Login / Register
 
Buying a tape machine and other analog questions
New Reply
Subscribe
untitled73
Thread Starter
#1
26th August 2013
Old 26th August 2013
  #1
Gear interested
 
Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 25

Thread Starter
untitled73 is offline
Buying a tape machine and other analog questions

So basically, I've been recording several rock bands with an MX5050 simultaneously with digital inputs into my DAW and syncing them by manual adjustment. I've been using it on my kick, snare, bass, etc... and with my duet and even firepod preamps/converters I've noticed that I really enjoy the touch that analog gives to these band's sounds and my recordings... the problems are that:

1. The tape machine just died

2. I find myself limited because I can only use 2 tracks

Fortunately, I've found a JH-24 for a relatively good deal (within my budget) that supposedly is in mint condition and supposedly functions well even if it isn't in the prior stated condition. So I have a few questions for GS about purchasing a machine and the plausibility of upgrading to a 24 track machine

My first question, is how exactly can I tell the machine is in good condition? I know a lot of people on GS have suggested hiring a tech to scout it out with me, but I don't know any techs in the NY area who'd be willing to do this. Can they tell the life of the heads upon inspection? Will they be able to tell me if any electronics are on their way out? Also, does anyone know if $2500 sounds about right for a functioning JH-24?

Next, I need to know if it would be plausible to get sixteen inputs out of the tape machine and into my firepods to bounce to digital. I know I like the sound of my current tape machine bouncing to digital even through my firepods, so I don't really mind the sonic values that would be lost recording to 44.1 24bit. This is something still worth doing to me simply because I like how it sounds. Going totally analog isn't within my budget and purchasing analog FX for each channel sounds impractical as of now, but may not be for the future.

So what would be the most plausible way to do this? The way i'm seeing it as of now is that I would need to do all of the recording session to the tape itself (so that the entire song is on the tape) and then play back the tape and record each track's output simultaneously. Is this possible on the JH-24 (meaning do all 24 tracks have their own output on the playback head (I figure this is a dumb question because mixing through an analog board would require this to be possible but it never hurts to ask))? I know it sounds tedious, but I'm not really afraid of the work that would be involved.

If this was possible, another problem I suspect would be getting a monitor mix.... I have a crappy 16 input board, but since i'm not bouncing through it, would it be cool to make an okay monitor mix using it or should I keep it plugged in to the pods and use Logic for monitors (I think my band personally could manage even with the latency, not so sure about all of the others I record). Also, would I need to buy a phantom power box for each input that requires it or does this come included with the JH24?

So if my goal is to record solely to analog and then bounce to digital for mixing (my opinion is made up that I think this sounds great and suits my style even with my crappy a/d's), would this be a good and plausible way to go about doing it?

Thanks a ton for reading, and if any questions at all could be answered, much would be appreciated...

Thanks in advance!

-Dave
untitled73
Thread Starter
#2
26th August 2013
Old 26th August 2013
  #2
Gear interested
 
Joined: Feb 2011
Posts: 25

Thread Starter
untitled73 is offline
Bump
#3
26th August 2013
Old 26th August 2013
  #3
Gear interested
 
Joined: Feb 2013
Location: New Orleans, LA
Posts: 16

TurboT is offline
Dear Dave,

$2500 does sound reasonable for a JH-24; they can go for a good deal more. If you don't know much about tape recorders, I think I would recommend having a tech take a look at it. If you can't get a tech to help you out, definitely make sure you see and hear the machine before putting your money down. An associate of mine in New York tells me good things about Midnight Bob Shuster for MCI tech work.

A tech can tell a good deal about a machine from inspecting it, testing it, and seeing how it runs, although the best way to get a definite answer about head life would be to ask the seller for a head report from someone like John French or Sprague Magnetics. There are some things that a tech can figure out from just looking at the heads, but a head report from a trusted source is really what you want.

JH-24's, like most professional tape machines, have individual track outputs on the repro and record heads, so what I would do is give each of the tape recorder outs a channel on the board and use aux sends or subgroups to build the monitor mix. If you have direct outputs on the board, you can dump each track into Logic, or you could use the board's main stereo output to mix down to digital. JH-24's do not supply phantom power. Hope this helps!


