Quantcast
To Tape Or Not To Tape (for a home studio) - Gearspace.com
The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
To Tape Or Not To Tape (for a home studio)
Old 9th February 2009
  #1
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
To Tape Or Not To Tape (for a home studio)

Yes, it's a well treaded question. But I'm focusing on this from a Home Studio perspective which I believe is slightly different (thus Low End)

First, there is a budgetary concern (sub $2000 ideally). Second, and most importantly, the idea is that the engineer is also the artist. Meaning convenience is key. Time spent on fixing and diagnosing issues with tape heads, setting up reels, etc. is time away from songwriting, coming up with parts, or finding the right guitar tone. Not to mention setting up mic positions and everything else.

Now, I love the sound of tape. Given the choice, I would track, mix and master to tape. I don't have much concern for a "modern" sound for my personal works (mostly of a folk, blues, rock nature), and I'd be quite content if all my recordings sounded like they were straight out of the 60s and don't have a single trace of modern element. I'm not using it for an isolated effect like a rap vocal or something like that. So a cassette tape effect is not what I'm after. I'd be using it all across the board, so it's something more subtle (though I'd like to hit it hard too given the option).

The current choices appear to be:

a) Use actual tape. Cost of machine and tape. Maintenance cost. Every take would involve changing tape. Archiving piles of them and and digging them out and back for mixes.

b) Neve Portico 5042. $1750 rrp. No tape, but actual head mechanism and saturation effect is emulated.

c) Anamod ATS-1. $2995 rrp. Emulates several machines. No head mechanism, completely emulated in analog. Latest greatest thing since sliced bread?


Questions:

1) Has anyone compared the Portico 5042 with the Anamod? People rave about both, with the most recent raves going to the Anamod as the best thing out there. What does it do that the Portico can't?

2) Having never maintained a tape deck myself, is it as tiresome as I imagine it to be? I have seen many threads where someone would just insist that it's not "hard" and don't understand why someone would want to avoid it so much. I'm guessing these perspectives are from engineers who play that single role. When you're a one man team in your home studio, one more stuff to mess with, means that much more taken away from your actual recording time. Will someone say otherwise, and that they record themselves at home with a reel to reel (interfaced to a DAW) and don't find it tedious?

I hope this is a slightly different angle to the tape question than usual.
Old 9th February 2009
  #2
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Availability of quality tape is an issue if you're going to use a standard recording setup. Even if you can set up a good recording rig, it's going to cost you a fortune in tape.

>>Now, I love the sound of tape. Given the choice, I would track, mix and master to tape. I don't have much concern for a "modern" sound for my personal works (mostly of a folk, blues, rock nature), and I'd be quite content if all my recordings sounded like they were straight out of the 60s and don't have a single trace of modern element.<<

This is all in your mind, really. Sure, there are differences in any recording technology, but what really makes any piece is the performance. No one's going to pay a rat's ass bit of attention to the so-called "tape" sound. No one ever has. Nobody gives a crap. Before tape they would record to wire, optically to film, or to shellac. Nobody ever gave a crap about any of that either. All people want to hear is the performance.

Don't lose the forest for the trees. The past is gone. Record on your DAW and be happy.
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #3
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by videoracer ➡️
This is all in your mind, really. Sure, there are differences in any recording technology, but what really makes any piece is the performance. No one's going to pay a rat's ass bit of attention to the so-called "tape" sound. No one ever has. Nobody gives a crap. Before tape they would record to wire, optically to film, or to shellac. Nobody ever gave a crap about any of that either. All people want to hear is the performance.

Don't lose the forest for the trees. The past is gone. Record on your DAW and be happy.
I know what you're saying, and I agree to an extent. But here's the kicker: *I* give a crap and *I* notice it. You're right, it is in my mind and not the listener, but it is the sound that inspires me to work. It's no different to having the right lava lamp in the room that gives me the good vibes, or the old '55 Gibson acoustic that inspires me to play differently because of all it's inconsistencies. And that's what I care about, what inspires my performance. *I* don't care whether the audience will notice it sounds like tape - but they'd likely notice if I'm inspired or not.

I'm free to chase a particular sound of the past if I actually decide I want to, of my own free will. There's nothing wrong with making that choice and there's no reason why I shouldn't be allowed to pursue that anymore than someone who decides to pursue only new and "never heard before" sounds. I could babble on as to why I personally do it, but it's ultimately a subjective thing.
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #4
Lives for gear
 
SoundWeavers's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
how about this

get a cheap used 2-track machine (see BlevinsAudio.com )

record your tracks to tape first, then capture tape output to your DAW

you can re-use/re-record on your tape also.

you can even capture your final mix to 2-track tape.
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Batchainpuller78's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Argh videoracer you dissapoint me.
If anything the PERFORMANCE of artists is suffering greatly under the technology of DAW's
because all of the great albums where you can hear really masterful performances of skillful musicians and vocalists are from a time when they used to record performances of artists on real instruments to Tape.

