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To Tape Or Not To Tape (for a home studio)
Old 13th February 2009 | Show parent
  #31
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Chaellus's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
if money wasnt an issue id go with a tape deck all the time... nothing beats the sonic sound of analog tape.
Old 13th February 2009 | Show parent
  #32
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Matti's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
I started before computers and honestly dont miss tapemachines as such.
Could use a 24 track Studer as a tool though.

Matti
Old 13th February 2009 | Show parent
  #33
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moon_unit's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roman ➑️
But if you want to make a nice soulful recording to digital I suspect you have to really battle a lot of temptations and make extra efforts to make it sound good.
Not really. Just like with anything else ... you just have to know what kind of sound you're shooting for, and you have to know what the fvck you're doing in order to get there.

Personally, I think the soft-clipping of the tape medium has become every bit the "crutch" for some of the analog lovers as easy punch-ins have become for digital guys. Recording digitally means you don't have that extra layer of "smear" to put on things. So you have to be a little creative and find other ways of adding distortion or compression. Like maybe using a compressor (there's a thought), or driving tubes and/or output transformers. Or you could just make the source sound so good that it doesn't need that extra layer of smear, hiss, wow or flutter to begin with (there's another thought).

And don't forget, it's a two-way street here. The performance needs to be there, too, first and foremost. No telling the engineer: "I don't have very good pitch (I'm only the singer). Can you just throw some sort of effect on there or something to make me sound better?"

And please, no telling the engineer: "Can you throw something 'analogs' on it, too? I read in a magazine that analog is better. And tubes? I like tubes. They're warm. Do you have a tuner? (I'm only paying 60 bucks an hour, but somehow didn't think to bring a tuner along). Oh yea, and where is my lyric sheet? I don't know my words yet. I just wrote them this morning in the car on the way over. But we can just punch in if I mess up, right?"

Old 13th February 2009 | Show parent
  #34
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by moon_unit ➑️
I have an idea then.

Pretend your DAW is a tape machine.

And don't do any programming, copying, pasting, or endless playbacks.


Problem solved.
+1.

For me, I like that I'm forced to make a choice when I'm recording to tape, and thats about where my love of tape stops. Well, I guess I like the smell too... Anyway, there's no debate as to if the take is good enough to edit. If a take is good, you move on, and if not, you don't. Recording this way will force you into being a better musician (not that you necessarily need that).

I suggest you use your DAW like a tape machine. If something sucks, do it again. Don't edit or comp, just punch. I think it will improve your performances. If you don't want to use a computer, try an alesis HD24 or something like that.

I think what makes a recording sound like a 60's era recording has more to do with the instruments, the way drums were tuned, the way the artsit performed and the mics and pres that were available at the time. Maybe get some old rca mics if you can find them.

If you have to have tape, try printing your mixes to it before mastering. In my opinion, tape is a huge hassle if you don't know how to tech the machines and don't have the right tools. And in the end, I don't think it will give you the sound you're looking for.
Old 15th February 2009 | Show parent
  #35
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Batchainpuller78's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by moon_unit ➑️
The idea of wanting to go back to an old technology simply out of nostalgia or an ideal you have in your head ... makes no more sense than wanting to sell your computer and go back to using an old IBM typewriter from the 1970's.
So I should also cease to use my hammond, clavinet, electric & acoustic guitars, tube amps, minimoog, roland sh-5, mono/poly, drums, sax, flute, upright piano, harmonium, analog delays and no longer book brass sections or strings, as there now is NEW & Current technology which let's you program and sample & emulate all that?

