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Cassette recording tips? Type I or II?
Old 8th April 2021 | Show parent
  #31
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jaddie's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.danielnewell ➡️
lol right... well, by good I guess I mean one with an input level meter
It's probably too far off topic for this thread, so PM me if you want. I did extensive audio testing on VHS and Beta machines, both linear and HiFi tracks back when the world was young.
Old 8th April 2021 | Show parent
  #32
Gear Guru
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.danielnewell ➡️
, but so far on these forums I usually seem to sense a mild disdain when I bring up cassettes, lol
yes "mild disdain" - that's the expression I was looking for!
Old 8th April 2021 | Show parent
  #33
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaddie ➡️
It's probably too far off topic for this thread, so PM me if you want. I did extensive audio testing on VHS and Beta machines, both linear and HiFi tracks back when the world was young.
Nice, I've heard things can get pretty good. I've been looking around for an inexpensive HiFi VCR with adjustable input to experiment printing to ... but yeah may be beyond this thread. I'll reach out, thanks again
Old 8th April 2021 | Show parent
  #34
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I once helped toss an entire realtime cassette duplicating line off the roof of a building in Atlanta and into a dumpster, one Tascam at a time, and it was one of the best days at work I have ever had.

Don't even get me started about "Hi-Fi" VHS and the horrible head switching noises.

I lived through this crap so you wouldn't have to.
--scott
Old 8th April 2021 | Show parent
  #35
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio ➡️
I once helped toss an entire realtime cassette duplicating line off the roof of a building in Atlanta and into a dumpster, one Tascam at a time, and it was one of the best days at work I have ever had.

Don't even get me started about "Hi-Fi" VHS and the horrible head switching noises.

I lived through this crap so you wouldn't have to.
--scott
Heh heh. Scott, I wasn't going to say what you just said, but yeah. Head switching noise kept the HiFi machines solidly in the consumer world until we got...wait for it...DIGITS to record with!! I'll bet you hated the linear video tracks as much as I did to. Slower than cassette, tiny tracks, noisy, blah...blah..blah. Yuck.

I'd love to see the video of the Tascams landing in the dumpster, if it exists. Talk about a good day in audio!
Old 8th April 2021 | Show parent
  #36
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaddie ➡️
It's probably too far off topic for this thread, so PM me if you want. I did extensive audio testing on VHS and Beta machines, both linear and HiFi tracks back when the world was young.
I'd be interested in that too!

And to @ mr.danielnewell , while you might be able to find a VHS VCR with metering that's still in serviceable condition, the pool of available, new, high-quality VHS videocassettes is considerably smaller than that of new, high-quality Type-II audio cassettes. As I'm sure you're aware, audio cassettes have seen a bit of a resurgence, while VHS videocassettes are still waiting for their resurgenge moment to arrive.

Steve
Old 8th April 2021 | Show parent
  #37
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowsOfLife ➡️
I'd be interested in that too!
OK, start a new thread.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowsOfLife ➡️
And to @ mr.danielnewell , while you might be able to find a VHS VCR with metering that's still in serviceable condition, the pool of available, new, high-quality VHS videocassettes is considerably smaller than that of new, high-quality Type-II audio cassettes. As I'm sure you're aware, audio cassettes have seen a bit of a resurgence, while VHS videocassettes are still waiting for their resurgenge moment to arrive.

Steve
The resurgence of old tech goes in waves and fads. The younger demographic that didn't grow up with a particular tech seems fascinated by it. But some technology never resurges. The wired, dial telephone has had its day, and has had more than a chance to come back. Heck, even an old crank phone still works on the modern wired phone network! But they're not around. Hopefully, VHS is dead and buried. It served a purpose, was great in its day, and now is just clunky. By the time the young demo figures out its cool, or just makes it cool, there won't be any machines left, and the tapes will cost like gold bars.

