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Best Tape Machine and why? Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 23rd September 2017
  #151
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Arseny's Avatar
I like almost everything about Steve Albini, love that Pixies sound, his philosophy, also watched all his videos on MWTM...

But I don't believe, the future proofing of his work is the only reason he uses the tape. Look, he is presenting himself as a rationalist, which is not so stupid in his position. If he had mentioned the SOUND of the tape as one of the reasons, that could open further discussions. It is not painles to hold a debate as we see it here. Lots of pro & contra reasons and, over all, the personal philosophies and tastes. And you risk to be seen as an insane retro illusionist in a tough business.

At the end he has also other strong cards like great sounding rooms and a huge competence in mic positioning. But I believe he knows exactly how much the tape contributes to his sound. He remains silent about it and just lets the ones hearing the difference enjoy IMO.

Why talk about it to someone who simply doesn't hear it or hears it but doesn't bother.

Al Schmitt has a little bit more courage in this, he stated there is still something that tape does to the sound.

Last edited by Arseny; 23rd September 2017 at 06:38 AM..
Old 23rd September 2017
  #152
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chet.d's Avatar
 

FWIW, YMMV etc but, I find that ATR "has" improved their formulation / consistency in the last year.

2"/16, 1"/8, 1/4"/4 all bring huge elements to bottom end extension, depth & width in my world. I readily admit however, I don't always track everything to tape.
So much depends on the workflow preference at the time, sonic space being sought to fill & readiness of the talent in the room at the time to rise up to tape's innate workflow challenges.

3M, Ampex, Scully, Telefunken, modded Otari ...don't know about a best status but they're all strong if in good shape.
Whatever's stable. Hands of the user, yadda yadda.
Old 23rd September 2017
  #153
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jjblair's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by oceantracks View Post
Yeah, sounds huge.
Maybe because they are tuned down a whole step. It ain't the tape that makes it sounds what you perceive to be huge.

Quote:
"I feel it would be irresponsible to give my clients digital files as their permanent masters, knowing they would eventually disappear or become unusable, so I won't do it. Some of the bands I work with don't appreciate the difference, or take seriously the notion that music should outlive the people who make it, and I understand that."
He says "I find a pretty heavy obligation to bands that I work for to make a recording that can survive potentially long enough for the to find an audience, and to find their cultural significance."

I wish he actually felt an obligation to bands to actually produce them and help them flush out their songs, so that an audience might be drawn to them while they are still alive, and not just make a recording that can outlive the band.

And he's simply insinuating that digital recordings will not be able to be around, which is nonsense, but analog will. We've had digital recordings around since the late '70s that are still surviving just fine.
Old 23rd September 2017
  #154
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oceantracks's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post
Maybe because they are tuned down a whole step. It ain't the tape that makes it sounds what you perceive to be huge.
It is exactly the sound I've heard all my life when recording in analog studios, and yes, it is the tape, and no, I'm not talking about tuned down guitars LOL

PEACE....see ya...
Old 23rd September 2017
  #155
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jjblair's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by chet.d View Post
FWIW, YMMV etc but, I find that ATR "has" improved their formulation / consistency in the last year.
This would be big, if they have actually managed to do that. Like I said, the last batch I used was a disappointment.

That being said, availability has been an issue lately, according to friends in LA who have had a hard time procuring tape for sessions. And with budgets being what they are, costs are ridiculous. What is it? $300 or $400 a reel?

A tape machine does give you the ability to tailor the sound a bit more, if you know the ins and outs of aligning a machine. But there are many ways of achieving this, exclusive of tape. But what I find so frequently is people who aren't getting a good sound before tape thinking that tape will somehow make their bad recordings magically sound good.

Yes. Tape has a sound. Machines have a sound. Is it better? No. It's different. I'm happy with the sound I have going in, and I want as close as I can get to that sound coming out. I don't even like converters that alter my sound. If I want something to sound "huge," and I fail to make it sound huge before hitting my storage medium, then I failed as an engineer. Tape doesn't make things sound huge. Production and well executed recording does.

Does tape make something sound "warm"? Again, debatable. I can make warm sounds, and with good converters, retain that warmth. What tape does do is introduce noise, wow, flutter and other artifacts that may or may not be acceptable to the music you're recording. And then things like Dolby are just another compromise that give you something less on playback than you had going in.

Tape is fun. Tape is cool. It's different. It's not superior, though. That's the assertion that makes me nauseous. It was superior at one time. It just ain't anymore.
Old 23rd September 2017
  #156
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jjblair's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by oceantracks View Post
It is exactly the sound I've heard all my life when recording in analog studios, and yes, it is the tape, and no, I'm not talking about tuned down guitars LOL

PEACE....see ya...
I used to believe in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus, too.

It's nonsense. You have to explain how tape magically makes that recording huge, which then survives the compression algorithm of youtube.
Old 23rd September 2017
  #157
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post
I used to believe in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus, too.

