The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Reel to reel & mixer for "lofi"
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Reel to reel & mixer for "lofi"

hello, everyone.

i've lurked the forums and did a lot of research but decided to finally ask since i keep reaching dead-ends.

i am aiming to achieve a very noticeable vintage sound but not as lofi as cassette. a late 60's sound if you will. i heard Tascam 388 can achieve this "between cassette and hifi R2R" sound, but they are going for roughly $2,000 right now and that is way out of budget for me.

examples i like:


the question: what mixer & reel-to-reel would you guys recommend for this? i'm absolutely fine with working in 4-track (bouncing down will probably make the tones sound how i like anyway)

as far as mic placement, song-writing, and types of mics goes- i have that covered.

thanks for reading
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 

You're under the false illusion, older means low fidelity.
Yea maybe if you go back to the 40's when they were still burning 78 rpm LP's.
Germans had developed the first reel to reel recorders in the 1920 using Ferric oxide tape instead of the wire most recorders had used up to that time.
Once WWII was over and these reel recorders were brought to the US and exploited by entrepreneurs and used in Radio broadcasting.

You can thank people like Bing Crosby for having the insight to invest in companies like Ampex and turned them into some of the highest fidelity audio ever.
Bing was able to utilize it in broadcasting his shows on a national basis by delaying the broadcast time for each time zone. That changed the entire world.
All during the 50's there were major improvements in technology. What was used in the 60's studios was developed mostly from 50's radio. The fidelity wasn't that great because most people listened on AM radio which had frequency limitations. Long Play albums were just becoming available too as the phonograph cartridges improved.

What you hear as Lo Fi is simply a pre conceived conception based on what the majority of listeners used for listening to music. There was plenty of High end Hi fidelity audio even back in the late 50's. You simply had to spend allot of money to buy it. Allot of it was mono too. The first Hi Fi I owned had incredible fidelity. A Fischer AM/FM receiver Bogen power amplifier all tubes and coaxial speaker.

Where people get it wrong deals with the Type of music recorded, the quality of the Musical performance, the quality of the Musical Composition, Instruments used, studio acoustics etc. Unlike common folklore, Multitrack recorders weren't invented by Les Paul. They were first used in Film in the 1920s then the first stereo recorders were built in the 40's. Ampex built the first 8 track in the late 50s and sold one to Les Paul. The rest were used mostly for radio and TV. It wasn't until Les Paul exploited the advantages of having multiple recording tracks that it took off in studios. Record recordings in the 40's and 50's too back seat to the Radio, Movie and TV industries which were the big money makers because they had advertisers. The best gear is owned by those who can afford it.

It took allot of time for things to change from the old studio concept of recording which was a clone of the Movie industry. You had People who wrote the music, People who played it, engineers who recorded it and stars chosen to be made famous. Most bands were nameless, just studio musicians paid union wages to back a singer or group of singers. It wasn't till the mid to late 50's when people like Buddy Holly began to change how the industry worked and allowed the artists to create write music and have a say in how it was produced.

Again, the quality of the recording gear wasn't the biggest issue, it was how the gear was used.
Your quest of finding some old piece of junk to produce music from a period where high quality sound was already being produced is misguided.
All you'll wind up with is an unreliable piece of gear in dire need of refurbishment. I like using automobiles for this analogy. If you found an old car from the 50's or 60's that hast been rebuilt and preserved, its not going to be road worthy. Even when they were new, the top life expectancy was maybe 100K miles and the primitive parts made them expensive to maintain. If you had one now, it might be cool to look at, but its highly impractical for driving to work every day. The durability of the automobiles simply weren't very good. Audio gear has many similarities. There were parts used that were excellent and they could produce some high fidelity sounds, but their overall designs were fairly limited.

In short, they didn't have computers to design the electronic components and circuits. As an electronic engineer you had a mechanical calculator and a slide rule to do your math. Manufacturers were able to build high quality parts based on military specs but the variety of quality parts was limited to the biggest electronic companies. Quality Gear from Japan wasn't even on the drawing board yet.

What I'm saying here is the choices were limited because there were only so many companies making audio gear. Many of your notable studios often built their own audio gear from scratch to meet their needs. This gave each studio their own unique sound, along with whatever over the counter gear was added.
If you want to capture the sound of recordings made in the 60's, there "aren't" any over the counter mixers you could buy for that, at least not at a consumer level. You had some big companies eventually get into building studio grade consoles but you'll find that came later in the decade and into the 70's
What major consoles that are left from that era have become mostly museum pieces. A few may still be in use but most would have to have been rebuilt pretty much from scratch.

