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THAT FAT ANALOG SOUND
Old 1st June 2006
  #1
Here for the gear
 

THAT FAT ANALOG SOUND

Hi there, I'm new here, not pro.
Seem to be that the only way to record something nowadays is turning on a computer. That's what I do too, but I'm very courious about the old tape.
My question is: If I would want to record in analog on tape what affordable options are out there without buying a Studer monster tape machine that cost like a house?
There is something available to record in 16 tracks on 2 inch tape?
Thanks.

Paul
Old 1st June 2006
  #2
Lives for gear
 
PhilE's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by pakkralj
Hi there, I'm new here, not pro.
Seem to be that the only way to record something nowadays is turning on a computer. That's what I do too, but I'm very courious about the old tape.
My question is: If I would want to record in analog on tape what affordable options are out there without buying a Studer monster tape machine that cost like a house?
There is something available to record in 16 tracks on 2 inch tape?
Thanks.

Paul

Yes- but 16trk 2" costs more like a house and a nice car!! Better sounding you see!
Old 1st June 2006
  #3
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

There is only one 2" analog machine available new, a Studer 827. Most 2" machines are between 15 and 38 years old. Most 2" 16 track-only machines are at least 35 years old and parts are no longer available for almost all of them. Virtually all of these machines ran 80 hours a week until their upkeep started costing more than a new $30,000+ replacement.

I love 2" 16 track but I would rent studio time for a while before taking on that commitment.
Old 1st June 2006
  #4
Lives for gear
 
beechstudio's Avatar
 

I use to use an old 1" 16 track Tascam reel to reel. I loved the sound we were getting out of it! What I didn't keep in mind were all of the other components we were using to give it 'that' sound. (ie..mixers, outboard eq's and compressors).

When I first went to a DAW that was the first thing I missed. Where is 'that' sound? Why is everything SO sterile sounding? I used to think it was because I wasn't using 'Tape' anymore. Which was only a portion of the sound. I mixed 'in the box' for a couple years before totally bailing on the idea. I started using my old gear again. Running my DAW outs (and outboard converters) back through my old board, patching in my old outbaord gear. Once again.......ahh...there it is. (almost) There's still just a little digital 'edge' to the sound. But, I'm MUCH more pleased with what I'm getting working this way!
Old 1st June 2006
  #5
Lives for gear
 
waxx's Avatar
 

here in europe you can find second hand otari 8-track 1" tape machines for about 1k. I know a guy who tracks on such a machine, and then pass the tracks to his logic enviroment troug a motu a/d to edit and mix it.

1/2 and 1/4 machines are even cheaper here. I saw a few of them (akai and studer) for about 100 till 250 €.
Old 1st June 2006
  #6
Now that's fat! Oh wait you meant analog tape
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Old 1st June 2006
  #7
Gear Head
 
chezero's Avatar
 

A lot of people who feel the same way you do like to track everything to their DAW, then mix down to a decent 1/4" 2-track tape machine. You can still find these everywhere at good prices, and in good condition.
Old 1st June 2006
  #8
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RedWallStudio's Avatar
 

I was fortunate enough to have a friend who owns a studio that had pro-tools and a 2" analog machine, so I got to hear lots of A/B comparisions... and it made the choice for me fairly easy: to have both as well in my studio. I started out with a 1" 16 track Otari. While that was a great machine, very stable, sounded really good, and had an amazingly quick and quiet transport system, the 1" - 16 track format was like being on a desert island. No one else had that format, so I couldn't track at my place and mix somewhere else, or visa versa. So, I sold it and committed to 2" tape. The machine I got sounds amazing (MCI JH-16/24), but is quite a bit "clunkier" than the otari. These older machines are just kinda like old washing machines, you have to expect to do maintenance on them fairly regularly, and you have to expect them to break down every so often. They also can get into bad shape by not being used... mine does not like being woken up after being asleep for even as long as a week. But, I do have a good local tech. I also set myself up with a tech service plan with an MCI expert... I can call him or e-mail him any time with any question, and he will respond right away... and that has been a life saver. <p> So, IMHO, I would recommend you do a few things before diving into tape. First, decide why you really want it/need it and see if it makes sense.... only you know that answer.... maybe rent some time at a studio that has both and do some comparisions. Second, make sure you have a way to support it, whether with a dependable service tech, or a plan like I have... or both. Third, make sure you have the work to keep it running.. nothing is worse for these machines than sitting idle. Fourth, if you get a used machine.. do some research and make sure the machine you are getting doesn't have critical parts that are no longer available. And Most Importantly.. do not buy a machine site-unseen on E-bay, or any other place without first testing the machine out. Other than all that... its a no brainer, tape rules.
Old 1st June 2006
  #9
Lives for gear
 