Tape is a great way for recording a performance and a vibe, it's not the perfect medium for generating a song by lot's of programming, copy pasting, and endless playbacks.
but for generating a song by real good playing it's the fastest way to get a good finished sound.. it' put's the emphasis of getting the sound through playing and all things pre recording, eq'ing is done with mic positioning and chocie, so once you finished recording your last track usually your left with pushing a few faders maybe touch up slightly and that's it.. performance recorded...

DAW's usually lead to lot's of takes, and recording an okay sound to create one later.
mind you superb stuff can be created with digital PT/logic/cubase or what not software as well..
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
StereoAtLast's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Depending on the deck, maintenance, alignment can be either a cakewalk (with software based alignment eg Studer decks) or it can get a really involving process if you have to do manual alignment, ect.

If properly scrubbed after each use you can get a good amount of takes off one reel of tape, only artists with massive budgets are pulling the tape off after one take.

I say get a cheap deck and just do tape transfers into your daw for mixing.

as for tracking straight into Pro Tools, I'm not big on watching my meters in fear that the drummer is going to blow a hard hit and the take is ruined, whereas you've got a good deal of headroom with tape...

but alas I dont have 100k to spend on 2 Studers, one for operation and the other for parts.

what a cruel world we live in
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #7
Lives for gear
 
moon_unit's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Batchainpuller78 ➡️
If anything the PERFORMANCE of artists is suffering greatly under the technology of DAW's because all of the great albums where you can hear really masterful performances of skillful musicians and vocalists are from a time when they used to record performances of artists on real instruments to Tape.

Tape is a great way for recording a performance and a vibe, it's not the perfect medium for generating a song by lot's of programming, copy pasting, and endless playbacks.

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.


I went through my tape phase about eight years ago. Started tracking everything to tape and dumping to my DAW, etc. The whole nine yards.

After about three weeks, I started asking myself: "Why the hell am I doing this?" There's no "magical tape sound." It was an ideal I had stuck in my head that had no more basis in reality than a child's imaginary friend. In the end, I was simply creating extra steps for myself that were completely unnecessary -- mostly out of a nostalgia for a technology that I grew up with. And ironically enough, one that I wasn't all that thrilled with when I was using it.

Since it's inception, the goal of any recording medium has been to give a highly accurate reproduction of a sound source. We now have that capability, and it's available to anyone, very inexpensively and on a mass level that we never could have dreamed of being possible. 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.
Old 9th February 2009
  #8
Lives for gear
 
Fast_Fingers's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
You could use a Crane Song HEDD to add an adjustable amount of analog warmth. Hopefully you have an open AES I/O (it can work with analog I/O too).

Alternatively, you could mix OTB with an analog summing mixer like the Dangerous Music LT (which will fit your budget). Take the output of that through a Empirical Labs Fatso or that Portico 5042. In either case, best of luck, and hope you can try out the gear first.
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #9
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
>>I'm free to chase a particular sound of the past if I actually decide I want to, of my own free will. There's nothing wrong with making that choice and there's no reason why I shouldn't be allowed to pursue that anymore than someone who decides to pursue only new and "never heard before" sounds. I could babble on as to why I personally do it, but it's ultimately a subjective thing.<<

You're right. Don't get me wrong, I'm not ripping into you. Go for it if it floats your boat. It's going to be involved, to say the least. And expensive. You can't just keep re-using the same reel of tape. I just don't think it's really going to be everything you think it is, as exemplified by moon_unit.

>> If anything the PERFORMANCE of artists is suffering greatly under the technology of DAW's because all of the great albums where you can hear really masterful performances of skillful musicians and vocalists are from a time when they used to record performances of artists on real instruments to Tape.<<

That's all in your mind too. It's up to you to decide how lazy you're going to be.

And not for nuthin, but in the tape era there was a processed called "punching in and out" that was pooh-poohed by the Luddites of those days. Not to mention another technology know as "multi-track recording" that allowed for non-real-time and non-linear recording, also quite pooh-poohed by the Luddites of the day. Both of these techniques gave you the ability to correct all those nasty mistakes you made after one too many bong hits.

>> get a cheap used 2-track machine (see BlevinsAudio.com ) record your tracks to tape first, then capture tape output to your DAW you can re-use/re-record on your tape also. you can even capture your final mix to 2-track tape.<<

You would have massive sync problems that way. You would need a multitrack deck to maintain sync, at least 8 channel's worth if you plan to do anything sophisticated.

