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hi end 24 track tape machine. What other gadgets?
Old 6th June 2016
  #1
hi end 24 track tape machine. What other gadgets?

I'm working with a new studio that just bought an OTARI MTR90 MKII with remote. Now I have used, privately a 1/4 inch Tascam machine. But grew up with digital. Now what does he need to have besides tape.

Alignment tape?
demagnitizer
cuttingblock
sharp knife
tape to connect tape

New reels with fresh tape.... Some empty reels. some storage boxes....

What else?

I have a wow and flutter meter.... Wich I saved but never used. What else?
We both (studio owner and I) have never ever worked with something like this. There is a 48ch mixer available and fully digital connected.

How much current does this machine at boot draw? 800 watts?

We saw a 24 ch. format converter. by Otari. Are the A/D converters by Otari too? At some point?
The MTR90 MKII has RS232. So it can lock to digital. Any caveats. (Many I suppose)
Old 6th June 2016
  #2
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Sheesh...talk about people posting with Analog prejudice! Ignore that post! And ignore that Boat Anchour type crap about not being able to use that Otari MTR-90 MKII these are great machines more neutral in sound though great to get a very coherent sound from and just recording on 24 track can teach you a great deal.

I'd look for a great Syncronizer from Adam/Smith or Lynx etc, so you can lock to Timecode, though apart from the list you've mentioned grab an Editall tape Splicing block and go JRF magnetics and see how John French works with Analog Recorders, look everyone has to start somewhere and often going back into the past to achieve the Future learned techniques is a great idea.

I'd just be sensible and order a few reeks of 10" tape and Spools and the grab the manual and go for it! Personally I think it's great you want to go back and learn the real Art if recording not just binary crap and codecs etc. Using Analog is an artform in itself and not a bad way to tune up your chops as an engineer,video say 85% on this forum would be phucked if asked to record on 2" 24 Track so more power to you man!

Good for you Man! Enjoy!

Regards
TheLastByte!
Old 6th June 2016
  #3
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Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 

A method to send tones to the tracks for aligning.

I guess you could you use tones from PT signal generator to line up a 2" if you had enough outputs ?
Old 6th June 2016
  #4
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vernier's Avatar
Yep, head demagnetizer, and the ability to work it correctly. Other than that, some tape that isn't sticky.
Old 7th June 2016
  #5
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Whack Doofa's Avatar
Cool man, congratulations! I have thousands of hours on the MTR-90 so I'd be happy to help you if I can answer any questions you have. I do have no idea about the power it draws though.

The only other thing that could come in handy is a stand alone signal generator that can adjust frequency and output in dB and voltage.
You don't need to buy a cutting block as there is one built in to the machine itself.

Try and get a good MRL. They make extremely short versions which can be had quite cheaply (relatively speaking!). We actually had a few issues with accuracy with our last purchase but MRL did fix that quickly to their credit.

EDIT: Try and pick up a couple of Lynx Timeline sync boxes too. They can be picked up for next to nothing and that way you can sync your machine properly by having it chase Pro Tools. Super cool and really useful.
Oh, and I also owned that Otari digital format converter too. A bit of a bitch to use, but high quality.
Old 7th June 2016
  #6
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burns46824's Avatar
I have an MTR-90III. Great machine. Extremely functional, if somewhat lacking in sound quality. I recommend getting the channel cards upgraded with new caps, et cetera. Modern caps have much better specs and you will actually be able to remove some of them because of this...fewer caps = better. This upgrade is not necessary, but, man alive, it really helps for tracks you want more transient response, like kick and synth bass.

If it were me, don't bother with syncing with ProTools. The whole point is to not be tied down to a computer. Force yourself to record entirely on tape and reap the massive sonic benefits.

Make sure to get good cable snakes, i.e. Mogami. I recommend using 2549 whenever possible for your line connections.

Go analog and don't look back. Don't listen to the fearful Slutz!
Old 7th June 2016
  #7
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
sharp knife
single edged razor blade

Quote:
tape to connect tape
splicing tape

Quote:
We saw a 24 ch. format converter. by Otari.
if you are talking about the UFC-24 Universal Format Converter that is to convert one digital format to another digital format. People used to use them to get in and out of DASH machines and the like. I think it was 16 bit.

It has nothing to do with analog tape - although it was made by Otari.
Old 7th June 2016
  #8
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Congrats! Once you go tape, you'll never need Slate!
Old 7th June 2016
  #9
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Single edge razor blades as Joeq mentions

http://www.amazon.com/American-Safet...=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

Make sure you demagnetize it before using it.

