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Reel-to-reel tape questions Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 15th September 2011
Here for the gear

Reel-to-reel tape questions

Hi guys, first time poster, did some extensive searching on the site, couldn't find these answers.

I have a Tascam 48, and am finally going to use it on a project.

Just some background on the project:

I'm recording all the tracks/overdubs into Pro Tools. When I get home to mix it, I'd like to bounce everything down to 8 tracks, bounce those tracks to the Tascam 48, mix it, and then go back into Pro Tools.

Basically what I would like to know, is how much tape do I need? For a 10-14 song record, approx 40-50 minutes, how long of tape do I need? Do I need to get multiple reels?

I've been looking at Blank Video Tape, Audio Tape, Digital Tape Reseller--Best Prices on the Internet at prices, and am not sure the difference between 996/275d/226 etc. I know I need 1/2" tape, but I'm not sure if all 1/2" tape is the same. Also, is one pass tape worth spending money on? Or is it worth the extra bucks to get brand new tape?

Thanks for your input guys!
Old 15th September 2011
Lives for gear
I see what you are trying to do here, but it seems like a lot of trouble and slightly backwards. You might be better off just mixing down to a 15ips 1/4'' deck if you can get your hands on one. Next time, start the project on the Tascam 48, and then dump to pro tools for more overdubs etc.

But if you insist on doing what you are trying to do - get a used reel of 1/2'' tape to test on. At 15ips one 10.5inch reel at 1.5mil thickness will give you just over 30 minutes of time. So you'd need at least two reels to do this, unless you wanted to work at 7.5ips, which I don't recommend in your circumstance.

New tape (RMGI) is 90 bucks a reel. It's pricey, and we don't really know how it's going to hold up in the future. "One-pass" (whatever that means) is fine if it's been bulk-erased, but you need to be careful that it's not a sticky shed tape that needs baking (a whole other can of worms...use google). For pro audio use, i'd never mess with baking tape. Just get good tape that doesn't have sticky shed. It's harder to come by these days.

You have to get a tape formulation that matches what your machine is calibrated for. The user manual will tell you what it was calibrated for out of the factory. Previous owners may have changed this. You should probably have a tech calibrate the machine to whatever tape you choose, this will cost a few hundred dollars. Ampex 456 is a pretty standard tape...
Old 15th September 2011
Here for the gear


Yeah I know it's a little backwards, but I'd like to do all the tracking in PT just for logistics sake. We're doing all the tracking in a 3-day weekend at my buddies house, and I've got a million things to worry about (hauling gear, arranging music etc) to make it go smoothly. I don't really want to have to deal w/ the tape machine too...!

BUT! I really want to utilize it in someway, and thought maybe mixing the record on it would be a fun way to learn my way around the machine.

Do you know anything about the Ampex 468 1/2" tape?
Old 15th September 2011
Lives for gear
DaveUK's Avatar
I think Eric Valentine does it this way round ,tools then tape for mix.
If it works for him then I'm not gonna argue
Old 15th September 2011
Lives for gear
johnnyv's Avatar
Ampex 468 That was a standard studio issue tape ( if I remember correctly good lord)
Is that tape machine in perfect shape, has it been serviced , check the heads for ware, de magnitize etc. You might think you are going to "improve" your recordings but if the machine is not in perfect shape all you migh be doing is degrading your sound.
We all had those decks kicking around while we waited it out with digital, but not many of us would want to go back there. Sure those recordings might have been my best work yet, but I sure don't miss
1-Worring about running out of tape.
2-Asking the client to pay for the tape
3-Waiting to re wind the tape
4-Splicing and adding leader to the tape.
5-Maintaining the machine daily
6- fiddling with the noise reduction and still having hiss
7- stripping with time code so I can use MIDI.

I won't talk you out of it because I think every one should do it once, just to say you did. It will be a good learning experiance at best.
Old 15th September 2011
Lives for gear
DaveUK's Avatar
Nothing to lose ( except top end and time)
If you've got it all on disk anyway .heh heh
Old 15th September 2011
Here for the gear

And money! haha
Old 16th September 2011
Lives for gear
Originally Posted by DaveUK View Post
I think Eric Valentine does it this way round ,tools then tape for mix.
If it works for him then I'm not gonna argue
you can make a good mix this way, sure. if it's Mr. Valentine's bread and butter method more power to him. but i bet he could get mixes sounding just fine doing it some other way.

but yea, you use pro tools for tracking, edit all the garbage into good "takes" and then dump to tape. starting on tape means less editing, cuz you either get it right or you go back to your day job...
Old 16th September 2011
Lives for gear

456 was the Ampex/Quantegy tape....468 is Agfa/Basf/RMGI...

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