themaidsroom's Avatar
 

i have an A827 with several headstacks, one of which is the final
revision on the 16 track that studer did in 2000 - they made about 20 of them
one good thing for me that came out of 9/11.......that's another story

i believe you can find good otari or studer machines in the 10,000$ range
right now......i have heard that there is someone making new 16 track headstacks
for approximately $6000 - the very kind john french at jrf magnetics will guide you
on this subject.......

so if you can find or borrow $ like this, go for it.....you will not regret it.....

no daw, no matter how ambitious, defensive, time-constrained, important, famous, endorsed or paranoid its operator, sounds
remotely as deep, huge and amazing as 2" 16 track......

(think of 8 1/2 by fellini shot on a camcorder)

sonically......it is magnificient and timeless......as it will be ten years from
now when there will most likely be a new atr 2" machine or a new studer A827
platinum.......
the reality of viable 100% analog studios in both nyc and la, i believe, is on
its way......

vinyl sales are up every year....with the best vinyl ever created being produced
right now in 2006


tape rules
go there if you can

be well,


- jack
Old 1st June 2006
  #10
Lives for gear
these days 2" 24 track machines are actually incredibly undervalued.
A very decent Otari MTR90 can be had for a few thousand dollars.

Even Studer A800's are relatively cheap.

nowhere NEAR the cost of a small house anymore.


they're not NO cost, but relatively inexpensive if that's what you want.

but you DO have to learn how to align and care for them.
Old 1st June 2006
  #11
Lives for gear
 

I've got (3) A820's for sale! Couple need a little work, those machines are $3,000.. my personally unit is now also for sale, and it's $6,000 - 7200 hrs. Ether way, good luck on your hunt for that fat sound.
Old 2nd June 2006
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

It sure would be nice to be able to afford to have a 2" 16 track. But 2" tape is obscenely expensive - to use it on a daily or even weekly basis would be like having 12-year-old malt whisky running out of your bath taps. For the price of a small stack of blank media that is going to wear out over the course of a couple of years you could have bought, well, some really nice gear to say the least, maybe a small house - I don't know why this is even being discussed in the low end forum! 2" tape is about the highest-end, most stupidly expensive studio luxury this side of marble walls, and unless you make a total marketing feature out of it and spend all your time recording well-heeled retro-rock bands and minted audiophiles it's definitely not worth your while. If you dislike digital 'harshness' , a machine with such amazingly high fidelity is unlikely to smooth the rough edges to the degree that you're looking for. You need to work out exactly what you dislike about the sound that you are getting - it could be that converters, word-clock issues, bit depth, mic technique, preamps or any number of other things are letting your sound down. Is it really 'fatness' that you want? you can get that from a cassette 4-track if that's all you want. Or do you just want rid of the harshness? look at your signal chain and your recording technique before you blame it on digital technology, which has the capacity to sound very smooth indeed. Or do you want more 3-D imagery? you can get the very best 3D imagery from an all-analogue set-up, no question, but i would do some heavy research into psychoacoustics at your local library before i considered throwing money at the problem.