Now, Betamax, on the other hand......
Old 8th April 2021 | Show parent
  #38
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaddie ➡️
OK, start a new thread.

The resurgence of old tech goes in waves and fads. The younger demographic that didn't grow up with a particular tech seems fascinated by it. But some technology never resurges. The wired, dial telephone has had its day, and has had more than a chance to come back. Heck, even an old crank phone still works on the modern wired phone network! But they're not around. Hopefully, VHS is dead and buried. It served a purpose, was great in its day, and now is just clunky. By the time the young demo figures out its cool, or just makes it cool, there won't be any machines left, and the tapes will cost like gold bars.

Now, Betamax, on the other hand......
I think one thing that may keep VHS and Betamax from resurging is that, unlike audio cassettes, the videos those two format capture are in an "incompatible" aspect ratio for playback on today's equipment. Yes, if you upload the videos to YouTube, the site is "smart" enough to put black boxes on either side of the video. But if you just try to play them on your TV...I've seen way too many "smart" TVs disproportionately stretch video that isn't in the aspect ratio they expect. (And many no longer come with composite video inputs.) Obviously, that doesn't happen with audio cassettes played back on a new cassette deck (if you can even afford one).

Steve
Old 8th April 2021 | Show parent
  #39
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowsOfLife ➡️
I think one thing that may keep VHS and Betamax from resurging is that, unlike audio cassettes, the videos those two format capture are in an "incompatible" aspect ratio for playback on today's equipment. Yes, if you upload the videos to YouTube, the site is "smart" enough to put black boxes on either side of the video. But if you just try to play them on your TV...I've seen way too many "smart" TVs disproportionately stretch video that isn't in the aspect ratio they expect. (And many no longer come with composite video inputs.) Obviously, that doesn't happen with audio cassettes played back on a new cassette deck (if you can even afford one).

Steve
The auto "stretch" function is a default that any user can turn off in a menu on every TV made since 16:9 screens arrived. They just don't even think to try. But I get your point.

However, if you watch any movie pre-1953, you'll see essentially the same aspect ration as TV 4:3 (films were technically 1.37:1). We watch those movies pillar-boxed, no stretch. Today's standard "flat" (non-anamorphic) film format of 1.85:1 wasn't a standard until deep into the widescreen 1950s.

But you know, mono doesn't match the "aspect ratio" of two speaker stereo either. I believe that doesn't hold the re-releases back much.

I really think the hurdle for VHS is the inconvenience, bulk, and poor picture quality. We still have some, and I have brand new VHS machine with built-in TBC (which helps a lot), but it's only because some tapes in our library have never made it to another medium. I don't buy VHS tapes. And I don't expect the format to ever return.

I was joking about Beta. Technically superior, but Sony was greedy and wouldn't license it out, so it didn't succeed. And yeah, I have a stack of Beta machines now used only for dubbing to digits.

In the Did You Know category, early digital audio was recorded on video machines? Yup, all those early Cds used one of the Sony PCM-1600 series PCM converters and a modified U-Matic video deck with the data formatted to fit the picture area. It's why we have 16/44.1. The 44.1 relates to the horizontal scan rate of NTSC video. The consumer PCM converters (yeah, got a stack of them too) did pretty well. Many Cds were recorded on them too. CD Quality on a video deck. We used Beta decks, but VHS worked fine too.

Trivia.
Old 9th April 2021
  #40
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vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.danielnewell ➡️
Hello all

Before anyone jumps in to tell me that cassette is a waste of time let me just put forward that I've been recording in a DAW (Cubase) since the start but I'm interested in the way different processes and different levels of ease influence the creative process.

With cassettes I always hear about their limitations but on the other hand I have always enjoyed listening to cassettes for their sort of punchiness and simplicity. It would seem to convey something very well on cassette the composition would need to work a certain way.

Getting to some questions:

I recently picked up a Tascam 644 (4 track cassette recorder) and I'm wondering what the actual advantages would be to me using type II tape.