Heck throw away your pencils, way to old technology to be using these days..
especially for those who still consider music to be an artform, the ideal in your head or the feeling of the material you work with the fabric if you will is pretty important.
So if the OP has that kind of feel I strongly advice him to try out the tape route he had in his head.
Old 17th February 2009 | Show parent
  #36
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
I dunno, I am not an audio luddite, and I enjoy playing the devil's advocate
to those who are committed to only one way of doing things, have often said
that we've learned to love the audio distortions that are imprinted on us.
(Will someone one day pine for that low bit rate lossy compression sound
like people have learned to love old school 8 bit digital for it's "character")

I realize I'm still struggling with my DAW to do things that seemed effortless
in the analog domain, even on semi pro equipment.
Old 17th February 2009 | Show parent
  #37
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moon_unit's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Batchainpuller78 ➑️
So I should also cease to use my hammond, clavinet, electric & acoustic guitars, tube amps, minimoog, roland sh-5, mono/poly, drums, sax, flute, upright piano, harmonium, analog delays and no longer book brass sections or string ....

Not at all. You should absolutely use ALL of these things. Use them to your heart's content, and A million other cool things along with them.

Just don't fret and sweat over the medium used to capture, reproduce and store them. These things should be secondary to your hammond, minimoog, drum, sax, flute, ect. ect.

heh
Old 17th February 2009 | Show parent
  #38
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Batchainpuller78's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
argh but recording to tape is just so fricking nice.
I can play with gain & overdrive, saturation and tape compression to get my sound

to me in the analog domain overdrive & saturation sound great, even mistakes, errors and deterioation can be musical sounding.
Not so in Digital land.

I like the DAW as well and I can do nice things with it, but I'd like to see the Tape machine alive and well to record things that I feel sound great recorded on it.

by the way I still make my coffee with a hot water boiler & a normal filterpaper. heh
Old 17th February 2009 | Show parent
  #39
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John The Cut's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jook ➑️


You are assuming that we should only care about "a highly accurate reproduction of a sound source". One could argue that the original intention of painting on canvas was to produce an accurate reproduction of a visual scenery. What you are arguing for is akin to telling everybody to drop their paint brushes, because it "makes no sense" to use brushes now that photography has been invented.

This is quite similar to the conflicted values of impressionist painting and realist painting. That is why I mentioned Monet.
I'm with Jook on this thread, whats to stop someone chasing THAT sound because thats the sound/character whatever you want to call it - that they want, for their productions.

Just to pickup on the artists point... it was the invention of photography that gave the impressionists license to do what they did. Until then painters were recording real events in a realistic style... for posterity. When photographs came along, artists no longer had to make things 'real' so they started painting what they 'felt' or.. an impression of reality..

It simple really - take a photgraph of something because that will give you an accurate recreation of the event.. get Constable to paint it and you've still got an accurate recreation of the event.. but with a different character... and it depends on whether you like looking at photos or paintings!
Old 17th February 2009 | Show parent
  #40
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moon_unit's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Where do you guys get this photography versus painting analogy from?

heh

It's a terrible analogy.

Regardless of what medium you're using ... you're still capturing an existing sound source. You're not re-creating anything, hence the painting analogy doesn't apply. The musician is the artist. He's doing the painting. Not you.

A more fitting analogy would be photography with a digital camera versus photography with film. It's about as close to a perfect analogy as one can get. A good photographer can work effectively and creatively with a digital camera or film. But there are a few bells & whistles available (namely editing) with the digital camera that you don't get with the film until you "digitize" it so it can be altered in photoshop. And the photoshop - pro tools parallel is obvious.

At the same time, if your particular style of photography relies heavily on over-exposure of the film (or "pushing the film"), and you don't feel that you can get that effect through any other means (perhaps you're not a Photoshop person) ... then yea, I can totally see the practicality of the film medium. Just like I can see the practicality of the tape medium, if tape saturation is that important to your sound.