>>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.<<

Yeah, that's what happens when you get old. heh You pine for all those things that were "the ****" in your day. i remember wishing I could scrounge up enough money to buy a Teac 3340 (I was quite the 'po boy). I still have my Teac 3300SX half track. Nicely packed away in it's Anvil flight case, I might add.

I would love to have a full multitrack analog studio, only because, well, not only did I grow up with the technology and it's second nature to me, but I always loved the tangible nature of the medium.

But I'd only want it as a (very expensive) playground that I can have a second childhood in. To me, a DAW is where it's at.

Digital anything turns the medium into an abstract, and makes for some confusion and misunderstanding, which usually leads to a rejection of the medium. I've seen the same reaction in audio, still imagery, video, and film industries. That's unfortunate, because of course it's simply untouchable in it's productive scale and output quality.

But they'll always be this notion that it's not as good-sounding as analog. Never gonna be as good as tape. Or tubes. Or "real" instruments. Yada, yada, yada. To some, it creates the illusion to make everything sound right". It makes the sound, to quote an old album cover, "As safe as yesterday is".
Old 10th February 2009 | Show parent
  #10
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by videoracer ➡️
You're right. Don't get me wrong, I'm not ripping into you. Go for it if it floats your boat. It's going to be involved, to say the least. And expensive. You can't just keep re-using the same reel of tape. I just don't think it's really going to be everything you think it is, as exemplified by moon_unit.
That's why I brought up things like the Portico and Anamod. The Anamod is certainly expensive but Portico is within my range. I'm trying to determine if the cost of these things will come out being cheaper than the long term cost of tape and maintenance of a reel to reel (again, for a home studio, engineer-is-artist perspective).

Unlike some of the other posters above, I'm not using tape for the fact that it would influence my recording method. If anything, I think it will impair the recording process as it is less convenient - having to switch out reels, clean heads, sync'ing, archiving them away and pulling them out when i need them, etc. I'm not interested in any of that. I want to use it for its sound.

To claim that there is no "magical tape sound" (quoting moon_unit) is going too far. There is a sound, the question is whether you want it (or need it). Certainly some people are hung up about "warmth" and other characteristics and unfairly associating it with tape, as if it will solve all their problems. That's your "imaginary friend". The "sound" of tape however, is not imaginary.

I am attracted to that sound, and I want to produce that sound. It's like a kid saying they like the sound of saxophones, and they want to learn to play sax, and everyone's telling him, "nobody plays sax anymore kid! stop chasing old ideas! here, everyone now uses MPC samplers and drum machines, play that instead!". It's subjective and an artistic choice. There's no sense in telling other people how they should feel about it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by moon_unit ➡️
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.
Why can't it be an aesthetic attraction? What if that sound from the past is the sound you want to create?

If something of the past is of value, and has stood the test of time, is it so wrong to pursue it if you believe it has value? Or must you leave everything behind, even though you're sure that's what you want? "But no, I must not retrieve it, I must move forward".

Quote:
Originally Posted by videoracer ➡️
Digital anything turns the medium into an abstract, and makes for some confusion and misunderstanding, which usually leads to a rejection of the medium. I've seen the same reaction in audio, still imagery, video, and film industries. That's unfortunate, because of course it's simply untouchable in it's productive scale and output quality.
Digital is a tool like any other, and it's the right tool for some jobs and the wrong tool for others. It is unquestionably powerful and capable of many more possibilities than analog. But sometimes that gets in the way. Just as a hydraulic excavator may be the most powerful and efficient way of digging in the ground, it can be the least appropriate tool for planting a rose bush. It will certainly still work, but you'd have to worry about environmental damage, impact on the surroundings, digging too big a hole, etc. You'd have to be many times more careful not to do more harm than good. That's what digital audio is like.

And sometimes, all you need is a good shovel. It's old technology. They might even make it more expensive one day to get a shovel than a jackhammer. It doesn't make it any less suitable for the job.
Old 10th February 2009 | Show parent
  #11
Lives for gear
 
moon_unit's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jook ➡️
I am attracted to that sound, and I want to produce that sound. It's like a kid saying they like the sound of saxophones, and they want to learn to play sax, and everyone's telling him, "nobody plays sax anymore kid! stop chasing old ideas! here, everyone now uses MPC samplers and drum machines, play that instead!". It's subjective and an artistic choice. There's no sense in telling other people how they should feel about it.

I just think you're putting a lot more value on that "sound" than what really exists in reality.

A saxophone is an instrument, and nothing else can make that sound but a saxophone. Not to mention a saxophone is an instrument and you make music with it. I realize this was just an "out there" sort of hypothetical example ... but it does kind of illustrate a point.