It's nonsense. You have to explain how tape magically makes that recording huge, which then survives the compression algorithm of youtube.
I'll do that as soon as you explain why I am still getting your condescending and uninformed posts despite hitting "UNSUBSCRIBE"
Old 23rd September 2017
  #158
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jjblair's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by oceantracks View Post
I'll do that as soon as you explain why I am still getting your condescending and uninformed posts despite hitting "UNSUBSCRIBE"
Easy: “Operator error.”
Old 23rd September 2017
  #159
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jjblair's Avatar
Quote:
.I'll do that as soon as you explain why I am still getting your condescending and uninformed posts despite hitting "UNSUBSCRIBE"
And sorry about the condescension. It’s just that I feel the same way about tape mythology as I do about, oh let’s say, Scientology.
Old 23rd September 2017
  #160
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post
I used to believe in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus, too.

It's nonsense. You have to explain how tape magically makes that recording huge, which then survives the compression algorithm of youtube.
I wouldn't say "huge", just more "raw" in the best way possible. It's not something you can put your finger on, but I would say it's more about being "anti-digital" and it depends on the machine and formula as well. Digital is pretty homogeneous, while tape is highly variable. You can go from lo-fi to pristine transparency. But the only real way to get the benefit IMO is to go all analog from start to finish with no digital instruments. That's not trying to use tape as an effect, which can be had from cassette or whatever, but trying to get the best quality possible from a wide track multitrack machine.

But just listen to any great old recordings, and you can tell even with YT's compression, that it would not sound the same if recorded digitally.

But it's not necessary, digital works fine, but it's kinda like when modern directors (like on Louie Ck's new film) using actual film. Regardless of the grain or whatever of the film, there is a certain old school magic to it, and it forces you to bring your A-game in way that digital with it's infinite possibilities does not. I keep my machine in the live room, and when the tape starts rolling, you know it's serious business.

You can say you can say in the abstract that digital can be used like tape, but in reality it always turns out to be a crutch.
Old 23rd September 2017
  #161
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jjblair's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by unfiltered420 View Post
You can say you can say in the abstract that digital can be used like tape, but in reality it always turns out to be a crutch.
Everything is a crutch. Compression is a crutch. Tuners are a crutch.

The best recording I ever did, the one that I'm the most proud of, that conveys the most emotion possible, that will bring tears to people's eyes and would make me be happy if it were the only thing I ever recorded, was done on blackface ADAT, because that's what the studio had.

The vocal, which is the centerpiece of this recording, sounds HUGE. Why? Because of the singer. Because his tone was the Mount Rushmore of vocalists. Because he ****ing meant it. Because the song is about dying, and he'd just been in a coma for two weeks. The singer was Johnny Cash, and it was a duet with June called "Far Side Banks of Jordan." There was not a dry eye in the room after the take, and I even managed to convey that emotion on 16 bit ADAT pieces of crap, which I hated more than anything.

Hey, if people like the workflow and the vibe of working to tape, and don't mind the headache, the fact that it can get in the way of keeping an artist in the flow, the expense, and other inconveniences, because they perceive some benefit, have at it. Whatever makes it fun for you. I just find the idea that "tape is superior to digital recording" to not only be a fallacy in today's reality, but also to be completely counterproductive to what we are doing.
Old 23rd September 2017
  #162
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post
The best recording I ever did, the one that I'm the most proud of, that conveys the most emotion possible, that will bring tears to people's eyes and would make me be happy if it were the only thing I ever recorded, was done on blackface ADAT, because that's what the studio had.

Agreed on that one. One the best tracks I was ever involved with was done on a Roland 1680.
It's the irony of all our geared out wanking on & on around here. Emotion & power don't really give a **** about gear.
Old 23rd September 2017
  #163
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Originally Posted by chet.d View Post
Emotion & power don't really give a **** about gear.
again, that sounds good, but in reality all of the stuff I hear today is overproduced because of the grid and all the crap that engineers and producers do to the emotion of a recording. I can't tell you how many time I hear a great live performance and then go to listen to the studio version and it's crap. Ugly digital effects and reverbs and robotic time, etc.

On paper, digital is better than tape and film, but in reality, it's usually the opposite, for whatever reasons.
Old 23rd September 2017
  #164
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post

I'm glad that people are excited by it, but I will name 5 engineers who have all told me they don't miss tape:

and Massenberg. I'm with them. I find the other parts of the signal path are much more important to the sound I want
See, that's pretty general and specific in a general kind of specific way . Which takes things a bit away from... not the point.... but from "a" point....

YOU find other parts of the signal path are more important to the sound YOU want.

I'll guestimate (based on projects) that GM uses his approach (if and when he still does audio projects) based on HIS preferences.... which, being GM, he can dictate going in to a project.

Okay.....well.... the hypothetical issue is then this.....

Let's say YOU decide one morning next June that YOU want to create a project that sounds very-very-very-close-to-exactly the same as...... Earth Wind and Fire's "Shining Star". We're talking sonics here with some other 8-piece band.

