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tape recording, dead before i was born but im bring it up. yes Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 1st September 2011
  #1
tape recording, dead before i was born but im bring it up. yes

in my home studio i am thinking of getting a cheap tape machine to learn an practice an old an dying art form, but i dont know much about it, ie what tape size i should get and if it is even viable for what i want it for...

i want to record to tape after i have mixed in my DAW, yes i know of the MXP master tape from waves, but if i can do it in my studio i would like to give it a try, would also give my studio a nice wow factor when artists come in ha. any other low end slutz do this. ebay has alot of tape decks for cheap so i didnt know if i should try it.

Also if someone could tell me a reliable placde to buy tape from that would be awesome
Old 1st September 2011
  #2
Don't forget to buy an alignment tape, and get some practice time in on setting up and calibrating your machine.
Old 1st September 2011
  #3
i might just have to wait and ask my professor when class starts back up. whole buch of old tape techs just gather dust in a closet, its sad that recording schools dont teach analog and then digital, instead we are just taught digital and then wander the web to figure it out on our own... shame
Old 1st September 2011
  #4
restpause
Guest
I seriously wouldn't waste the money on tapes or old machines--too much maintainance, degradation, and not enough benefit. Maybe invest in some serious tape/saturation and console transformer VST's though... the pro kinds. Use EQ/filtering and slow vibrato too.
Old 1st September 2011
  #5
Lives for gear
 

I would ..

Maybe you could start with a second hand portastudio and start experimenting with that .. I'm still hearing more interest than ever from younger bands that want to try recording with tape .. Some of the best recordings I've heard in the last 10 years, were all tape based, that ended up on digital ... The skill is in the hands of the operator ..

I'm still running a 4 and an 8 track tape machine along with PT9 and an older console. Both machines are soldiering on well and occasionally need mechanical maintenance which I do. Buying second hand tape can be a bit hit and miss but I've had some success on eBay as well.

There are a tons of posts on this forum by people who are clearly recycling information and opinions written by others, and who have had no direct experience with using tape, so I'd factor that into some of the comments here ..
Old 1st September 2011
  #6
the more research i do the better this looks. to experiment with this and a few reels a tape would not cost me as much as i thought. but i still dont know what size tape i should use, 1/4" seems to be the easiest to find but is that what would fill my needs?


am i going in the right route with these, not these exact ones but similar...
tape recording, dead before i was born but im bring it up. yeseBay - New & used electronics, cars, apparel, collectibles, sporting goods & more at low prices

tape recording, dead before i was born but im bring it up. yeseBay - New & used electronics, cars, apparel, collectibles, sporting goods & more at low prices

and appropriate cords.
Old 1st September 2011
  #7
One inch decks are pretty easy to find. The tascam MSR24 is a fairly new machine and has all the benefits a new machine has to offer. (tracks to midi)

If you get a 24 channel A/D (Presonus) a nice 16 or 8 ch tapedeck and a nice analog console you can track to tape, bounce to DAW and go back and forth. It will add up costwise. And maintenance will become an issue. Are you experienced in electronics?

If you can find them AMPEX, OTARI, STUDER and some recorders made for other companies like Soundcraft may be recorders to look for. If you will go for such a machine you want a 2 inch recorder. It will need maintenance and will be over 200 pounds of weight. tracking down parts won't be easy, but aint impossible.

There are many 90's inline analog desks wich have seen low hours and may suit your bill. But it won't be cheap, but will be fun. And it will attract business IF.... you have the space to accommodate people. If you track to tape and then give people a cd with the WAV files (or store it for them) you can offer tape recordings at a moderate level. (because you re-use tape)

IF you decide to buy such a machine, make sure you track down all maintenance papers. They should come with the purchase. If they are not available offer scrapprice...

More info here;
http://analogrules.com/index.html
Old 1st September 2011
  #8
im not an expert but i have a very good grasp on electronics. the tascam is alittle out of my price range though i just want to start out with the basics and move on from there. i dont wasnt to dive into tape. my plan is to have a master bus out to the tape machine, record to tape, then record back into my DAW. just to get alittle more warmth to my mixs and by also going through my tube pres when i record to and from my DAW to the tape machine to add a more real anolog feel.

is one inch pretty much the industry standard for tape?
Old 1st September 2011
  #9
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by berkleystudios View Post
im not an expert but i have a very good grasp on electronics. the tascam is alittle out of my price range though i just want to start out with the basics and move on from there. i dont wasnt to dive into tape. my plan is to have a master bus out to the tape machine, record to tape, then record back into my DAW. just to get alittle more warmth to my mixs and by also going through my tube pres when i record to and from my DAW to the tape machine to add a more real anolog feel.