A recording medium is no more than a method of capture and storage. It's very much like the HD versus Film debate. If you were to go see a movie shot in HD, and another shot with film ... it would be really, really difficult to discern which was which. In fact, I would venture to guess you wouldn't have a clue (and you'd have an equally difficult time discerning audio captured with tape versus digital under a similar controlled experiment) ... and even if you did, it's not like the medium is going to alter your enjoyment of the film. It's about the story line, acting, directing, etc. That doesn't change.
Old 10th February 2009 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by moon_unit ➡️
I just think you're putting a lot more value on that "sound" than what really exists in reality.

A saxophone is an instrument, and nothing else can make that sound but a saxophone. Not to mention a saxophone is an instrument and you make music with it. I realize this was just an "out there" sort of hypothetical example ... but it does kind of illustrate a point.
But you see, that's just going by a strict text book definition of what "music" is and what an "instrument" is. As far as I'm concerned, a silver spoon is an instrument. A tin can and a stick is an instrument. I can beat a rhythm, or I can beat out of rhythm, it can be tonal or a-tonal, it can still be music (in my book).

You can draw the line and separate the "sound" from the "song", but my point was that you don't have to. It's up to you if you do. The kid in my example liked the sound of the saxophone. He didn't have to like the song being played, he was just attracted to the sound of it, and there's nothing wrong with that. You're telling him to play the same song on a xylophone or something else, when what he wanted, was to hear and make that saxophone sound.

At the end of the day, it's a sound wave that's going in your ears. That's what exists in reality. And the note of "G#" played on a saxophone sounds nothing like one played on a xylophone except for a theoretical concept of pitch, key and scale (which doesn't exist). The sound is just as important as the note if you let it be.

Quote:
Originally Posted by moon_unit ➡️
A recording medium is no more than a method of capture and storage.
Now.. that's just in your head. Why can't you exploit the attributes of the medium to make it part of the art? By that same token, one would argue paint and canvas as just a medium. But could Monet do what he did with photography instead of brushes?

Anyway... we've well and truly digressed as I originally feared. It's a difference in value and there's no point arguing it. One person spends his time seeking the meaning of life. The other person says, "there's no answer! stop worrying and enjoy life!". They don't have to agree. But it's wrong to say one's false. "You're right from your side. I'm right from mine."
Old 10th February 2009 | Show parent
  #13
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
>>Now.. that's just in your head. Why can't you exploit the attributes of the medium to make it part of the art?<<

All fine and well, but if you want the analog sound, you can't half-ass it. Going the Portico or Anamod isn't going to cut it. There's plenty of plugins that will do the same thing. Don't be fooled just 'cause it says Neve or costs some ridiculous amount of money. They'll all EMULATORS.

You'll need The Full Monty. There's no cutting corners here. You'll need an entire analog recording studio, and for your ideal purposes you'll the need the same mics, preamps, outboard processors, playback amplifiers, vintage speakers AND the tape decks that were used to create the sound you hold dearly.

That's an even more expensive proposition. Sure, you could cut corners and skip on the likes of Neumann's, Pultecs, Scullys and the like, and yet it'll still cost. But there's no way around it.

Like I said, I would love to have an entire analog rig myself. Like Lennon sang, "I'm just sitting here watching the reels go round and round, I just love to watch them roll". But in spite of that I'll still keep and love my DAW, 'cause there ain't nuttin like it in the analog domain.
Old 10th February 2009 | Show parent
  #14
Lives for gear
 
spitfire8898's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
This is an interesting thread...I'd personally like to hear those who have both recorded to tape AND used the Portico to chime in and let us know their findings.
I doubt the Neve unit has replaced anyone's tape machines, or has it?
Old 10th February 2009 | Show parent
  #15
Lives for gear
 
moon_unit's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jook ➡️
By that same token, one would argue paint and canvas as just a medium. But could Monet do what he did with photography instead of brushes?

Actually, I'm sure he could have, because he was an artist, and a true artist uses whatever is available to him.

But that's getting kind of off the subject.


My concern here is that ... I don't believe that even you would be able to distinguish the difference between two .wav files -- one originally recorded to tape, and the other recorded digitally. I really don't. I've done these tests myself, and I have yet to meet someone who can reliably do so on a consistent basis, in a controlled, double-blind scenario (I certainly know there are guys who can, but not in my immediate social circle).

If you think you can, then I have some examples right here that I'd be happy to post for you, and if you think you can do it, I'd be glad to give you the opportunity to prove yourself.

On the same line of thought, I've never met a single person who couldn't accurately distinguish a saxophone from a xylophone. It's unmistakable.