Don't get me wrong - I'm an analogue addict. I would say that I much prefer the tape-based way of working - i find that it directs creativity in a more positive way than the endless variations offered by a computer - plus it's got no screen to distract you from your ears! And if anyone could come up with a £400 box that you could run a whole drumkit through and make it sound as good as an overdriven tape machine... I get a lovely sound(to my cloth ears) out of two 1/2" tascam 38s - used-once master reels with the odd edit can be picked up for cassette money, and parts are fairly easy to come by compared with other machines. If you keep a machine like this lined up and clean, and abuse those VUs like Rocky with a cow carcass, you'll get 'that fat analogue sound' and no mistake. And it'll set you back much less than a fancy valve compressor or preamp. And it'll sound way better than a computer plus that if fat and warm is what you really want. But I found after ditching my computer set up to go analogue, a lot of things i'd ascribed as being 'digital' problems were really problems with the way I recorded and mixed things, and specific technical problems with my computer-based setup. So if you have to spend money, be very sure in your own mind why you're doing it, as a lot of people, including me, have wasted stupid amounts of money on trying to achieve 'that fat analogue sound' and then realised that achieving that is almost all about technique, imagination, acquired knowledge, and lateral thinking, and not too much to do with the technology that you're using at all.If you have to spend at all, spend small.
Old 3rd June 2006
  #13
Gear Addict
 
rolo95's Avatar
 

MCDSP

Check AC1 and AC2 from
McDSP..... ( pro tools only )
www.mcdsp.com/products/analogchannel/


One its a solid state channel big console "warm" emulator
and the other
its a Tape emulator...

Shakira Oral Fixation 1 & 2
Where done on Pro tools only...no analog stuff

with that plugs... ( well... WAVES also...)
mixed by Charles Dye

That plugs really make you think
the mix was done on the"big monstas" and Mix down to tape...

you can DL the demos... and see if that work from ya...

Also WAVES have recently relased the
SSL 4000.... PLugin Suite..... ( channel strip, EQ and master G buss compressor)
www.waves.com/content.asp?id=2055

with that and the Mcdsp stuff
you can be all the PHAT!!! you want...

( i dont work for Waves or MCdsp )
but i like em much...
Rolo.
Old 3rd June 2006
  #14
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

I'm not a big fan of "emulation."

The idea that analog degrades the sound in a pleasing way was the mantra of the digital apologists when people told them they don't like what their products sound like. We went through the same marketing BS when manufacturers switched from tubes to transistors (but didn't bother passing the 5x cost reduction along to their customers...)

Emulation of analog or tubes often gives you the worst of both worlds.
Old 3rd June 2006
  #15
Gon
Gear Head
 
Gon's Avatar
 

I'm a newbie, and have this far exclusively worked on digital gear... I'd like to try using analog tape.

Is it a good idea to try mixing down to a portable Nagra (the analog ones, naturally), or should I be shot for trying something like that?
Old 3rd June 2006
  #16
Lives for gear
 
themaidsroom's Avatar
 

i have made records with people on tape who can't afford to have a personal
telephone.......
the notion that tape cost is high is somewhat apocryphal: as i have told many
clients, if you don't have $800 for tape in 2006, how bad do you really need
to make this record ? how much does it mean to you ? how many records are
you making this year ?

if you have not checked out tape, check it out........98% of the records we
all love were recorded this way.........

i know almost no one who has real experience with tape that feels that emulations
work.......the only environment where they have taken over is in those studios
where the boss has put a blanket over the studer and its been three years
since anyone has actually heard it..........

i just personally find it beguiling that so many people are o.k. with c+.......to
me that's the best digital has ever gotten.........i don't know one great engineer
in nyc who would track on digital out of choice.......i don't know one who
couldn't hear it in three measures of the first song......
good recordings from late 50's blow away current digital........, but that's just
me.........