is one inch pretty much the industry standard for tape?
For your needs, either a 1/4 inch or a 1/2 inch 2 track (stereo) tape deck would be the machine to get.
Old 1st September 2011
  #10
Gear Addict
 

From another angle, but related, I'm thinking of getting a Tascam 202 Mk. V cassette tape recorder...not in the same league as 1 or 2 inch tape machines, but something in my head makes me miss the happy accidents I used to end up with using a Yamaha QY10, an Aiwa Walkman, a Radio Shack mixer, a mic with in-built echo, a Roland SC-33 sound module, a Boss DR-550 drum machine, a Boss SE-50 Stereo Effects Processor and a boom box!

Explaining how the process worked can be quite long-winded, so I'll spare you unless you ask! :D
Old 1st September 2011
  #11
Lives for gear
 
DaveUK's Avatar
Cassettes were awful ! Reel to reel 1/4" 1/2" stereo machines were a totally different league. I was stunned at the difference just last year while transferring an od guys masters from the sixties onwards ,when we got to the eighties and cassettes =urgh!

Sent from my X10i using Gearslutz.com App
Old 1st September 2011
  #12
Gear Addict
 

No, no - I get you Dave...I won't compare any cassette tape to an Otari, Studer or an Ampeg. It's hard to picture what's in my head here, but I'm sure some others here on this forum can relate!
Old 1st September 2011
  #13
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DaveUK's Avatar
Not trying to steal your fun woody aki ,just putting out there for the young un's that cassette doesn't come close to even a "domestic" open reel.
Old 1st September 2011
  #14
Gear Addict
 

No worries...I got ya.

I need to go through all these naive recordings I made back in the early 90's just to study the accidental compression/saturation that used to drive me to tears back then. It's only now that I recall some instances which can become useful in certain situations.
Old 1st September 2011
  #15
Registered User
 

Transferring the mixdown from a DAW can’t really be considered a dying art form. Tape is simply a storage medium and when in common use there were no DAW to transfer from.

I’m unfortunately old enough to have started out using tape. When I was at school I used to record friends using the sound on sound feature on the Akai 400DS. Since then I have used a variety of machines including Tandberg, Sony, Revox and Ampex.

Like all mechanical devices they are subject to wear. Two identical models might sound completely different. Head wear, alignment, and tape type can all affect the performance. Did I mention problems with aging pinch wheels? Nostalgia, as they say, isn’t what it used to be.

Longevity is probably better than digital. The problem with the latter is the continual change of formats. The files might be around for eons, but finding something to play them on in 10 years might be problematic. A couple of years ago I digitised a large audio archive of tapes recorded in the 1960s and 70s. After 40 or more years they played fine on a Revox. Playing back a tape recorded on a different machine can cause problems.

I also remember the introduction of cassette decks and although the format and early recorders left a lot to be desired some of the more advanced, later machines could rival domestic reel to reel recorders. I owned (own) a Nakamich 600 which, with decent tape, was no slouch. If you are playing back old tapes there might be a possibility that the recording device was useless or had heads aligned differently to your playback machine.

If you are intent on using tape as part of your recording loop try and get to use the machine before buying or buy from a dealer who has some onus in providing something fit for purpose. Buying something unseen off ebay could land you a gem but more likely leave you with a lemon.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #16
A2D
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by astroidmist View Post
I seriously wouldn't waste the money on tapes or old machines--too much maintainance, degradation, and not enough benefit. Maybe invest in some serious tape/saturation and console transformer VST's though... the pro kinds. Use EQ/filtering and slow vibrato too.
What,,,, wait a min,,,,,,, you can't beat the sound of tracks going to 2"
I still use Tape as much as I can, GP9 at +6 sweetness to my ears,
plugins have come close, but the real thing not yet!!!!!!
Old 2nd September 2011
  #17
I'm also a child of the digital age. My recording program started with analog and then moved into digital
Old 2nd September 2011
  #18
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by berkleystudios View Post
in my home studio i am thinking of getting a cheap tape machine to learn an practice an old an dying art form, but i dont know much about it, ie what tape size i should get and if it is even viable for what i want it for...

i want to record to tape after i have mixed in my DAW, yes i know of the MXP master tape from waves, but if i can do it in my studio i would like to give it a try, would also give my studio a nice wow factor when artists come in ha. any other low end slutz do this. ebay has alot of tape decks for cheap so i didnt know if i should try it.