Now if analog is your bag and you're dead set on it, then that's totally cool and I understand it. But in the context of this argument ... I think you need to find some better analogies / metaphors to use here if you want to illustrate your point. Because the saxophone / xylophone thing isn't cutting it for me. And generally speaking, when someone's analogies aren't holding weight ... it's because the argument isn't holding weight.
Old 10th February 2009 | Show parent
  #16
Lives for gear
 
A LaMere's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by moon_unit ➡️
Actually, I'm sure he could have, because he was an artist, and a true artist uses whatever is available to him.

But that's getting kind of off the subject.

My concern here is that ... I don't believe that even you would be able to distinguish the difference between two .wav files -- one originally recorded to tape, and the other recorded digitally. I really don't. I've done these tests myself, and I have yet to meet someone who can reliably do so on a consistent basis, in a controlled, double-blind scenario (I certainly know there are guys who can, but not in my immediate social circle).
That's a good point... but it isn't THE point.
The advantage of tape is almost as much about time management and workflow as it is about 'the sound' of tape. If you record, from start to finish... tracking and working in tape... there is ABSOLUTELY a LARGE difference in sound and feel of the tracks.

But tape also forces you to actually listen more closely than you would with a DAW in my opinion... it adjusts your workflow completely. This is essentially impossible to replicate. Just the fact that you have to rewind and WAIT to hear the last take.. and then rewind again to take another... it changes everything in my opinion.

The bottom line is, that it's a different medium.

I'll buck against the trend and say "HELL YEAH", if you can record to tape at home... then by all means. DO IT. But.. I'm unsure you can do it for $2000.
If you could, I'd already be doing it.

Setting up reels, diagnosing problems with tape etc is no different than working with other mediums in my opinion. I diagnose problems with my DAW... the problems are just different when working with tape. Most of us would adjust appropriately..

If you are leaning the other way at all, I do think nearly the same effect can be achieved using different tools like the anamod, etc though I have no direct experience with the two that you've mentioned.

It's also worth mentioning that with along all the 'advantages' of tape...
there are certainly some dis-advantages as well. Some of the worst recordings I've ever made were made, using tape.

Good luck.
Old 10th February 2009 | Show parent
  #17
Lives for gear
 
aermotor's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I've got an old Teac 2340 1/4", just fired it up last night, recorded my master to it, then off the tape back to PT, sounds awesome, fits the project I'm working on, but I would almost use it all the time at the end stage, smooths everything out, gets rid of the digital junk and seems to glue it all together to me. I think it' worth it if that's the sound you want, it's really not even hard too. Tons of new tape can be found on ebay fir cheap, the naysayers here are prolly the ones using 1"-2" which is an investment for sure. But get a simple 14" or 1/2" and see how you like it.
Old 11th February 2009 | Show parent
  #18
Lives for gear
 
Fleaman's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by videoracer ➡️
>>Now.. that's just in your head. Why can't you exploit the attributes of the medium to make it part of the art?<<

All fine and well, but if you want the analog sound, you can't half-ass it. Going the Portico or Anamod isn't going to cut it. There's plenty of plugins that will do the same thing. Don't be fooled just 'cause it says Neve or costs some ridiculous amount of money. They'll all EMULATORS.

.
Have you used/heard the Anamod???

I noticed that other posters here are commenting on how they don't think the Anamod can 'cut it', even thought they've never heard or used one

I have a HEDD, Fatso and an Anamod (w/351 card), for 'tape', the Anamod CUTS IT.

I've heard the portico----sorry, doesn't cut it.
Old 11th February 2009 | Show parent
  #19
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Hi! New to the forum, but loved the discourse in this thread and had to chime in.

I'm mostly a DAW user and this is mostly due to cost constraints/desire for compatibility/storage constraints. I still very much prefer to punch rather than paste, get a performance rather than create from spare parts. I prefer to move a mic/change a mic rather than tweak knobs or tweak "knobs." It is perfectly possible to achieve something like a tape work flow even in the digital age. I don't think the digital medium is so much to blame for the seeming emphasis on convience over performance so much as misguided/lazy artists/producers/engineers, etc. I always know I'm going to have a good session when an artist says to me, "Can I go back and punch the second chorus?" I am pretty good at predicting a frustrating session when an artist says to me, "You can just go back and paste the first chorus over the second one, right? The first one was way better."

