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Building a Simple Analog Recording Rig
Old 8th January 2011
  #1
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Building a Simple Analog Recording Rig

I am looking to build a simple analog recording rig. The idea is to record bands in a rehearsal space, performing live. I do not want to do much manipulation, and am looking for a solution to record a band to tape. Basic nuts and bolts recording setup. Something that will get a nice analog sound.

As per mixing, Ideally I would like to do simple mixes on a small board, analog rather than digitally, though if we have to dump it into Logic/Protools to mix, it's not a big deal. The rig should be somewhat portable.

The purpose will be to get good sounding audio for video projects. Sons Modern is an example. They had bands record live in a room using a basic tascam and 3-4 mics. Their recordings sound pretty good. I want the audio to be good enough that bands would consider using the sessions for EPs, 7" vinyl pressings or small budget releases.

My budget is really tight, though I may be able to get some investment, so if I could get some CHEAP solutions as well as some more IDEAL "Studio" setups, that would be great. I can propose both solutions.

Thanks
Old 8th January 2011
  #2
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikoo69 ➑️
I am looking to build a simple analog recording rig. The idea is to record bands in a rehearsal space, performing live. I do not want to do much manipulation, and am looking for a solution to record a band to tape. Basic nuts and bolts recording setup. Something that will get a nice analog sound.

As per mixing, Ideally I would like to do simple mixes on a small board, analog rather than digitally, though if we have to dump it into Logic/Protools to mix, it's not a big deal. The rig should be somewhat portable.

The purpose will be to get good sounding audio for video projects. Sons Modern is an example. They had bands record live in a room using a basic tascam and 3-4 mics. Their recordings sound pretty good. I want the audio to be good enough that bands would consider using the sessions for EPs, 7" vinyl pressings or small budget releases.

My budget is really tight, though I may be able to get some investment, so if I could get some CHEAP solutions as well as some more IDEAL "Studio" setups, that would be great. I can propose both solutions.
Sorry but not really going to happen. The 'great analogue' sound doesn't come from just being analogue. Going to a DAW doesn't destroy everything, no matter what people might tell you.

The 'great analogue' sound is good sounding rooms (rehearsal rooms seldom are), great pre-amps (not cheap ones), great mics, etc. Tape isn't the magic fix.

If you want to be cheap, you'll get significantly more 'bang for buck' with a digital set up and no matter what they tell you, it will not destroy everything you record into it.
Old 8th January 2011 | Show parent
  #3
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
therealbigd:

i understand. however i am looking for something simple that is not digital. i am not against digital. but for the project i am doing, it must be analog. this isn't going to be a fully functioning studio with many options. i simply need a signal chain to record bands live with between 4-8 mics, the only limitation being that it is analog, not digital.
Old 8th January 2011 | Show parent
  #4
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vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
A decent working two track, couple pre's and couple mics should do it. Revox B77, Tascam 42, Akai M8, or similar.
.
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Old 8th January 2011 | Show parent
  #5
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🎧 10 years
vernier, great suggestions. i'll do some more research on those. but that's the idea...thanks!
Old 8th January 2011 | Show parent
  #6
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rene-lemieux's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier ➑️
A decent working two track, couple pre's and couple mics should do it. Revox B77, Tascam 42, Akai M8, or similar.
.
.
+1 for this.

If you are quick with your ears, and your feet, and can hear a good mix off the bat this would be a great way to go for it... Buy a Sony MX-20 on ebay if you can find one. Wait around on craigslist or kijiji for a good 1/4" 2 track to pop up, and wire it up and go... Mics... thats a whole nother part of the equation I can't get into at the moment (I'm at my dayjob)
Old 8th January 2011 | Show parent
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
What about an Otari 4trk 1/2"? There's must be a bunch floating around from days of yore? You'll need a cal tape/manual and some brain space to keep it humming along.

A console/center piece to make life easy (a 16 channel something),shouldn't be to hard to round up. A Mackie, Allen & Heath etc???

Usable pre's/mics/monitors are a dime a dozen these days. Should be doable for about $3kish with some sluething and patients..

Ron Allaire
Old 9th January 2011
  #8
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🎧 10 years
I'd like to hear more on this too..Im trying to do a similar thing. Wondering about the value of applying a bit of compression with a clean compressor just before things hit tape? Just help protect against big spikes and allow you to keep decent saturation..

