how to record on tape

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by Username1, Jul 23, 2012.

  1. Username1

    Username1 Senior Member

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    is it something worth learning, i was touring a school here in LA to learn how to record on a professional level, and frankly was totally underwhelmed, other than learning a board, i can teach myself a DAW-- but the thing that attracted me was the 24 track 2 inch tape machine-- boy would i love to learn that

    so it's a two part question, how do you use a tape machine versus interface/ daw?

    and secondly, is it worth it to do so? maybe i'm just fighting the future thinking that tape has some sort of magical property.

    thanks in advance

    --dylan
     
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  2. TheDevice

    TheDevice Senior Member

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    You can pound the signal to tape to get a nice natural saturated compression, do that with a DAW and you get snap crackle pop. Use a razor blade to splice and your punch in/out has to be accurate cuz there is no "undo". Be careful with the transport, let the tape come to a full stop before you change directions otherwise you may snap the tape and have to pull out the scotch tape and do a quick repair.

    It's gotten kinda hard to find 2" tape, a shame or I would pop on a nice used MCI or Otari. Have fun with it if you can get access to a machine and tape, really awesome way to create some art.
     
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  3. Lowdown

    Lowdown Senior Member

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    ... double post weirdness ...
     
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  4. Lowdown

    Lowdown Senior Member

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  5. slapshot

    slapshot Senior Member

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    no idea how i just know you should.it sounds great
     
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  6. DRF

    DRF Senior Member

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    I used to record on the old Tascam 4 track(cassette),I bought it second hand and the guy told me he paid $1800 for it new!,don't know but it was cool and then I graduated to a Teac 4 trk reel to reel-which I still have-that thing was neat and the sound was noticably better,I used to drool over the big old 2in reel machine at the music store but just around that time ADAT was out and I bought an Alesis. They are all very mechanical and straight forward. Nothin like it.
     
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  7. Electroman67

    Electroman67 Senior Member

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    DRF did you type one extra 0 ? I bought one of those new myself and im thinkin it was closer to $180 :hmm:....i took mine back a few days later and upgraded to the 8 channel model....less hiss.
    Dylan i've only used the DAW for 2 songs so im green,i've used the tascam for 15 songs....
    the DAW has everything to do a full studio recording, you dont need an amp or any effect pedals, or a drummer even.

    The copy and paste is a god send ,sing ONE chorus and paste it vs. tryin to sing it perfect again, and again on those high backgrounds.
    As others have said, the cut in and outs on tape can be loud,and also as far as a cassette tascam is concerned...the manual suggests not using longer than 60 minute tapes for dragging purposes.
    Its cool that you're going to school to run sound,you will soon have your own opinion of digital vs. analog and i'll be interested to hear your opinions on your own question.

    One other thing about tape,you're gonna need a notebook to keep notes on each songs settings on each tracks mix vs. the DAW does it for you.
     
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  8. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    Tape is a wonderful medium. You can control the way the source is processed by how hard you hit the tape, the speed the tape is travelling and other adjustments. I think ATR is fantastic tape. Stay away from NOS ampex 456 or the variants, you see it on e-bay and while it might look like a good deal, there was a problem with tape deteriorating and shedding with age (rendering it useless).
    I like to record onto tape and then send it to the DAW directly so that I have eding and automation capabilities. Best of both worlds!
     
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  9. Bing17

    Bing17 Senior Member

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    I seen 2" machines come up from time to time for stupidly low prices. Think of one of those machines like a Porsche; it will cost you $1500 just to change the oil.

    Not to mention the miles of cable you will need for a 24 track set-up.

    And, take into consideration Freddy G is a pro and a pretty handy fellow with electronics. He has the luxury of using tape!

    I'd remain digital and use saturation plugins. I sold my 1/2 inch 8 track because it just wasn't worth the hassle or decreased workflow.
     
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  10. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    If tape is such a wonderful medium them why is it that most demos and low budget recordings from back in the day sound so crappy? Seriously, listen to homerecordings from the 80's, done on Teac or Fostex reel-to-reels, yuck, do you really think the rooms or mics have gotten better since then? IMO, the advent of modular MTR's ( DA-88/ ADAT- both tape-based, but digital) is what put recording on moderate budgets over the top and the DAW is just a logical extension of that revolution. Many old-timers got rid of their midprized reel-to-reels because the DA-88 was the first machine in their pricerange where the recorded signal actually sounded like the signal fed into it. Yes, a perfectly aligned Studer, 3M or Ampex sounds wonderful but it takes a bit of knowledge, effort and money to get results like that. And plug-ins like UA's Studer A800 let you do all the cool things you can do with tape. I think tape is like Rock'n'Roll, it might be crap but your elders have no use for it so it must be good. Many great recordings have been made w/o tape and I don't think that you or anyone else can hear the difference. Just my opinion.
     
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  11. Username1

    Username1 Senior Member

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    I kind of was turned off by the tour of the school, which was unfortunate as i really want to learn how to run sound professionally, i wonder how much i can teach myself (i try and horatio alger it as much as possible)

    sounds like a good compromise, the tone of tape with the ability to undo a mistake hahah! How insane is the learning curve for tape recording, and how much would a real 2 inch machine cost preferably 8+ tracks, i'm talking like they have in studios, not home use reel to reel's or cassette recorders.

    Got to be honest, as much as i love the sound of tape, i think it just might not be worth it anymore...
     
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  12. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Senior Member

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    I've only recorded to cassettes, for tape. I don't think that they have the same benefits that good 2" tape has, but even so, they were much more forgiving of a hot signal than a digital platform. The demos on my soundcloud were all done to tape, and when done right, on a good setup, I could get decent sounds happening.