What you should be focused on instead of buying some old boat anchor is but something new that had high quality sound and is flexible.
Then you can buy notable cloned modules, preamps, sound strips etc that can be used recording or mixing to give you "That" unique sound.
from there in its 100% about playing the type of music from that era that gets you anywhere close. The last cover band I played were did a top 100 from the 60's and quite convincingly too. We all used fairly modern gear recording too, even though I own a good deal of vintage gear. It was WAY easier to record the best sound possible and dumb it down to sound like a poorly recorded 60's song then it was to try and make an old piece of gear sound like it did the day it was made. Of course we did that too but one way you work 10 times harder getting optimal operating conditions. The other way its much harder not to get good sound and then you can ,manipulate it to sound any way you want including ultra modern or vintage.

if your hear is set on a Tascam, you need to troll sites like eBay on a daily basis, then jump on one as they become available. You can get a mixer in fairly good condition at a lesser cost then refurbish it if they have the skill. I used to do that for a living so I'm pretty good at resurrecting the dead but for someone with no electronics skill, I advise you go with something new and then simply mix to get the sound you want.

Using an old piece of gear may seem noble to an amateur but to anyone with the experience and education in what's involved its a really stupid move. I don't even advise people to bother using tape either. if it was the 80's or even 90's and you had 100K for all the supporting gear and 10 years to learn how to use it, that's one thing. Today tape is pretty much over. The few remaining studios that still run it are the last of their kind. Getting into tape at this point is obviously a dead end. If you do it for educational purposes, that's cool an all, but I wouldn't be advising anyone to spend allot of money on obsolete gear that's seen better days. The ass kicking you'll give yourself when you discover how much time and money was wasted can easily be avoided if the people using old take gear would simply come clean and tell you the pro's and cons involved, without the ego attached.

Of course most are out to earn money and what better way of doing that by telling you its the gear that's unobtainable to most now that had all that magic mojo.
99% of that is pure BS. Most of the Mojo all comes from the people performing the music and the people using the gear. Of course people putting faith in man made objects isn't anything new. People get attached to their gear without really understanding why they have that attachment, but its role in making great music typically doesn't compare to the human effort. Gear is just a tool an engineer uses to build a recording. One tool is often just as good as the next. Once you know how to wield one, wielding another isn't that difficult.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
Here for the gear
 

wow, thank you for your thorough response! the history was especially insightful. you brought up a really good point about hi fidelity still existing back then but i think i should've explained myself a bit more in my post. i quoted "lofi" in the title because i know it's not necessarily low fidelity, but just a word that is commonly used to describe that "warm" analog sound.

i 100% agree with you that analog equipment is a pain to deal with but most of my setup is already digital. as much as people hate Native Instruments' Guitar Rig, i found it to be perfect for my needs. i also combine that with a drum vst that was recorded in mono with only one overhead mic and a kick drum mic.

i also completely agree with you that mic placement, performance, acoustics and song-writing all come before everything else but after failure with multiple tape plugins on my vocals (J37, iZotope Vinyl, Abbey Roads Waves) i decided that it would be:

A. better to implement some form of analog equipment
and B. more fun to work without my computer screen (since most of my day i'm doing this anyway)



my overall setup would be a hybrid of tape and digital. i enjoy using plate reverb plugins and certain effects digitally but, to me, it really seems like the combination of old tape and the right mixer (and of course technique with the mixer) creates this "vintage" effect. i'm not looking for something that sounds identical to the era but surely i could get really close.

for an example, check this out: Nasty, crunchy, dirty 70's mixers?
he even proves it with a ****ty performance. to me, this provided that it was a combination of gear and technique with that gear. i know buying the gear won't just make this happen but surely it could be a step in the process.

another thing that sucks is none of my tape plugins allow me to bounce tracks down, it's sort of just an overlay of tape hiss with some additional functions (wow and flutter). yes, i could probably export these tracks and combine them into one and keep mixing them down digitally but i want to try a mixer or tape machine as i think it would be a lot more fun. and if it sucks and it's a huge pain in the ass.. then... lesson learned ha.

i've only started digitally recording a few years ago. you seem to have a lot of experience and know what you're talking about so i hope i don't come across as ridiculous; but using a physical machine and mixer would be really beneficial to my experience recording.



question: people often describe the Tascam 388 as having a certain "vintage sound" that is unique to it. what do you think that is? the tape running through all eqs & etc? maybe i can achieve this on a budget with some other equipment in combination with digital plugins.

thanks again for taking your time to respond
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
Lives for gear
 

As a fan of the 388, it’s sound is the combination of limitations of the format (8 tracks squeezed onto 1/4” tape, running at 7.5ips, with or without dBx noise reduction) coupled with 80s consumer mixer electronics. I don’t know if “vintage” is the right word, but it certainly has a character. Maybe vintage in the same way that a VCR is a good analogy. VHS tapes don’t look or sound great but they were okay at the time.

