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A "DAW" emulating old 4-track tape recorders?
Old 1 day ago
  #31
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scragend View Post
Don't forget to include a noise generator on each track so as you bounce you accumulate an increased noise floor - and a low pass filter set at about 14kHz. I think there would be an incredibly limited audience for a four track portastudio DAW with all the same built-in limitations.
Yeah it's possibly a bit of a niche, at the same time there's an ever growing appeal for DAW-less, lo-fi music and this could fill the gap between the 2.
Old 1 day ago
  #32
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomatoKetchup View Post
I know in the 60's cassettes didn't exist, but again the workflow was similar and that's the main topic here)
I did a lot of work in the 70's on 4 track reel to reel. But we always had two decks. And we always had a mixing board. We actually had to repatch everything to bounce. IMO, the Portastudio workflow was quite different. A lot less hands-on, actually!

Quote:
Nonetheless it's still feels like I'm working on a DAW, and it is not optimised for this kind of workflow so there is still a lot of clicking around that spoils the experience a bit.
I would think that a DAW will still be a DAW even if someone made it to come with only 4 tracks. Won't you still need to click with your mouse if you want to record enable a track, adjust its volume, boost 3k, pan it to the right, assign it to a bounce channel? I am curious what specific mouse clicks you are making in your current DAW template that could be eliminated in your proposed software product?

Quote:
My real point by starting this thread was to tease out the potential appeal of a dedicated tape-style recording software. Who knows, a software dev might come by and think about it...
Well as you have already seen there is a "portastudio" DAW out there, quite cheap. But you can also see that the developer has decided on his own personal list of modern upgrades that he considers "worthy exceptions" to the Rules of Limitation.

My point is not that there is anything wrong with wanting the product that you want. I just wonder if any developer would find it profitable - because each potential customer has their own different idea of what the 'limitations' should be. IMO, it's not one 'small' market, it's a dozen even smaller markets.
Old 1 day ago
  #33
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by weave View Post
and if you really want you can drill down into the menu crap for compression and eq and such..
For my money, the tiny little screens, the menu-diving, the little "+" and -" buttons, the NSEW encoders, etc are the worst. There is nothing particularly "human" about pressing the "+" button five times to get to "5". Give me a mouse and a keyboard any day!
Old 1 day ago
  #34
Gear Maniac
 
weave's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
For my money, the tiny little screens, the menu-diving, the little "+" and -" buttons, the NSEW encoders, etc are the worst. There is nothing particularly "human" about pressing the "+" button five times to get to "5". Give me a mouse and a keyboard any day!
Totally agree. I just use it for tracking and then export for eq, effects, compression, etc...
Old 1 day ago
  #35
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomatoKetchup View Post
Yeah it's possibly a bit of a niche, at the same time there's an ever growing appeal for DAW-less, lo-fi music and this could fill the gap between the 2.
I'm recording everything on this now.

https://www.amazon.com/Reloop-Mixtap.../dp/B00EIQLED4
Attached Thumbnails
A "DAW" emulating old 4-track tape recorders?-41rgcto71zl._ac_sy400_.jpg   A "DAW" emulating old 4-track tape recorders?-41tn-yzvo-l._ac_sy400_.jpg  
Old 1 day ago
  #36
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
Make a session. Make 4 tracks. Don't make any more tracks.
If you really want to emulate the workflow...

• make all recording destructive
• don't bounce to an adjacent track
• to submix more than two tracks, mix to another DAW on a different computer and fly it back in by hand
• never hit undo

I'm sure there are more, but I'm traumatized just from these four.
Old 1 day ago
  #37
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JLast View Post
I'm recording everything on this now.

https://www.amazon.com/Reloop-Mixtap.../dp/B00EIQLED4
Wow! Those are tiny!
Chris
Old 1 day ago
  #38
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
If you really want to emulate the workflow...

