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Smallest Tape Machine with THAT tape sound
Old 18th June 2019
  #1
Gear Head
 

Smallest Tape Machine with THAT tape sound

I'm wondering what tape machine could give that nice gluey, compressed tape sound, everybody loves at a reasonable size?

Ampex ATR 102 looks nice, but seems to be really big and heavy.

Do you have any suggestions?
Old 18th June 2019
  #2
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
Nagra.

But I'd suggest you get some hands-on experience with a tape machine of any sort and find out for yourself about the Magic Glue before you think about spending Nagra-type money.
Old 18th June 2019
  #3
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jjblair's Avatar
Just use the UAD ATR102, and save yourself the headache.
Old 18th June 2019
  #4
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Check IK tape machines. They nailed the sound.
Old 18th June 2019
  #5
probably kind of a dumb question up here, but is there any value, sonically speaking, in acquiring one of the old home hifi reel-to-reel machines for integrating into my studio workflow?

Sorry if this is too far off topic! Feel free to remove if so.
Old 19th June 2019
  #6
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avare's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by themiracle View Post
probably kind of a dumb question up here, but is there any value, sonically speaking, in acquiring one of the old home hifi reel-to-reel machines for integrating into my studio workflow?

Sorry if this is too far off topic! Feel free to remove if so.
See post #2 IOW borrow one and listen to it fitst.
Old 19th June 2019
  #7
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hitsville's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by themiracle View Post
probably kind of a dumb question up here, but is there any value, sonically speaking, in acquiring one of the old home hifi reel-to-reel machines for integrating into my studio workflow?

Sorry if this is too far off topic! Feel free to remove if so.
Bought a Technics Rs-1500 a couple years ago to bounce mixes to. It was a steep learning curve because I had never dabbed into tape machines before, and I've ran into a few headaches before getting it to work right. But I really like the sound of it (even though it's always disappointing listening back to the digitalized version vs straight out the deck) and I enjoyed learning using tape. Sometimes wish I had a better deck, because it's pretty limited in terms of control and it doesn't handle very hot input levels, but I'd recommend getting one if you're curious and enjoy experimenting.

That being said, as mentioned above the new IK plugs are pretty good too!
Old 19th June 2019
  #8
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avare's Avatar
 

A quick check showed RS-1500 prices starting at $1250. What is your budget and feature desires? For any serious work you will an alignment tape ($100). Be aware of the price of tape. ATR and RTM list dealers on their sites. Splicit has their house brand at about 70% of the other brands' prices.

PS Nagras are significantly more expensive
Old 19th June 2019
  #9
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by avare View Post
PS Nagras are significantly more expensive
And significantly more good.
Old 19th June 2019
  #10
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...not sure there is such a thing as THAT tape sound - which machine, what tape, what alignment, what speed, what head, transformers, noise reduction, signal going to tape coming from what desk, what mic pre, maybe tube, with/out dynamics (opto, vca, tube) and/or eq, again what transformers etc.?

mci jh500/a800 mkIII here, mostly ampex tape - hardly in use these days, the a80 even less...

imo THAT sound gets wrongly attribute to tape alone: it's a combination of many factors (see above - and i listed just a few of them)!




p.s. getting 'tape sound' by going through a nagra?! not really, sound stays very 'clean'/the machine and the tape tape add/subtract not much - it'd be an expensive hobby for not much 'sound'...
Old 20th June 2019
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by hitsville View Post
Bought a Technics Rs-1500 a couple years ago to bounce mixes to. It was a steep learning curve because I had never dabbed into tape machines before, and I've ran into a few headaches before getting it to work right. But I really like the sound of it (even though it's always disappointing listening back to the digitalized version vs straight out the deck) and I enjoyed learning using tape. Sometimes wish I had a better deck, because it's pretty limited in terms of control and it doesn't handle very hot input levels, but I'd recommend getting one if you're curious and enjoy experimenting.

That being said, as mentioned above the new IK plugs are pretty good too!
If the digitalised version is significantly different, I’d have a serious look at your conversion (or maybe something loading the inputs) - most capture is pretty transparent these days!
Old 20th June 2019
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
p.s. getting 'tape sound' by going through a nagra?! not really, sound stays very 'clean'/the machine and the tape tape add/subtract not much - it'd be an expensive hobby for not much 'sound'...
Exactly...
Old 20th June 2019
  #13
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
... p.s. getting 'tape sound' by going through a nagra?! not really, sound stays very 'clean'/the machine and the tape tape add/subtract not much - it'd be an expensive hobby for not much 'sound'...
I think you say that because you're not accustomed to (ab)using a Nagra in that fashion. But the Nagra electronics have so much clean headroom both going in and coming back out (like a Studer or ATR100) that when you slam tape, what you're hearing back is the tape. Unlike the "tape" sound of, say, an MCI that's actually the sound of electronics under duress.

