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Old 5th September 2006
Lives for gear
Zep Dude's Avatar

Originally Posted by kats View Post
In other words, eventhough the recording was all done in the analog realm - once dumped to digital, all was lost......except of course the tape artificats that we wish we could get rid of. Am I understanding this correctly - 'cause if so, what's the point of all this?

I would not bother with a tape machine for some effect (there are waaaaay cheaper ways - who cares if it's not exact- it's a bloody effect), I would use it in the most HiFi way possible.
A few things here. Tape has an effect that, for me, is worth the effort to incorporate (and it really takes effort to deal with tape machines). It acts a bit as a compressor, it makes things more dense (hits you in the chest more) and it shaves off some shrillness before hitting digital which makes things much easier to fit into the mix down the road.

When it comes to ultimately converting it to digital, it is what it is. Depending on the quality of your converters, you may lose more or less of that original signal. But if you're going to lose, say 10% of the magic once it goes to dig, does that mean you should just use crap mics, crap mic pres etc? No, the opposite, do everything you can to make the sound huge and dense and have body and detail so that slight loss going to dig doesn't kill the sound.

Another thing, if you don't want to lose so much when converting to dig, lose the 192's and get a Benchmark System 1000 or some Lavery's. Also skip the 192k and even the 88/96k and give 44.1k a chance. When comparing transfers of identical takes from multitrack analog into pro tools at both 44k and 88k, 44k is the clear winner for me. Dan Lavery wouldn't even make a converter that did 192k (I don't know if he finally caved on this). I forget his exact words when we spoke at AES a while ago but essentially he felt the whole 192k thing was a marketing ploy -no chip implemented it well.

Wondering if you should track to tape vs print your mix to tape is two different considerations. Tracking to tape will enhance every individual track and provide a nice texture and less of a digital sound. Your song will mix easier. If anyone has a two track and you're just doing overdubs with one or two mics, go for it. If you want to do a comparison, split the signal just before tape and print both the pre tape and post tape signal then listen. Printing your final mix to tape is a completely different consideration. I've been to mastering sessions where we had mixes printed to both tape and digital and picked the digital, other times we picked the tape. If you've got really well recorded tracks and you're using good outboard gear in the mix as well as a good outboard bus compressor you may not find the need to go to 2 track.

I agree with Fletcher that tape can have a wide range of sound, and I always get a kick out of these tape vs digital shootouts because there's so many variables. What format, how hard are they hitting tape, what type of tape, how is the machine calibrated (how much over bias etc) what is the condition of the machine/heads etc? All I know is that every time I print drums and bass to 2" 16 track at 15 ips on a well calibrated machine I take a moment to listen to the direct signal vs the signal coming off tape, and in that particular shoot out, the tape wins every time.