• make all recording destructive
• don't bounce to an adjacent track
• to submix more than two tracks, mix to another DAW on a different computer and fly it back in by hand
• never hit undo

I'm sure there are more, but I'm traumatized just from these four.
Don't forget: no "save as". At least not without a full generation loss across all channels. I personally was thinking a fifth track for bouncing would be "allowed", but I have to agree requiring a second machine for bouncing is far more in the spirit of the original workflow.

I am thinking about the self-control required to just refrain from using "undo" if it was available.... If you could do that, you could probably just record simply and with 'discipline; in any DAW... and not need a program that forces you to simplify.

So if some developer actually built a 4 channel DAW that followed that list: that had destructive record, and no undo (and no option in the Preferences for turning these things back on) ; if you had to get a second computer to bounce to, I wonder how many sales he would have?

Maybe some people would purchase it with idealistic intentions, but I wonder how many people would stick with it after the first time they erased a great take by accident?
Old 1 day ago
  #39
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by telecode View Post
I recently tried something sort of like what you want to do. Tried to limit myself and used by my old digital Fostex multi track machine. It's fun to kill some time but its an exercise in futility. You can get so much more stuff and ideas down using a modern DAW.
I have to agree, back in 2014 I was bitter and cynical, having been abruptly dropped after eight years doing the major label fandango, and decamped to an abandoned cottage in the Westcountry with my drummer to make an album on a Fostex cassette eight track.

What a ball-ache that was. Everything sounded beyond horrible at first and required dozens of hours of dialling in, hunting to find the tiiiiiny envelope of gain and EQ that worked for each individual instrument/part/vocal etc. Admittedly, when we DID find the envelope it sounded rather good, but most of the time we were chasing our tail as engineers rather than getting into the zone with the parts and killing the performances.

The resulting album has a very definitive vibe of its own, and mixing with ears rather than eyes was oddly freeing and fun, but we achieved in ten days what we could have achieved in a weekend with a DAW.

I think the process would have been more free and easy with a better/better set up machine, but it was what it was and wasn't what it wasn't.
Old 1 day ago
  #40
Lives for gear
 
Bob Ross's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
Maybe some people would purchase it with idealistic intentions, but I wonder how many people would stick with it after the first time they erased a great take by accident?
This is why I think it's important for anyone romanticizing The Days Of Yore recording-wise to recognize that there's a difference between workflow and actual technical limitations:

Nobody recording in The Days Of Yore (aka the 4-track era) would have willingly denied themselves a currently available technical innovation just because they wanted to self-impose a little discipline.

I contend that the number of sales of a "4-track DAW" would be less than 100 units world-wide...because as you suggest, nearly everyone who thinks they want to work with the limitations of a PortaStudio or Sgt. Pepper would be quickly disabused of that idealism the moment they realized that their product couldn't do what every other product on the market could.

OTOH, if you marketed a "4-track DAW template" that worked with ProTools or Logic or DP etc. I could see the appeal increasing significantly. Though frankly, I think the real sweetspot -- not just in terms of what the market would bear but in terms of what would produce the most compelling music -- would be the 16/24-track DAW template.

...which many of us already have.
Old 1 day ago
  #41
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
Don't forget: no "save as". At least not without a full generation loss across all channels. I personally was thinking a fifth track for bouncing would be "allowed", but I have to agree requiring a second machine for bouncing is far more in the spirit of the original workflow.

I am thinking about the self-control required to just refrain from using "undo" if it was available.... If you could do that, you could probably just record simply and with 'discipline; in any DAW... and not need a program that forces you to simplify.

So if some developer actually built a 4 channel DAW that followed that list: that had destructive record, and no undo (and no option in the Preferences for turning these things back on) ; if you had to get a second computer to bounce to, I wonder how many sales he would have?