Not that much of anyone has a Nagra handy these days (wish I still did), but you might want to try it before you dismiss it out of hand.
Old 20th June 2019
  #14
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hitsville's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
If the digitalised version is significantly different, I’d have a serious look at your conversion (or maybe something loading the inputs) - most capture is pretty transparent these days!
Well that's a whole another debate My AD is not too shabby (Lavry Gold) but my DA could use an upgrade (Antelope Orion) and will get it in the next few years. With my current ADDA setup I pick up the digitalised vs analog (tape or not) version of my mixes everytime in blind tests.
Old 20th June 2019
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I think you say that because you're not accustomed to (ab)using a Nagra in that fashion. But the Nagra electronics have so much clean headroom both going in and coming back out (like a Studer or ATR100) that when you slam tape, what you're hearing back is the tape. Unlike the "tape" sound of, say, an MCI that's actually the sound of electronics under duress.

Not that much of anyone has a Nagra handy these days (wish I still did), but you might want to try it before you dismiss it out of hand.
Nagra didn't make a multitrack machine and veery few studios used Nagra two track recorders, and most people have never heard a Nagra pushed hard. I've owned and used a Nagra machine and I still own a 24-track and a two track machine, its very unlikely that when someone asks about "tape sound" they are asking about the Nagra sound.
Old 20th June 2019
  #16
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
Nagra didn't make a multitrack machine and veery few studios used Nagra two track recorders, most people have never heard a bagga pushed hard and like you said they do not sound like any studio multitrack machine I've ever used. Its very unlikely that when someone asks about "tape sound" they are asking about the Nagra sound.
Back in the day, if you did fight foley you were very familiar with what a pushed Nagra sounded like. And sure, it's unlikely that OP was specifically asking about the Nagra, because he'd probably never heard of it. But it'll do that job, and it's really small. I'm not real sure what you're arguing about.
Old 20th June 2019
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Back in the day, if you did fight foley you were very familiar with what a pushed Nagra sounded like. And sure, it's unlikely that OP was specifically asking about the Nagra, because he'd probably never heard of it. But it'll do that job, and it's really small. I'm not real sure what you're arguing about.
I'm saying it will not do "that" job for two reasons...of course it will distort if slammed, but the machine is so clean and you have to slam so hard that it will not sound the same. Plus, a multitrack is 8, 16 or 24 tracks and it is combination of all those distorted tracks that people hear on records, not just one or two tracks.
Old 20th June 2019
  #18
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
Seems like I'm saying this a lot here just lately. But yeah, okay, fine, whatever.
Old 21st June 2019
  #19
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80's vintage Sony Walkman, smaller than a Nagra, but still has that tape sound!
Chris
Old 21st June 2019
  #20
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vernier's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by axelhuber View Post
I'm wondering what tape machine could give that nice gluey, compressed tape sound, everybody loves at a reasonable size?

Ampex ATR 102 looks nice, but seems to be really big and heavy.

Do you have any suggestions?
About any working 15 ips reel to reel should do it, I'd think. Or 7.5 ips for more "gluey".
Old 21st June 2019
  #21
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Silvertone's Avatar
What sound? There are way too many variables. First you have to know the sound you want. Then you have to research what was actually used to get those sounds. The tape machine itself is only part of the equation.

I wanted the original sound of Nat King Cole, Miles, Brubeck, Patsy Cline, etc... the ONLY way to achieve that is to use the exact same equipment. 15 years later and I’m almost there!

There is NO substitute for a tube console going into a tube limiter recorded to a tube tape recorder, capturing lightening in a bottle. The amount of tubes and iron in the signal path create that sound... no pretend ****e can do it, sorry.
Old 21st June 2019
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by hitsville View Post
Well that's a whole another debate My AD is not too shabby (Lavry Gold) but my DA could use an upgrade (Antelope Orion) and will get it in the next few years. With my current ADDA setup I pick up the digitalised vs analog (tape or not) version of my mixes everytime in blind tests.
The Lavry gold is actually designed to change/“enhance” the capture though. That’s why it’s not really suitable for tracking due to processing delay. The Blue...well, once calibrated, I couldn’t pick the converter loop over the direct desk output.
Old 21st June 2019
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertone View Post
What sound? There are way too many variables. First you have to know the sound you want. Then you have to research what was actually used to get those sounds. The tape machine itself is only part of the equation.

I wanted the original sound of Nat King Cole, Miles, Brubeck, Patsy Cline, etc... the ONLY way to achieve that is to use the exact same equipment. 15 years later and I’m almost there!

There is NO substitute for a tube console going into a tube limiter recorded to a tube tape recorder, capturing lightening in a bottle. The amount of tubes and iron in the signal path create that sound... no pretend ****e can do it, sorry.
Exactly.....
Old 21st June 2019
  #24
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John Willett's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by axelhuber View Post
I'm wondering what tape machine could give that nice gluey, compressed tape sound, everybody loves at a reasonable size?

