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To Dolby S/R or Not to Dolby S/R...That Is the Question Multi-Ef­fects Plugins
Old 21st December 2010
  #1
To Dolby S/R or Not to Dolby S/R...That Is the Question

I'm looking to record an analog synthpop album. I've used tape a lot in the past, but I've had noise issues, even after calibration. I'm pretty set on tracking to tape and mixing digitally to help prevent such a problem this time around.

Do you guys recommend tracking at 15 ips with Dolby S/R or at 30 ips without noise reduction?

Also, are you tape users mixing to 1/2" these days, too?
Old 21st December 2010
  #2
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12ax7's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post

I'm looking to record an analog synthpop album. I've used tape a lot in the past, but I've had noise issues, even after calibration. I'm pretty set on tracking to tape and mixing digitally to help prevent such a problem this time around.

Do you guys recommend tracking at 15 ips with Dolby S/R or at 30 ips without noise reduction?

Also, are you tape users mixing to 1/2" these days, too?
I always thought the best sounding analog mixdown format was 1/2-inch at 30ips non-Dolby.

...Just my $0.02

.
Old 21st December 2010
  #3
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Rick Sutton's Avatar
 

I really enjoyed the absence of hiss with SR at 15 for tracking.
Old 21st December 2010
  #4
I agree that it's nice to have that lack of hiss at 15 ips, but Dolby SR can sound wonky to me on certain things. If it were me I'd probably bypass the Dolby on overheads/cymbals and acoustic guitars... anything with strong high end transients.

Good Luck!
Old 21st December 2010
  #5
Yeah I'm sort of debating whether Dolby S/R is worth it. It does sound a bit more "digital."
Old 21st December 2010
  #6
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Flying_Dutchman's Avatar
 

no dolby
if you got issues try bias sound soap
Old 21st December 2010
  #7
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adamcal's Avatar
 

You get the nice fat head bump at 15ips but more hiss along for the ride. Dolby SR certainly does eliminate that hiss problem, but now you get a whole bunch or extra electronics in the path plus more alignment work to be done.

SR problems are usually down to alignment problems so you just need to more on the ball and be prepared to grow a trimmer as an extra finger.

A lot of people forget that each SR channel has a bypass, use it where its needed, like soft/high dynamic/dull tracks that will need lots of top boost, and leave it off for the big loud tracks that you can slam into the tape. and as mentioned, some sounds sound better without it.

I dont think its sounds anymore digital other than the lack of hiss, and at 15 ips that tape thing is still a happening thing.
Old 21st December 2010
  #8
That's interesting advice. I wonder if it'd just be better to noise reduce in the mastering stage rather than worrying about it at the tracking stage.
Old 21st December 2010
  #9
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The MPCist's Avatar
 

I've got Dolby SR but don't use it these days. If it's something that's very 'noisefloor sensitive', I'll just record it to digital and fly in the parts I want from tape... more like a hybrid system.

As for noise, I kinda dig it! A little noise is what I expect and want from tape actually!
Old 21st December 2010
  #10
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adamcal's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
That's interesting advice. I wonder if it'd just be better to noise reduce in the mastering stage rather than worrying about it at the tracking stage.
if you had 20 open tracks producing noise, and 1 sound playing, its going to to be a million times harder to deal with at mastering than those tracks silent and just 1 sound playing.

its a bit like saying, adjusting the amount of sugar in a cake after its made.

do it white tracking, everything else later will be easier.
Old 21st December 2010
  #11
Yeah, but that's kind of hard to pick and choose when to use noise reduction and when not to. It's almost like there needs to be noise reduction automation, ha!
Old 21st December 2010
  #12
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adamcal's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by burns46824 View Post
Yeah, but that's kind of hard to pick and choose when to use noise reduction and when not to. It's almost like there needs to be noise reduction automation, ha!
No, you choose based the individual track itself, it stays on for the whole song, no need to turn it on or off during.

for example, you could have 12 tracks of drums with the SR off, 8 tracks of quiet stereo pads with SR turned on, a bright synth with it off, but a hand percussion that needs top boost, plays sporadicly and is very quiet in spots, loud in others with the SR on. it stays that way for the whole song.

