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Best Tape Machine and why? Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 23rd December 2017
  #241
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
Someone offered my cash for my MCI, thus I'd want to get the M79 going. I think it needs a PSU rebuild, though.
An m79 in good shape is a beautiful, punchy thing.
Old 23rd December 2017
  #242
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the best thing about tape is NOT THE SOUND, but the WORKFLOW you're forced to adopt! i use my daw as a tape replacement and editing tool, mix on boards and try to keep the "analog tape workflow"; if i mix on an analog board, i try to get the best converters i can (and use mostly euphonix)
Old 23rd December 2017
  #243
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Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
An m79 in good shape is a beautiful, punchy thing.
Its a lovely sounding deck.

Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
the best thing about tape is NOT THE SOUND, but the WORKFLOW you're forced to adopt! i use my daw as a tape replacement and editing tool, mix on boards and try to keep the "analog tape workflow"; if i mix on an analog board, i try to get the best converters i can (and use mostly euphonix)
I do enjoy that sense of "we have to get it right" when working on tape. I do still run digital sessions that way. We'll do as many takes as needed, trying to find magic. The biggest difference is not having to change reels, or record over things immediately if we think we might like it.
Old 23rd December 2017
  #244
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
I do still run digital sessions that way.... The biggest difference is not having to change reels, or record over things immediately if we think we might like it.
i'm glad i'm not the only one...

... and (some) bands/ensembles seem to enjoy this workstyle too!
Old 23rd December 2017
  #245
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skybluerental View Post
A Revox C278 is NOT a color machine. It is clean like an A807 (they have very similar electronics and transport.)
To me, my C278 is my color machine

However, I haven't done any scientific tests. Just talking about my short experience and the difference I hear: It shapes the tone of the voice, so it gets more seniority, it rounds it up, probably through some compressing & saturation and lack of that naked transparency etc. I'm not sure, what it is, but a single voice track sounds closer to a record, more like an artistic statement, a finished product.

You said once, the C278 of Jonathan Horwich, you've been recorded on, is nice sounding. He gave that machine even more compliments here. When you said "nice", what did you mean by that?

My A80 is not VU: A80-R 1/4, 15ips, IEC, RMG SM900. What I hear on some pop music material is the unifying, taking the tone together, in contrast to the clinical separation in the DAW. I also hear that it is adding some depth, but more on the discreet side. I haven't heard a coloring like on C278.

Terms and words are quite restricted and probably only able to approximately describe concepts and things, especially when talking about music. So, maybe that, what I (as non native speaker) call a colored tone, has no color at all to somebody else. Who knows.

I haven't tried A807.
Old 24th December 2017
  #246
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma View Post
the sony SUCKS ..the punch out electronic switching always makes you think you clipped the out ..the plasma meters are useless ... lol get a 3m m79 fast as all get out and great curves..lol just make sure you know how to tension it properly or it will throw tape like a steer under a cowboy..we had 7


yeah that's madonna



lol yours truly as an assistant
Nope
No plasma meters on my Sony, considering it's an MCI machine with stolen Studer and Ampex technology built in....I call BS! Cool pics of Madogma though....are you the 40 year old tape op their?.
Old 24th December 2017
  #247
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Sigma's Avatar
ummmm a little knowledge is a dangerous thing ..here is a sony apr 24 with plasma meters



and err no i was a major label mix engineer by my mid 20's

Last edited by Sigma; 24th December 2017 at 07:40 AM..
Old 24th December 2017
  #248
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You have all heard more of Mikes mixes/ hits than you realize... I mean a ton of them. Between Mike and his dad Joe, they are the Philly Sound of the 60’s and 70’s , the disco sound of the 70’s and 80’s. They created sounds that engineers have tried to emulate ever since. Nothing but props and respect for both of them.
Old 24th December 2017
  #249
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Sigma's Avatar
hard to believe someone can post "BS" without checking about the Sony…lol..if you post on a site to help people you should at least check info rather than spread false statements..i assume this site is here to promote and prolong our craft
Old 24th December 2017
  #250
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Sigma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertone View Post
You have all heard more of Mikes mixes/ hits than you realize... I mean a ton of them. Between Mike and his dad Joe, they are the Philly Sound of the 60’s and 70’s , the disco sound of the 70’s and 80’s. They created sounds that engineers have tried to emulate ever since. Nothing but props and respect for both of them.
larry... happy holidays man!
Old 24th December 2017
  #251
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Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
i'm glad i'm not the only one...