My personal bias on this ... I still think it's a lot of extra work to go through for just one effect. Tape saturation -- like film over-exposure, is still just one effect in the tool chest. And I don't particularly like having the same effect on every single picture. But if YOU DO ... then that's totally cool, and I get it.
Old 17th February 2009 | Show parent
  #41
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Corran's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I don't know what all this mess is, but I have a Tascam 32 1/4" 10.5" 2-track that's kinda cool. I'm still messing with it, just had to replace the pinch roller, but it is a fun experiment and does some neat things to the sound. I haven't had anything go through it "for real," I'm waiting on the roller to come in. Anyway, it cost me about $150, and $40 for the roller, so that's way below your budget and it's not a bad reel-to-reel.
Old 17th February 2009 | Show parent
  #42
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moon_unit's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corran ➑️
Anyway, it cost me about $150, and $40 for the roller, so that's way below your budget...
Until the next thing breaks down, that is.

heh
Old 17th February 2009 | Show parent
  #43
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Corran's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Oh yes I'm aware of that!! It's just a fun thing though, I've got some tape and I'm just gonna let it roll for a little spice here and there when I want something interesting. My first big project is going to be to run the stereo file of an orchestra recording through it to see what happens.
Old 17th February 2009 | Show parent
  #44
Gear Addict
 
KingUgly's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
DAWs are easy. Tape is hard. Different projects require different tools. If I were producing the Jonas Brothers, do you think I'd record to tape? They don't care, their fans don't care, everything is auto-tuned and quantized out the ying yang, so why would it matter? It doesn't. If I were producing the Raconteurs, do you think I'd dare NOT record to tape? Those guys don't use clicks, don't stand for latency, and desire the character that only tape can provide. It's not about fashion, it's about quality. If you don't understand or care about those differences, then just stick to what you like, or what's cheapest, or what everyone else is doing, and go make records. People will listen to them, or not.
Old 17th February 2009 | Show parent
  #45
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
One thing I don't miss about analog tape machines is maintaining them.

Heads, pinch rollers, motor tension calibration. The anxiety of your tape
machine suddenly needing an uncommon part or major fix right before an important recording session.
Running a commercial studio with an analog machine is not for the faint of heart or meagerly funded, you're better off having an extra machine.
Old 17th February 2009 | Show parent
  #46
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Batchainpuller78's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThePVerdeBeetle ➑️
One thing I don't miss about analog tape machines is maintaining them.

Heads, pinch rollers, motor tension calibration. The anxiety of your tape
machine suddenly needing an uncommon part or major fix right before an important recording session.
Running a commercial studio with an analog machine is not for the faint of heart or meagerly funded, you're better off having an extra machine.
software updates, an error of type -5035 has occurred, Hard Drive Failure, clocking problems, freeze etc...
Old 17th February 2009 | Show parent
  #47
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
If course you're right but... it's a lot quicker and easier at least to replace your hard drive (data loss of course could be a real drag) than get a capstan
motor for your Otari 24 trk.
Old 18th February 2009 | Show parent
  #48
Lives for gear
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
just to jump in here. general comment here for anyone considering going to tape for the home studio as opposed to digital editing (doesn't apply to those who use it only as an effect though):

do NOT use tape for your main recording medium. can you splice tape? do you have the gear and experience to splice tape? no.... unlikely at least, most people don't unless they've been doing this a looooooooong time. do you like things to be unreliable? I doubt it. You think windows sucks? try running open reel tape all the time! it's not the holiday people make it out to be - we moved on from analog tape for VERY good reasons, top of the list being the continued sanity of the recording engineer.

speaking from experience, working with tape 90% sucks. it's frustrating, you get dropouts, you get creases that mean you've lost great work forever and possibly the entire song you just finished, you get a LOT of unreliability and expensive repairs, far more and far worse than with a computer, and with no backup medium in the modern sense at least.

tape has mojo - very kewl, and great to experience for a while, but don't try to actually be productive with it unless you are prepared for a lot of headaches when you least expect it. Also you really need redundancy - two identical units since one will eventually blow up.

And if you have pets you have to keep them away - pet hair will kill a tape machine very very fast without you even realizing what's going on (this IS a home studio right?)

you'll be all confident, everything will work great for a long time, sound amazing (other than hiss. I HATE hiss). Then you'll get friends in or need something done on a deadline suddenly and you'll be hooped when it starts eating your tape or won't power up or you lose half your tracks in your recorder mysteriously.

but you definitely should experience it - have fun with it and all that. Don't trust it though... and don't expect to edit anything later (which when working with other musicians or actually trying to make money at this is pretty much a necessary skill to have).