Best,

Chris
#4
26th August 2013
Old 26th August 2013
  #4
Gear maniac
 
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 176

claveslave is offline
$2500 is a sensational deal!!! You can visually check the heads. The erase head will most likely be fine. It takes a lot to mess with those guys. When you look at the record and play heads, check to see if the wear pattern is even from top to bottom, ie., same width all the way down. Ask if and/or how many times the heads have been relapped. Make sure you run the machine with tape and assess the transport operation. If you can, get a test tape and check for all meter and output functions. If all is close to OK then the rest can be fixed if necessary.
#5
27th August 2013
Old 27th August 2013
  #5
Lives for gear
 
analogtodd's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2006
Location: Denver Colorado
Posts: 1,429

analogtodd is offline
I've seen "mint" machines have thousands of dollars worth of electronic issues.
You cannot tell from looking at the heads what kind of shape they are in. You can visually see wear pattern, yes, but that doesn't tell you everything. If its in NY, have someone run the headstack over to JRF, no question about it.

Do you have an MRL, do you know how to set it up? Do you have a han-d-mag? Does it come with tuchels? Manual? remote?
If its in NY, there is no reason a tech couldn't check it out.
__________________
Silo Sound
The place to make records
www.silosound.com
Denver Colorado
todd@silosound.com
#6
27th August 2013
Old 27th August 2013
  #6
Gear maniac
 
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 176

claveslave is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by analogtodd View Post
You cannot tell from looking at the heads what kind of shape they are in.
I beg to differ but whatever. You can easily see if the zenith and azimuth have been correctly calibrated.
#7
27th August 2013
Old 27th August 2013
  #7
Gear interested
 
Joined: Feb 2013
Location: New Orleans, LA
Posts: 16

TurboT is offline
I'm sorry, but I can't agree. If a machine's heads are perfectly visually aligned (a visual alignment being the only type of zenith and azimuth alignment one can perform by just looking at heads), the head's surface may still be worn down, causing improper and irregular contact with the tape. How worn down the heads are determines their condition, alignment is part of proper operating procedure of the gear!
#8
27th August 2013
Old 27th August 2013
  #8
Lives for gear
 
analogtodd's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2006
Location: Denver Colorado
Posts: 1,429

analogtodd is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by claveslave View Post
I beg to differ but whatever. You can easily see if the zenith and azimuth have been correctly calibrated.
You can differ, but you can't see everything you need to see to make an accurate statement about a head with your eyeball.

Yes, you could see the wear pattern, but thats only part of the story.
#9
27th August 2013
Old 27th August 2013
  #9
Gear maniac
 
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 176

claveslave is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by analogtodd View Post
You can differ, but you can't see everything you need to see to make an accurate statement about a head with your eyeball.

Yes, you could see the wear pattern, but thats only part of the story.
What are the other parts of the story?
#10
27th August 2013
Old 27th August 2013
  #10
Gear addict
 
AdamB420's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2006
Location: Sydney AUSTRALIA

AdamB420 is offline
I bought a 24 track Ampex sight unseen interstate years ago. It is not uncommon for a tape machine to be purchased this way, they are so big you can't just send a demo unit!

I hired a local tech that was near where the tape machine lived. The owner of the tape machine will likely expect you to hire a tech to come over and give you a condition report. The tech would actually fire up the machine, check mechanics, head condition, list any spares that come with the deck, and give his professional opinion if it is worth the asking price.

$2500 is pretty amazing. It WILL cost you more money though, just getting it properly aligned and the transport system stable will require a several hour tech visit (even if you know how to do it yourself I like to get a tape machine GURU to tune it when it 1st arrives in a new space).

best of luck, I must admit for me, my 2 inch 24 track has less and less use, usually because of tape stock costs. I have been thinking about letting her go in the next year.. indie punk bands love the idea of tape but never pony up the cash to make it happen!
__________________
Adam Barns

Freelance Engineer and Producer
adambarns.com
#11
27th August 2013
Old 27th August 2013
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Rick Sutton's Avatar
 
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,269

Rick Sutton is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by claveslave View Post
What are the other parts of the story?
Well, just off the top of my head....
Wear deep enough to cause poor hi frequency response.
Head issues causing poor erase depth.
Open windings rendering some tracks unusable.
Erosion on head gaps causing dropouts.
#12
2nd September 2013
Old 2nd September 2013
  #12
Lives for gear
 
donnylang's Avatar
 
Joined: Apr 2010
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 975

donnylang is offline
New Reply Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook  Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter  Submit Thread to LinkedIn LinkedIn  Submit Thread to Google+ Google+ 
 
Topic:
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump

SEO by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.