... and (some) bands/ensembles seem to enjoy this workstyle too!
I sometimes put it to bands this way: You can pay to watch me dink around on the computer, moving this and that, tuning and editing. OR... you can play music and make something you want to play for you fans, family, and friends.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertone View Post
You have all heard more of Mikes mixes/ hits than you realize... I mean a ton of them. Between Mike and his dad Joe, they are the Philly Sound of the 60’s and 70’s , the disco sound of the 70’s and 80’s. They created sounds that engineers have tried to emulate ever since. Nothing but props and respect for both of them.
NO DOUBT!

To that end, I did a 70s influenced record that came out this year (see my signature link). I pulled the front BD head off and put Hudraulic heads on the toms and a donut on the snare. One of the first things I played after getting the tuning right was Young Americans. Hearing my drums react to that set up INSTANTLY put that opening drum fill in my head.
Old 24th December 2017
  #252
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Sigma's Avatar
the decade of the dead drums …LEDE rooms … 16/24 track recording changed the whole sound of recorded music … listen to atom heart mother then dark side … those extra 8 tracks made for much more isolation …then begat digital room and reverb to replace the space of more open tracking
Old 25th December 2017
  #253
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Stephens is the best tape machine ever made both spec and sound wise.

Why? Probably due to the fact that it has less parts and an ingenious design from an engineer with a NASA pedigree.

Studer is second but much more practical.

I myself use tape machines with a must less esteemed history and specs but I still like them. There's nothing like the sound of tape to me. Good digital still has its place today obviously and can be great if we don't abuse the tools before us, but human nature being what it is.. "ay, there's the rub"

Wishing warm analog Holiday Greetings to all
Old 26th December 2017
  #254
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cheu78's Avatar
Sorry for the cheap plug.. Although it could be a very nice Xmas gift for somebody..
I'm selling my Studer C37 in perfect condition (new butterfly heads and all)..

It will be on the GS classifieds shortly..



Cheu
Old 26th December 2017
  #255
Gear Addict
 

We obtained this Ampex ATR-104 about 6 weeks ago.

I already have a genuine NOS 1/4" 2 Track headstock assembly to suit it.

Price $Zero!

It needed some work mainly bearings etc. which I have already replaced.
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Old 26th December 2017
  #256
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because it's beautiful inside and playing loud
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Old 26th December 2017
  #257
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vernier's Avatar
Wow that's in excellent shape . . looks brand new.
Old 27th December 2017
  #258
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I do not know what the best-sounding machine is, but one thing you must keep in mind is punch speed and whether or not the machine has an autolocator. Without fast punching and an autolocator, you will find recording to tape extremely challenging, unless you're working with "one-take" artists like jazz trios or pitch-perfect singers.

Personally, I use a modified Otari MTR-90III at 30 IPS for tracking. Extremely fast punching. Has a fantastic autolocator. With upgraded electronics, sounds much better than stock.

For mixing, we have a 1" ATR-102, a 1/2" ATR-102, and a 1/2" Studer A80 VU in the studio. Have some interesting mods on the ATRs...

I have also recorded on a Studer A800 mkIII and a Studer A820. The A800 sounded really big. The A820 seemed to be a bit more neutral-sounding, but still analog.

At the end of the day, I will take features over sound when it comes to analog multitracks. Either way, it's analog! If I were hunting for a multitrack and planned to keep things on tape throughout the entire recording process, I would get a Studer A820, a Studer A827, or an Otari MTR-90II/III (and get the electronics modded by Alan Garren or Jim Williams.)

If I had to guess, I'd say most of my favorite records were tracked on a Studer A80...but that machine doesn't have the bells and whistles of its successors. A lot of the older, more "spartan" machines do indeed sound excellent...

For mixdown I would probably get a Studer A80 RC or an ATR-102 (and bypass electronics or make transformerless.) A Studer A820 with modified electronics would be great, but too much $$$ for most folks.
Old 27th December 2017
  #259
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Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
"...For mixdown I would probably get a Studer A80 RC or an ATR-102 (and bypass electronics or make transformer less.)..."
Or replace the stock ATR transformers with Hi-Nickel Jensens.
Old 27th December 2017
  #260
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rowmat View Post
Or replace the stock ATR transformers with Hi-Nickel Jensens.
Whatever works, baby.
Old 27th December 2017
  #261
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcgood View Post
Stephens is the best tape machine ever made both spec and sound wise.
Not true. I didn't think so with the 24 and 32 trk models at the time. They did not have a sound that was any better than anything else and they felt... a little toylike in use. And those meters...ugh.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bcgood View Post
Why? Probably due to the fact that it has less parts and an ingenious design from an engineer with a NASA pedigree.

wtf. Fiddling with transistor mods in the navy as part of a nasa project and then sticking modded transistors into 3m stuff to see what happened (and often time, nothing earthshattering did) is not imo, a link to "therefore, the later Stephens machines=best". The subtraction of a capstan alone was ultimately, a killer of the machine for a number of reasons. imo. Which I felt at the time. And was certainly borne out by others trying to use the machines in a larger setup.

