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Printing stereo mix to tape Saturation Plugins
Old 11th February 2017
  #1
Gear Head
 

Printing stereo mix to tape

So I've been mixing on my API 1608 for a while and printing back into protools. I love the sound of the console but wanted to hear my final mixes printed to tape. I'm a young guy and never got the exposure or experience working with tape. So how do I get started in the world of printing to tape? What specifically would I need to purchase for this endeavor and then how would I go about setting it all up?

Thanks
Old 11th February 2017
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ericemery View Post
So I've been mixing on my API 1608 for a while and printing back into protools. I love the sound of the console but wanted to hear my final mixes printed to tape. I'm a young guy and never got the exposure or experience working with tape. So how do I get started in the world of printing to tape? What specifically would I need to purchase for this endeavor and then how would I go about setting it all up?

Thanks

Quite simple. Get a two track 1/4 or 1/2" unit in good shape . 1608 Program out to tape inputs.. tape outputs into AD back into pro tools

I have a Mara 1/4" jh110 2 track and it really does add a lot I find

Helps to have a patch bay
Old 11th February 2017
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snoggin View Post
Quite simple. Get a two track 1/4 or 1/2" unit in good shape . 1608 Program out to tape inputs.. tape outputs into AD back into pro tools

I have a Mara 1/4" jh110 2 track and it really does add a lot I find

Helps to have a patch bay
Thanks for getting back to me. As mentioned earlier....I am a complete newb with tape. What are the benefits associated with choosing one size tape as opposed to the other?

Additionally, aren't there also a lot of calibration protocols involved here? Do I need to buy tools for this?
Old 11th February 2017
  #4
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drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ericemery View Post
Thanks for getting back to me. As mentioned earlier....I am a complete newb with tape. What are the benefits associated with choosing one size tape as opposed to the other?

Additionally, aren't there also a lot of calibration protocols involved here? Do I need to buy tools for this?
I'd also suggest an ampex ATR 102 if you want a bit more "purity" but still tape sonics.

you'll need :

- manual
- tweaker tool - http://www.frys.com/product/1892206?...FQGTfgodTZQF0Q
- alignment tape - Audio Mastering - Recording Studio Tips - 2-Track Analog Machine Alignment
- to learn how to align your particular machine for your particular alignment specs
- a tape machine
- a good batch of tape - which is becoming harder and harder to find.....

Good luck! For me tape is over-rated (sold all my machine long ago and don't regret it), but everyone should try it once in their life.
Old 11th February 2017
  #5
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While the machines suggested are F-ing awesome, for the beginner I suggest you get yourself a used Nagra 3 or 4.

They are mono 1/4 inch machines that need no user calibration and are high end quality pieces of kit.

do your mix, split the stereo file into L+R and then just do a pass for each side.

a solid benefit of doing it this way means that you eliminate crosstalk between the channels, but still get a rich full fat yet highly detailed sound.

Nagras were the tape machine of choice for 30 years the movie business.
Old 11th February 2017
  #6
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Or just use the UAD ATR 102 plugin, where you can change tape formulations or speed, and tweak the alignment, so you can get from Milyer with how that sort of thing works, before you use the real thing.
Old 11th February 2017
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DannyMac View Post
While the machines suggested are F-ing awesome, for the beginner I suggest you get yourself a used Nagra 3 or 4.

They are mono 1/4 inch machines that need no user calibration and are high end quality pieces of kit.

do your mix, split the stereo file into L+R and then just do a pass for each side.

a solid benefit of doing it this way means that you eliminate crosstalk between the channels, but still get a rich full fat yet highly detailed sound.

Nagras were the tape machine of choice for 30 years the movie business.
That's a great idea! Thank you. I'll look into those machines. Why is it they don't require a calibration? Is it just because they're newer technology?
Old 11th February 2017
  #8
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drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ericemery View Post
That's a great idea! Thank you. I'll look into those machines. Why is it they don't require a calibration? Is it just because they're newer technology?
As stable as Nagra's are, I wouldn't trust them to do a separate L/R pass on the 2buss mix. I doubt highly that they will be able to keep a 1 sample sync relationship between L and R head to tail on a song. 1 sample out = the beginning of phasing.

Now if you want to mix mono - then by all means.
Old 11th February 2017
  #9
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andersmv's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
As stable as Nagra's are, I wouldn't trust them to do a separate L/R pass on the 2buss mix. I doubt highly that they will be able to keep a 1 sample sync relationship between L and R head to tail on a song. 1 sample out = the beginning of phasing.