Can you do it with your daw? Can you actually DO that sonic? Well... you MIGHT say..."no..and I'll never wake up wanting to DO that sonic". Or you may say "For sure, I can do that sound with all that stuff sounding cohesive in the dissimilar ways they lie in the mix with my daw NO PROBLEM".

And then you would either start the project or not start the project. I personally vote that....with my years of analysis of that track among zillions others.... I could NOT do unless I was using several tape machines.. a console... and a zillion submixes... where at least I detect them in that track.

NOW....let's go a bit further....

George Massenberg doesn't miss tape machines. Other than talking to GM on forums, I don't know him, but wouldn't argue that he hates tape machines and doesn't miss them.

BUT.... what if GM contracted (he wouldn't) to a project.... or woke up one morning next June and WANTED to do something that results in "Shining Star"?

On one hand, you can argue he would never do that because he already did it and the FIRST time he did it....it was such a frustrating, irritating, problematical, edit-filled, submix-nightmare, un-pristine stressful deal that he would likely never want to do it again.

BUT....BUT...... if he WERE to do it.....HOW would he accomplish THAT particular sound?

He'd shrug and do it the exact same way he did it the first time. With tape machinies and submixes and console and an un-pristine approach because.... even though he didn't really WANT to do it that way....THAT is the way the final sound became the final sound.

I doubt GM would say today, "I'll just do that with a room full of musicians and my normal two-pass live-playing clean approach.

He KNOWS (I'll guestimate..... and maybe he'll chime in here to say I'm on the mark... or full of sh**) that the only way to do a bunch of "Shining Star" final sonics is to do it the old-fashioned, hassle-filled way.

Which of course, is the main reason he'd say "I ain't gonna do it.... find someone else".

The increasing "trick" is of course, finding someone else who KNOWS how to to this.

YOU don't want to do it. GM Doesn't want to to do it. Even I don't get thrilled over the idea of actually firing up the tape machines and console and forcing myself to DO that approach again..... no one's paying me big bucks to do it..... I don't really want to carve out the time..... and..... dozens of other reasons.

Soooo...... lots of big engineers don't miss tape. No surprise. It's one thing to ask Al Schmit to get involved with engineering a project with an approach like he did recording the Astronauts in 1963. He might say yes to something like that. But if you asked him to something that was going to involve 12 weeks or more of submixing and overdubbing on synchronized tape machines.... with all the stress involved that involves... he'd probably also say.....um, no.

Bottom line, there are only certain ways to do certain types of projects. The time-consuming tape-based, massive submix type of projects are for sure the elements of many sour memories about engineering in the past.

No one misses the process...... but it seems to be the only way to get from here to there with certain sonics...... imo.

Hence, the easy answer is, "I'm not going to do it. I hate tape machines connected to consoles and submixing over and over and I don't want that sound".
Old 23rd September 2017
  #165
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post
Everything is a crutch. Compression is a crutch. Tuners are a crutch.

Yeah, but nothing like the DAW and the grid. Not to say a great performance can't be captured on a DAW, but in practice the safety net of infinite takes and edits and the rigidity of the grid often makes stuff lifeless. Engineers are especially OCD and emotion often takes a back seat to how neat and clean something looks in a DAW. I mean it's a lot more efficient and productive, but something is lost.
Old 23rd September 2017
  #166
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jjblair's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by thenoodle View Post
See, that's pretty general and specific in a general kind of specific way . Bottom line, there are only certain ways to do certain types of projects. The time-consuming tape-based, massive submix type of projects are for sure the elements of many sour memories about engineering in the past.

No one misses the process...... but it seems to be the only way to get from here to there with certain sonics...... imo.

Hence, the easy answer is, "I'm not going to do it. I hate tape machines connected to consoles and submixing over and over and I don't want that sound".
I used to get hired to do a lot of soundalikes by an ad agency in NYC, until I got tired of the people involved and told them I wouldn't accept more work from them anymore. The only time I couldn't nail a sound to my own satisfaction was a Hawkwind record, which sounded a certain way because the fidelity was so bad that I would have needed a really badly aligned tape machine, and because I could not replicate the EMS synth with my Moogs. Other than that, I've done pretty freaking dead on sound alike from everything from Memphis Soul Stew, to Staying Alive to Muse. Tape was not needed, and they always came specifically to me for sound alike, because nobody was doing it as well.

Take from that whatever you like.
Old 23rd September 2017
  #167
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post
Everything is a crutch. Compression is a crutch. Tuners are a crutch.

The best recording I ever did, the one that I'm the most proud of, that conveys the most emotion possible, that will bring tears to people's eyes and would make me be happy if it were the only thing I ever recorded, was done on blackface ADAT, because that's what the studio had.

The vocal, which is the centerpiece of this recording, sounds HUGE. Why? Because of the singer. Because his tone was the Mount Rushmore of vocalists. Because he ****ing meant it. Because the song is about dying, and he'd just been in a coma for two weeks. The singer was Johnny Cash, and it was a duet with June called "Far Side Banks of Jordan." There was not a dry eye in the room after the take, and I even managed to convey that emotion on 16 bit ADAT pieces of crap, which I hated more than anything.