Search this site for and read up on the "Clasp" tech of transfering from tape to the DAW. There is a workaround not using their hardware which is very interesting to employ.
Old 7th June 2016
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
there should be some kind of a rule that when a post generates these types of opposing advice that the OP is required to come back in a year's time and report honestly on whether or not they are using the unit and if so, how often.
I totally agree - great idea, so much time and energy is expanded by helping in these scenarios, it should be a requirement like a one year cookie drop etc.
Good thinking joeq!
Old 8th June 2016
  #11
He dudes. It's all good. There is a Midas console. A Tascam DM4800 two Motu 2408MKIII's tied in with a powermac. There is some crasy amount of MOOG's two iso cabs for guitar. Digital drums to samples and then to tape... And some moog pedals tied to an aux of the desk.

There is an HD24 wich can be tied to the analog machine. I mean... now the client doing rock pop trance whatever... has a choice.

It's all about the vibe the endproduct may need.

There will be some fresh tapes.
Old 8th June 2016
  #12
There are RS232 to usb converters. Would these work for SMPTE? Or maybe the MOTU 2408 can help. They can generate SMPTE to TRS. I wonder how to go from TRS to the Otari.
Old 8th June 2016
  #13
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Whack Doofa's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by muziekschuur View Post
There are RS232 to usb converters. Would these work for SMPTE? Or maybe the MOTU 2408 can help. They can generate SMPTE to TRS. I wonder how to go from TRS to the Otari.
The RS232 is for machine control, not SMPTE. The timecode is strictly audio only. If the MOTU can generate SMPTE just send that straight to track 24 of your machine at about -10.

As I mentioned earlier have a look for a pair of Timeline Lynx's. The can receive the SMPTE and generate machine control for your Otari.
The best way to set that up is for your DAW to generate SMPTE, feed that to a Lynx which behaves as the Master unit, then with the other unit in slave mode feed that SMPTE from your tape machine and the RS232 cable goes from the slave to the Otari feeding it machine control instructions to keep it locked solid to the SMPTE from Pro Tools (or whatever DAW).
It's super rock solid that way. You will have control of your tape machine from your DAW. It's a great feeling getting your tape machine running just by hitting the space bar!

EDIT: Just adding that you may want to look for a 16 track block if you can. 2" 16 track is just a staggeringly good sounding format. It kicks the crap out of any other recording medium by country miles!
Old 8th June 2016
  #14
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burns46824's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whack Doofa View Post
EDIT: Just adding that you may want to look for a 16 track block if you can. 2" 16 track is just a staggeringly good sounding format. It kicks the crap out of any other recording medium by country miles!
Good post about SMPTE lock. As for the 2" 16-track format, I think the limiting factor with the MTR-90 is the channel electronics, not the track width. First focus on upgrading those capacitors!
Old 8th June 2016
  #15
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Whack Doofa's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
Good post about SMPTE lock. As for the 2" 16-track format, I think the limiting factor with the MTR-90 is the channel electronics, not the track width. First focus on upgrading those capacitors!
Cheers. We had a pair of MTR 90s and an A827. The Otari's stood up perfectly well. I don't think there is much wrong with the electronics of that deck. What is the upgrade you are talking about?
A 16 track block is more about making the most of the tape rather than overcoming any limitations and is an exaggerated effect. Material comes back sounding "better" (subjectively, of course).
Old 8th June 2016
  #16
Leader tape

This is 2" wide colored, non magnetic tape.

Pro Studios tape studios typically have:

1 x roll of red for the end of the last song on the reel
1 x roll of green - for the front of the tape
1 x roll of white - to separate each take on the ree
Old 8th June 2016
  #17
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burns46824's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whack Doofa View Post
Cheers. We had a pair of MTR 90s and an A827. The Otari's stood up perfectly well. I don't think there is much wrong with the electronics of that deck. What is the upgrade you are talking about?
A 16 track block is more about making the most of the tape rather than overcoming any limitations and is an exaggerated effect. Material comes back sounding "better" (subjectively, of course).
The stock channel card electronics are slowwwww. It's fine for most things, but not for kicks or punchy synth bass parts, for example. The upgrade involves replacing the old caps with new caps and removing some caps altogether. There's probably more to it. My tech does that stuff. Want an audio clip example of the difference between stock and modded?
Old 8th June 2016
  #18
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Whack Doofa's Avatar
Good shout on the leader Jules! Particularly now that 2" is soooo expensive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
The stock channel card electronics are slowwwww. It's fine for most things, but not for kicks or punchy synth bass parts, for example. The upgrade involves replacing the old caps with new caps and removing some caps altogether. There's probably more to it. My tech does that stuff. Want an audio clip example of the difference between stock and modded?
Ahh, interesting. Yes, please if you have some comparative audio to hand I'd love to hear it!
Old 8th June 2016
  #19
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burns46824's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whack Doofa View Post
Good shout on the leader Jules! Particularly now that 2" is soooo expensive.