I'm not quite sure what your sonic quality output requirements are because this thread quickly turned into a philosophical debate (not that I'm complaining), but I can recommend a Fostex Model 80 if you think analogue is definitely the way you want to go and don't want to break the bank. They're fairly easy to use, sound quality is reasonable (certainly better than cassette), maintanance is not too difficult, the tape isn't so terribly expensive or hard to locate, and with the judicious aplication of Ebay, you can put together a completely usable rig (even assuming you need a board, etc) for less-than to right around $2000. I've used one and was pleased with the outcome. The band was looking for a mid-60's, off-radar, garage-type sound and we certainly achieved every bit of that.
Old 11th February 2009 | Show parent
  #20
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoundWeavers ➡️
how about this

get a cheap used 2-track machine (see BlevinsAudio.com )

record your tracks to tape first, then capture tape output to your DAW

you can re-use/re-record on your tape also.

you can even capture your final mix to 2-track tape.
+1 on that? Ever thought about a GOOD stereo VCR? Im gonna do a thread on this one......
Old 11th February 2009 | Show parent
  #21
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by moon_unit ➡️
Quote:
Originally Posted by jook
By that same token, one would argue paint and canvas as just a medium. But could Monet do what he did with photography instead of brushes?
Actually, I'm sure he could have, because he was an artist, and a true artist uses whatever is available to him.
He couldn't have done what he did. He would've done something totally different. It probably would have also been something of artistic merit. But it wouldn't be the style and methods he developed with brush work. The limitations of his medium inspired his art to use the heavy imprint of brush strokes to his advantage.

To me, it seems like you're arguing that the medium has no influence in the reality of the art created, and I think that's a misconception. There's more to art than just the meaning, or the intention of it's creator. If that's all you cared about, then you'd be better off writing a letter - it's a far more accurate medium to translate a message and intent across without distortion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by moon_unit ➡️
My concern here is that ... I don't believe that even you would be able to distinguish the difference between two .wav files -- one originally recorded to tape, and the other recorded digitally. I really don't. I've done these tests myself, and I have yet to meet someone who can reliably do so on a consistent basis, in a controlled, double-blind scenario (I certainly know there are guys who can, but not in my immediate social circle).
This is meaningless. It depends on what sort of sounds you're going for, and what you have recorded in the first place. If you are going for a clean, accurate reproduction of the live sound, and you achieve this on both recordings, then sure, it might be hard or impossible to pick one from the other.

But if you have one recording which is purposely exploiting characteristics of tape, with heavy saturation, and all sorts of tape artifacts, then no, it's quite likely you won't be able to create a digital recording that's identical. On the other hand, you might get close, that's the whole point in me asking about the Anamod and the Portico.

The question was never about whether or not you can make recordings that sound similar or identical in digital or tape. The argument was whether tape has any sonic attributes and characteristics which are unique and difficult to achieve with digital.

Quote:
Originally Posted by moon_unit ➡️
On the same line of thought, I've never met a single person who couldn't accurately distinguish a saxophone from a xylophone. It's unmistakable.
If you prefer, the original analogy in my earlier post was saxophone and a sampler. I'm quite sure plenty of people will confuse a sample of a saxophone to an actual saxophone. But I think you would agree they both play very differently and inspire you to make very different sounds.

Quote:
Originally Posted by moon_unit ➡️
But in the context of this argument ... I think you need to find some better analogies / metaphors to use here if you want to illustrate your point. Because the saxophone / xylophone thing isn't cutting it for me. And generally speaking, when someone's analogies aren't holding weight ... it's because the argument isn't holding weight.
To further derail (to some people's chagrin I'm sure), but clearly because we're both enjoying the philosophical aspect of the debate here, I have to say that this is daft logic. I can give you the most meaningless argument as to why the earth is round (e.g. "because oranges are also round"), that doesn't stop it from being true!

The analogy was originally used in context to describe the value of "sound" in contrast to "song", which was something you or videoracer alluded to as being irrelevent. You've taken it out of context and used it as a comparison to tape vs. digital. Of course it doesn't hold any weight when you do that.

The actual argument I ever made was: there's no simple right or wrong, because it depends on what each of us are pursuing in our art. To say that I'm not allowed (or that I have misplaced values) to treat a medium as an instrument is frankly, ridiculous.

The real difference in our understanding is evident here in your earlier post:

Quote:
Originally Posted by moon_unit ➡️
Since it's inception, the goal of any recording medium has been to give a highly accurate reproduction of a sound source. We now have that capability, and it's available to anyone, very inexpensively and on a mass level that we never could have dreamed of being possible. 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.
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.
Old 11th February 2009 | Show parent
  #22
Lives for gear
 
moon_unit's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Alright, Jook.

Let's just get at least one thing straight here:

Your analogies / metaphors ... still completely suck. But then again, since this isn't a poetry or creative writing message board ... I will forgive you.

Since you mention that your intent is to purposely distort and/or saturate the tape medium in order to create an intentional and deliberate effect ... then I can see the logic behind wanting to use tape. You're certainly not going to get any worthwhile saturation / distortion effects by slamming your converters. So if that's the goal, then going the tape route could be a lot of fun and dare I say, inspirational.