Hey, if people like the workflow and the vibe of working to tape, and don't mind the headache, the fact that it can get in the way of keeping an artist in the flow, the expense, and other inconveniences, because they perceive some benefit, have at it. Whatever makes it fun for you. I just find the idea that "tape is superior to digital recording" to not only be a fallacy in today's reality, but also to be completely counterproductive to what we are doing.
I don't understand your last sentence. How is someone who has the opinion that tape sounds better than digital or that tape is a superior storage medium being "counter-productive to what we are doing?"

I also don't understand how your anecdotal story qualifies as anything except an admission that working with a legend means that less than optimal gear available can be more easily overcome. That recording turned out the way it did DESPITE the fact that you recorded it to 16 bit ADAT. It would have sounded even better if it had been a good tape machine or a current digital system, but because you, in you own words, had the Mount Rushmore of vocalists behind the mic, it mattered much less than it would have with a mere mortal singing.

And that brings me to my point. Jim Williams cites the same idea frequently...that when you work with Stevie Wonder and artists of that caliber, you don't need flattering gear.

Ok. Great. But not many people get to work with Stevie Wonder or Johnny Cash, at least not very often. So you better be able to flatter some mere mortals too.

And tape flatters a lot of types of sounds.

I get it. Tape is a PITA. I started a recording yesterday on my Ampex MM1200 and it sounded AMAZING, right up until I realized the machine wasn't erasing. So, switch to digital and start over. Same room, same mics, same signal chain, same musician (me). Only thing that changed was that I patched the signal to the computer instead of the tae machine and played the part again. Still sounds good, but not as good as the Ampex sounded.

On the other hand, it could take me two days, two weeks, or two months to figure out why the damn thing isn't erasing and to fix it. So if I want to make the recording I better just switch gears and move on.

So I don't blame anyone for not depending on one, or even deciding that it isn't worth it to even try. It's not reliable. It's just not.

But it sounds better to me. It just does. And it's not even close.

Bigger, wider, deeper, smoother, more 3-D.

Depending on the day you catch me I would sell you the machine in disgust or let you take my left leg instead. If it didn't sound so damn much better I would have gotten rid of it long ago.
Old 24th September 2017
  #168
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jjblair's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by unfiltered420 View Post
Yeah, but nothing like the DAW and the grid. Not to say a great performance can't be captured on a DAW, but in practice the safety net of infinite takes and edits and the rigidity of the grid often makes stuff lifeless. Engineers are especially OCD and emotion often takes a back seat to how neat and clean something looks in a DAW. I mean it's a lot more efficient and productive, but something is lost.
That's a whole different thing, and that's a producer's decision, not an engineer's. You are making assumptions that the grid is being used for anything other than the ease of editing, which we did plenty of in analog. We still played to clicks, you know. You are simply assuming that everybody is aligned stuff to grid, which not everybody definitely is. And the guys who are doing it now were the same type of guys who were doing it then.

Also, you know how dance music was made before the Linn drum? They would print a bass drum, played to a click, then the assistant engineer would measure each hit, grease pencil it, and physically edit the tape to make sure the bass drum was on the money to the meter. Then everybody would be played to that. People were on to that stuff long before digital.

Terry Manning told me a story about experimenting with having drum sticks attached solenoids to have a steady hi hat. People rejoiced when the Linn drum was invented. I don't care for those records that much, even though they were using tape. That's a production choice, irrelevant of tape.

I remember making records in the '90s with bands who were very anal, and once we had the drum track we wanted, we would meticulously make sure the bass was not flamming, so we would go through and punch the hell out of the ODs to ensure it was tight. Or if other things had time issues, we would fix stuff with a delay to get it exactly where we wanted. If it was early, delay. It it was late, record in reverse with delay to move it forward. Vocal out of tune? H3000SE is your friend.

What sounds better, something recorded to tape, then run through the H3000SE back onto tape, or something that's high quality digital throughout?

Digital did not create that mindset. It just made it less of a pain in the ass. The mindset always existed. The Beatles went with ADT, because actually double tracking was too difficult. Lazy bastards.
Old 24th September 2017
  #169
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Originally Posted by drpeacock View Post
I don't understand your last sentence. How is someone who has the opinion that tape sounds better than digital or that tape is a superior storage medium being "counter-productive to what we are doing?"
Sorry I did not make myself clear. I mean the mindset that tape somehow is the end all be all, and that you can't make good music on digital is counterproductive.

There's been a number of times I've spoken with guys who worked on some of my favorite records, and I'd for instance say, "That sounds like a 67 on the vocal. Was it?" And they'd say, "Well the only vocal mics they had were a 47, which wasn't working, a C12A, and the 67, so yeah, it was the 67." And the meaning of that story is that they used what they had, and didn't get into a mindset of, "Well, the NFB filter on the high end of the 67 doesn't sound as good as the 47, so we really need to make sure we record with the 47, or the record won't be as good." If you catch my drift. Thats how I see so much of this debate being framed by the tape diehards, which is where I get annoyed.