Ahh, interesting. Yes, please if you have some comparative audio to hand I'd love to hear it!
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/62l2sk7rv...figtzP0ca?dl=0

This was not recorded on tape...the sounds are just passing through the Otari to test the electronics. Tracked at 96 kHz on a Lynx Hilo and bounced to 16/44.1. The differences are obvious enough without keeping it at 96 kHz.
Old 8th June 2016
  #20
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Whack Doofa's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/62l2sk7rv...figtzP0ca?dl=0

This was not recorded on tape...the sounds are just passing through the Otari to test the electronics. Tracked at 96 kHz on a Lynx Hilo and bounced to 16/44.1. The differences are obvious enough without keeping it at 96 kHz.
Thanks ever so much for that. Right, I thought it was quiet! The files you sent are 96 btw.

Yeah, that's interesting. The biggest difference for me was a little low end extension, which presumably is closer to the original sounds?
Seems like a worthwhile mod. Do you know if it was common thing to do?
I'm pretty sure all the machines I've used in and around London (there were quite a few back in the day!) were all stock.
Old 8th June 2016
  #21
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burns46824's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whack Doofa View Post
Thanks ever so much for that. Right, I thought it was quiet! The files you sent are 96 btw.

Yeah, that's interesting. The biggest difference for me was a little low end extension, which presumably is closer to the original sounds?
Seems like a worthwhile mod. Do you know if it was common thing to do?
I'm pretty sure all the machines I've used in and around London (there were quite a few back in the day!) were all stock.
Oh, whoops...I thought I mixed down to 44.1. Oh well, all the better.

The biggest difference, to my ears, is the transient response. Much better on the modded cards. I make synthpop so transient response is extremely important and I don't want my synths and drum machines to lose their original punch.

Yes, I would assume all the Otaris from back in the day were stock...the caps have improved immensely in the past 30 years, from what I've been told. I'm amazed The Human League's Dare sounds so good, considering it was recorded on an MTR-90I in the early 80s. The transient response is pretty decent on that record...probably because the genius Martin Rushent was behind the console!
Old 8th June 2016
  #22
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parkay909's Avatar
+1 on the Lynx or a BTX softtouch, also a "tweaker," tons of isopropyl alcohol and q-tips, dual trace oscilloscope (analog is fine doesn't even need to be nice) for azimuth adjustments, MRL tapes, test oscillator, and a rack of Dolby SR units!

oh yeah, and blank tape.
Old 8th June 2016
  #23
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Whack Doofa's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
Oh, whoops...I thought I mixed down to 44.1. Oh well, all the better.

The biggest difference, to my ears, is the transient response. Much better on the modded cards. I make synthpop so transient response is extremely important and I don't want my synths and drum machines to lose their original punch.

Yes, I would assume all the Otaris from back in the day were stock...the caps have improved immensely in the past 30 years, from what I've been told. I'm amazed The Human League's Dare sounds so good, considering it was recorded on an MTR-90I in the early 80s. The transient response is pretty decent on that record...probably because the genius Martin Rushent was behind the console!
Well, thanks for uploading. Very cool. I wan't really hearing any significant difference in the response, but I don't have bat ears. The differences definitely weren't enough to bother me anyway.

What's the reason for you using the tape machine? Wouldn't a digital system give you a more reliable transient response?
The overall "rounding off" done by the tape itself (and as demonstrated by some electronics) is often seen as a desirable trait. It's certainly part of what I enjoy about tape.
Old 8th June 2016
  #24
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burns46824's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whack Doofa View Post
Well, thanks for uploading. Very cool. I wan't really hearing any significant difference in the response, but I don't have bat ears. The differences definitely weren't enough to bother me anyway.