Or you could just make your life easy and have it enabled (or disabled) on every track, all the time and be done with it. its a matter of effort vs practical gain.
Old 21st December 2010
  #13
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Plush's Avatar
SR is incredible and totally worth it. Read the manual about using SR and you will see that it is made to be used at 185nWB/m, not at an elevated level. To use it properly run conservative levels on your machine. Both the machine and the SR interface need to be aligned to work together.

Recording at 30ips is certainly an option but obviously twice as expensive.

Master to 1/2" at 30 ips is standard stuff or use SR on 1/2" at 15 ips.

Get a qualified tech to help you set up your machine.

Recording with SR approaches the dynamic range of 18 bit recordings. (still more than is required.)
Old 21st December 2010
  #14
Great advice adamcal and Plush
Old 21st December 2010
  #15
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sr

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Sutton View Post
I really enjoyed the absence of hiss with SR at 15 for tracking.
what hiss that's just the rain, no wait, its the ringing in your clients ears

C
i dont have sr so 30 ips for me
Old 21st December 2010
  #16
I'm gonna have to agree with Hudson, the vast majority of problems that people have with Dolby in general is rooted in a lack of understanding of how it works and how to use it.
Like Hudson said, cal the machine for either 185 or 250 nWb/M and calibrate the Dolby for unity gain and don't hit the tape hard and you will get all the benefits of analog tape without the noise. There is actually a very desirable quality to the tape hiss at 15 with SR. My clients like to call it "velvety black silence".
If you really want to reduce the noise floor even further, try calibrating the machine to the CCIR/IEC standard rather than the NAB standard. Again you will lower the noise floor a few dB and pick up some headroom to boot.
WRT calibration, I run a test pad every morning, but very rarely find the need to recalibrate due to drift. (We have Studers here, but any decent professional machine should hold a calibration for a good long time....unless you're bouncing it up and down the hall just for fun. )

All the best,
-mark
Old 21st December 2010
  #17
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dualflip's Avatar
 

Is it just me or slamming Ampex 456 or 499 or even GP9 2 track 1/4" tape at 15ips just sounds great? i do use Dolby SR, i love it...., i use tape to add color, and to me 1/2" @ 30 ips sounds "too good", im not saying i dont like it, on the contrary, but i love how 1/4" at 15ips compresses and saturates stuff, adding a lot of color... anyway thats just me.. AND BY THE WAY IM TALKING ABOUT MIXING TO THAT FORMAT, NOT TRACKING. When tracking i absolutely love 2 inch 16 track tape at 15ips....
Old 21st December 2010
  #18
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12ax7's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mpdonahue View Post

[...]

cal the machine for either 185 or 250 nWb/M and calibrate the Dolby for unity gain and don't hit the tape hard

[...]

try calibrating the machine to the CCIR/IEC standard rather than the NAB standard.
Yep and yep.

.
...Of course, if you go non-dolby, run it at 30ips, and hit it hard!

(Either way, 250 nWb/M and IEC fer sure.)
.

Old 22nd December 2010
  #19
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How many tracks? You might be able to go without NR if you are tracking to 2" 16-track, even at 15 ips, especially using IEC1.

Cheers,

Otto
Old 22nd December 2010
  #20
The decks in question are Studer 24-tracks.

Another interesting option I've encountered, considering that this is an electronic record and no more than 2 tracks need to be recorded at any given time, is to track through the 1/2" mix deck (for the effect) into a Cranesong HEDD and into ProTools. I suppose noise wouldn't be an issue with that option, but I've never tried it before.
Old 22nd December 2010
  #21
If I was in your shoes and was having a problem with noise, going to SR is a no-brainer, that's what it's for. It should sound good. I bet you will know by the first playback if it's what you want.

Sounds fun,
good luck
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