But I also think that idea that one mic pre is better for one type of music, or whatever, is also detrimental to the process. I've seen so much time and creativity wasted while people screwed around with trying to see which one sounds best, in the middle of a record. Grab the closest mic you think will work, hit record, make music.

Know your gear, go with your instinct, and then if it sounds whack, change something.

Quote:
I also don't understand how your anecdotal story qualifies as anything except an admission that working with a legend means that less than optimal gear available can be more easily overcome. That recording turned out the way it did DESPITE the fact that you recorded it to 16 bit ADAT. It would have sounded even better if it had been a good tape machine or a current digital system, but because you, in you own words, had the Mount Rushmore of vocalists behind the mic, it mattered much less than it would have with a mere mortal singing.

And that brings me to my point. Jim Williams cites the same idea frequently...that when you work with Stevie Wonder and artists of that caliber, you don't need flattering gear.

Ok. Great. But not many people get to work with Stevie Wonder or Johnny Cash, at least not very often. So you better be able to flatter some mere mortals too.
It means that the medium isn't what makes music great, which is what I feel too many people believe. I've done a LOT of stuff on analog tape. I also feel that I'm doing my best stuff now, and it ain't on analog tape. And Johnny Cash isn't even in the room.

Quote:
And tape flatters a lot of types of sounds.
I won't argue with that. But, tape also isn't great for a number of other sounds. Everything is a compromise. I feel that with great converters and the UAD plug-ins, I can get the best of both worlds, and I can opt out of the things about tape that piss me off, like noise and wow, unless I am making an artistic choice to use them.

Quote:
I get it. Tape is a PITA. I started a recording yesterday on my Ampex MM1200 and it sounded AMAZING, right up until I realized the machine wasn't erasing. So, switch to digital and start over. Same room, same mics, same signal chain, same musician (me). Only thing that changed was that I patched the signal to the computer instead of the tae machine and played the part again. Still sounds good, but not as good as the Ampex sounded.

On the other hand, it could take me two days, two weeks, or two months to figure out why the damn thing isn't erasing and to fix it. So if I want to make the recording I better just switch gears and move on.

So I don't blame anyone for not depending on one, or even deciding that it isn't worth it to even try. It's not reliable. It's just not.

But it sounds better to me. It just does. And it's not even close.

Bigger, wider, deeper, smoother, more 3-D.

Depending on the day you catch me I would sell you the machine in disgust or let you take my left leg instead. If it didn't sound so damn much better I would have gotten rid of it long ago.
I don't know what your system is. I used to have that reaction, and "more 3D" is the exact statement I would use to compare tape to my DAW. But currently, with my Apogee Symphony and 32 bit recording, I no longer feel that way.

And god bless anybody who wants to deal with an MM1200. My mentor has a scar from having his carpel tunnel operated on, from doing punches on a 1200. One of the worst machines ever for that task. This is why when I first built my room 23 years ago, we went with a 3M 56 and a Studer 827.
Old 24th September 2017
  #170
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Originally Posted by jjblair View Post
It just made it less of a pain in the ass.
Yeah, that's the point, it's far easier now. It's like the microwave, it's far easier to cook food now, but is it better? OCD has always been around, but now it's much easier to implement.
Old 24th September 2017
  #171
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post
The best recording I ever did, the one that I'm the most proud of, that conveys the most emotion possible, that will bring tears to people's eyes and would make me be happy if it were the only thing I ever recorded, was done on blackface ADAT, because that's what the studio had.
Yes, when you're talking about making "records" that tap into the collective consciousness and touch peoples' emotions, not just recording songs, being in the magic zone is the key. Gear has little to do with it. Gear is fun and cool, but it ain't the magic. It just captures the magic.
Old 24th September 2017
  #172
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kennybro View Post
Yes, when you're talking about making "records" that tap into the collective consciousness and touch peoples' emotions, not just recording songs, being in the magic zone is the key. Gear has little to do with it. Gear is fun and cool, but it ain't the magic. It just captures the magic.
I don't know, the gear certainly is a component in that magic, getting the listener closer to being there, where the magic took place.

Something like DSOTM or Aja do all those things you mentioned. Yet had they not had top notch equipment AND people that knew what to do with that gear, some of that magic would not have shown through.
Old 24th September 2017
  #173
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Originally Posted by Sounds Great View Post
Something like DSOTM or Aja do all those things you mentioned. Yet had they not had top notch equipment AND people that knew what to do with that gear, some of that magic would not have shown through.
Not really - to the great majority they'd gave no clue, nor could care less.