As again, when we think about pro reel to reels and consoles...those were built and generally used to “sound as good as possible” not for what the modern idea of tape/lofi may be...And the 388 was not a pro deck. It was one of the first (if not the first?) affordable self contained home studio setups...think a big cassette portastudio and that’s exactly what it is.

I’ve never heard anyone pull off the sound from plugins, but I haven’t used all of the plugins either...perhaps there is something out there.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kslight View Post
As a fan of the 388, it’s sound is the combination of limitations of the format (8 tracks squeezed onto 1/4” tape, running at 7.5ips, with or without dBx noise reduction) coupled with 80s consumer mixer electronics. I don’t know if “vintage” is the right word, but it certainly has a character. Maybe vintage in the same way that a VCR is a good analogy. VHS tapes don’t look or sound great but they were okay at the time.

As again, when we think about pro reel to reels and consoles...those were built and generally used to “sound as good as possible” not for what the modern idea of tape/lofi may be...And the 388 was not a pro deck. It was one of the first (if not the first?) affordable self contained home studio setups...think a big cassette portastudio and that’s exactly what it is.

I’ve never heard anyone pull off the sound from plugins, but I haven’t used all of the plugins either...perhaps there is something out there.

thank you! this actually helps me a lot. 1/4'', 4 track, 7.5 ips is what i had in mind for a reel-to-reel. do you think any functional reel to reel with those specs will achieve something close to a "388 sound" in conjunction with a mixer?

and if so, is there a mixer you would recommend to go with it? i've seen the M30 and it's pricey and large. i'm trying not to be picky but i'm just curious if there are cheaper options out there that may work as well.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dedheshna View Post
thank you! this actually helps me a lot. 1/4'', 4 track, 7.5 ips is what i had in mind for a reel-to-reel. do you think any functional reel to reel with those specs will achieve something close to a "388 sound" in conjunction with a mixer?

and if so, is there a mixer you would recommend to go with it? i've seen the M30 and it's pricey and large. i'm trying not to be picky but i'm just curious if there are cheaper options out there that may work as well.

I haven’t messed with any of the 4 track reel to reels...though they will be double the track width.

A Tascam TR8 might be closer, but by the time you get it all together with a mixer and dBx and such unsure what that would cost.

Or Fostex R8...but never owned one.


You can sometimes find crusty old Tascam boards from the 388 era...like the M308...but not limited to that model, many variations out there.I had one of those which I sold with a 38 I had acquired. It certainly looks like the mixer section of the 388, but admittedly I didn’t use the m308 much. I would be surprised if it was a lot different.


The 388 is most fun though, something about the self contained nature.. I recommend keeping your eyes out for one...they aren’t as uncommon as you may think. I think they sold a lot of them...I’ve been into them for around 10 years and personally owned 4 of them (currently have 2)....and I’ve seen more than that for sale that I’ve let slip by.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
Lives for gear
 
robert82's Avatar
The Emitt Rhodes recording is sheer brilliance. You won't get that using any kind of gear unless you have musicians playing together, miced right, and mixed right.

The Elliot Smith song is definitely lo-fi, but a much simpler arrangement. That one sounds like cassette! Like, Portastudio quality.

The three singer-songwriter pieces could be achieved with some old pro-sumer analog gear, for sure. The other one is classic studio-quality analog, and I would think hard to replicate. There's a tightness and "rightness" to that sound. And IMO, gear takes a back seat to the music in this case. Best of luck to you!

Edit: I looked up the Emitt Rhodes album, and I was wrong - he recorded all the parts himself! The instruments were on a four track, and he went to a studio to get the rest on eight track. We don't know what his four track was at home - maybe an Ampex (?) Teac didn't have Simul-Sync yet . . . Suffice to say, that was a very talented self-recording musician.