I seem to have gathered from reading around in different forums that Type II cassettes are generally less dark/less noisy/more high end. The line I keep hearing is "use ONLY type II tapes with your machine."

But do both types of tape produce that sort of desirable saturation (or is it distortion?) when the levels are hot? Or is this more an aspect of the Type I's? I was told earlier to never push the levels into red with my machine, but this was from a radio engineer so I dunno. I know that people push the Type I's into the red as a common practice.

Is it also true that type I tapes tend to carry the low end stuff better? This is what I read several places, but I haven't been able to determine why. Is this a result of distortion of the low harmonics by pushing the tape, or is it just the way the tapes are made? This is of interest to me because I'm using a lot of sub bass, Roland 707-type kicks, house type rhythms, and I've heard you can lose lows on cassette. I may eventually pick up a proper tape machine but I wanted to do a project on this 644 as a preamble!

I do have both types of cassettes but I was hoping to hear from some people with experience something about your best practices.

Any comments welcome and appreciated!
That machine uses Type II

The user manual on any machine will state which tape type should be used.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #41
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kurzweil's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Don't throw out your VHS, Betamax, S-VHS, DAT, DCC or Minidiscs just yet.
There appears to be a resurgence of everything at the moment while there are still machines around to buy.

I've decided to keep only my fecked-up cassettes so that I can get the authentic tape experience by running my tracks through their messed-up sound as a special effect. The rest are up for sale
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #42
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Rappy's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
One quick tip. After spending hundreds of hours recording on a Tascam Portastudio (414 I believe) back in the day. The varispeed or pitch control knob defaults to the center position. Turn it all the way up for recording and play it back at the same speed. It still won’t be 15 or 30 IPS, but it will be better than the default tape speed. I noticed a big difference in quality when I started doing that. You go through tapes faster, though.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #43
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowsOfLife ➡️
I'd be interested in that too!

And to @ mr.danielnewell , while you might be able to find a VHS VCR with metering that's still in serviceable condition, the pool of available, new, high-quality VHS videocassettes is considerably smaller than that of new, high-quality Type-II audio cassettes. As I'm sure you're aware, audio cassettes have seen a bit of a resurgence, while VHS videocassettes are still waiting for their resurgenge moment to arrive.

Steve
Gotcha!

This would be for a small project. Thinking of the printing 4 or 5 songs onto tape, so I wouldn't need a ton of VHS's.

I've heard dynamic range is similar to CD because of the speed VCR.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #44
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rappy ➡️
One quick tip. After spending hundreds of hours recording on a Tascam Portastudio (414 I believe) back in the day. The varispeed or pitch control knob defaults to the center position. Turn it all the way up for recording and play it back at the same speed. It still won’t be 15 or 30 IPS, but it will be better than the default tape speed. I noticed a big difference in quality when I started doing that. You go through tapes faster, though.
Ah this is great. I think mine was set up when I bought it but I put it to default. I'll definitely try this
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #45
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier ➡️
That machine uses Type II

The user manual on any machine will state which tape type should be used.
Yup thanks, was just curious if and how it makes a difference.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #46
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vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.danielnewell ➡️
Yup thanks, was just curious if and how it makes a difference.
Its just an adjustment ..either fixed, or on a more pro type machine, user adjustable. Getting it set correctly, or somewhat close, will improve distortion, and to the ear, improve high frequency.

So, on a recorder sans bias adjustment, you'll get best results using the recommended type of tape.

However, as a disclaimer, I'll often use whatever tape is handy and not worry about it.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #47
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.danielnewell ➡️
Yup thanks, was just curious if and how it makes a difference.
Not only does it make a difference, but the specific kind of tape makes a difference because the bias point on one Type I tape won't be quite the same as another.

The Tascam manual will recommend a specific brand and type of tape, which is what the machine was calibrated for at the factory. If you don't recalibrate it or get it calibrated for some other brand and type of tape, it would be best to stick with that specific one.

