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Recording onto cassette from a mixer Mixers (Digital)
Old 1st August 2014
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Recording onto cassette from a mixer

Hey everyone! So I am in possession of a Mackie 24 channel mixer (with no built in recording system). I would like to start recording my music from the mixer to cassette tape, but I'm not quite sure exactly what equipment I should use. The mixer itself has both a tape in and a tape out. I want to have a cassette sound where the sound is surrounded by hiss/warmth as opposed to drowned by it, if that makes sense. A sound closer to than to (both artists are amazing I just like Phil's recording style more!) The tape distortion The Microphones use on tracks like is also something I would love to be able to achieve. (I realize that is probably reel to reel, but something where warm distortion is possible would be nice). I would also like the ability to do overdubs. So what should I go for? Would buying two handheld tape recorders (one for recording and the other for overdubbing) and plugging one directly into the mixer's tape out suffice? Or do I need to go higher end than that to get a *still* very lo-fi sound but more clarity and warmth? Thank you so much, and sorry for my lack of technical knowledge!
Old 1st August 2014
  #2
Gear Guru
 

the first overdubbing I ever did was coming out of one cassette deck and sending that plus a live track to another cassette deck, then moving the tape over and doing it again adding an instrument each time and copying everything I had "so far" as I did so.

it was a learning experience.

Quote:
I want to have a cassette sound where the sound is surrounded by hiss/warmth as opposed to drowned by it
I think if you are ping-ponging back and forth between two cassette decks you will be much closer to the "drowned by it" situation. You may think you want "lo-fi" in theory, but in practice you may find it to be much lower "fi" than the bands you wish to emulate.

Quote:
The mixer itself has both a tape in and a tape out
the "tape in" on such a mixer is so that (let's say) at a show you could play a "tape" -which could be a cassette, but could also be a CD or an iPod - out over the PA system without using up a pair of channels. It is more of a handy line level input for such devices than a part of the studio process.

the "tape out" on such a mixer would be a place where the entire mix of the console - all the tracks together could be recorded in stereo. More as a document of your live gig usually than as a studio recording

you probably would be best off getting a multi-track deck and connecting it up to the individual channels or groups from the mixer so that each instrument goes to a different track on your recorder. This would not need to involve the "tape in" or "tape out" connections. When you mix, you would come back into the mixer and send the 2 channel output of this mix to either an open pair of tracks on your deck or a totally separate recorder.
Old 1st August 2014
  #3
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
you probably would be best off getting a multi-track deck and connecting it up to the individual channels or groups from the mixer so that each instrument goes to a different track on your recorder. This would not need to involve the "tape in" or "tape out" connections. When you mix, you would come back into the mixer and send the 2 channel output of this mix to either an open pair of tracks on your deck or a totally separate recorder.
So you're recommending I get a multi track deck and just record onto the mixer from that. Would Recording onto cassette from a mixerFostex x 18 Multitrack Recorder x18 4 Track Analog | eBay do? Also, how would I overdub with this? Thanks for all your help!
Old 1st August 2014
  #4
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by WillBC48 View Post
So you're recommending I get a multi track deck and just record onto the mixer from that. Would Recording onto cassette from a mixerFostex x 18 Multitrack Recorder x18 4 Track Analog | eBay do? Also, how would I overdub with this? Thanks for all your help!
you overdub thusly

you plug a mic into your mixer, and send it to track 1 of the tape recorder. You record something. You now send your mic (same mic, even) to track 2 of your tape recorder and while you are listening to track 1 played back, you record track 2. then repeat the process until all 4 tracks are filled. Then you will need another deck to capture the MIX you do of the 4 tracks.

Because of the mixer's routing flexibility, you don't have to always have one mic going to one track. If you were recording a drum set for example, you could send multiple mics to the same track on the recorder, mixing them together "as you go".


there are other tricks, like bouncing, where you could record tracks 1 2 and 3 and then MIX all three of those tracks to track 4. then Wipe Out 1,2, and 3 and do some extra overdubs.



The thing is, you need a place to plug your mics in and you need a place to bring back your tape tracks so you can hear all 4 at once. With a 24 channel mixer and a 4 track deck, this should be easy. You could "reserve" tracks 21-24 for the tape playback for example. That would still leave you with plenty of inputs. If you had a bigger tape deck, you might need a bigger console or an 'inline' console that has a separate row for the tape returns.

to further complicate matters, most of those little 4 track decks are built into a little 'mixer' of their own. You will need to decide which mixer is used and which mixer is bypassed in each situation. The built in mixer might be more convenient, the outboard mixer will probably sound better.


Quote:
Would Fostex x 18 Multitrack Recorder x18 4 Track Analog | eBay do?
It's your recording. The machine you describe, assuming it is not broken, will do the tasks of overdubbing and recording and will give you the sound you SAY you are looking for.

In actuality, you are asking the wrong guy. I HATE these multitrack cassette machines and think they sound awful. I got into "trouble" for being "mean" to the cassette guys in another thread. In my defense, it is easy to be mean because those machines really are crappy. Cassettes were intended as a lowest-end consumer playback format, not as any kind of professional audio origination format.

But you are the one talking about "lo-fi" and the warm embrace of tape hiss. I think you may at some point realize this is TOO lo-fi, and has TOO MUCH hiss.

But perhaps this is exactly the sound you are looking for. They are usually quite cheap anyway, so maybe a good place to get started. Keep in mind, the stand-alone nature of these decks (the built-in mixer) may complicate your understanding of how your system is best put together.
Old 1st August 2014
  #5
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
there are other tricks, like bouncing, where you could record tracks 1 2 and 3 and then MIX all three of those tracks to track 4. then Wipe Out 1,2, and 3 and do some extra overdubs.
Using this bouncing technique, would I still have to have another tape deck to capture the final mix, or would it all be self contained within the 2 mixer system? Again, thanks for all your help!
Old 1st August 2014
  #6
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by WillBC48 View Post
Using this bouncing technique, would I still have to have another tape deck to capture the final mix, or would it all be self contained within the 2 mixer system? Again, thanks for all your help!
you will need a mixdown deck, yes. You can't just have the one tape machine. You will have 4 tracks that will need volume, pan, EQ and reverb decisions made each time you want hear it or run off a copy. So instead you capture the mix ONCE and make your copies from that.

perhaps you are getting a hint of why everything has moved to digital?

well, technically you could overdub on tracks 1, 2, and 3 and then bounce all that onto track 4 and track 4 could = your "final mix". But first of all, it would be in mono.

With only 4 tracks, giving one up for mixing is a large hit. Giving up two of four for stereo is just about paralyzing. This type of mixing to "open tracks" on your multitrack deck was much more common with a 16 or 24 track deck, where there were plenty of tracks to 'play with'.

also keep in mind that any bounce from one tape track to another is a significant loss in quality and a doubling of the tape hiss. These are 'tricks' to squeeze in more tracks, but they come at a cost in sound quality.

Quality that is already borderline (or on the wrong side of the border!) if you are using a cassette deck.

You would also need a way to make copies of that mix to distribute and so on, probably a computer system to make CDs, but if you had a computer system, you could use that as your "mixdown deck" solving both problems.
Old 2nd August 2014
  #7
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by WillBC48 View Post
So you're recommending I get a multi track deck and just record onto the mixer from that. Would Recording onto cassette from a mixerFostex x 18 Multitrack Recorder x18 4 Track Analog | eBay do? Also, how would I overdub with this? Thanks for all your help!
I would go with a Tascam, or at least something that runs at double speed. I have the X-18, and it leaves a bit to be desired. But if you want REALLY lo-fi, it'll do it.
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