The other factor is that the eight track tape was then mixed down probably on a console, and that was a very nice mix. Interesting how limited the frequency range is - the meat is in the midrange!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
Lives for gear
 
bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dedheshna View Post
hello, everyone.

i've lurked the forums and did a lot of research but decided to finally ask since i keep reaching dead-ends.

i am aiming to achieve a very noticeable vintage sound but not as lofi as cassette. a late 60's sound if you will. i heard Tascam 388 can achieve this "between cassette and hifi R2R" sound, but they are going for roughly $2,000 right now and that is way out of budget for me.

examples i like:


the question: what mixer & reel-to-reel would you guys recommend for this? i'm absolutely fine with working in 4-track (bouncing down will probably make the tones sound how i like anyway)

as far as mic placement, song-writing, and types of mics goes- i have that covered.

thanks for reading
Don’t do it, man. Save that money and buy gear that will actually make you more creative... instruments, outboard, software, whatever... 2 grand is just enough to get you into a consumer tape machine that isn’t going to do anything that you can’t do a trillion times better with even a crappy plugin, let alone one of the few truly great ones. Hell, if you must have hardware, buy a hardware tape sim. But, seriously, the tape thing is a sham chased by those who don’t know the difference and praised by those already too deeply invested in it to admit they’re wrong...

Now, some of the tapehead cats have real machines and that’s a whole different kettle of fish... but that’s not what we’re talking about at your price point

Abort abort!!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
Lives for gear
 
bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kslight View Post
As a fan of the 388, it’s sound is the combination of limitations of the format (8 tracks squeezed onto 1/4” tape, running at 7.5ips, with or without dBx noise reduction) coupled with 80s consumer mixer electronics. I don’t know if “vintage” is the right word, but it certainly has a character. Maybe vintage in the same way that a VCR is a good analogy. VHS tapes don’t look or sound great but they were okay at the time.

As again, when we think about pro reel to reels and consoles...those were built and generally used to “sound as good as possible” not for what the modern idea of tape/lofi may be...And the 388 was not a pro deck. It was one of the first (if not the first?) affordable self contained home studio setups...think a big cassette portastudio and that’s exactly what it is.

I’ve never heard anyone pull off the sound from plugins, but I haven’t used all of the plugins either...perhaps there is something out there.
Tape plugin of your choice + eq curves = any consumer grade tape deck... come on guys... seriously, you’re gonna mythologize a 388 or a portastudio for cripes sakes?

There is a plugin company doing something similar (god in heaven only knows why)... I think it’s audiothing
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
Lives for gear
 
12tone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bgood View Post
Tape plugin of your choice + eq curves = any consumer grade tape deck... come on guys... seriously, you’re gonna mythologize a 388 or a portastudio for cripes sakes?
They would sound different. You're comparing apples and oranges in a sense; sonically, methodologically, aesthetically and otherwise...

Whether one thinks one is better or worse probably depends on the situation and context. I don't see much "mythologization" going on any more than you mythologizing about a non existent mythologization.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by robert82 View Post
The Emitt Rhodes recording is sheer brilliance. You won't get that using any kind of gear unless you have musicians playing together, miced right, and mixed right.

The Elliot Smith song is definitely lo-fi, but a much simpler arrangement. That one sounds like cassette! Like, Portastudio quality.

The three singer-songwriter pieces could be achieved with some old pro-sumer analog gear, for sure. The other one is classic studio-quality analog, and I would think hard to replicate. There's a tightness and "rightness" to that sound. And IMO, gear takes a back seat to the music in this case. Best of luck to you!

Edit: I looked up the Emitt Rhodes album, and I was wrong - he recorded all the parts himself! The instruments were on a four track, and he went to a studio to get the rest on eight track. We don't know what his four track was at home - maybe an Ampex (?) Teac didn't have Simul-Sync yet . . . Suffice to say, that was a very talented self-recording musician.

The other factor is that the eight track tape was then mixed down probably on a console, and that was a very nice mix. Interesting how limited the frequency range is - the meat is in the midrange!
hey! thanks a lot for responding. i'm really happy to hear you think pro-sumer gear would be enough to achieve the sort of folk sound. i'm currently thinking about picking up an AKAI 1710W to achieve this. as for a mixer to combine with it, i'm not sure. maybe a Shure M67 but i'm not sure if that would be enough, i thought an actual mixing board with EQs might be better (just to squash the signal even more, regardless of whether i actually EQ or not). what do you think?

as for Emitt Rhodes... ha, isn't his situation interesting? nice guess. i read in an interview that he used an Ampex 300, 2 Electro Voice dynamic mics, and 2 Shure M67 mixers (not sure why he used 2 of these ). the vocals, as you said, were then done on 8 track with a rented U87.