Stephens machines were a lot of gimmick and fun stuff.

Several studios bought one or two. No one kept em. Everyone went back to their Studers, MCI, Ampex etc at the time. Well now, I can't say "everyone"....no, wait....I take it back.....EVERYONE ditched their commercial studio Stephens machines. All except the guys in their houses and the 4th string studios who scored some used Stephens machines to open their doors (but then they bailed too).

No capstan?.... Hey, that's a fun idea. Can't sync, can't get reliable speed from the two existing motors from beginning to end of tape, but hey.... fun idea. Sort of like "less is more". But more like "less capstan ain't gonna do it".

Run on batteries? Hey, silly and fun. Leave your remote truck at home. Connect a battery-powered radio shack mixer to your battery powered Stephens...er....no wait....let's see.....now where exactly are we gonna use one of these on battery power with no mixer frontend????? Silly, fun. The railroad and beach pics were especially fun.
Old 27th December 2017
  #262
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Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
I do not know what the best-sounding machine is, but one thing you must keep in mind is punch speed and whether or not the machine has an autolocator.

Without fast punching and an autolocator, you will find recording to tape extremely challenging, unless you're working with "one-take" artists like jazz trios or pitch-perfect singers.
I stopped doing punch-ins in 1971 or 72 or so. Maybe earlier. I'm trying to remember. The rule I propose to the newbie (since you said "you must keep in mind")... is...

never punch in.
It's not necessary.
Don't do it.
Has nothing to do with one-take artists.
Punch ins are dangerous and haven't been necessary since 1969.
Punch ins have no undo.

Synchronized submix comps with never-ever-erase-anything is the civilized way to live with and feed tape recorder signals like a nice Kitty. Without a computer no less.

Your console mutes, vca mutes, etc on your console are handy as well in the never-erase-anything mindset. Especially during tight "one word" "one note" overdubs to fix flubs on an otherwise great track. Not to mention at the submix bounce part.

A great synchronization system can also be used to bring in quarter track/half track, quarter-inch machines in tandem with a 2" machine if a second 2" isn't available. Completely and permanently cancels out the need, stress, danger of punch-ins.

But could it be that knowing how to do great punch-ins is a valuable skill to know from yesteryear? Well, yeah, sort of like being a blacksmith. You never know when someone might call you for work, asking if you know the art of punching-in.


Punch ins...... bah... humbug

I do agree about an autolocater being useful.
Old 27th December 2017
  #263
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burns46824's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by thenoodle View Post
I stopped doing punch-ins in 1971 or 72 or so. Maybe earlier. I'm trying to remember. The rule I propose to the newbie (since you said "you must keep in mind")... is...

never punch in.
It's not necessary.
Don't do it.

Punch ins...... bah... humbug

I do agree about an autolocater being useful.
I don't do vocal punches anymore, either, but I sometimes do instrument punches...very useful...how could it not be?

For vocals, I also do submixing comps, but punching is very useful for that if you're doing complicated comps...like I always do. I have to get things to sound natural, and sometimes you need a 0.1 second extra breath between the comps and I'm not going to do that manually. I use auto-punch for that.

Also, I do not do any manual punching...just auto-punching. Very different!
Old 27th December 2017
  #264
Old 27th December 2017
  #265
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The first Cars album was recorded to a Stephens. That album sounds amazing. I just bought the Mo Fi pressing of that album.

"The Cars: Debut album background vocal sound

British producer Roy Thomas Baker, working with the Boston band on its first album, employed a vocal trick he used with Queen. A rare Stephens 40-track tape machine with Dolby SR served as his secret weapon to produce an explosive backing vocal mix. Cars leader Ric Ocasek told me in an interview how this sound was achieved..

How Baker and The Cars did it:
A) Put three singers around a mic, and have them sing the same vocal part for eight takes. B) Repeat this process for the second vocal part. 3) Repeat for the third vocal part. This will give you 72 vocalists singing a three-part harmony, and 24 more if you add a fourth part. As Ocasek himself might say, let the good times roll!"
Old 27th December 2017
  #266
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burns46824's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by bcgood View Post
The first Cars album was recorded to a Stephens. That album sounds amazing. I just bought the Mo Fi pressing of that album.

"The Cars: Debut album background vocal sound

British producer Roy Thomas Baker, working with the Boston band on its first album, employed a vocal trick he used with Queen. A rare Stephens 40-track tape machine with Dolby SR served as his secret weapon to produce an explosive backing vocal mix. Cars leader Ric Ocasek told me in an interview how this sound was achieved..

