➑️
James....

If it was me (and this is what I did with my current rig) I would have a full patch bay that was normaled for the PT and then another complete set of points for the 16 track.
PT would work as normal and you would just patch in the 16 track as needed.

For some crazy reason I did it just opposite where my JH24 is normalled to my console and my 24 channels of DAW are on separate points.
It works OK, but after using a studio where the PT HD rig is normalled to the console it sure is easy.

No matter what route you take it is a lot of patch cable stuff!

Also, I don't know how you want to work, but if it was me I'd have it where I could track everything to 2"where I'd get all my takes.
I'd then dump it to PT and edit and carry on from there.

You are going to start wanting a console pretty soon!
They do make all of this a bit easier!
Easier once everything is interfaced properly.

When I interfaced my 24 track, console and DAW I couldn't think of a way to cable the rig together that didn't have some sort of a bottle neck unless I used a full patchbay.
Brian McCurry and I talked it back and forth for quite a while on a few nights.

Thanks Danny
Old 24th January 2010 | Show parent
  #20
Registered User
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by James 'LA' Lugo ➑️
Thanks everyone for the input. This reminds me of when I bought my first pt rig and was reading about farm cards and core cards and thinking to myself 'what the f are they talking about'. lol I've been researching and reading and starting to get a handle on how to do this. Not sure how to wire everything in, I think the track to tape as I monitor in pt in Input mode and then dump to pt is gonna be the best way for me. With moving into a new spot I can't spend a fortune making this happen and the workflow of record and dump to pt is fine with me, I'm not interested in the fasted way. Though I'm still unclear how to plug everything in, I have PT HD with Apogee 16X's and am using the Central Station as my monitoring system, I have no console only a Control 24 via Ethernet for automation. Can someone step by step write out the cabling, routing and work and signal flow and how to exactly do it?

Please bear with me I'm in uncharted territory, again I've made many records on 2" as an artist but have never owned one or was responsible for getting it to run.

We had a 16 track mm1200 (which is now at Hyde St. C) and a Ghost, and almost always ended up dumping to PT for mix automation etc.

One thing to keep in mind, is that you may find the levels coming off of tape are too hot for printing directly to you A/D. This was pretty much always the case in my experience-- not necessarily on every track though.

We would always print to Pro Tools after the client had left, so we'd put the MRL tape back on and trim everything down about -6 db. You can probably just pad the inputs on your Apogees though, yeah?

I've never used those converters but I understand the feature set on their products is typically very robust.

Last edited by zilla_studios; 24th January 2010 at 08:40 AM.. Reason: typo
Old 24th January 2010 | Show parent
  #21
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbubba ➑️

I would have a full patch bay that was normaled for the PT and then another complete set of points for the 16 track.
PT would work as normal and you would just patch in the 16 track as needed.
+1

The patchbay thing is easier than you think (other than the expense of the cabling, and figuring out how to lay it out).

Patch panel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Note the comments on the wiki page about outputs over inputs, and "half-normalling".

Imagine you have several jack fields; one for the protools inputs, one for the protools outputs, one for the multitrack.

The one for protools input would have the AD16x inputs on the bottom row, and your usual or go-to configuration of preamp outputs on the top row. Assuming some/any kind of normal between the top and bottom jacks, then you don't have to plug any patchcords in to pull up your preamps and go with PT.


In a half-normal, the top jack still feeds the jack immediately below it, but you can insert a patchcord into the top jack and send that signal elsewhere. A built-in "Y" cord. Put another way, in a half-normal configuration, anything that's an output that has a normal to send it somewhere is not disturbed by plugging in a patch cord; anything that is an input will have the signal interrupted and replaced by whatever you plugged in.

So imagine then plugging into the output of the preamp - still supposing that it's a half-normal, so the signal still goes to PT - and plugging the other end of the patch cord into an input jack for your 16 track.

That configuration alone - done with 16 patch cords, one for each channel - would let you simultaneously track to PT and the 16 track - the same identical signal (from a given pre) is going to both, PT via the normal, and the tape machine via the patch.

Plugging the output(s) of the tape machine into the PT input jack(s) would allow you to completely insert the tape machine into the input side of PT. Put the deck in input, you're monitoring through the deck; put the deck in repro and hit play, you're hearing what's coming off of tape.

Note that in the bay that has the tape machine, if you put both the input and output on the same bay, you would not want to have any normals. That's because it wouldn't make sense to feed the output of channel 1 back into the input of channel 1.

If you had a console, you'd take both the outputs of the protools and the outputs of the tape machine and normal them into the console - say for example, PT on the first 16 inputs; tape deck on 17-32. Push up the fader(s) for the appropriate channel(s) and hear PT and/or the tape deck at the same time.


HTH

John
Old 24th January 2010 | Show parent
  #22
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EleKtriKaz's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
A couple people have mentioned locking PT to the tape machine. If you're going to lock the 2 together, lock the tape machine to PT not vice versa. The tape machine will drift, which causes all kinds of problems later on down the line. PT will not drift.