I'd be coming out of an old Allen and Heath System 8 and out to tape..1/4 inch 2 track. I have the deck and the board but Im looking for some other ideas and tweaks.
Old 9th January 2011
  #9
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mu6gr8's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikoo69 ➑️
I am looking to build a simple analog recording rig. The idea is to record bands in a rehearsal space, performing live. I do not want to do much manipulation, and am looking for a solution to record a band to tape. Basic nuts and bolts recording setup. Something that will get a nice analog sound.

As per mixing, Ideally I would like to do simple mixes on a small board, analog rather than digitally, though if we have to dump it into Logic/Protools to mix, it's not a big deal. The rig should be somewhat portable.
RCM (Ronan Chris Murphy) occasionally teaches his Home Recording Bootcamps. You might reach out to him about a consultation to help you get the right gear for your goals, budget and room. Ronan's Studio Consulting Page

I highly recommend him. Good guy who likes to help others, and knows what he's talking about...
Old 9th January 2011 | Show parent
  #10
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Drumsound's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Something like an Otari MX5050 or Tascam 38 is pretty portable. 1/2 8-tracks can be had on the cheap and sound pretty good if they've been taken care of. Pair it with one of those little Sony mixers or maybe a Soundcraft or something, and you could have a cool little rig.
Old 9th January 2011 | Show parent
  #11
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dustyreels's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I wanted to record songwriters in this fashion. I got a Pioneer rt-707. It has a "unacceptable" noise ratio, is only 2 tracks - L & R. It was a high end ΒΌ" tape deck for home stereos in the late 70's. It's temperamental as hell.

When I record with a sm7b on vox and a sm81 on the acoustic with Grace preamps (and RNCs) the songwriters jolt when they hear the results. All the corks still lay down a warm sound that blows most ov the studios away around here on my modest level for what they want to hear. These decks can be had for next to nothing. Actually, I paid nothin' for it.

Another alternative on the cheap is to get a decent quality VCR player. Get some decent tape and record on the slowest settings the stereo 2 buss. This requires mixing ahead ov time. You will certainly learn to commit which will put hair on your chest in this biz. Be prepared for trial and error. You will be a better engineer for it even if you switch to digital.
Good luck!

Check out the songs on my myspace page. Sven Hooson, Paul Edelman, Woody Pines, and Will Bradford were all recorded this way.
Old 9th January 2011
  #12
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cdog's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikoo69 ➑️
I am looking to build a simple analog recording rig. The idea is to record bands in a rehearsal space, performing live. I do not want to do much manipulation, and am looking for a solution to record a band to tape. Basic nuts and bolts recording setup. Something that will get a nice analog sound.

As per mixing, Ideally I would like to do simple mixes on a small board, analog rather than digitally, though if we have to dump it into Logic/Protools to mix, it's not a big deal. The rig should be somewhat portable.

The purpose will be to get good sounding audio for video projects. Sons Modern is an example. They had bands record live in a room using a basic tascam and 3-4 mics. Their recordings sound pretty good. I want the audio to be good enough that bands would consider using the sessions for EPs, 7" vinyl pressings or small budget releases.

My budget is really tight, though I may be able to get some investment, so if I could get some CHEAP solutions as well as some more IDEAL "Studio" setups, that would be great. I can propose both solutions.

Thanks
I dont think you have any idea what you are getting into...

Whatever silly reasons you have for wanting to record analog.... reconsider them. Its a huge pain, most decks dont sound HALF as good as a cheap digital interface.

If you can record to a Studer A800, go for it by all means.
Old 9th January 2011 | Show parent
  #13
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dustyreels's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by cdog ➑️
most decks dont sound HALF as good as a cheap digital interface.
Certainly true based on a certain point ov view/preference. But not everyone shares the same tastes (thankfully or art would be boring). And not everyone looks for the easy way.
I say go for it. Like I said before you will come out better off whether you stick to this kind ov approach or not.
Old 9th January 2011 | Show parent
  #14
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by cdog ➑️
most decks dont sound HALF as good as a cheap digital interface.
Indeed. heh

Cheers,

Otto
Old 9th January 2011 | Show parent
  #15
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dustyreels's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ofajen ➑️
Indeed. heh

