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Mixing to 2” tape vs Mastering to 2” tape Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 22nd February 2019
  #1
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Mixing to 1/2” tape vs Mastersing to 1/2” tape

So I know there are similar posts to this but I haven’t come across the answer I’m quite looking for yet. So I mix analog; I spit out my daw tracks through my Neotek console and the 2 mix comes back in through my apogee converters. I’ve been thinking about investing in a really nice tape machine but feel that money might be better spent elsewhere. I’ve tried hardware tape emulators.....and like them! - But I find myself wanting to use them more on individual sources bc of their flexibility. Anyways, I’ve come to the conclusion it might be easier to let my mastering engineer press the mix on his end but am wondering if this would be the wrong place in the mix/mastering chain to get the effect I’m wanting. Are there going to be differences to inserting tape at this point of the process? Pros/cons? Thx

Last edited by Irelando; 22nd February 2019 at 03:54 AM.. Reason: Wrong tape sizes....derp
Old 22nd February 2019
  #2
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Bart Nettle's Avatar
At this time 2" Tape is very expensive and the machine requires technical maintenance as well the costs is inhibitive.

Definitely pass it on the your ME.

Or perhaps you could find a GSer who offers the service.

An alternative is to Mix Down to DSD, much more affordable and most MEs can Master from it.
Old 22nd February 2019
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bart Nettle View Post
Definitely pass it on the your ME.
Definitely. If you like the results, then consider buying 1/2" tape recorder. Regardless of the price of the recorder plus ~$400 for maintenance supplies, the most expensive part is tape. Current price is ~$70 per 10.5" reel. That is 1/2 hour recording time at 15 ips. People like to say that owning professional tape recorder is a lot of work. I think of it as a labor of love and sled dogs. How do you punish a sled dog? Make it ride in the sled.

Enjoy!

Andre
Old 23rd February 2019
  #4
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1/2" is more affordable but less dynamic range.
I thought the OP was talking about 2" inch tape. There is very little "effect" with 2 inch. Believe it or not but they were made them to sound as clean as possible but even studio 2inch masters have less dynamic range than digital.

Nobody drove them to distortion on purpose.

The sound of tape was, recording as hot as possible to eliminating hiss, never to distortion. The knock on effect overdubs, tape mixdown transfers resulted in the saturation associated with tape.

Hiss is killer now?
I realise, we can remove hiss now.
Old 23rd February 2019
  #5
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I’m gonna start sending all of my tracks out to Sony minidisc... capture the “sound” of the 90s
Old 23rd February 2019
  #6
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I do miss the cleaning degaussing of the heads and then the pinch roller before every session and threading the reels and the sound of it as "play" engaged and all that waiting for it to rewind and hearing that rewind sound. It felt like a studio ! Do I want one now? No
Old 23rd February 2019
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avare View Post
Definitely. If you like the results, then consider buying 1/2" tape recorder. Regardless of the price of the recorder plus ~$400 for maintenance supplies, the most expensive part is tape. Current price is ~$70 per 10.5" reel. That is 1/2 hour recording time at 15 ips. People like to say that owning professional tape recorder is a lot of work. I think of it as a labor of love and sled dogs. How do you punish a sled dog? Make it ride in the sled.

Enjoy!

Andre
I totally agree of it all being a labor of love! I’m sure some people these days think of analog equipment as a hassle, but I find it worth it because of what it gives back to me - i.e. it’s worth the effort!

Also, I will certainly pass this on to my mastering engineer, I’d like to come to him with as much info as possible bc of how busy he is.
Old 23rd February 2019
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bart Nettle View Post
I do miss the cleaning degaussing of the heads and then the pinch roller before every session and threading the reels and the sound of it as "play" engaged and all that waiting for it to rewind and hearing that rewind sound. It felt like a studio ! Do I want one now? No
I certainly understand where you’re coming from, which is why I’m getting as many details on this subject as possible. Owning a tape machine is a lot of work and as Andre said before, it is a labor of love. Although.....is this the right time for me to take on the hefty responsibility of an Ampex or Studer?? Probably not. Although, I’m willing to do what it takes for my mixes to get the right color/character. Trust me, I’d rather just hand the mix off to my ME and let him take care of it in terms of the time it would save me right now. But if the right place to hit tape is directly from the console, then I suppose that’s what needs to be done. Thx for your replies
Old 23rd February 2019
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bgood View Post
I’m gonna start sending all of my tracks out to Sony minidisc... capture the “sound” of the 90s
Don’t believe I’m trying to capture the ‘sound’ or ‘vibe’ of any particular era by using a tape machine for a mixdown. Tbh it’s been done from the 50’s onward to today; many modern records from Muse, MGMT, Radiohead etc are still utilizing a mixdown tape machine for specific characteristics (e.g. saturation, soft compression) to add to the right record or track.
Old 23rd February 2019
  #10
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i wouldn't wanna mess up my 2mixes by going to tape anymore (unless the entire production is analog) - also, the effort for mixing/mastering in surround to/from tape is prohibitive...