Ampex ATR 102 looks nice, but seems to be really big and heavy.

Do you have any suggestions?
If you want a small tape recorder, there is alwats this one.

Old 21st June 2019
  #25
Handsomeaudio Zulu.
Old 21st June 2019
  #26
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If I were looking to add something like that I would just get a TEAC/TASCAM 2-track 1/4" machine. Hard to get something easier to maintain with an abundance of parts (or entire machines) for replacement. And they may not be the balls when it comes to high end tape machines but very utilitarian and certainly capable of doing that "tape thang"...

I sometimes see them for a few hundred dollars. If you are willing to sacrifice a bit of spec then every once in a while I see a 4-track for that cheap as well.

When you are talking about just using it as an effect I'm not sure the machine is going to make as much difference as tape formula when you consider that your two reel options (heh heh) are:

1) Top of the tops or equivalent mastering quality machine
2) Anything else that has parts available and can affordably be kept running

Cheers,
Brock
Old 22nd June 2019
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post
Just use the UAD ATR102, and save yourself the headache.
JJ, I've been meaning to ask you since you've ventured itb for mixing, how much of your traditional tracking gear do you think can also be replaced now, if any? Are you one of the get it right with HW and finesse itb guys, or do you feel you can do it all itb? If you were starting out in this era, do you think you'd buy a lot less gear? What are your goto plugin must haves? Are you using hardware on the mix bus?

Forgive me for the off topic. I've been meaning to pick your brain, and just noticed your post. I'm just about to move from TDM to a native mix rig and a few UAD Octos, and the choices seem overwhelming being >10 years behind lol.

Thanks,
NoSSLYet
Old 22nd June 2019
  #28
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jjblair's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by IM WHO YOU THINK View Post
JJ, I've been meaning to ask you since you've ventured itb for mixing, how much of your traditional tracking gear do you think can also be replaced now, if any? Are you one of the get it right with HW and finesse itb guys, or do you feel you can do it all itb? If you were starting out in this era, do you think you'd buy a lot less gear? What are your goto plugin must haves? Are you using hardware on the mix bus?

Forgive me for the off topic. I've been meaning to pick your brain, and just noticed your post. I'm just about to move from TDM to a native mix rig and a few UAD Octos, and the choices seem overwhelming being >10 years behind lol.

Thanks,
NoSSLYet
Using great mics and great front end makes my mixing life easier, but I've gotten some listenable mixes from stuff sent to me with not great front end. It just took a lot of work, and maybe the only thing I could get to not sound great was crappy OHs, but at least I got them to sound musical. I did not have Soothe at the time, which would have helped, nor did I have my re-mic technique I developed, using the Oceanway plugin. Soothe is essential, especially when I get a TLM103 > Avalon vocal.

In terms of essential plugins, my mixes have a lot of A800 on individual channels or group buses. 95% of my used plug-ins are UAD. My main EQs are the 1073, 1081, A Range, Helios and API 560. I use the LA2A, 1176, 660, Distressor occasionally, Vari Mu on drums.

Main verbs are Pure Plate, AMS RMX16, Capitol Chambers, and Oceanway Room when I need to add dimension. I use the Cooper on vox a lot. I tend to use Echo Boy with a setting I made that cops the PCM41 sound.

I put the ATR102 on the bus, always. Instantly makes the mix sound better. My hardware route is EQ3, Obsidian and Vari Mu, either to DSD or back to PT, depending on who's mastering. When I send WIP mixes for notes, I just use the plugin versions on the master bus and bounce offline. I match settings and reduction when I print. It's not exact, but it honestly just doesn't matter in the end. But the outboard does sound just that little bit better on the bus to me with the tubes and iron. I'll put any of my all digitally recorded ITB mixes up against my best all analog mixes any day.

At the end of the day, I can get amazing sounds without tape or a mixing console, and most importantly to me, I work so much faster. We're not getting paid like we used to. I'm no trying to pad the hours. I'm trying to reduce them. I can bang out mixes that clients love in 2 hours or less, and recall in one click. I'm mixing three projects concurrently right now, and taking three separate sets of notes. ITB can sound as good or better than the old way. You just have to figure out how to do that. If you try and replicate how you mix on a console, it won't. You have to be more creative, but having templates saved makes everything so fast, that once you get it set up, you're laughin', as they say.
Old 22nd June 2019
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post
nor did I have my re-mic technique I developed, using the Oceanway plugin
.. I can't be the only one wanting to know more about this ..

understand if you would rather keep your secrets.. but I had to ask.
Old 22nd June 2019
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post
Soothe is essential, especially when I get a TLM103 > Avalon vocal.
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