Cheers,

Otto
Give a listen to the aforementioned tunes on my myspace (link in sig) You can't say a cheap interface sounds better. Different sure, but I way prefer the sound tape adds before converting to digital. Noise and all. And it it by all accounts a cheap deck.
Old 9th January 2011 | Show parent
  #16
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doug hazelrigg's Avatar
 
9 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
I can understand the desire for analog. 800's are a bit hard to find but A80's are all over the place. To preempt the inevitable posters who will say the A80 sucks, I say, give me a break -- it's a Studer after all
Old 9th January 2011 | Show parent
  #17
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikoo69 ➑️
therealbigd:

i understand. however i am looking for something simple that is not digital. i am not against digital. but for the project i am doing, it must be analog. this isn't going to be a fully functioning studio with many options. i simply need a signal chain to record bands live with between 4-8 mics, the only limitation being that it is analog, not digital.
Go for it. A 1/2" 8-track and small mixer can sound excellent, and using that rig requires good analog playing and recording habits.

Cheers,

Otto
Old 9th January 2011 | Show parent
  #18
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dustyreels's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ofajen ➑️
Go for it. A 1/2" 8-track and small mixer can sound excellent, and using that rig requires good analog playing and recording habits.

Cheers,

Otto
Fer real! Why the hell not?! Just don't spend a bunch ov money. Be smart about it. Go to garage sales and get a vcr. Use what ever cheap mixer your band uses live and you will at least find out if it's the direction you want to go. And you will learn a many great things from the experience.

Recording is a CREATIVE process!!!
Old 9th January 2011 | Show parent
  #19
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JQ127's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I think this is a great idea. Good for you for doing it this way. There's something about a tape machine and console that musicians love. They'll know you're going the extra little bit to get the best sound you can. You'll have a fun time using it and heck even finding it and getting it all hooked up is exciting. I'd think a smaller Soundcraft or Soundtracs Topaz would work for a console. If you can find a little 1/2" 8 track you're all set. I know of a few working Tascams going for peanuts. Grab a couple of DBX compressors or one of those RNC compressors and there ya go. As others have said keep your eyes open on ebay and here and craigslist. The tape machine you want is out there-you just have to find it. Good luck and keep us updated on how you make out.
Old 9th January 2011 | Show parent
  #20
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🎧 10 years
Okay so the components for a basic rig would be:

8 Mics into
a Mixer with 8 channels ins/outs into
a 1/2" 8 Track Tape Machine

And then an RNC or other compressor for the vocal chain, possibly another compressor or two for anything else in the signal that may need some compression?

Just want to make sure I have the signal chain straight, before figuring out which components I am going to look for.
Old 9th January 2011 | Show parent
  #21
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dustyreels's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikoo69 ➑️
Okay so the components for a basic rig would be:

8 Mics into
a Mixer with 8 channels ins/outs into
a 1/2" 8 Track Tape Machine

And then an RNC or other compressor for the vocal chain, possibly another compressor or two for anything else in the signal that may need some compression?

Just want to make sure I have the signal chain straight, before figuring out which components I am going to look for.
That's one way to do it. Be sure to consider all the cabling, stands, monitoring, tape, ect. that will be necessary so when you figure out your budget you don't run into as many surprise expenses - also, don't forget to budget in some surprise expenses! heh
Old 9th January 2011 | Show parent
  #22
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikoo69 ➑️
Okay so the components for a basic rig would be:

8 Mics into
a Mixer with 8 channels ins/outs into
a 1/2" 8 Track Tape Machine

And then an RNC or other compressor for the vocal chain, possibly another compressor or two for anything else in the signal that may need some compression?

Just want to make sure I have the signal chain straight, before figuring out which components I am going to look for.
If you have the dough(?). Easy as pie. Don't worry about the naysayers. It's only been done 10 billion times since the mid to late 60's. "You don't know what your getting into" should be reserved for having kids.

Ron Allaire
Old 9th January 2011 | Show parent
  #23
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dustyreels's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ronzie ➑️
"You don't know what your getting into" should be reserved for having kids.
Hands down the wisest statement ever on Gearslutz. heh
Old 9th January 2011 | Show parent
  #24
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikoo69 ➑️
Okay so the components for a basic rig would be:

8 Mics into
a Mixer with 8 channels ins/outs into
a 1/2" 8 Track Tape Machine

And then an RNC or other compressor for the vocal chain, possibly another compressor or two for anything else in the signal that may need some compression?