Except that... after all these years... you likely won't be able to get it new. Which is another reason why the machine needs calibration.
--scott
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #48
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio ➡️
Not only does it make a difference, but the specific kind of tape makes a difference because the bias point on one Type I tape won't be quite the same as another.

The Tascam manual will recommend a specific brand and type of tape, which is what the machine was calibrated for at the factory. If you don't recalibrate it or get it calibrated for some other brand and type of tape, it would be best to stick with that specific one.

Except that... after all these years... you likely won't be able to get it new. Which is another reason why the machine needs calibration.
--scott
They recommend TDK SA and Maxell XL-II, which are probably the most popular type II tapes I hear about.

Are there any lesser known tapes that are calibrated similarly or is it super specific?

I've never done calibration... does it require a lot of tools and know how? I've repaired synths and drum machines but I reckon there is probably need for more equipment to do that kind of thing...
Old 4 weeks ago
  #49
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Reginator's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I have a Tascam 644 and I use it with these NAC tapes:
1) Studio Master 799 C-60, High Bias - Type II
2) Audio Pro 771 C-60, High Bias - Type II

However, these tapes are out of production now, but NAC has a new Type II due out sometime in May: C756 Cobalt Type II.

The folks a NAC are very nice and they reply to your email, and send specifications if you ask. A few years ago I told them I had a Tascam 644 and I wanted to switch from the Type II tapes recommended in the manual to something that was currently in production. They recommended the tapes I listed above. I've had good results with the NAC tape and I also use them in my walkman. I also use the 644 to dub tapes for my walkman (without DBX engaged).

The 644 is what it is... it's a decent 4-track with some great capabilities. I stripe SMPTE on track 4 and sync it with my DAW. I record anything that needs a bit of character, so it's basically a convoluted outboard effects processor. It has low noise, but I use noise gates on most of my tracks anyway.

I hope this helps.
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #50
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.danielnewell ➡️
They recommend TDK SA and Maxell XL-II, which are probably the most popular type II tapes I hear about.

Are there any lesser known tapes that are calibrated similarly or is it super specific?

I've never done calibration... does it require a lot of tools and know how? I've repaired synths and drum machines but I reckon there is probably need for more equipment to do that kind of thing...
TDK SA and Maxell XL-II tapes are still available through Amazon.com and other places. Unfortunately, most of what I see on Amazon are the 90-minute tapes. As I (and others) mentioned earlier, and as is mentioned in the Tascam manual, 60-minute tapes are better, because they're less prone to stretching and other issues. And personally, I like the Maxell tapes because they have a tape head cleaner built into the tape leader. At any rate, go with what the Tascam manual tells you to use. For what it's worth, I used those two formulations almost exclusively with my two TEAC/Tascam 4- and 8-track cassette decks over the years and I don't remember any problems. Now BASF tapes...? Don't get me started on those.

You will need some special tools to calibrate the machine properly, as others have noted in this thread. To start with, if you don't have an accurate, professionally made reference tape, you're pretty much wasting your time, since you won't be able to confirm most of your record- or playback-head settings. You'll also need a multi-meter and an oscilloscope if you're really going to try to do it right. Otherwise, you should at least get a demagnetizer and some proper cassette transport/head cleaning tools. I haven't bought any in at least 25 years, or I'd suggest what to get.

Steve
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #51
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kludgeaudio's Avatar
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.danielnewell ➡️
I've never done calibration... does it require a lot of tools and know how? I've repaired synths and drum machines but I reckon there is probably need for more equipment to do that kind of thing...
Depends on the cassette deck. Three-head machines with a bias control on the front like the Tascam 122 are not bad at all. Two head machines with all the controls hidden inside on a board that is tucked underneath the transport so you can get to the pots with a screwdriver but can't actually see them, those are hellish. The service manual has details.