Maybe some people would purchase it with idealistic intentions, but I wonder how many people would stick with it after the first time they erased a great take by accident?
Wearing my best Eno Impersonator wig, I accidentally erased MANY great takes in my 4-track days and came up with as many "Uh...ok..." workarounds. I can still screw things up these days with a just-got-home, jet-lagged hard drive backup. Destructive recording is in my blood! I'm all a'flutter at the notion of this fantasy 4-track.
Old 1 day ago
  #42
Gear Head
Well yeah I get it, there were far more limitations and extra chores involved with tape recorders than the ones pointed out in my OP, but that's the reason why I think (and I still do) that a software emulation would be appealing. You get sort of the best of both worlds. Track count limitation with bounce ability (forces you to commit), no endless MIDI and automation (so more hands-on, real-time performance-focused approach) and vst plugins can only be inserted pre-recording (again. forcing you to commit to a sound). At the same time, yes you get the wonders of the digital world (that I'm not denying would make the experience far worse for a young digital-era producer like me if there weren't available) like easy duplication/management of sessions and files, undo function, etc.

And again, this might be somewhat of a niche idea, but how many software are being released every day that are quite niche anyway? Have a look at websites like Plugin Boutique. This is kind of the way things are moving anyway, because there is so much available on online marketplaces today (often of the same things over and over) that filling niches is one way to go like any others.
Old 1 day ago
  #43
This is way far away from what the OP asked for/talked about, but perhaps one of the Tascam Model series of dedicated recorders would be acceptable? I bought the Model 16 for roughly the same reason: to get away from using a DAW for my basic recording and return (essentially) to the way I used to do it back in the day.

That said, I can still easily import my recorded tracks into a DAW for further editing, etc., if desired or needed.

Just a thought!
Old 1 day ago
  #44
Gear Maniac
 
Bramley's Avatar
 

One thing tape machines ( not talking cassette decks) gave us that no one seems to mention is that "rewind" traditionally was the time to think about and discuss the task at hand , especially during overdubs.

So no jumping to markers allowed, and rewind should take as long as your average 60s/70s transport, same with bouncing etc.( No rendering)

Personally I haven't had a reverb tail make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up since EMT plates . Wizoo W2 and the "airlock" chamber in Blackbird D come close.
Old 19 hours ago
  #45
Gear Maniac
 

One thing the OP needs to realize was in terms of the actual sound there was a bigly difference between four tracks on open reel tape and on cassette.

I started out in this stuff when I met a townie in college who had taken his inheritance from his dad's passing (he was like 16 when it happened) and bought a Les Paul, a 100 watt Marshall stack, a pickup truck, a used Sportster (which rarely ran and ran like crap when it did), a Sansui receiver and some kind of speakers to go with it and......drum roll.......a 2340SX Four track.

My dad had lots of reel to reels around when I was a kid and he would record my bands but always with the two cheap mics they came with and live in stereo.

The very idea you could record OVERDUBS like you were the freaking Beatles just blew my mind.

8 Months later I took the proceeds from my Summer job and bought a Tascam Model 3 (8 x 4 x 2), an MXR Analog delay (AC Powered stompbox), and a used Teac two track reel to reel from a friend of mine down in Tampa.

We built a little studio in a large bedroom in our frame rental house and the entire band (three of us) lived there. We even had a "control room" which you had to stand up in, the thing was made from three doors we pulled off some other places in the house, screwed onto a handmade wooden frame with a sheet of plexiglass as our "window". It was freaking glorious!

I had a couple of old Kenwood speakers (like from 1969) my dad had given me, so we took those and mounted them up high on the wall in the living room, ran wires back to the Sansui in the control room and could listen back to takes out there in the living room.

Friends and girls would come over and marvel at the crazy setup we had, only time in my life my recording stuff ever impressed a girl LOL

Good times, great times, we recorded local bands for beer and ****, a friend's band from Tampa came up and actually paid us money.

Anyway after that band broke up and I moved away it was another three years until I could afford a four track, a Tascam 34. Still had the Model 3.

By that time the Portastudio was a bigly thing but man they sounded like toys to me, the mixer and the tape.

I'm not saying you couldn't create something good sounding from one but a reel to reel four track with an actual board just was so much easier to work with and ESPECIALLY bouncing tracks you results were so much better.

BUT going back to the original setup (by the time I got the Model 34 I had "upgraded" to an Ibanez AD202 Analog delay) four tracks at 7.5 IPS, no noise reduction, a single effect that just did delay, yeah it was kinda limiting but at the time it was what you had and what we had was far better than throwing a portable cassette deck on the floor.