What's the reason for you using the tape machine? Wouldn't a digital system give you a more reliable transient response?
The overall "rounding off" done by the tape itself (and as demonstrated by some electronics) is often seen as a desirable trait. It's certainly part of what I enjoy about tape.
I prefer the sound of tape, I just want to retain as much signal Integrity as possible. I really am not fond of digital recording. I have done my fair share of it and I have made it sound good, but never as good as a record tracked on analog tape.
Old 8th June 2016
  #25
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Whack Doofa's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
I prefer the sound of tape, I just want to retain as much signal Integrity as possible. I really am not fond of digital recording. I have done my fair share of it and I have made it sound good, but never as good as a record tracked on analog tape.
Fair enough!
Although that sounds slightly counter intuitive to me. I don't really associate tape and fidelity like I do good digital but I'm glad you've managed to get it to work for you.
I take back what I said about the transients. It is definitely obvious. I just wonder what it's like post tape. You don't have audio of that do you?
EDIT: To add, what brand of tape are you using and what level are you recording at?
Old 8th June 2016
  #26
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burns46824's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whack Doofa View Post
Fair enough!
Although that sounds slightly counter intuitive to me. I don't really associate tape and fidelity like I do good digital but I'm glad you've managed to get it to work for you.
I take back what I said about the transients. It is definitely obvious. I just wonder what it's like post tape. You don't have audio of that do you?
EDIT: To add, what brand of tape are you using and what level are you recording at?
I think modern people have a tendency to be extremely polarized. There is a lot of overcompensation in the way that we look at things. If you want transients you have to record digital. If you want color you have to record analog. Both are half-truths at best. Analog recording is more fun and sounds better in my humble opinion.

I actually never did that test while running tape. I did not feel it was necessary after testing the channel cards. Right now my machine only has 2 modded cards and I am using them for Kik and synthesizer Bass. The tape I am running is Pyral 911 at +6, no noise reduction. 30 inches per second.
Old 8th June 2016
  #27
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Whack Doofa's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
I think modern people have a tendency to be extremely polarized. There is a lot of overcompensation in the way that we look at things. If you want transients you have to record digital. If you want color you have to record analog. Both are half-truths at best. Analog recording is more fun and sounds better in my humble opinion.

I actually never did that test while running tape. I did not feel it was necessary after testing the channel cards. Right now my machine only has 2 modded cards and I am using them for Kik and synthesizer Bass. The tape I am running is Pyral 911 at +6, no noise reduction. 30 inches per second.
Haha! I love your use of "Modern People" there.
Yes, I agree. There aren't many of us that actually worked on tape for any significant time so a large amount of what you hear is parroted without any understanding.
It's absolutely more fun, for sure!

I apologize for the continual questions, but do you mind me asking what the cost per card was/would be if you have a rough idea?
Old 8th June 2016
  #28
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burns46824's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whack Doofa View Post
Haha! I love your use of "Modern People" there.
Yes, I agree. There aren't many of us that actually worked on tape for any significant time so a large amount of what you hear is parroted without any understanding.
It's absolutely more fun, for sure!

I apologize for the continual questions, but do you mind me asking what the cost per card was/would be if you have a rough idea?
No apologies necessary. I am getting a quote right now from my tech as to what it will cost per card. I should have that information in the next week or so. He is going to mod a couple more cards and see how long it takes him to do them. Definitely seems worth it, at least for the Rhythm Section. I don't think it's 100% necessary for a lot of other elements, however they will sound like a veil has been lifted, whether or not that is a desired effect.
Old 9th June 2016
  #29
The machine is expected Friday and comes from an incredibly clean studio. Privately owned and that guy probably was an electronics wizzard and an avid cleaner as the machine looks stock and allmost new.

We will take a look at the cards and in what shape they are. I thought the external controller has an SMPTE input wich can be set to EXT. And Motu has spdif connections wich can allso output SMPTE if enabled in the driver. So a rca rca cable between the MTR90 and the DAW and it should work? Another connection (RS232) for MMC.

Thank you on the leader tape q-tips, alcohol and all other stuff mentioned. I saw an EC-101 module ment for the MKIII. Would such a unit fit in an MKII?
Old 9th June 2016
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/62l2sk7rv...figtzP0ca?dl=0

This was not recorded on tape...the sounds are just passing through the Otari to test the electronics. Tracked at 96 kHz on a Lynx Hilo and bounced to 16/44.1. The differences are obvious enough without keeping it at 96 kHz.
Indeed. Quite a difference. But if the amp and speakers (of the listener) are too bad. The fast transients will probably not show.
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