Emitt also said he'd run the U87 sometimes just straight into the Ampex 300.

what are your thoughts? an Ampex 300 is way out of budget (and room space!). if i were to use a Shure M67 mixer with another 7.5 ips 1/4'' four track tape machine could i get a similar sound?

the AKAI 1710W i mentioned also has tubes in it.. maybe that would help? i don't know, i'm just spitting ideas ha.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bgood View Post
Tape plugin of your choice + eq curves = any consumer grade tape deck... come on guys... seriously, you’re gonna mythologize a 388 or a portastudio for cripes sakes?

There is a plugin company doing something similar (god in heaven only knows why)... I think it’s audiothing
All the tape plugins seem focused on upper level decks...not the 388. And don’t really match that... Even if it came close to the sound would never meet the workflow. That’s half the fun right there, ping ponging tracks and varispeed and such, and the natural wow and flutter.

And I didn’t create the myth...when I bought my first 388 they were still $300.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kslight View Post
I haven’t messed with any of the 4 track reel to reels...though they will be double the track width.
what do you mean? are you saying 4 tracks will be 1/2'' tape? most of the 4 tracks i look at are typically 1/4''.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kslight View Post
A Tascam TR8 might be closer, but by the time you get it all together with a mixer and dBx and such unsure what that would cost.

Or Fostex R8...but never owned one.
i checked this one out but it's 1/2'' anyway. the tape would probably be pricier and not sound the same way.

i'd consider a Fostex R8 or a Fostex M80 but i believe those only run at 15 ips :(

Quote:
Originally Posted by kslight View Post
The 388 is most fun though, something about the self contained nature.. I recommend keeping your eyes out for one...they aren’t as uncommon as you may think. I think they sold a lot of them...I’ve been into them for around 10 years and personally owned 4 of them (currently have 2)....and I’ve seen more than that for sale that I’ve let slip by.
i would love a 388 and i would purchase one at around $600 but that price tag is in the past. it seems i'm lucky to find one at $1,000 these days.

i might pair an AKAI 1710W with a cheap Tascam mixer, like a Tascam M-06. would that be able to achieve something similar to a 388? the thought sounds kind of freaky to me, ha.

also, do you think the 388 being 8 track influences the sound greatly? cause i'm not sure i would need that many tracks.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dedheshna View Post
what do you mean? are you saying 4 tracks will be 1/2'' tape? most of the 4 tracks i look at are typically 1/4''.



i checked this one out but it's 1/2'' anyway. the tape would probably be pricier and not sound the same way.

i'd consider a Fostex R8 or a Fostex M80 but i believe those only run at 15 ips :(



i would love a 388 and i would purchase one at around $600 but that price tag is in the past. it seems i'm lucky to find one at $1,000 these days.

i might pair an AKAI 1710W with a cheap Tascam mixer, like a Tascam M-06. would that be able to achieve something similar to a 388? the thought sounds kind of freaky to me, ha.

also, do you think the 388 being 8 track influences the sound greatly? cause i'm not sure i would need that many tracks.

With a 4 track at 1/4” you have twice as much width per track as an 8 track at 1/4”. In theory this translates to less noise and less cross talk. Standard pro multitrack deck would be 24 tracks on 2”. So you can see where effectively 388’s tape width is greatly reduced from most decks.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
Here for the gear
 

thank you, this is really good to know. i'm going to have to rethink going with a 4 track.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
Here for the gear
 

Don't waste your time with the 388. They are finicky, noisy and hard to find parts. I would recommend having a tech on retainer if you really want to own one. I picked up two non-working 388's. Strip the parts out of one and created an 'A' machine. It was fun for a couple of weeks, and then I remembered how cumbersome it is to record on analog. I really wasn't that blown away by anything on the board. The treble EQ is serviceable. The pres are weak. It's just not that interesting of a machine. I would invest in a 8track 1/2 inch machine and a small mixer before screwing around with a 388. I've been in studios since the 90s and love analog, but seriously, the 388 is highly overrated. As someone said upthread, get some plugins that will add color and you can 'lo-fi' anything with the proper EQ curve. I would buy interesting front end gear and track into the computer.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tinball View Post
Don't waste your time with the 388. They are finicky, noisy and hard to find parts. I would recommend having a tech on retainer if you really want to own one. I picked up two non-working 388's. Strip the parts out of one and created an 'A' machine. It was fun for a couple of weeks, and then I remembered how cumbersome it is to record on analog. I really wasn't that blown away by anything on the board. The treble EQ is serviceable. The pres are weak. It's just not that interesting of a machine. I would invest in a 8track 1/2 inch machine and a small mixer before screwing around with a 388. I've been in studios since the 90s and love analog, but seriously, the 388 is highly overrated. As someone said upthread, get some plugins that will add color and you can 'lo-fi' anything with the proper EQ curve. I would buy interesting front end gear and track into the computer.
thank you, this is helpful

i'm not aiming for high production value though, when you say the pres are weak do you mean they "color" the sound or it just sounds bad?