How Baker and The Cars did it:
A) Put three singers around a mic, and have them sing the same vocal part for eight takes. B) Repeat this process for the second vocal part. 3) Repeat for the third vocal part. This will give you 72 vocalists singing a three-part harmony, and 24 more if you add a fourth part. As Ocasek himself might say, let the good times roll!"
Very cool. I think Def Leppard did something similar. Tons of tape submixing plus noise reduction = THAT vocal sound.

However, it wouldn't have been SR for the Cars' debut. It would have been A. SR didn't come out until the mid 80s.
Old 28th December 2017
  #267
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Deuce 225's Avatar
 

MCI 16 Track...

IMHO - the best tape machine is the one you can run the most reliably with the lowest total cost of ownership. In our case that happens to be an MCI 2in 16 track. We rely on it exclusively for our Trace Horse "Live 2 Tape" Video Sessions.

Here is a recent example:



Best,
Tim

Trace Horse IG
Trace Horse FB
Old 28th December 2017
  #268
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PDC View Post
Poop on the Soundcraft's and Otari's IMO. I don't know what you call expensive. There are some good deals all the time on Studer A80s.
Ok, so what DON'T you poop on?
Old 28th December 2017
  #269
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tonymite View Post
My latest obsession- Tape:

i want the tape option for colour - since my console is SONY/MCI-3630 and has been known to sound neutral / vanilla flavour - although I have outboard to counter that.


Which is the "BEST" sounding/behaving tape machine and why?

ie: I hear AMPEX MM1200 are fat and rock sounding but are a nightmare to maintain - although frequency plots show a roll off and a bump down low.

same applies for the MCI JH-16/24 I hear the cards are interchangable with MM1200 ie: Transformer Balanced class A discrete audio

Studer's are expensive and seem to be best all rounders. I dont know much about their electronics.

Sony APR-24 looks interesting but transformerless kind of defeats the purpouse of the desire for tape - but I hear the transport system is rock solid.

OTARI ?? I dont hear any remarks about Balls with OTARI

Soundcraft 760 and Saphire ??

any other optins to consider ??

I think I'd be happy with 16 Tracks - I wouldn't need more to track drums and bass + I'd get a bit more dynamic range out of 16 tracks compared to 24 tracks wouldn't I ? more fatness ??

Thanks In Advance)
You make it all sound so easy: "Oh yah! I'll settle for 16 tracks of tape, I don't mind roughing it" WTF I'm surrounded by a tape machine graveyard and the corpses of decks I've bought that sorta kinda worked, that I thought I might be able to get fixed, that either their weren't parts, nobody knew how, or the only guy who did is an a$$hole I would like to smash over the head with one of these things rather then pay him a gouge price for his crappy work, not that he's the only gouger out there, find someone to service these things and they want your left nut in return, well after getting my Tascam 32 functional I only have my right one left.

I saw a Fostex E16 for $200 the other night, seller said there are some small niggles, with Fostex that means the deck is DONE, DEAD NEVER COMING BACK, because a lot of these things you can't get parts for,

I now realize I'm an idiot for not buying that E16 as a parts deck.......but that's tape life man, not "I think I'll use 24 today.....and pardon me but do you have any grey poupon?"

It's all I can do to keep 8 tracks up and running if you've got some secret formula for you magic expanding track count, I'm all ears..

Cause from where I'm camped, the path of the tape is a hard road to travel....and clean that path with isoprophol alchohol every 12 hours!
Old 28th December 2017
  #270
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjblair View Post
911 would frequently shed,even when new. They had problems with their binders. It became very unrealizable from batch to batch, in that respect. It's a big part of why I was a quantegy guy.

Tape compression is something that is really only noticeable when you start pushing it. When I started out, I thought I loved it. I would listen to the repro head, and adjust my kick and snare until they distorted, and then back it off. Then Massenberg talked about leaving a bunch of headroom on kick and snare, and I tried it and realized how much I was destroying my transients with tape compression. My drums were much punchier if I avoid tape compression, and then used an 1176 for the "bigness."

Give it a try.

Apogee for years had a "soft limit" feature to try an mimic the effect of tape compression. I'm not sure tape compression is anything I'm really missing, honestly.
Tape compression/ Saturation is life......everything else is bull****

Why do you think every single crappy plugin that hits the market has some angle on how it gives you what tape would have given you, had you the gonads to use it?

There is a great thread on GS where some guy went deep down the scientific rabbit hole and ended up proving that what tape does to your transients cannot be recreated in the digital realm or the fairy princess relm as I like to call it
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