be well


- jack
Old 3rd June 2006
  #17
byk
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by paulneedles
It sure would be nice to be able to afford to have a 2" 16 track. But 2" tape is obscenely expensive - to use it on a daily or even weekly basis would be like having 12-year-old malt whisky running out of your bath taps. For the price of a small stack of blank media that is going to wear out over the course of a couple of years you could have bought, well, some really nice gear to say the least, maybe a small house - I don't know why this is even being discussed in the low end forum! 2" tape is about the highest-end, most stupidly expensive studio luxury this side of marble walls, and unless you make a total marketing feature out of it and spend all your time recording well-heeled retro-rock bands and minted audiophiles it's definitely not worth your while. If you dislike digital 'harshness' , a machine with such amazingly high fidelity is unlikely to smooth the rough edges to the degree that you're looking for. You need to work out exactly what you dislike about the sound that you are getting - it could be that converters, word-clock issues, bit depth, mic technique, preamps or any number of other things are letting your sound down. Is it really 'fatness' that you want? you can get that from a cassette 4-track if that's all you want. Or do you just want rid of the harshness? look at your signal chain and your recording technique before you blame it on digital technology, which has the capacity to sound very smooth indeed. Or do you want more 3-D imagery? you can get the very best 3D imagery from an all-analogue set-up, no question, but i would do some heavy research into psychoacoustics at your local library before i considered throwing money at the problem.

Don't get me wrong - I'm an analogue addict. I would say that I much prefer the tape-based way of working - i find that it directs creativity in a more positive way than the endless variations offered by a computer - plus it's got no screen to distract you from your ears! And if anyone could come up with a £400 box that you could run a whole drumkit through and make it sound as good as an overdriven tape machine... I get a lovely sound(to my cloth ears) out of two 1/2" tascam 38s - used-once master reels with the odd edit can be picked up for cassette money, and parts are fairly easy to come by compared with other machines. If you keep a machine like this lined up and clean, and abuse those VUs like Rocky with a cow carcass, you'll get 'that fat analogue sound' and no mistake. And it'll set you back much less than a fancy valve compressor or preamp. And it'll sound way better than a computer plus that if fat and warm is what you really want. But I found after ditching my computer set up to go analogue, a lot of things i'd ascribed as being 'digital' problems were really problems with the way I recorded and mixed things, and specific technical problems with my computer-based setup. So if you have to spend money, be very sure in your own mind why you're doing it, as a lot of people, including me, have wasted stupid amounts of money on trying to achieve 'that fat analogue sound' and then realised that achieving that is almost all about technique, imagination, acquired knowledge, and lateral thinking, and not too much to do with the technology that you're using at all.If you have to spend at all, spend small.
Great post!
Old 3rd June 2006
  #18
Gear Addict
 
KingUgly's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by rolo95
Shakira Oral Fixation 1 & 2
Where done on Pro tools only..
No disrespect, but I found this to be precisely what sounds so bad about that single of hers. It's a great song as far as the writing and performances, #1 right now I believe, but my first thought was "ITB." ... and I'm not the most picky about ITB v. OTB, especially when it comes to just casually enjoying what I hear on the radio. This song, however, is as flat as a board (not to mention the auto-tuning).

Had this been recorded like some Madonna record in the late 80s it would sound so much larger than life.
Old 3rd June 2006
  #19
I wish I knew what people meant by analog fatness. I know what I think of as a fat sound and I guess I hear it a bit from 15ips, but for the most part fatness does not come from analog tape. However, I still think tape is very important to use as often as possible and blows away digital.

I also don't get saturating the tape. Having sat down an recorded sources ranging from -10 to +20 or something insanely high (it was a long time ago, I don't remember), I found I don't like the sound of tape saturation. There's still a definite tape sound without saturation.

I've found my MTR 90 needs next to zero maintentence. I've had a tech in twice in the past 6 years - once when I bought it and once when I broke a switch. I've had to reseat the bais card once or twice and periodially, I pull them all out, vacuum and blow out all the dust and then spray contact cleaner before I replace the cards, but that's it. Most of the VU lights have blown, but I don't need them, so it's not worth it to me to fix.