i guess this is really subjective and difficult to pinpoint. i'd be more happy with a machine that sounded the way i wanted it to immediately rather than something i would need to modify and overlay with plugins in order to hear what i want.

i'll definitely consider a 1/2'' machine. i'm just a little worried it will sound too good/clear.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
Lives for gear
 

Here’s a song from a live show I recorded to 388. Band is a little rough and definitely has their own vibe going on. IIRC, 2 mics on drums, 2 guitar tracks, 3 vocal, 1 bass.

(Fast forward past the intro)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/12mc...w?usp=drivesdk


Here’s a song I recorded to 388 in my drummer’s basement right after I bought my second one. NSFW, lyrics may offend some but I didn’t write them.

Old 4 weeks ago
  #19
Here for the gear
 

that is an awesome performance. vocalist reminds me of Andrew Jackson Jihad a bit. definitely sounds more hifi then i would expect with the 388 but i imagine that's due to several factors, one of them being tape speed. was that run at 15 ips?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #20
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dedheshna View Post
wow, thank you for your thorough response! the history was especially insightful. you brought up a really good point about hi fidelity still existing back then but i think i should've explained myself a bit more in my post. i quoted "lofi" in the title because i know it's not necessarily low fidelity, but just a word that is commonly used to describe that "warm" analog sound.
Maybe an Electron Analog Heat would get you the sound you want. It's a box of that adds various types and amounts of analog distortion, including the sound of saturated console strips.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #21
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dedheshna View Post
that is an awesome performance. vocalist reminds me of Andrew Jackson Jihad a bit. definitely sounds more hifi then i would expect with the 388 but i imagine that's due to several factors, one of them being tape speed. was that run at 15 ips?
The 388 officially is only designed to run at 7.5ips (plus or minus what the varispeed dial is capable of, but it cannot go to 15).


That was recorded to a freshly aligned machine/relapped heads running new tape, didn’t peg the meters with level/etc...so probably as good sound one could expect out of a live show done to 388 while mostly using the built in pres and limited mics. I used a cheap outboard pre for the overhead, for phantom power. The vocal effects were done by the singer through some amp...so none of the distortion is from my machine.

Destroy Anything OTOH I used some outboard pres, old tape, and was not on a calibrated machine...was not recorded on the same 388 even. But 4 mics on drums.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #22
Lives for gear
 
mark1971's Avatar
 

My 8 track 1/4" still amazes me. It needs NOTHING to make a professional sounding vocal. Smooth and fluid. Same voice , same room , same equipment.

Set the preamp and compressor at like 4:1 and it sounds so awesome.

The basic recording is different. I dont have the vocabulary , but I would like a digital interface that sounds the same as the 1/4" on playback.

Now if I wanted the digital clarity from the 128 voice samplers , the 1/4" tape will not capture it like the DAW interface. Those USB things handle digital drum samples and instrument models excellently.

The real voice and real guitar turns out naturally better with the tape. I was unable to duplicate this start point sound with the DAW EQ no matter what shape I drew in the box. So taking this part or that up or down 3-4 db WILL NOT DO IT.

Hi Fi Lo Fi, doesnt mean a thing. Digital with digital, and analog with analog is more like it.

I have not tried many interfaces, and don't have a library of plugins. I never got to the start point sound from any of the DAW instructional videos, or mic demo's. Have you?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #23
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

I wouldn't focus on getting a 'shlt tape machine' on purpose. Get a decent machine, just a vibey sounding one. All machines are NOT equal in that respect. Make it 15ips at least, whatever the rest. You'll still have plenty enough filth. But the M67s could be a good'un for you I think.