Just want to make sure I have the signal chain straight, before figuring out which components I am going to look for.
If you want to mix it straight off the tape/board you'll need a 2-track machine of some kind and probably a reverb and/or delay.
Old 9th January 2011 | Show parent
  #25
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TapeOpAl ➑️
If you want to mix it straight off the tape/board you'll need a 2-track machine of some kind and probably a reverb and/or delay.
Yeah, a 1/4" 2-track machine that can run at 15 ips would be the logical companion. Otari MX-5050 series and Tascam 32 or 42 are likely to be cheap, available and competent if well treated. Revox B77 and the others mentioned are fine, too.

Cheers,

Otto
Old 26th January 2011 | Show parent
  #26
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Hey,
How's it comming. I just bought an mx5050 8sd off e-bay. I'll let ya know how it sounds. I have an mtr-10 and a soundcraft 400b and an array of outboard compressors. I picked up the 5050 mainly for drums, then dumping to digital. This sort of thing is becoming more popular. No, its 2" or even 1", no it will never sound like 2" or 1", but for local bands who just want a diferent sound it's pretty cool. Hope your project is serving you well. By the way, I have about $1,150 dolars invested in the mtr, 5050 and soundcraft. The heads from the mtr have been to JFR and are in tip top shape. Next step is to start re-capping and re-chiping.
Old 27th January 2011 | Show parent
  #27
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
What does everyone think of this unit?

Tascam 388.

How does something like this compare to other affordable 8 track reel to reels, but with a separate mixer?

I'm thinking I can start out with this unit to practice. The owner said the drive belt must be replaced, but otherwise it works fine.

Thoughts? I can get it as a trade

Old 27th January 2011
  #28
Gear Guru
 
theblue1's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikoo69 ➑️
I am looking to build a simple analog recording rig. The idea is to record bands in a rehearsal space, performing live. I do not want to do much manipulation, and am looking for a solution to record a band to tape. Basic nuts and bolts recording setup. Something that will get a nice analog sound.

As per mixing, Ideally I would like to do simple mixes on a small board, analog rather than digitally, though if we have to dump it into Logic/Protools to mix, it's not a big deal. The rig should be somewhat portable.

The purpose will be to get good sounding audio for video projects. Sons Modern is an example. They had bands record live in a room using a basic tascam and 3-4 mics. Their recordings sound pretty good. I want the audio to be good enough that bands would consider using the sessions for EPs, 7" vinyl pressings or small budget releases.

My budget is really tight, though I may be able to get some investment, so if I could get some CHEAP solutions as well as some more IDEAL "Studio" setups, that would be great. I can propose both solutions.

Thanks
I checked out the first two vids on that page. (The B&W ones with the stark white look. Great video production design, btw.)

You shouldn't have any problem capturing at least that quality of recording. Throw up a couple of mics and play. Don't use a cassette -- because the flutter will be too bad, use a stereo or 4 track TASCAM reel to reel or better (hiss will be a issue, of course; I didn't hear much hiss there, aside from what sounds a little more like A/C or forced air noise in the studio/shooting space). You might consider one or more PZM (pressure zone) mics on the floor as they have a wide range of capture and will grab low bass that other cheap mics might not get as easily. (But if you're just trying to get this level of sound, I wouldn't sweat it.)

Frankly, whether you use analog tape or digital isn't probably going to make any difference to anyone at that fidelity level. The great thing about desiring this quality of sound is that it's the easiest possible thing to get, pretty much.
Old 27th January 2011 | Show parent
  #29
Gear Guru
 
theblue1's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dustyreels ➑️
Give a listen to the aforementioned tunes on my myspace (link in sig) You can't say a cheap interface sounds better. Different sure, but I way prefer the sound tape adds before converting to digital. Noise and all. And it it by all accounts a cheap deck.
It sounds fine. But it's certainly a sound someone could get digitally. Not sure why someone would think differently.

(Your MySpace page, like pretty well all MySpace page, just crawls. You didn't ask for advice, but I'd strongly suggest moving to an alternate web platform. There are a lot out there and almost all of them work better than MySpace. Today's surfers start clicking away from pages in a couple of seconds if they have to wait. [I'm a web guy; I've seen the statistics.] Do yourself a favor... since MySpace is failing anyway, get out before the roof falls the rest of the way in.)
Old 27th January 2011 | Show parent
  #30
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
thoughts on the tascam 388?
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