(looongtime user of a80 here)
Old 23rd February 2019
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irelando View Post
Don’t believe I’m trying to capture the ‘sound’ or ‘vibe’ of any particular era by using a tape machine for a mixdown. Tbh it’s been done from the 50’s onward to today; many modern records from Muse, MGMT, Radiohead etc are still utilizing a mixdown tape machine for specific characteristics (e.g. saturation, soft compression) to add to the right record or track.
Was just teasing ya

If you have the $$, time and know how to keep a tepe machine in spec definitely do it.

The last time I kept a working tape machine here I recorded directly to it and then sent it into the box... but I tend to like baking my Sound in before it hits the computer anyway
Old 24th February 2019
  #12
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there are lots of mastering engineers everywhere now it seems.

i doubt more than 3 in 50 have a 1/2 inch 2 track, and perhaps a few more would have a 1/4 inch.

lots of MEs dont have tape, so you will have to be selective about who your ME is, his workflow, and outboard.

Buddha
Old 26th February 2019
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
i wouldn't wanna mess up my 2mixes by going to tape anymore (unless the entire production is analog) - also, the effort for mixing/mastering in surround to/from tape is prohibitive...

(looongtime user of a80 here)
You make an interesting point. I’ve heard people say the same thing about mixing to tape before. Another alternative I’ve come across that been suggested before is to saturate busses (w analog pieces) or track instances rather than throw an entire track through a tape machine or what have you. Seems like a reasonable and effective solution to me. Your thoughts?
Old 26th February 2019
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mappee View Post
Tape width (actually track width) is the key for best results. 1" 8 track, 2" 16 track, 1/2" 2 track. These give the widest track widths and fattest analog sound.

1/4" 2 track master at 15ips was standard until the 80's when guys went big with 1/2" at 30ips. Mainly they were going for less noise and might have sacrificed low end in the process.

With today's digital world I feel a proper 1/4" 2 track would blow the minds of most digitized ears. A hybrid system can possibly be best upgrade, maintenance (scary lol) becomes simple routine.
Just clarifying, what is it you mean by hybrid? Buying a tape machine to integrate w my daw/console? Thx
Old 26th February 2019
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bgood View Post
Was just teasing ya

If you have the $$, time and know how to keep a tepe machine in spec definitely do it.

The last time I kept a working tape machine here I recorded directly to it and then sent it into the box... but I tend to like baking my Sound in before it hits the computer anyway
That’s a way I’ve considering working before; recording to tape them dumping into tools. Did you get the desired effect? Or do you feel like you lost something going into the box?
Old 26th February 2019
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irelando View Post
That’s a way I’ve considering working before; recording to tape them dumping into tools. Did you get the desired effect? Or do you feel like you lost something going into the box?
Honestly? It wasn’t worth it to me... the bouncing each track to the daw from the reel... well, let me qualify that... it was worth doing back in cool edit pro 96 era with dat and mini disc... not worth it in the last ten or 15 years or so with the state of the plugin tech...

No, I’m not saying that my actual studer (or tube amped or akai or crappy foster and otari) nulled tracks I ran through slate or UAD (or the softube which is my latest favorite)... but, what I am saying is that the sonic difference wasn’t so clearly evident that it was worth it to me to invest time in captured, keep buying tape, shipping the tape machine to my new studio, etc

Worth it to some people? Sure!

All of that being said, I also run everything through a pretty robust analog front-end. I might still be futzing around with reel to reel if I was doing everything in the box... virtual instruments, samples, etc.. but, that’s not my bag
Old 26th February 2019
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irelando View Post
You make an interesting point. I’ve heard people say the same thing about mixing to tape before. Another alternative I’ve come across that been suggested before is to saturate busses (w analog pieces) or track instances rather than throw an entire track through a tape machine or what have you. Seems like a reasonable and effective solution to me. Your thoughts?
i either track/mix analog (a800/jh500) but almost never mix to tape (a80) anymore...

...or i mix on my digital desk (studer vista) and feed signals to up to three spl machine head devices (sometimes channels, mostly subgroups, very rarely the stereo or surround mix buses).

i cannot comment on plugins 'cause i quit mixing itb a long time ago; i use my daw's as tape replacements (to record/play back tracks) and to edit tracks.

for the most part of my work, i don't give much about saturation anyhow: why loose the tranparency (which we were trying to achieve when working analog but couldn't get it)?

what i mentioned regarding the use of tape for mastering imo pretty much also applies to leaving the digital domain: you need a very good reason to do so - i (mostly) can't see any as i don't think there is any analog device other than real tape machines which could give 'tape sound' in a convincing way.

i guess i'm 'digital by heart' :-)
Old 26th February 2019
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irelando View Post
That’s a way I’ve considering working before; recording to tape them dumping into tools. Did you get the desired effect? Or do you feel like you lost something going into the box?
Every process loses something, for preference I stay on tape for the whole time.
It feels less destructive than pcm conversion to me.
Of course most clients don't get tape involved for budget reasons, many because they think they need the editing/ keeping multiple takes crutch the DAW offers.
It's a popular way to use tape, track to it and dump to the DAW

I run an MCI JH 24 2" and a Studer B67 1/4", at 30ips usually, I have a Studer A807 too which mainly gets used for tape delays and experiments.
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