Now if you want to mix mono - then by all means.
Ya, I did this when I was starting out/learning because the studio had one sitting around. I had to include a blip of a click at the beginning of recordings so I could line it up later inside of ProTools. Even then there were occasionally phase and sync issues. In all honesty, it was a cool effect sometimes with rawer sounding singer/songwriter type stuff, but caused problems with bigger mixes.

As someone else suggested, you might want to grab the UAD Ampex plugin and just mess around with it a bit. I've been fortunate to have the real Studer and Ampex machines to compare directly with the UAD stuff and now that I've started my own studio and will be investing in more equipment, I can tell you that I'll never buy the real thing. The UAD stuff does not sound exactly the same as the real thing, but there are just too many variables to factor when comparing older analogue equipment to a digital recreation. I could tweak the UAD plugins and get to the point that flipping between the real thing and the UAD a few times had me second guessing as there was little difference.

I think you're going to find that for most settings on the Ampex, your mix is going to come back sounding practically the same. The thing I like most about it is that you can change the sound quite drastically if you try, but unfortunately a lot of the cool things you can do to mess with the machines will add a bit of noise. With the UAD stuff, you can add or take away as much of that noise as you want and do things you normally couldn't on the old machines without it sounding like a box of pissed off snakes.

Just don't think of something like the ATR as a magic box that's going to make things sound better. If used and calibrated "correctly", things are going to sound pretty much the same (Which was what the machine was designed to do, it's probably the peak of tape technology). It's going to take you a while before you can learn to "mix" into it in a way that pushes it in a pleasing manner, and doing so is not always going to work well.

Like I said, check out the UAD plugin first as I think it's a great representation of what the machine does. I've found that the biggest benefit of tape is the "sum of the parts", and that's one of the reasons UAD did the Studer and the Ampex. Stacking a bunch of tape tracks going into 2 channels of another tape machine can really sound great and "bigger" in a lot of ways. Whenever I mix, I always do a final stem mix. With a modern band type of song, I usually end up with around 10 stereo stems. I put those in a new session and throw the UAD Studer plugin on each of those tracks and then feed them into the ATR on the master buss. I've been doing this for years and no matter what type of music, it always sounds better to me. When soloing individual track and comparing them with and without the tape plugins, there's not much of a difference, but when you compare everything with and without there's always a noticeable change.

I've done that with the real thing going through Neve and Studer consoles, and it's a lot of work to recreate that. You also don't have the luxury of changing tape speeds and recalibrating each track differently like you do with a plugin. The convenience factor to me trumped any sound difference I ever heard between real and digital. My point with all of this though is that the ATR never did that much for me on its own. It's a great machine and when used correctly can really add those few last percentage points to your mix that will make you smile. Just don't be surprised to realize it was made so well that a lot of the time, what goes in is what comes out (unless you really want to do something weird and drastic).
Old 11th February 2017
  #10
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studiostuff's Avatar
 

Forget tape.

And before I get jumped, I worked with tape on a daily basis for over twenty years before I gave it up.

Tape requires nearly constant attention, and as someone here has said; when a tape deck is well adjusted and well built, what you put in is what comes out.

It's an expensive fetish. YMMV
Old 12th February 2017
  #11
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Well part of what I like about the workflow with tape is I don't have to fart around with the settings etc in individual channels

I mix on console and output to 2 track and it sounds awesome to me. It is a fair bit of fiddling though I have to say. Alignment etc. and even though I bought a machine gone over to hopefully eliminate problems. I've had my fair share in the first 9 mos to a year. But the good thing is Mara machines is very responsive and quick to set up Skype sessions and run you thru troubleshooting issues that arise

So I get I working quickly and learn a lot about the machine in the process

I'm a newb basically but I do enjoy the tactile parts of being as full out of the box as I want

I record to 16 track tape

The. I sometimes mix straight to the 1/4" 2 track or I dump what I've done into pro tools

But I've already done my compression and eq while mixing on the console
Then I can edit and automate to my hearts content . I'm still learning and have a long way to go but I really like the analog experience

Expensive though. A lot lol. But most of it I could unload and only take half a bath

I have the UAD ATR 102 and studer etc and for me they aren't the same. Primarily because I just run it thru the real tape machine and it somehow gets bigger and fatter without dealing with presets etc

It's just the way it sounds I actually enjoy doing the alignment etc. but I don't have paying clients that want unlimited recalls. I do have paying customers but it's small time right now. They know massive editing and recall aren't part of the deal

But for the ones that can really play and sing things come together very nicely. Again I'm not a pro just an insane wanna be. But I am getting better all the time lol
Old 12th February 2017
  #12
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andersmv's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snoggin View Post
I do have paying customers but it's small time right now. They know massive editing and recall aren't part of the deal
In what utopia did you find these clients? Haha, only half joking though. That's one reason I stopped doing things to tape. Now that everyone has a DAW in their bedroom and understands what's possible in the recording process, it's just non stop recalls for me no matter how happy clients are with stuff. I'm also way to nice a rarely say "no", so factor that fault into this equation!
Old 12th February 2017
  #13
Gear Nut
 