To you, I, and others of a very very small minority who cares about gear and whatnot, perhaps...(and perhaps to even the smaller, more anal lunatic fringe otherwise known as audiophiles)

Heaven forbid the idiots who are all in one audiophiles, gearslutz, and worse yet music snobs who care about things like musicianship, songcraft, and virtuosity.

Tape, schmape...

Hey 19, Cuervo Gold, fine Colombian...
Old 24th September 2017
  #174
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Gear definitely effects vibe and sound ...when listening to records, notice that roughly every 5 years it changes.
Old 25th September 2017
  #175
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post
Sorry I did not make myself clear. I mean the mindset that tape somehow is the end all be all, and that you can't make good music on digital is counterproductive.

There's been a number of times I've spoken with guys who worked on some of my favorite records, and I'd for instance say, "That sounds like a 67 on the vocal. Was it?" And they'd say, "Well the only vocal mics they had were a 47, which wasn't working, a C12A, and the 67, so yeah, it was the 67." And the meaning of that story is that they used what they had, and didn't get into a mindset of, "Well, the NFB filter on the high end of the 67 doesn't sound as good as the 47, so we really need to make sure we record with the 47, or the record won't be as good." If you catch my drift. Thats how I see so much of this debate being framed by the tape diehards, which is where I get annoyed.

But I also think that idea that one mic pre is better for one type of music, or whatever, is also detrimental to the process. I've seen so much time and creativity wasted while people screwed around with trying to see which one sounds best, in the middle of a record. Grab the closest mic you think will work, hit record, make music.

Know your gear, go with your instinct, and then if it sounds whack, change something.



It means that the medium isn't what makes music great, which is what I feel too many people believe. I've done a LOT of stuff on analog tape. I also feel that I'm doing my best stuff now, and it ain't on analog tape. And Johnny Cash isn't even in the room.



I won't argue with that. But, tape also isn't great for a number of other sounds. Everything is a compromise. I feel that with great converters and the UAD plug-ins, I can get the best of both worlds, and I can opt out of the things about tape that piss me off, like noise and wow, unless I am making an artistic choice to use them.



I don't know what your system is. I used to have that reaction, and "more 3D" is the exact statement I would use to compare tape to my DAW. But currently, with my Apogee Symphony and 32 bit recording, I no longer feel that way.

And god bless anybody who wants to deal with an MM1200. My mentor has a scar from having his carpel tunnel operated on, from doing punches on a 1200. One of the worst machines ever for that task. This is why when I first built my room 23 years ago, we went with a 3M 56 and a Studer 827.
Recording is a ART! The tools we use whether vintage or modern contribute to the ART! If someone is happy with capturing sound in a sterile manner.. i.e. digital.. I am happy for you.. You can make a good sounding recordings to yourself on a laptop..

The tools we use are a extension of that artist's performance . The better the engineer, the more artistically he can capture a performance and move the listener with that..

I am sorry But its "tools and talent" NOT just tools and NOT just talent.. That is why vintage gear will continue to go threw the roof in prices..

There is NOTHING recorded in the last 15 years that will sonically and emotionally compete with music recorded 20-40 years ago..
Old 25th September 2017
  #176
Lives for gear
 
kennybro's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sounds Great View Post
I don't know, the gear certainly is a component in that magic, getting the listener closer to being there, where the magic took place.

Something like DSOTM or Aja do all those things you mentioned. Yet had they not had top notch equipment AND people that knew what to do with that gear, some of that magic would not have shown through.
I certainly agree with this, from the talented engineer/producer POV. A great engineer can coax amazing things out of nominal gear. I would include the engineer/producer in the mix of having to be in the zone. A bad engineer can ruin the communication of emotion poured out by performers.

So "Gear has little to do with it," is wrong in that respect, I agree. Gear is necessary, of course. Should be more like "expensive gear has little to do with it." I've heard people capture amazing transcriptions of great vocal performances compressing with an old DBX 163 and something like a lowly Sony ECM56F or an SM 57, and also I've seen engineers tank a great performance with a U87, 1073 and an 1176.

It's about human skill and understanding of how to communicate emotion with technology. Of course, a great engineer, great artist and excellent songs, combined with great gear is always the best situation.

In Elvis' autobiography, "Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink," he details the scant recording situations where they captured the amazing songs from his pop star era. When they got to "Watching the Detectives," he turned the corner from recording songs to making records. The gear didn't change. The mindset of the artists changed.
Old 25th September 2017
  #177
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by unfiltered420 View Post
again, that sounds good, but in reality all of the stuff I hear today is overproduced because of the grid and all the crap that engineers and producers do to the emotion of a recording. I can't tell you how many time I hear a great live performance and then go to listen to the studio version and it's crap. Ugly digital effects and reverbs and robotic time, etc.

On paper, digital is better than tape and film, but in reality, it's usually the opposite, for whatever reasons.
That has literally NOTHIG to do with a DAW. It is 100% about the operator. YOu don't have to edit to the grid, you don't have to use a click even. There is no law say bull**** drum replacement is a MUST. If you don't like those type of records a) don't buy them and b) don't make 'em. I don't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post
Sorry I did not make myself clear. I mean the mindset that tape somehow is the end all be all, and that you can't make good music on digital is counterproductive.