My recommendation to the OP is if you want limitations well go find yourself an Akai DR4, they are readily available and dirt cheap. No you won't get the sound of "tape" but it sounds like having limitations is more what he is after.

Pair the Akai with something like a Model 308 or 312 Tascam console, buy a couple of 1980's effects units (the Digitech stuff was actually pretty damn good for the money and hasn't gone all crazy in price like a Roland SDE for example), and then mix that down to a CD Recorder.

You'll have something will all the limitations you want but a tad more modern and robust than buying some old analog four track.

You'll be plugin and mouse/keyboard free and limited to four tracks. You should be able to buy all this stuff easy and for less than a grand all in.

Analogeezer
Old 17 hours ago
  #46
Gear Addict
 
standup's Avatar
Akai DR4 is a good suggestion. After ditching reel to reel I used a DR8 for a couple of years, they were cheap then too, everyone else had moved to DAWs.
Old 16 hours ago
  #47
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by standup View Post
Akai DR4 is a good suggestion. After ditching reel to reel I used a DR8 for a couple of years, they were cheap then too, everyone else had moved to DAWs.
There is an outfit on Ebay that makes modified SCSI interfaces to allow these machines to use SD cards, pretty cool but runs $179.

A DR8 with one of these mods, a good mixer, a couple of effect units and a CD recorder to mix down to, that's what the OP should look into.

Four tracks are very limiting, 8 tracks at least allow you to do stereo drums and some backup vocals.

Analogeezer
Old 10 hours ago
  #48
Lives for gear
 
DirkP's Avatar
A Zoom R8 without a computer? Use the inbuilt mics a lot! Tear out faders 5-8. At least you can only record 2 mono tracks at a time. Tear out the effects-knob and use EQ/Pan only. SD cards larger than 512 MB not allowed.




Or if you hesitate tearing out faders and knobs:
EHX 45000:


No fancy stuff, nobody really needs, like compressors, multi-effects, EQs - all that bourgeois nonsense that only serves the powers that be...
Just you, the instruments, and four tracks. And one think that is more important than all these plugins and other nonsense: you can BOUNCE to the Mixdown adding a bit more vintage noise with lots of vibes and then free other tracks for new adventures...
And - as you know - 4-track tape recorders had all 4 tracks on Side one of the tape. If you turn the tape to side-b, everything is reversed. Or just the 2 tracks you recorded before are reversed and you can add tracks that are not reversed. It is better than LSD.
Just press the "reverse" knob.

Last edited by DirkP; 10 hours ago at 12:55 AM..
Old 10 hours ago
  #49
One crucially important element:
Be sure to add a pink noise generator to each track to get that authentic tape noise sound in the mix.
Old 9 hours ago
  #50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philbo King View Post
One crucially important element:
Be sure to add a pink noise generator to each track to get that authentic tape noise sound in the mix.
I had the Yamaha MT-44 with - I think - a choice between Dolby B and C. Have to say, for a 4-track cassette deck, the machine was impressively quiet.
Old 8 hours ago
  #51
Lives for gear
 

I'll see your Zoom R8, and raise you a Zoom R16. With up to 8 track recording, at the same time... Done!
Chris
Old 6 hours ago
  #52
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DirkP View Post
A Zoom R8 without a computer? Use the inbuilt mics a lot! Tear out faders 5-8. At least you can only record 2 mono tracks at a time. Tear out the effects-knob and use EQ/Pan only. SD cards larger than 512 MB not allowed.
...
Or if you hesitate tearing out faders and knobs:
EHX 45000:

It's not the faders I want to tear out, it's that little yellow LCD screen with its fiendish menus, sub menus, and sub-sub menus. There is nothing 'not computer' about it. Also rip out the jog wheel and the NSEW knob that are trying to pretend: "I'm not a mouse" "This isn't a computer"

Naming your song by spinning through the whole alphabet one letter at a time, now that's analog!

To me the 45,000 is more like it! No screen to look at. And what is apparently a knob for every function.
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