Like someone else suggested, the easiest way to do it is just track your basics to tape, dump them into PT, and then edit and overdub from there. Sounds easy enough, but a lot of times these days you're tracking to some already recorded material. If that's the case, you can either lock the two like I described above or dump a stereo ref from PT to 2 tracks on your tape and a mono click from PT to a track on your tape. If you do decide to dump a ref to the tape machine and track to that, there is again the issue of drift with the tape machine. It's probably not something that would ever be major or even noticeable issue, but I guess if it were me I would philosophically want to avoid that problem. Good luck and congrats on the deck!
Old 24th January 2010 | Show parent
  #23
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EleKtriKaz's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Oh, if you do want to synch the machine to PT you'll probably need to pickup a Timeline Lynx or Micro Lynx. There are a couple of synchronizer boxes out there, but if memory serves the Micro Lynx is the one to get.
Old 24th January 2010 | Show parent
  #24
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by zilla_studios ➑️
One thing to keep in mind, is that you may find the levels coming off of tape are too hot for printing directly to your A/D. ...

... we'd put the MRL tape back on and trim everything down about -6 db.
The MM1200's output is probably expecting to see a 600 ohm load. If you put a modern high-impedance input on it, and don't terminate it, you'll get an extra 6 db boost.

Note that not terminating the output, if it's a transformer, will very likely change the frequency response, and not necessarily in a good way.
Old 24th January 2010 | Show parent
  #25
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Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 
🎧 20 years
Thats sooo coool..

I used to have both MM1200 2" 16 & 24 tracks.. the 16 is still kicking ass at a studio now all day long so i hear.

Goo to see u have PURC cards.. otheriwse the drop in gaps will be wider enough for a sherman tanks to drive through.. but the sound.. FARK ME amazing !!!!!

Get a good tech hoard all the parts u can from ebay and the ampex mail lists and make RAWK MUSIC!!!

WIGGY
Old 24th January 2010 | Show parent
  #26
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by zilla_studios ➑️

One thing to keep in mind, is that you may find the levels coming off of tape are too hot for printing directly to you A/D. This was pretty much always the case in my experience-- not necessarily on every track though.

We would always print to Pro Tools after the client had left, so we'd put the MRL tape back on and trim everything down about -6 db. You can probably just pad the inputs on your Apogees though, yeah?

I've never used those converters but I understand the feature set on their products is typically very robust.
I had the very same problem with my ATR80 back in the days. I used to have a 24 channel setup of Motus (2408 + 1224) and always had to lower the output while dumping to the DAW because those converters where calibrated much higher then expected. Don't remember the exact figure but they were in the neighboor of about -12dBFS. Not that much headroom to dump things thru especially if you were slamming the tape with some heavy signal.

I now have Aurora 16 but coincidentally don't have an analog machine so I can't test things out, but at least the Aurora is calibrated to -16dBFS, a bit more headroom than what I was used with the Motus.
Old 24th January 2010 | Show parent
  #27
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bongo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I have the outputs of my mic pre's connected to an Elco connector. That is plugged into an Elco feeding my Apogee converters. My 24 track is also wired with Elcos. If someone forces me to use my 24 track, I unplug the snake to the converters and put the 24 track in line.

Mic pre outs>24 track in>24 track out>Apogee in.
Two connections and you are ready to go.

This also allows you to bypass the MM1200 when it breaks. And it will!
Old 24th January 2010 | Show parent
  #28
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Silvertone's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Hi James,

Congrats on the MM1200... a great machine. Let me know if you need any VU meters as I think I have a couple spares just lying around from when I got rid of the MM1200 here.

Enjoy, as she is a wonderful beast!
Old 24th January 2010 | Show parent
  #29
Registered User
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steck ➑️
The MM1200's output is probably expecting to see a 600 ohm load. If you put a modern high-impedance input on it, and don't terminate it, you'll get an extra 6 db boost.

Note that not terminating the output, if it's a transformer, will very likely change the frequency response, and not necessarily in a good way.
I too have MOTU 2408 mkIIs, 1224s and a MOTU V4HD and at least on the 2408s and 1124s my JH 24's output is too hot.
It is about 6db too hot and I did get MOTU to admit that the input IS NOT really calibrated to a +4db @ -18 dbfs level.
I JUST DIALED BACK THE JH24'S OUTPUTS BY SIX DBs.

This was all a drag because when I got my present JH24 (my third) I did a 100% top down calibration and it was dead on.
There it was set up 100% correctly, but it was too hot for the MOTU boxes.

I know that James uses PT HD, but when I talked to another guy I know who has a JH-24 interfaced with the Digi Design 192 boxes he has the same problem I did.
Unless he had something else going on I bet the MM-1200 will be a bit hot.

I have never run the output of the JH-24 or any +4db output machine into the inputs of my MOTU V4HD, but I somehow suspect that the problem is now taken care of with that box.
Old 24th January 2010 | Show parent
  #30
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James Lugo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Do I have to dial back my Apogee 16X's? Is it easy to do?
πŸ“ Reply

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