I recorded several albums in the 90s on analog. Not a good experience for the most part, but at least the gear wasn't mine so when things went wrong it was someone else's responsibility to fix it fast LoL.

Cheers,
Don
Old 18th February 2009 | Show parent
  #49
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Batchainpuller78's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
You really feel that way??
I feel going insane sitting behind that screen all day long, editing together the groups performance, without the option of saturating my medium just to the point where it starts to sound & blend nice.
bloody waveforms to look at instead focusing on your ears all the time you've got this stupid visual aid :p fake buttons & sliders which I can't touch and have them behave like I really want to ( I love analog mixes hands on as well)
Computers did the profession no favour, unless your in advertising that way you can quicker spawn your evil.

Yes true that these days the tape machine is a dangerous adventure, but that's because most people weasled out to pro tools and the likes and everybody stopped making them.
Still a good quality tape machine, with maintenance, and parts to supply and a head relap when needed could get you 10/20/30/40/50 years of recording enjoyment.
Now I can even still imagine someone in 2025 recording something to an old bit of tape but I doubt there will be someone using a MacG4 with PT 7 or so.

The OP wants home studio use, so I'd say try the tape thing out first, because that was his general idea. 8 or 4 track reel to reel recorder.
buy a good model, have it looked over, get yourself acquainted with the manual and search some info on how's and what's and do's and don'ts of analog tape recording
proper cleaning fluids, q-tips and demagnetizer, a box of tape and you are ready to go.
Old 18th February 2009 | Show parent
  #50
Registered User
 
🎧 10 years
or consider a four track cassette deck and a decent mixer. or a portastudio.

it's a bit simpler than reel to reel, but all the limitations of tape are there. if you don't like working within those limitations, no sense in going to higher end reel to reel machines. if you do not mind the limitations, and the sound is 'almost there, but not quite,' then you know your destiny.

who knows, the sound might be all there.
Old 18th February 2009 | Show parent
  #51
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camus's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Here's a great 4-track cassette recording:



I would advise the original poster to pursue his "tape" dream because, speaking from experience, there are sounds and vibes inherent in the medium that you simply cannot get using digital equivalents. Not without chasing your tail, anyway. Take care and have fun!
Old 18th February 2009 | Show parent
  #52
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Batchainpuller78's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Nice
Old 18th February 2009 | Show parent
  #53
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moon_unit's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by camus ➑️
Here's a great 4-track cassette recording:

Sounds like an over-produced, Nickelback production to me. heh
Old 18th February 2009 | Show parent
  #54
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John The Cut's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by camus ➑️
Here's a great 4-track cassette recording:



I would advise the original poster to pursue his "tape" dream because, speaking from experience, there are sounds and vibes inherent in the medium that you simply cannot get using digital equivalents. Not without chasing your tail, anyway. Take care and have fun!
How much more interesting is that to listen to than the same thing recorded digitally.

They pushed it a bit too hard for my liking.. but it has... um whats the word - character!

Whatever feels right, right?
Old 20th February 2009 | Show parent
  #55
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deda's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Batchainpuller78 ➑️
So I should also cease to use my hammond, clavinet, electric & acoustic guitars, tube amps, minimoog, roland sh-5, mono/poly, drums, sax, flute, upright piano, harmonium, analog delays and no longer book brass sections or strings, as there now is NEW & Current technology which let's you program and sample & emulate all that?