If it were me, I would take my audio files to a studio with a well maintained 2-track and mix there. It will be far less expensive than buying a machine, fixing it up and getting to know this particular 2-track's capabilities. Then, if you like what you are hearing, take the plunge into analog nirvana.
Old 12th February 2017
  #14
API to tape will put a smile on your ears.
Forget split mono,UAD blah blah or the chorus of it's to hard for a beginner.
Why do people come out of the wood work to discourage or divert using analog?

As a storage medium it still rules.
It has vibe and sounds like MUSIC.
Over-rated?I could write a novel on the B.S. that gets gushed over around here.
Do it and experience something special.
Old 12th February 2017
  #15
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Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
As stable as Nagra's are, I wouldn't trust them to do a separate L/R pass on the 2buss mix. I doubt highly that they will be able to keep a 1 sample sync relationship between L and R head to tail on a song. 1 sample out = the beginning of phasing.

Now if you want to mix mono - then by all means.
This, 100%.

I love tape, and worked almost exclusively that way for years. Any more I'm happy to track and mix in Pro Tools, but I have been mixing on and off to my Studer 2-track, and I think its the perfect modern method to tie to my analog past. Usually I'll take the output of the Studer back into Pro Tools and send 240bit wavs of the tape mixes to mastering. I keep a couple reels of 1/4 handy.
Old 12th February 2017
  #16
An expensive endeavor, when it comes to time and money spent to do right. .. and then when a/b'd to the digi mix can win some of the time but ime, not most of the time. Full out tracking and mix to tape can be another story,
but it seems you're talking 2 mix lay-back. 2¢ Good luck
Old 12th February 2017
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andersmv View Post
Ya, I did this when I was starting out/learning because the studio had one sitting around. I had to include a blip of a click at the beginning of recordings so I could line it up later inside of ProTools.
If you set up the machine as a hardware inserts then you don't have to worry about lining up tracks (on the stereo mix that is )
Old 12th February 2017
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andersmv View Post
In what utopia did you find these clients? Haha, only half joking though. That's one reason I stopped doing things to tape. Now that everyone has a DAW in their bedroom and understands what's possible in the recording process, it's just non stop recalls for me no matter how happy clients are with stuff. I'm also way to nice a rarely say "no", so factor that fault into this equation!
Yes it's true!! Lol. I'm set up to track the whole band live to tape. But I only work with people I pick and I'm a great deal because I'm learning and getting something out of it too
They have to be able to play the songs thru and nail it pretty much
Old 12th February 2017
  #19
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Farm sounds's Avatar
 

Anamod?
Old 12th February 2017
  #20
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crosscutred's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DannyMac View Post
If you set up the machine as a hardware inserts then you don't have to worry about lining up tracks (on the stereo mix that is )
Err, yes you do.

But it's not too hard, if you can follow instructions and measure things accurately then it's pretty simple.

I find tape really fits with the way I prefer to work. I do both tape and digital and any combination the client wants, but for preference, all tape for me.
When clients understand the way it works, if it fits with their workflow and work ethic, it tends to really work.

Also, as has been mentioned, you will have massive problems trying to print the two sides of the mix separately, crosstalk is arguably one of the sonic benefits of tape too.
Old 12th February 2017
  #21
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crosscutred's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DannyMac View Post
If you set up the machine as a hardware inserts then you don't have to worry about lining up tracks (on the stereo mix that is )
I've just re-read this;

You mean lining up the left and right passes..... not aligning the machine, often referred to as "lining up".

I still think crosstalk isn't necessarily a bad thing. The OP will have that in spades going on his console anyway.
Old 13th February 2017
  #22
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chrischoir's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericemery View Post
So I've been mixing on my API 1608 for a while and printing back into protools. I love the sound of the console but wanted to hear my final mixes printed to tape. I'm a young guy and never got the exposure or experience working with tape. So how do I get started in the world of printing to tape? What specifically would I need to purchase for this endeavor and then how would I go about setting it all up?

Thanks
I used to do this up till about 10 years ago. I found that unless you have top of the line converters it will degrade quality. + Tape is going cloud your mixes and take away some of the depth and spacial elements. It does soften things as along as you have the good D/A and A/D. Otherwise it going to make thing worse. For instance the lats thing you want to do is send your mixes out to a digi192 and then back in again. Any benefits of tape will be negated by the harsh sound of those converters.
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