And he would have used two of them because they are mono out, and unless you mod them that means for stereo recording onto two tracks, you need two. They certainly have a sound, and a couple of EV dynamics and M67s I say is a great start for almost no money at all. Get a pair of 635a's. Also get a Sennheiser MD408 and a Sure 545 and a 548. But if you get a tape machine, make it worth it. I just recently got a Brenell Mini8, which is 15ips 1 inch 8 track. Deeply looking forward to getting it up and running. Used to be John Entwistle's one. Vibes. But if you really fancy a cheapo I would look at something like a 15ips Teac 3340 long before a 388 (which isn't even cheap anymore, but still sounds cheap).
Old 4 weeks ago
  #24
Lives for gear
 
mark1971's Avatar
 

Karloff, knows.

15 IPS. YES!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #25
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
I wouldn't focus on getting a 'shlt tape machine' on purpose. Get a decent machine, just a vibey sounding one. All machines are NOT equal in that respect. Make it 15ips at least, whatever the rest. You'll still have plenty enough filth. But the M67s could be a good'un for you I think.

And he would have used two of them because they are mono out, and unless you mod them that means for stereo recording onto two tracks, you need two. They certainly have a sound, and a couple of EV dynamics and M67s I say is a great start for almost no money at all. Get a pair of 635a's. Also get a Sennheiser MD408 and a Sure 545 and a 548. But if you get a tape machine, make it worth it. I just recently got a Brenell Mini8, which is 15ips 1 inch 8 track. Deeply looking forward to getting it up and running. Used to be John Entwistle's one. Vibes. But if you really fancy a cheapo I would look at something like a 15ips Teac 3340 long before a 388 (which isn't even cheap anymore, but still sounds cheap).
this is fantastic info, thank you!

i love how cheap those dynamic mics are yet they capture the exact tone i love in many recordings. i already have a Shure SM58 so i may implement that as well.

what quality is it about these machines that really captures a vibe regardless of how well-built the technology is? i would heavily consider a Teac 3340 but 1 inch tape kind of worries me, i feel like it will be a bit too hifi for what i want. i love the Daptone Records sound and i read that Gabe uses 1/4'' tape. really crusty Motown sounding stuff.

also, if 15 ips is still good for that tone i'm going for, what is it about the 388 that i like so much despite it running at 7.5 ips?

i don't want to get something falling apart but i'm starting to think consumer/prosumer-grade could really capture the tone i like. check out that Sibylle Baier song i linked as a reference.

i still got my eyes on this AKAI 1710W, ha. what do you think?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #26
Lives for gear
 
robert82's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dedheshna View Post
i would heavily consider a Teac 3340 but 1 inch tape kind of worries me, i feel like it will be a bit too hifi for what i want. i love the Daptone Records sound and i read that Gabe uses 1/4'' tape. really crusty Motown sounding stuff.

also, if 15 ips is still good for that tone i'm going for, what is it about the 388 that i like so much despite it running at 7.5 ips?
3340 uses 1/4" tape. And you can run it 15 or 7.5. It's a beast, solid, well made.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #27
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by robert82 View Post
3340 uses 1/4" tape. And you can run it 15 or 7.5. It's a beast, solid, well made.
i had no idea, awesome

now the only thing bothering me about that is portability (i love how lightweight the AKAI 1710W is).

is the difference in quality of the machines more in sound or durability (or both?)? i really want the Akai but something is telling me the Teac is just a way better option. i know the Teacs are fairly common around here, probably for a good reason.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #28
Here for the gear
 

I didn't mean to come off as harsh as I was about the 388. I just feel like I was in your position, I wanted something 'lo-fi' with an analog vibe. The 388 is awesome because it's all in one unit. You need nothing else but some mics and cables. If you can get a fully functioning 388 for a 1000$-1200$ these days, then you are doing all right. Last I checked on Ebay and Reverb - I was seeing units gong for 2000$-2500$. I don't know if anyone is buying them at that price, but this is why I feel the 388 is way overrated.

I scavenged two machines off Craigslist in central Florida for 500$. Spent another 350$ on tape, parts and labor getting one fully functioning unit. I have a good friend that is a tech. I used it for a year and sold it locally for a 1000$. I guess I should have waited seeing the prices these days!

The pres do not have a lot of definition. They sound 'mushy' to me. They are serviceable, but I think you'd be way better off with a small Allen and Heath, Audient, even a Mackie mixer in regards to mic pres.

I do enjoy the treble band EQ on the 388. Very pleasant, and not as harsh as most small, affordable mixers these days. My other favorite aspect of the 388 is the sound of the mix bus! It has a heavy power transformer inside of it and there is tons of 'color' when you just run program material through it. I loved just playing music through it for the mellow coloration.