Heck throw away your pencils, way to old technology to be using these days..
especially for those who still consider music to be an artform, the ideal in your head or the feeling of the material you work with the fabric if you will is pretty important.
So if the OP has that kind of feel I strongly advice him to try out the tape route he had in his head.
Man what a good answer, nothing like a easily understood opinion on a subject for the op and for me as well and thats answered with the oh so important use of pragmatic thinking, something rare these days. Thank you for helping him of course me as well because all posts where well thought out with solid personal opinions from the posters trying to help, I love this about this forum. The problem with opinions though is the beatuy of their varience, everybodys got one. Yes opinions are a birthright but valiedity is earned. In this thread all posts were persusaive in some way because all had some real truth to them and there are so many choices that all work but in a "Same But Different" way. But the ops question was already answered by him in his first post, tape sounds better dam it so how do I get that better sound with out using tape. I happen to agree with him and have a 1/2" and 1/4" with a rack of Dolby Sr and Dolby A so I've got 3 chocies, none, A or SR and I love it and as one post states 1/2"and 1/4" on ebay is pretty resoanable. I have just picked up a minty Radar II with Classic converters that has yet to be installed in our new rehearsal room but it sounded better by far to me than all other Digital systems with various converters, although I did not A/B exspensive convertors. I wanted something easy in the rehearsal room, just hit play and the Radar fit that requirement but it also has the "Closest To Tape" 24 A/D, D/A converters or so the hype has always been and the hype is fact in my book and they've become very reasonable which makes the price per converter as cheap as they come although they are the best.

Hell I got Neve 1081's why pay about what I paid for them in 1988 for a software emulator of a 1081 and as you state my BBC STC Coles 4038's, my Calrec 1061's, my Groove Tube CL1S, etc. etc. etc.. The new DAW's from Pro Tools to Logic have guys who can with the best converters, computer and all that implies etc. etc. etc. can produce the hits of the day but it is not cheap to achieve and was way out of my range. So by reading your post encourgeing the op to follow his gut feeling has now stopped my 2nd guessing my moves, I like tape with analog desk and analog gear and I like my Radar II for the tool it is.

Thank you again for your post, regards ,,deda,,
Old 20th February 2009 | Show parent
  #56
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illacov's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Talking Just do it!

Buy a deck, make sure it works before plunking down cash.

Learn to calibrate it or befriend someone who does. Have it setup for the tape type you want.

If you don't own a noise reduction unit or won't be actually playing back the tape (like recording to the deck but monitoring in repro back to the DAW) then I recommend you get the deck setup for +6db tape like RMGI SM468 and try pegging the **** out of the level. If you are going to be playing back the tape then you need some noise reduction units. One could possibly do noise reduction with your computer but it would be a tricky process to get right, you need good monitoring and a great piece of noise reduction software along with a good sampling of tape noise/hiss, it won't be the same as dbx noise reduction but could get close, especially small amounts. The idea would be to do minimal noise reduction if you're multitracking, not zapping it completely. Like don't do 100 % try 10% a track. That should make a big impact. Plus when you're audio is above the noise floor you probably won't hear the tape noise or it may add a nice ambience, trial and error.


I just got my Tascam 8 track a little while back and I haven't fired her up yet for any sessions because we're still getting my room ready. I just like looking at it. But very soon I will be getting it into action.

I'm still undecided about how to use it. I could either use it like a plug in with the repro head for 8 tracks at a time or I could do something like record the drums to it (digital to tape) and then put the deck in playback and record it back to the DAW on new tracks. Then I would be in a situation to probably fly my other instruments, kind of old school, with a sampler (versus sliding them around - less fun), after which we would track vocals.

Lots of possibilities actually, a combination of both or one over the other is still going to make a massive difference in the sound of your songs.

A tip I'll share with you, is that some of the prosumer decks didn't have line amps, only internal calibration for rec gain, that being stated, use of a good preamp inline to the reel to reel, would get you alot better results if you are dumping to tape. Some people are just throwing their line outs into the deck, but by all means don't forget to cheat. try compressors too. At one point in time compressors were used by some engineers to get a better signal to tape, this would be pretty effective without noise reduction.

Trust me, I started with a Fostex mastering deck and now i have an 8 track keeping it company. My dream is to get a 24 track Tascam, but not at this moment. I want that baby to be immaculate.

Anyway, let us know how you make out!

Peace
Illumination
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