Also if someone could tell me a reliable placde to buy tape from that would be awesome
tape never died !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
my deck still works like new


dont buy a used deck '
you can buy new reel to reel for under $15k
buy new cassette decks for $200 or so
Old 2nd September 2011
  #19
Lives for gear
 
fireberd's Avatar
I was in a Nashville studio a couple of weeks ago. They had an analog tape recorder (2") that he said they record the rhythm tracks on and then mix that back in with the rest at mixdown. He said the tape is "very expensive" but produces a much better result.

I'm an old fart as my first recording session was at Carpenter's Music Store studio in Biloxi, Ms in 1960 and even tape was in it's infancy. We did a two song session and the studio cut us a 78 RPM Record!

Tape does have "vibe". I've compared sessions that I recorded on an old 4 track portastudio with what I'm doing now with Sonar and although I'm not going back to tape, it does have a warmer sound.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #20
I too am very surprised top hear that tape died. I just cut 8 tunes to my 1" 8 track MCI and they sound killer.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #21
Gear Nut
 

I still have and still use my first cassette Tascam PortaTwo.
Years ago I read an interview on Guitar Player Magazine (I am sorry I throwed it away). It was about a guy who has what we could be call today an "indie" record company. The name of the Company was "Lo Fi", and they produce sampler collection media (cassettes and vinyl) with several independet art from musicians all around, with only one condition: it should be produced on 4 tracks tape recorders. He explained that, this way, artist were forced to explore more creative ways of composing, recording, producing and mixing good material with the minimum available technology. And he reminded all that Beatles' "Sgt Pepper" was done in just 4 tracks anyway.
I thought it was a terrific idea.

I was forced by my Customers to move to digital a couple of years ago. It is easier, of course. And probably it also changed creativity, but we can argue for weeks if it chaged it in a good or bad way.
I still force myself to compose, arrange, produce, record an mix something in my PortaTwo, at least once a year. Is like having a caliber, it set my mind in the original path, which always was "think on the music, while exploring new musicacl ideas, and after that record it the best you can".
So, don't get into tape sizes you can't find for cheap, but get into the 4 tracks cassette way. You can still get very good cassettes around for less money, you will have a lot of fun and mostly YOU WILL LEARN A LOT ABOUT COMPOSING, PRODUCING AND MIXING, not because the HW is old, but because the HW is LIMITED. And that is precisely the point there.

Of course you can do the same with new tech as well: you can use just 4 tracks for everything, but you will lost the opportunity to explore how to make those noisy machines sound good, and to know how real "inserts" and "sends" and "post-fader" really works.

Regards,

Martin
Old 2nd September 2011
  #22
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve_B View Post

Longevity is probably better than digital. The problem with the latter is the continual change of formats. The files might be around for eons, but finding something to play them on in 10 years might be problematic. A couple of years ago I digitised a large audio archive of tapes recorded in the 1960s and 70s. After 40 or more years they played fine on a Revox. Playing back a tape recorded on a different machine can cause problems.
Oft quoted, never proven. Accelerated aging tests done on the Mitsui disks we used for mastering in the early/mid 1990s speced out to a more than 100 year lifespan. Wanna try to play some 1980s vintage 3M 996 or 966? Open the box to a mass of sludge. All of the Mutsui disks from that time period still play today. Some of the bargain brands do, some do not. But they play on my DVD players. You got a cassette deck handy that will play reel to reel? And trying to find a good reel to reel on which to play analog tapes is increasingly harder outside of major markets. Who even knows how to cal them anymore? Are you trusting your irreplaceable master tapes to someone's 30 year old machine that he may or may not have kept in perfect running order? These are mechanical devices, and tape is reasonably fragile. We tried to make safety copies, but those are not as good.... so it is hard to make a case in the 2010 decade that it is easier to find playback for tape over disk and the same balance between media will continue going forward. Another obvious advantage to disk is that a copy is a perfectly accurate clone, you can make as many as you want onto any digital medium that you like, with no loss in quality. So if tomorrow manufacturers tell us that nothing will ever play back CDs again ever after next week, we can copy the data to any other digital format... the media is lost, not the data. You cannot do that with analog tape, unless you decide to copy it to a digital storage medium.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #23
Gear Maniac
 

If you are just looking for a mixdown deck and are on a budget I'd look for an Otari MX5050 1/4" two track and get an MRL. I'd probably steer clear of the consumer grade stuff. It'll be more trouble than it's worth IMO.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by witchfeet View Post
If you are just looking for a mixdown deck and are on a budget I'd look for an Otari MX5050 1/4" two track and get an MRL. I'd probably steer clear of the consumer grade stuff. It'll be more trouble than it's worth IMO.
I have one of those I probably have not used for 10 years.
Over/under model. Nice machine.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #25
Gear Maniac
 