If you don't want to do it yourself, take it to a tech with a cassette of the kind you use and tell him to line the machine up for the tape.
--scott
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #52
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Reginator ➡️
I have a Tascam 644 and I use it with these NAC tapes:
1) Studio Master 799 C-60, High Bias - Type II
2) Audio Pro 771 C-60, High Bias - Type II

However, these tapes are out of production now, but NAC has a new Type II due out sometime in May: C756 Cobalt Type II.

The folks a NAC are very nice and they reply to your email, and send specifications if you ask. A few years ago I told them I had a Tascam 644 and I wanted to switch from the Type II tapes recommended in the manual to something that was currently in production. They recommended the tapes I listed above. I've had good results with the NAC tape and I also use them in my walkman. I also use the 644 to dub tapes for my walkman (without DBX engaged).

The 644 is what it is... it's a decent 4-track with some great capabilities. I stripe SMPTE on track 4 and sync it with my DAW. I record anything that needs a bit of character, so it's basically a convoluted outboard effects processor. It has low noise, but I use noise gates on most of my tracks anyway.

I hope this helps.
Just saw this one. This is really helpful, thanks!! Happy someone else here has the 644. Glad to hear you've had good results with the NAC tapes. I'm definitely going to follow up on the C756, I hope it becomes a viable option--

I haven't even considered syncing with the DAW yet. What advantage do you get from doing this? Could you not just record the parts you want onto the tape and then record them back into the DAW as waveforms, and then not have to run sync every time? (Ha, very possible I am not understanding your meaning sorry).

I'm working largely out of box with my MPC1000, so I figure tape is a viable option if I plan everything the right way and dynamically.

I have to learn about the DBX stuff still. That will be my next read. Any further word on that would be appreciated.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #53
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Reginator's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.danielnewell ➡️
I haven't even considered syncing with the DAW yet. What advantage do you get from doing this? Could you not just record the parts you want onto the tape and then record them back into the DAW as waveforms, and then not have to run sync every time? (Ha, very possible I am not understanding your meaning sorry).

I'm working largely out of box with my MPC1000, so I figure tape is a viable option if I plan everything the right way and dynamically.
Absolutely - you could record direct to tape and record it back into the DAW. But if you're playing along to anything that's sequenced (and want to keep everything in time during playback), you'll want to explore syncing your tape machine to the DAW using SMPTE.

Actually, the way I use it is: I stripe tape using MOTU micro express. Then I play the 644 and the DAW syncs to it. So anything I record on the 644 will be in time with everything in my project... down to the beat, quarter note, etc. Then, I play the 644 and record it into the DAW. When I'm done I then switch the clock in the DAW from SMPTE back to Audio/UAD Apollo.

The 644 is pretty stable and accurate, but it IS a tape machine and there will be minimal wow and flutter. This is unavoidable, but this is how tape is.
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #54
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Reginator ➡️
Absolutely - you could record direct to tape and record it back into the DAW. But if you're playing along to anything that's sequenced (and want to keep everything in time during playback), you'll want to explore syncing your tape machine to the DAW using SMPTE.

Actually, the way I use it is: I stripe tape using MOTU micro express. Then I play the 644 and the DAW syncs to it. So anything I record on the 644 will be in time with everything in my project... down to the beat, quarter note, etc. Then, I play the 644 and record it into the DAW. When I'm done I then switch the clock in the DAW from SMPTE back to Audio/UAD Apollo.