    One thing that isn't mentioned as a benefit for tape, but which I like, is that you only have a limited number of tracks. That means that you have to make musical decisions which force you to pare down your tracks -- you have to stop and think about what is important to the song. You don't have that limitation when you can do infinite bounces. Granted, you can get better sound on dense tracks digitally, but I like working around the limitations of equipment. That is often a boon to creativity, in my experience.

    Because you missed the opening bracket on the closing tag: [/quote]

    Because the tape is a physical medium and it degrades over time. Tape sheds magnetic particles every time it's rolled past heads. That reduces its ability to carry information -- sound.

    Personally, if I had the ideal setup, I'd record my guitars and drums to tape, and then fly them into a digital environment.
     
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  13. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    Why did low budget recordings sound so crappy? For exactly the same reasons most low budget recordings today still sound crappy... inferior engineering skills! I will concede though that today's budget quality digital interfaces sound much better than budget quality tape machines from back in the day.
    But I was talking about a well maintained, professional quality machine in the hands of a skilled engineer.


    :wow: What an arrogant way to state your opinion. Maybe you meant "I can't hear the difference". Do you think anyone would go through all the trouble and expense of using tape if they couldn't hear the difference?
     
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  14. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    I agree on this aspect. One of the biggest drawbacks of DAWs (or nearly "unlimited" analog tracks as well) is the fact that the engineer never has to commit to anything


    I know that many sounded awful when they were originally made because I worked around that stuff back then. Getting an MTR to perform a "simple" task (from today's viewpoint) such as recording the incoming signal faithfully (input=output) was simply not possible with many of the recorders of that era. And yes, tape degrades, not just over long periods of time, even on a well aligned machine the tape will shed particles against the play and recordheads, resulting in HF loss. Just ask the guy who recorded "Rumors"
     
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  15. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    I couldn't disagree more. On the equipment side digital capture and editing/mixing (audio and video) has all but eradicated the once impenetrable divide between a pro setup ($$$$) and the project/ budget facility but it has also greatly reduced the demands on the engineer, audio as well as video. (In video it is actually even more evident) Do I like this? No way, since I make my living in engineering and it bothers me how the technology breads technical ignorance, but that doesn't change the fact that ignorant kids with laptops, an interface and a few cheap mics can make a recording today that would have been impossible to achieve even with a semi-pro setup back in the good old days.
    Regarding the upper echelons of tape based recording I still don't believe that tape offers anything that can't be modeled successfully. Again, do I like the fact that all the fun stuff you could do to a tape machine to make it sound a certain way is now available as a preset? No way, but that's the world we live in, any idiot can perform miracles because there's an app for that somewhere.


    No, I meant exactly what I said (and I did say that "I think...") The studies I have seen done on this subject have proven this quite nicely. As to why anyone would go through the trouble and expense, well, this is a (vintage) guitar forum, right? So why does anyone go through the trouble and expense of owning/ playing vintage guitars when every discussion about the differences ultimately leads to the conclusion that to the listener the differences are all but impossible to distinguish and that it's a feel thing. I think that tape has an aura of a bygone era where not everyone could just record/ release albums, where you had to be a decent player/ producer/ engineer to be around this stuff, etc.
    IMO, a good engineer will get equally good results regardless of record medium but a mediocre or bad engineer will have a much easier time getting something presentable using a DAW and so does a mediocre musician.
     
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  16. Username1

    Username1 Senior Member

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    so how much would a 2 inch 24 track cost, and where could i find one, do they even still manufacture them?
     
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  17. DRF

    DRF Senior Member

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  18. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    A lot. Maybe not in the initial purchase, but you'll find that they can be like an Italian supermodel. Super high maintenance but when they play nice you're in heaven :D

    I have another solution. This is the way I use tape to get the best of both worlds. Get a high quality 2 track machine and just use the tape to process the source on the way in to the DAW. Lets say I want to record a kick and snare track onto tape and slam it hard. I set up my DAW so that as I'm recording on to the tape the playback head is sending it to the DAW. There is a slight time delay between when the record head prints the signal onto tape and when the playback head plays back the signal because it is a couple of inches away. But all you have to do is to program a sample offest for the incoming track on the DAW software. Cubase 5 lets me do this and I suspect that most other DAWs will as well.
    The beauty of this is that you don't have to worry about time alignment between your digital tracks and the tracks that you ran through the tape. Normally if you wanted a solid sync you'd have to set up a time code track but not when you playback to the DAW input at the same time as you record onto the tape!
     
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  19. Username1

    Username1 Senior Member

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    sounds complicated haha! i can barely master pro tools yet i want to jump in and buy a 24 track, they're expensive, but not overly so-- i will wait until i have the room and need for one of these machines before i buy one, i guess its time to pick up some tape saturation plugins! haha
     
  20. yeti

    yeti Senior Member

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    If you think that THAT sounds complicated then you should hit the engineering books hard. Also be ready for the next set of issues to rear their head such as :
    Noise reduction: yes or no?
    Speed: 15ips vs 30ips, you want better bass or lower noise and better high frequency response
    WTF is IEC (CCIR) or NAB equalization?
    calibrating: Do I really need a test tape?
    what the hell does "Tones at head:1K, 10K, 100Hz +3dB/250"" mean?
    And so on...

    Every old timer I know who used to do align/calibrate these machines BEFORE EVERY RECORDING SESSION is happy that those days are behind us. With a DAW you get a new set of headaches but nothing like this stuff.
     

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