Check out the end of this video:
Compression Overview - PUREMIX

the guy shows the sound of tape and how it pushes forward the bass and smooths out sharp transients.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #26
Registered User
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Oft quoted, never proven. Accelerated aging tests done on the Mitsui disks we used for mastering in the early/mid 1990s speced out to a more than 100 year lifespan. Wanna try to play some 1980s vintage 3M 996 or 966? Open the box to a mass of sludge. All of the Mutsui disks from that time period still play today.
It is not the durability of the media that is the problem but the continual change of file formats. Adobe Audition 4 won't open Audition 3 .ses files. By the time we get to windows 10 the programs that will play old files probably won't run on the OS.

I've had my fare share of problems with tape and am aware of the physical fragility of them. Early open reel video tapes that after 10 years became void of oxide. Running two betamax machines because one wouldn't play and the other wouldn't rewind. The number of beta tapes we had to transfer didn't warrant getting them repaired. Eventually we gave up on them. Early VHS machines that shredded the tape at the slightest hint of condensation.

I have to admit that I've had less problems with audio tape and have many cassettes recorded in the eighties that still play with no problem.

Unless you are worried about archiving it is not too much of a problem.
Old 2nd September 2011
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve_B View Post
It is not the durability of the media that is the problem but the continual change of file formats. Adobe Audition 4 won't open Audition 3 .ses files. By the time we get to windows 10 the programs that will play old files probably won't run on the OS.
Well, that is not a problem with the players that is a problem with the guy who didn't transfer the files to a standard. And I do know whereof I speak... I just last week found a hard drive full of pre-1990 DOS files. I can pull up all the text files and transfer them, but the files in Sequencer Plus II format and the various other sequencer files, I just tossed them. Cools Shoes Software "Drummer" files, Cakewalk for the Voyetra cards, Cakewalk for the MQX cards, MIDI Quest, Turtle Beach.... oy!

I haven't had a lot of luck with the old video tapes. I don't have any of the beta decks anymore, those large Sony rack-mount machines were just too much to drag around, but I do still have a Panny DS550. The tapes are a mixed bag but mostly not very good.
Old 3rd September 2011
  #28
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by witchfeet View Post
If you are just looking for a mixdown deck and are on a budget I'd look for an Otari MX5050 1/4" two track and get an MRL. I'd probably steer clear of the consumer grade stuff. It'll be more trouble than it's worth IMO.
+1

You could waste a lot of time and money with many decks out there. Those consumer decks are made to play pre-recorded tapes. Not master your recordings.

Condition is everything. Plan on taking whatever you buy to a tech right away.

I have 4 stereo decks right now: I worked up through 2 Tascams, a Revox and then a Nagra. The Tascams can sound great when working perfectly, but often give me little headaches here and there. It's difficult to align Tascams - they are a cross between consumer and pro. The Revox has an issue that is making me track down parts I can't find.

The Nagra is like a Mac vs PC. It just works, and it works well. I definitely prefer the Nagra by far, but to get one in top-shape like mine you'd have to drop some real cash. Parts and service are available, which is not usually the case with other decks outside of the more serious ones.

Bottom line: it takes time, education and money to get a good enough deck to make an improvement in fidelity over most digital methods. I am in the camp that prefers tape over digital, but with the caveat that it needs to be a good deck properly maintained. If you think you are going to get into analog recording with a $100 investment in a consumer deck...well, it's not realistic to expect the nice aspects of tape we chase after. At least, not without paying for it with potentially unacceptable levels of wow/flutter/hiss/mechanical problems/etc.
Old 3rd September 2011
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leddy View Post

I have 4 stereo decks right now: I worked up through 2 Tascams, a Revox and then a Nagra.

The Nagra is like a Mac vs PC....
That is because most of the Tascams (not all) are 'pro-sumer' and the revox is a home unit (albeit a very very good consumer piece), while the Nagra is a pro deck. (And if you bought a PC that costs as much as a Mac, it would likely perform just as well. Mine do and they cost nothing near what a Mac costs.)
Old 10th November 2011
  #30
Here for the gear
Get a Tascam 424MKiii, and record on that.
For cassette tapes, you can either get blank ones on the Internet (google is great for this), or get some commercial tapes, put some tape over the anti piracy tabs, and record on them for instantaneous glorious lo-fi action.
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