The 644 is pretty stable and accurate, but it IS a tape machine and there will be minimal wow and flutter. This is unavoidable, but this is how tape is.
I would assume that you could also drive the MOTU Micro Express synchronization from a beat recorded on the tape rather than a SMPTE track right?
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #55
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Reginator's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by hollandturbine ➡️
I would assume that you could also drive the MOTU Micro Express synchronization from a beat recorded on the tape rather than a SMPTE track right?
I haven't used it like that, but you could give it a try and see if it'll lock to the beat.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #56
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grasspike's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.danielnewell ➡️
Hello all

Before anyone jumps in to tell me that cassette is a waste of time let me just put forward that I've been recording in a DAW (Cubase) since the start but I'm interested in the way different processes and different levels of ease influence the creative process.
fwiw Cassettes are my favorite recording medium, been using them since the 1980s. My recommendation in 2021 if you want to use tape is to not use the various 4 or 8 track machines but get one of the workhorse rackmountable studio/installation decks

My personal preference is the Marantz PMD520. They were used in a lot of studios back in the day and were installed in places like a Church to record sermons and the like. they were made and designed at the tail end of the cassette era. They are fairly common and can be found at more reasonable prices at the various online sites. They are also usually ignored by the Hi-Fi enthusiasts and as such don't go for crazy prices like a NAK

The PMD520 has several things going for it. The biggest is that it has a digitally controlled Auto Calibration. Put a tape in, let the machine do its thing and it calibrates itself. Any tape any brand doesn't matter

The second is that it has Dolby HX Pro. Dolby HX Pro is not a noise reduction circuit like Dolby B or C are. It was developed by B&O and tweaks the bias when high frequencies are present at high levels to allow more headroom. This gives you better S/N ratios and better High Frequency Response.

The trifecta is that it can record at double speed for even more clarity

My favorite tapes to use in it are TDK D 60 and 90. They have a nice color I find pleasing when recorded at double speed along with HX Pro when auto calibrated

As an added bonus it's a dual well deck but unlike most each well is independent with two sets of inputs and outputs so it's really like having 2 separate decks and it has 3 heads
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #57
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by grasspike ➡️
fwiw Cassettes are my favorite recording medium, been using them since the 1980s. My recommendation in 2021 if you want to use tape is to not use the various 4 or 8 track machines but get one of the workhorse rackmountable studio/installation decks

My personal preference is the Marantz PMD520. They were used in a lot of studios back in the day and were installed in places like a Church to record sermons and the like. they were made and designed at the tail end of the cassette era. They are fairly common and can be found at more reasonable prices at the various online sites. They are also usually ignored by the Hi-Fi enthusiasts and as such don't go for crazy prices like a NAK

The PMD520 has several things going for it. The biggest is that it has a digitally controlled Auto Calibration. Put a tape in, let the machine do its thing and it calibrates itself. Any tape any brand doesn't matter

The second is that it has Dolby HX Pro. Dolby HX Pro is not a noise reduction circuit like Dolby B or C are. It was developed by B&O and tweaks the bias when high frequencies are present at high levels to allow more headroom. This gives you better S/N ratios and better High Frequency Response.

The trifecta is that it can record at double speed for even more clarity

My favorite tapes to use in it are TDK D 60 and 90. They have a nice color I find pleasing when recorded at double speed along with HX Pro when auto calibrated

As an added bonus it's a dual well deck but unlike most each well is independent with two sets of inputs and outputs so it's really like having 2 separate decks and it has 3 heads
Very cool. I kinda wish I hadn't been quite so hasty in picking up the 4 track. I was also considering your idea (having a proper deck) as an alternative, running stuff through it before going to DAW, or after DAW. I did end up picking up this Panasonic AG-1960 Hi-Fi VCR for cheap and am going to try some experiments with that and my Tascam 644...
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #58
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.danielnewell ➡️
Very cool. I kinda wish I hadn't been quite so hasty in picking up the 4 track. I was also considering your idea (having a proper deck) as an alternative, running stuff through it before going to DAW, or after DAW. I did end up picking up this Panasonic AG-1960 Hi-Fi VCR for cheap and am going to try some experiments with that and my Tascam 644...
The advantage of the 4 track is that you can stripe a track with SMPTE so your DAW will be synchronized with all the tape tracks you are bouncing into it.
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