There's been a number of times I've spoken with guys who worked on some of my favorite records, and I'd for instance say, "That sounds like a 67 on the vocal. Was it?" And they'd say, "Well the only vocal mics they had were a 47, which wasn't working, a C12A, and the 67, so yeah, it was the 67." And the meaning of that story is that they used what they had, and didn't get into a mindset of, "Well, the NFB filter on the high end of the 67 doesn't sound as good as the 47, so we really need to make sure we record with the 47, or the record won't be as good." If you catch my drift. Thats how I see so much of this debate being framed by the tape diehards, which is where I get annoyed.

But I also think that idea that one mic pre is better for one type of music, or whatever, is also detrimental to the process. I've seen so much time and creativity wasted while people screwed around with trying to see which one sounds best, in the middle of a record. Grab the closest mic you think will work, hit record, make music.

Know your gear, go with your instinct, and then if it sounds whack, change something.




It means that the medium isn't what makes music great, which is what I feel too many people believe. I've done a LOT of stuff on analog tape. I also feel that I'm doing my best stuff now, and it ain't on analog tape. And Johnny Cash isn't even in the room.



I won't argue with that. But, tape also isn't great for a number of other sounds. Everything is a compromise. I feel that with great converters and the UAD plug-ins, I can get the best of both worlds, and I can opt out of the things about tape that piss me off, like noise and wow, unless I am making an artistic choice to use them.



I don't know what your system is. I used to have that reaction, and "more 3D" is the exact statement I would use to compare tape to my DAW. But currently, with my Apogee Symphony and 32 bit recording, I no longer feel that way.

And god bless anybody who wants to deal with an MM1200. My mentor has a scar from having his carpel tunnel operated on, from doing punches on a 1200. One of the worst machines ever for that task. This is why when I first built my room 23 years ago, we went with a 3M 56 and a Studer 827.
All of this, especially the bold.

Mitch Easter is one of my favorite people. He often picks mic by what he calls proximity effect. He's not talking about bass build up as you get closer to the source, but whatever mic is in closet proximity to either the source or himself. This is especially true as your working on different parts, and in the creative thick of it. Put mic near source, press red button, make record.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelAngelo View Post
Recording is a ART! The tools we use whether vintage or modern contribute to the ART! If someone is happy with capturing sound in a sterile manner.. i.e. digital.. I am happy for you.. You can make a good sounding recordings to yourself on a laptop..

The tools we use are a extension of that artist's performance . The better the engineer, the more artistically he can capture a performance and move the listener with that..

I am sorry But its "tools and talent" NOT just tools and NOT just talent.. That is why vintage gear will continue to go threw the roof in prices..

There is NOTHING recorded in the last 15 years that will sonically and emotionally compete with music recorded 20-40 years ago..
I'll doubt that the youth and 20 somethings of today, buying (stealing) music would disagree with you. They will say the same thing about music they are listening to today in 20-30 years.
Old 25th September 2017
  #178
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Sorry I did not make myself clear. I mean the mindset that tape somehow is the end all be all, and that you can't make good music on digital is counterproductive.
Got it.

Quote:
There's been a number of times I've spoken with guys who worked on some of my favorite records, and I'd for instance say, "That sounds like a 67 on the vocal. Was it?" And they'd say, "Well the only vocal mics they had were a 47, which wasn't working, a C12A, and the 67, so yeah, it was the 67." And the meaning of that story is that they used what they had, and didn't get into a mindset of, "Well, the NFB filter on the high end of the 67 doesn't sound as good as the 47, so we really need to make sure we record with the 47, or the record won't be as good." If you catch my drift. Thats how I see so much of this debate being framed by the tape diehards, which is where I get annoyed.
I dunno...I guess I'm a tape diehard, at least in one respect. I keep that damn machine still, anyway. And I have always allowed that there are great and compelling reasons to record digitally. What ends up getting me in arguments (and keeping me there) with digital enthusiasts is the refusal to admit that there is an advantage to tape sonics—at least according to a certain aesthetic ideal. In other words, I allow freely that a person might like the aesthetics of digital sonics better than tape. I allow that they might not like dealing with the PITA that is tape. I allow that workflow may dictate digital, budget may dictate digital, I allow all manner of valid reasons to prefer digital.

But if you are the guy who uses all kinds of plug-ins to emulate tape and saturators to emulate consoles, which means you DO hold that aesthetic ideal, where we are going to argue off into the sunset together is you refusing to admit that real tape and console actually sound better for that aesthetic.

I can accept, "If I use plug-ins on a digital system, I have choices, whereas if I only have tape, I don't." I can accept any of the reasons above as long as it comes with the disclaimer, "90% is close enough for me when a tape machine is a constant PITA and a decent console is $20,000 and up."

But where I get annoyed is the insistence that anything digital sounds as good as real tape sounds at sounding like tape.