Friends?
Old 11th February 2009 | Show parent
  #23
Lives for gear
 
uncle duncan's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I would suggest that the digital medium, with decent convertors, decent headroom, and a high sample rate would present an accurate reproduction of the sound event with no coloration, or "digital trash" as one poster put it. At that point, you could mix to tape, or even run busses out through a tape deck and back in again, using more saturation for each buss depending on the desired result. The idea that you need to degrade the signal of every source with tape on the way in is silly, since you can easily do it later.

However, if degrading the signal on input is your goal, you could always record through a tape deck, taking the signal of the playback head into your DAW. Then you could have a keystroke command that would nudge the track back into alignment by a set number of samples, since the delay between the record and playback head would be constant, regardless of the tempo of the song.
Old 12th February 2009 | Show parent
  #24
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by moon_unit ➡️
Alright, Jook.

Let's just get at least one thing straight here:

Your analogies / metaphors ... still completely suck. But then again, since this isn't a poetry or creative writing message board ... I will forgive you.
Haha! On the contrary, I am typically known for awesome analogies! However, that is often over (or more often, after) a few beers, and I think you might change your mind once we've had a few pints

Quote:
Originally Posted by moon_unit ➡️
Since you mention that your intent is to purposely distort and/or saturate the tape medium in order to create an intentional and deliberate effect ... then I can see the logic behind wanting to use tape. You're certainly not going to get any worthwhile saturation / distortion effects by slamming your converters. So if that's the goal, then going the tape route could be a lot of fun and dare I say, inspirational.

Friends?
You've got it. I have respect for anyone who questions values, is able to get his mind across and still stay open to people's differing perspectives.
Old 12th February 2009 | Show parent
  #25
Lives for gear
 
A LaMere's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jook ➡️
Haha! On the contrary, I am typically known for awesome analogies! However, that is often over (or more often, after) a few beers, and I think you might change your mind once we've had a few pints
Hmm... strange... I think that same thing about myself.

ALL OF MY ANALOGIES INSTANTLY IMPROVE AFTER MYSELF AND EVERYONE IN THE ROOM HAS HAD A FEW BEERS.

Must be a world-wide phenomenon for a few of us???
Old 13th February 2009 | Show parent
  #26
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
>>+1 on that? Ever thought about a GOOD stereo VCR? Im gonna do a thread on this one....<<

So how exactly do you plan to sync up all the tracks? Say you have 12 tracks you want to record. That's at least 6 stereo takes. How do you plan to sync up all those tacks in the digital domain? Are you going to fly them in and snip them up and align them all as the song goes on?

Technically, you CAN do it with a stereo deck, but it would need independent channel recording capability (which many open reel decks had, not sure any VCRs ever did). Of course, you can only record one track at a time. This is because you need to run a sync tone on one track so you can slave the DAW to follow the analog deck's wow and flutter when digitizing. That's the only way you're going to stay sync'd. Going at it one track at a time is not the most practical way to go at it. What if you need a stereo spread, or want to multitrack a drum set?

You'll also need a sync tone generator that the interface and/or DAW can read. The simplest practical one is FSK with MIDI SPP. I can't think of a modern DAW that can't read that. This way all you have to do is feed the sync tone through the A/D (that has a sync input). SMPTE is another. If you don't have a generator, you can use a prerecorded sync tone that can be found on some test CDs. You might even find one on the 'net to download. You can use a MIDI SPP generator like this as well:
Cooper PPS-2 Midi/Tape Synchronizer Lower Priced !!! - eBay (item 280312398245 end time Feb-18-09 05:48:41 PST)
Cheap!

Technically you're supposed to leave an empty track between the sync track and your music tracks so the sync tone doesn't "bleed" into your recordings, but if you stripe first and record a hot enough signal it won't really bleed.

This is why realistically you would need at the very minimum a 4-track, and for more practical reasons an 8-track. This would allow you not only to have a "buffer" track if you wanted it, but it would also allow you to stay in the analog domain long enough to "get a groove going" on your song if you're multitracking, and gives you "space" to work in if you're recording multiple instruments/voices live.

I once did a midi project that I used live drums on this way. I use a Yamaha MT2X portable 4 track deck with a SMPTE strip and a mono mixdown of the midi data. I rented time in a rehersal studio and brought my drummer friend. I then recorded a live stereo mix of a drum set using a '58 on the kick and flying two PZMs on each side of the set. The drummer referenced the mono mixdown.

I used a SMPTE track that I got off this CD:
THE ULTIMATE TEST CD WOODFORD MUSIC WMCD 1112 (537743049) - Aukcje internetowe Allegro
It worked like a charm. I don't know if this particular disk is still available, but I'm sure there's other sources of sync tones if you don't have a generator.