The key to the no maintenence is doing what all of the techs I've hired have said - I leave the machine on 24/7. It's at a constant temperature. The alignment drift is insignificant. I do align fairly regularly, but it's rarely more than a few tracks the need it and rarely by more than 1/4 dB (probably becuase I don't have a lot of tape coming in from other studios that I need to re-align for - and when they do, they don't usually have tones anyway). I leave my computers and console on as well.

As far as "not being worth the time", I disagree. There are certain qualitites that you can't get from digital. If you want a classic music sound, that's pleasing and enveloping, use tape. I especially disagree with the person who said it's not worth it, who then went on to explain who it affects the creative process and that he prefers the analog creative process. That effect is invaluable! How can you say a process that you feel improves creativity not be worth it?

Also, I find it so much faster to get set up when tracking to tape. I love not having to reset my levels when the band plays for real and I'd be getting digital overs here an there if I wasn't printing to tape. Yes, I could leae massive amounts of head room, but then I'd be spending the rest of the day tweaking the levels up.


Supposedly, for the past few months the tape machines at Avatar have been getting a lot of use. This claim comes from a friend who's not an idiot and was hanging out with the owner a week or two ago. He beleives that there's going to be a swing back to analog for the higher end projects. I kind of agree, but I think it will only be a partial swing.

In the end, the people who have tape machines are going to hype them because they can an it's going for marketing. The people who don't (especially those who've never used them) will say that there's too much maintence and you can get the same thing from a good front end.


Time for the fruit analogy of the day:

If you want an orange, but you take a grapefruit and change it's color with emulation, it may be bigger, rounded and have more slices, but it's still going to be have the same bitter taste when you take a bite.

Don't be surprised if the grocery store sells all the real oranges and your orange emulation grapefruits are still left on the shelf....
Old 3rd June 2006
  #20
Lives for gear
 
moon_unit's Avatar
 

I'm sorry guys, but this is just the oldest, most worn-out, and pointless forum topic next to the Mac versus PC debate.

I'd bet 1000 bucks that half the guys who freak out over recording mediums wouldn't be able to distinguish an analog recording from a digital one in a blind comparison.

Emotion and perception play a much larger role in this than anything else.
.
Old 3rd June 2006
  #21
Gear Addict
 
rolo95's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson
I'm not a big fan of "emulation."

The idea that analog degrades the sound in a pleasing way was the mantra of the digital apologists when people told them they don't like what their products sound like. We went through the same marketing BS when manufacturers switched from tubes to transistors (but didn't bother passing the 5x cost reduction along to their customers...)

Emulation of analog or tubes often gives you the worst of both worlds.
Bob...

i respect your coment
however... as this is the " dont break the bank " section...
and the question was FAT ANALOG SOUND....

well...
nobody cant beat the 24 tracks 2" machines....
any flavor you want...

USA-A (Ampex MM 1200)
USA-M (MCI JH-24)
Swiss (Studer A80 mkII)
Japan-O (Otari MX-80)
Japan-S (Sony APR-5000)
Japan-T (Tascam ATR60)

Just to name a few...

and who complaints of the big boards like SSL 4000 series...
or API... or NEVE or TRIDENT if you want....

But... who have the budget to have the 24 track and the SSL and the bunch
of lexicons etc etc... outboard gear...

if we talking about budget....
certainly the REAL analog gear its out of context...

ahhh and the one that charles dye mix was this..
Shakira "Laundry Service" (album) Sony/Epic

not oral fixation...
that anyway was done on the supersonic studios of
gustavo celiz
Greets
Rolo.
Old 3rd June 2006
  #22
Gear Addict
 
rolo95's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by moon_unit
Emotion and perception play a much larger role in this than anything else.
.
I agree 100% and must add its the guy not the gear that make
this or that sound good or bad...

Greets
Rolo
Old 4th June 2006
  #23
Lives for gear
 
DeepSpace's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rolo95
Quote:
Originally Posted by moon_unit
Emotion and perception play a much larger role in this than anything else.
I agree 100% and must add its the guy not the gear that make
this or that sound good or bad...