Quote:
But I also think that idea that one mic pre is better for one type of music, or whatever, is also detrimental to the process. I've seen so much time and creativity wasted while people screwed around with trying to see which one sounds best, in the middle of a record. Grab the closest mic you think will work, hit record, make music.
I think that's one approach and I think it's a valid one, especially if the gear we're randomly sticking our hands in a hat and pulling out is all quality gear. On the other hand, if your job as an engineer is to make things sound the best they possibly can, well...

I also think there's a balance between missing opportunities to capture a moment b/c you're futzing around with something that is likely to only make a single-digit percentage difference, and missing an opportunity to maximize the sonic impact b/c you just grabbed something you knew "would work," and threw it up. And I guess people find that balance in different spots along the continuum.

Quote:
It means that the medium isn't what makes music great, which is what I feel too many people believe.
No, but it contributes to the sonics, which is the job of the engineer (and to some degree, the producer).

Quote:
I've done a LOT of stuff on analog tape. I also feel that I'm doing my best stuff now, and it ain't on analog tape.
But if analog tape was the standard medium right now, you'd be doing your best stuff on analog tape. What you're referring to is simply the degree of experience you've attained, which is neither here nor there with regard to medium—just like the fact that analog isn't keeping you from doing your best work, digital isn't making your best work possible. You are.

The question isn't whether you happen to be doing your best work on digital...if the time line on the replacement of one medium over the other was reversed, so would your statement be. The question is whether your best work might sound even better on another medium.

Quote:
And Johnny Cash isn't even in the room.
Now wait a minute...before you said that was the pinnacle of your career. The thing that if you didn't record another thing would be enough.

So which is it? Was that your crowning achievement on that lowly ADAT, or are you creating those crowning achievements now?

Quote:
Everything is a compromise.
While entirely true, the thing that makes me argue these questions is the insistence that sonics are not compromised when choosing digital, yet attempting the aesthetic we associate with analog. I get choosing digital when you just don't like what tape does in terms of distorting the signal, shaving off frequencies, introducing artifacts, etc. I get choosing digital for convenience, expense, recall, workflow, compatibility, etc.

But I argue the idea that guys (or gals) who have every tape emulator plug-in or box known to man—which means they clearly want to go after that sound—will not admit that emulating tape doesn't sound as good as real tape.

I can take, "My digital emulators get me 90% of the way there, and that sonic compromise is well worth it to me in order to gain what I gain by recording digitally rather than to tape." No problem.

My problem is when people insist that their digital system sounds as good as tape at sounding like tape. It doesn't.

Quote:
I feel that with great converters and the UAD plug-ins, I can get the best of both worlds
You can get the best of one world and maybe the good in another. You do not have the best at sounding like tape. Tape is the best at sounding like tape.

Quote:
I don't know what your system is. I used to have that reaction, and "more 3D" is the exact statement I would use to compare tape to my DAW. But currently, with my Apogee Symphony and 32 bit recording, I no longer feel that way.
I have a Lynx Aurora. And here's the thing...when I compare the two, I compare them in the moment. Not remembering what tape sounded like 15 or 20 years ago when I used to use it.

That story I just told about my machine not erasing and having to switch formats, I made that comparison instantly, by just switching some patching in the patchy, making one more pass, and A/Bing by switching the patchy again.

The people I end up arguing with here about this never seem to do that kind of comparison, where we're talking about the same room, same musicians, same mics, same everything.

Do that and tell me that plug-ins sound as good as tape (at sounding like tape, that is).

Quote:
And god bless anybody who wants to deal with an MM1200.
Well, there are advantages and disadvantages (compromises, right?), but yeah. It's a love-hate relationship.

Quote:
My mentor has a scar from having his carpel tunnel operated on, from doing punches on a 1200.
I know more than a few engineers with carpal tunnel from operating a mouse all day every day.

Quote:
One of the worst machines ever for that task.
Yeah, we try to not have to punch too often.

Quote:
This is why when I first built my room 23 years ago, we went with a 3M 56 and a Studer 827.
Fine machines! Studer transport is the Rolls Royce of the tape transport world, and 3M machines sound great.
Old 25th September 2017
  #179
Lives for gear
 

Auto-correct is officially out of hand.

"Patchy" for patchbay?

Sheesh.
Old 25th September 2017
  #180
Lives for gear
 
burns46824's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post
Do you have NOS batches of 456, 499, GP9 or 911 to compare against?
Yes, but not NOS. OS. Got multiple reels of GP9 and 456 and 499 and 911, I believe. I don't bother using old tape, though, because of potential shed. We threw an old reel of 911 on my MTR-90III (I believe it was 911) and it was shedding all over the place.

As for ATR improving their batches within the past year...yes, I believe they have. At least, that's my experience. The tape I'm using right now I bought a few months ago and it has almost ZERO shed, even with many passes.

There is something about tape that digital does not do...tape compression. Makes things sound very "natural," especially vocals.
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