The quality of 8 track 1/4 inch is pretty poor. Even when my tape machine was well aligned and using fresh tape, I did not find the 388 to sound that great, other than for vocals and ac guitar. It really flubs out if you hit it hard with transient material, and low end reproduction leaves a lot to be desired. (meaning there is none). Good luck with bass instruments. If you hear 'full' frequency sounding productions from something tracked on a 388, then I would dare bet it was enhanced with outboard gear or computer mixing.

This is why I recommned getting a cheap modern mixing board with a better quality tape machine. As has been expressed upthread, I would recommend 1/2 inch 8 track. It's not too hi-fi and some of the machines produce good low end and have that analog juicy vibe that you are looking for. Look for Tascams, Fostex...there are a ton of pro-sumer machines from that era.

And lastly, have a good tech at hand that can get you up and running. Once they work, they tend to work for a long time with little maintenance, as long as you are using them frequently.

Good luck!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #29
Lives for gear
 
avare's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dedheshna View Post
i really want the Akai but something is telling me the Teac is just a way better option. i know the Teacs are fairly common around here, probably for a good reason.
They are both over 30 years old. Get what you love. Enjoy!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #30
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tinball View Post
I didn't mean to come off as harsh as I was about the 388. I just feel like I was in your position, I wanted something 'lo-fi' with an analog vibe. The 388 is awesome because it's all in one unit. You need nothing else but some mics and cables. If you can get a fully functioning 388 for a 1000$-1200$ these days, then you are doing all right. Last I checked on Ebay and Reverb - I was seeing units gong for 2000$-2500$. I don't know if anyone is buying them at that price, but this is why I feel the 388 is way overrated.

I scavenged two machines off Craigslist in central Florida for 500$. Spent another 350$ on tape, parts and labor getting one fully functioning unit. I have a good friend that is a tech. I used it for a year and sold it locally for a 1000$. I guess I should have waited seeing the prices these days!

The pres do not have a lot of definition. They sound 'mushy' to me. They are serviceable, but I think you'd be way better off with a small Allen and Heath, Audient, even a Mackie mixer in regards to mic pres.

I do enjoy the treble band EQ on the 388. Very pleasant, and not as harsh as most small, affordable mixers these days. My other favorite aspect of the 388 is the sound of the mix bus! It has a heavy power transformer inside of it and there is tons of 'color' when you just run program material through it. I loved just playing music through it for the mellow coloration.

The quality of 8 track 1/4 inch is pretty poor. Even when my tape machine was well aligned and using fresh tape, I did not find the 388 to sound that great, other than for vocals and ac guitar. It really flubs out if you hit it hard with transient material, and low end reproduction leaves a lot to be desired. (meaning there is none). Good luck with bass instruments. If you hear 'full' frequency sounding productions from something tracked on a 388, then I would dare bet it was enhanced with outboard gear or computer mixing.

This is why I recommned getting a cheap modern mixing board with a better quality tape machine. As has been expressed upthread, I would recommend 1/2 inch 8 track. It's not too hi-fi and some of the machines produce good low end and have that analog juicy vibe that you are looking for. Look for Tascams, Fostex...there are a ton of pro-sumer machines from that era.

And lastly, have a good tech at hand that can get you up and running. Once they work, they tend to work for a long time with little maintenance, as long as you are using them frequently.

Good luck!
no, no, you didn't come off as harsh at all. i really value hearing all the mixed opinions here. i'm actually happy to hear there are better alternatives to the 388 because it would hurt to spend so much money on one haha.

so the mix bus of the 388 is what adds a lot of color.. interesting. i'm probably going to go with the Teac 3340 if i can find a good deal, if not, i'll search for some other Fostex or Teac/Tascam machine.

do you know any examples of material recorded on these machines with that same "vintage" vibe as mentioned in the links i posted?

i think the reason it's so hard for me to commit to 1/2'' tape is because i have yet to hear anything vintage-sounding recorded on it. i know Daptone Records uses 1/4'' and that Emitt Rhodes album is 1/4''.

edit: wait, the Ampex 300 Emitt used was 1/2''. oops!

i have to shift the way i think about 1/4'' 7.5 ips now. maybe it's just not what i thought it was.

i'll take a look at the brands you mentioned for mixers. any specific vibey/colored mixers you would recommend for the sound i'm going for?


thanks a lot. this has been really insightful
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
GYMusic / Gearslutz Secondhand Gear Classifieds
0
audiothing / Product Alerts older than 2 months
51
tjonau / So Much Gear, So Little Time
44
chessparov / So Much Gear, So Little Time
21

Forum Jump
Forum Jump