The bottom line is that you need to stripe a sync tone on tape if you ever expect to have all your tracks sync'd and in the same groove.
Old 13th February 2009 | Show parent
  #27
Lives for gear
 
Matti's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Now that I didn´t read all of this I´ll comment anyway:
About all the good things with tape require a well maintained professional
recorder measured and biased correctly, do you have the calibration tape for the tape brand you´re using?

Matti
Old 13th February 2009 | Show parent
  #28
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
I don't like digital recordings

I kind of stopped listening to hip hop when DJ Premier sold his 24 track tape machine and bought pro tools. It sounds worse.

I've been listening to 70's reggae, Gregory Isaacs and the sound of the music is really nice. I hate how people get a super strong overly compressed bass guitar sound. Listening to this reggae the bass is soft and fluffy. Really makes life worth living.

Digital hasn't convinced me at all. I'm 32 and listen to music from the 60's on. Hip hop sampling 60's and 70's music meant I listened to alot of vinyl from those times. Jamaican music from that era is really good.

Digital is not softened. I'm really impressed with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Yep, recorded to tape. I really like Dangelo "Voodoo" yep tape. Listen to any hip hop from D&D studios. It sounds so real. Ambient.

Digital has no ambience. No sound. No pleasure. Drums are awful on digital. I'm sure there is music I like that's been recorded to digital. In fact Alborosie's new album "soul pirate" is nice and vintage sounding and all done to pro tools. But still overcompressed.

Perhaps the phenomena of overly limited music and a million vocal layers and less band playing together culture is giving digital a bad name.

I want:
Dynamics. Really good music is being ruined or severly compromised with this extreme limiting at mastering. Ijahman Levi's new album "versatile life" is beautiful music. But squashed too much.

Softened fat drums like James Brown, Led Zep etc etc.

Fat fluffy bass that soothes your soul rather than a powerful tone that annoys me.

That new york deep vocal sound of early 90's hip hop like Tribe called Quest, Digable Planets, etc etc.

I reckon alot of the opinions on gearslutz are frikkin nerdy and bull****. I reckon for every opinion on this bull**** forum people should have a link to music they are making and it has to be 320kps at least.

Tape is so lovely. Digital has really made me slow down on my music buying/listening. Should I be blaming digital. Maybe not solely.

But I can't think of anything that satisfies me like recordings that were done to tape. New records are a sonic nightmare. A million frikkin sound layers. All clean in your face. Squashed to a block of nonsense.

Am I giving tape too much credit? Maybe. Am I making a false association withy tape era recordings and aesthetics? Maybe.

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.

I have a Logic/Mac studio with MPC and MIDI gear and some guitars and percussion. I make reggae and hip hop sample based hip hop.

I am meditating on the idea of getting a nicish 8 track tape machine and bouncing these 8 elements to individual tracks with varying levels of saturation:
bass drum
bass
stereo vocals bus
stereo instruments bus
stereo drums bus minus the bass drum.

Will this make me a classic hip hop or reggae recording? I don't know. But I have sure convinced myself after years of listening that tape is a major factor. Space. music. breathe of life.
Old 13th February 2009 | Show parent
  #29
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
people compress too much to compensate for the lifelessness of digital .
Drums for sure .
Old 13th February 2009 | Show parent
  #30
Lives for gear
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by moon_unit ➡️
After about three weeks, I started asking myself: "Why the hell am I doing this?" There's no "magical tape sound." It was an ideal I had stuck in my head that had no more basis in reality than a child's imaginary friend.
Really??

I love my tape machine, and it's magical sound. The basis for reality to me is that it sounds different than going straight into Pro Tools.
The frequency response is different, the transients are different, the noise floor is different.
I'm fairly certain it's not in my imagination, I can even see the difference on the computer monitor once it's digitized (if I push really hard). My imaginary friend can tell the difference too.

I think statements like this are tantamount to comparing just about any gear.
Some people like a Marshall JCM800 better than the Line 6 emulation, and there's always going to be some character telling you there's hardly any difference.

I guess, as said around here many times.......YMMV.

📝 Reply

Similar Threads

Thread / Thread Starter Replies / Views Last Post
replies: 57 views: 14920
Avatar for Loopsample
Loopsample 30th September 2019
replies: 104 views: 18066
Avatar for buckan
buckan 28th March 2019
replies: 295 views: 74246
Avatar for anguswoodhead
anguswoodhead 26th March 2013
replies: 1296 views: 181695
Avatar for heraldo_jones
heraldo_jones 1st February 2016
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearspace Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…

Forum Jump
Forum Jump