Greets
Rolo
Yes, exactly.

What many seem to forget is that back in the day, there were an abundance of thin and weedy sounds coming off analog also. I was there, I heard it. The memorable recordings that are now the gold standard for how good analog recordings sound were, in their day, the exception rather than the rule.

To put it another way, if all you need to get great, warm, shimmering, big sounding, organic recordings is an analog multitrack machine, then it would have been *impossible* to make sterile sounding and crappy recordings prior to the 1980s. Believe me, it was as possible then as it is now.
Old 4th June 2006
  #24
Gear Nut
 
overdose's Avatar
 

I have an idea that I did last week to share.
I know I will probably get flack for this but, I bounced a new song I am working on to a two track in the box. Then I tracked the same song to a high quality for it's time Mitsubishi HS-U71 Super VHS recorder on to a Standard grade RCA Video Tape.
After Recording it to tape I recorded it back to the Computer into Peak and WOW.
It rolled off some of the harsh digital top end and rounded the bottom. It is a Hip hop/rap track. The whole track sounds more cohesive and warm.
My next thought was would it be possible then to add some high quality neve type transformers on the VCR output and input to give it more butter.... hmmmmm
Old 4th June 2006
  #25
Lives for gear
 
themaidsroom's Avatar
 

if you are reading this you must be curious......
tape sounds good - buy a tape recorder

music - microphone - console - tape - console - tape - nothing else needed
no websites - no screen - from all the way back then up til now - lots of people
will disagree - who cares - you are curious - buy a tape recorder - people who
knock tape recorders tend to be those who don't use tape recorders - i have pro tools
hd 2 - i am not telling you to buy that - i am not - i use both in tandem all
the time - but i am not advising you to not buy a daw - i say use your own ears -
i could talk about sonic death- the mauseleum of air and depth - but that would be wrong -
that would be too much - maybe you
don't care that much - maybe you like people who are more linear - i say buy
a tape recorder - but i could have real
problems - you might want to read ahead and not make eye contact -
you might not want to listen to me - buy a tape recorder - listen to it -



be well


- jack
Old 4th June 2006
  #26
Gear Nut
 
overdose's Avatar
 

Must buy tape recorder. Must buy tape recorder. Must buy tape recorder

Jack got me mezmorized with the buy the tape recorder thing.
I think I need one now.
Old 4th June 2006
  #27
Lives for gear
 
malekmusic's Avatar
shakiras laundry service was mixed by javier garza not charles dye
Old 4th June 2006
  #28
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

The most common cause of thin, edgy digital sound is recording too hot. The cheaper the gear, the more frequently this is a problem because cheap gear often has an inadequate power supply. If all the power in the sound has been lost because a cheap power supply ran out of current, no amount of additional processing is going to make things better.

Probably the biggest difference found in older pro gear is the power supplies and the amount of analog headroom available. The old tube boards had over 20 dB more headroom than some current solid state designs. At +4 average levels, we were nowhere near saturating the transformers and preamps. Likewise in most cases tape machines were not being pushed.

There's no reason to record 24 bit audio peaking any higher than -10 and peaking at -20 is less of a problem than peaking at zero. Recording with comparable headroom to older recordings yields lots closer sounding results than any kid of post recording processing I've heard.

And it doesn't cost you a dime!
Old 4th June 2006
  #29
Lives for gear
 
themaidsroom's Avatar
 

just turning on the t.v. for one minute.......some bet show.......i hear the pro
tools......less than a minute.........
Old 4th June 2006
  #30
Lives for gear
 
themaidsroom's Avatar
 

conversely, i bought a copy of janet jackson's control last weekend - mint and
a steal for $3 on vinyl.....sounds great......lots of digital synths.....synth bass.....
and drum machine.....all hitting tape.......jimmy jam and terry lewis at their peak......
and some great songs that stand the test of time - at least these two decades since
it's release.......crazy how time goes by.......buy a tape recorder......the pro tools
version of this record would sound like demo........maybe that's your thing.......




- jack
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