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Board for Looping w/ Ableton and a Tape Machine Teac 80-8
Old 26th August 2015
  #1
Board for Looping w/ Ableton and a Tape Machine Teac 80-8

I am finally in a place where I can set up a studio again!
I have a lot of studio equipment from when I ran a small studio in college and now, finally, 6 years later, I'm going to be building a studio in the house I bought with a grand piano in it. (I can't play piano for sh*t but I'm looking forward to learning!). FYI It's a Weber from 1905-1910 that needs a lot of work

Anyway the concept I have is a loop studio. Traditional recording is meant for bands and can be kind of tedious at times to get a bunch of musicians to practice enough to write and play good music, so the loop studio could be like an antidote to studio drudgery plus a very fun, creative and flexible songwriting process. All the instruments would be dialed in with mics and gain settings so that they were ready to go and a session wouldn't need to start from scratch. Everything would already be sounding good and at a good mix and jamming and looping could be as easy as turning everything on.
I got the idea from playing around with my EH 16 sec delay on guitar and wishing I could mute certain loops to have the composition change and to then build from there. I had also plugged in a cheap mic and was having fun making little crappy rhythms with a drum set and percussion toys but the sound was low quality and tracks couldn't be separated after the fact since it operates almost exactly like a real single track tape loop.
Naturally I was thinking how cool it would be if the recording quality was very good and it was infinitely editable after the fact...
I realized I was imagining what techno musicians do with loops that come in and out every 4 bars and then it will break down to just one riff and then build back up etc. I now knew I wanted an Ableton studio - except the looping source material would come from stationary mics on my Fender Jaguar into Vox AC30, my pee yellow Ludwig Vistalite drum set, the grand piano and keyboards, my brass horns etc. The sounds of various instruments of the studio could be altered of course but mics would stay somewhat static for an easy plug and play feel as if the studio was one giant loop pedal or some electronic musician was using "StudioXYZ" samples.
I have Ableton 8 and an 8x8 grid midi controller and had some success doing ITB looping with live drums though it never quite got perfected since I had to move houses before working out all the kinks and properly setting up the studio but THAT TIME IS NOW!

I also have a Teac 80-8 8 track 1/2" tape machine that I want to incorporate into the studio.

TO FINALLY GET TO THE POINT:
I want to:
-use the studio for Ableton loop-jamming (I already got this pretty worked out) where I can record a beat and then play on top of that and then add something and take something out etc. and have everything recorded as I go
-edit the loop jam into a song
-dump some parts of the loop jam onto tape and then re-record instruments onto tape live to get a less robotic feel
-or maybe practice (hey there's a concept) playing the edited loop jam song with a band and then record to tape and mix in the box or out of the box onto 1/4 tape (Teac A6010 7.5IPS max) for color

Basically recording to ableton or 8 track and then routing stuff back and forth between 8 track tape and ableton

TO ACTUALLY REALLY GET TO THE QUESTION:
I think I want a mixing board but I'm not sure how that would work with mixing ITB. If I use an analog board like I want to, then the mix wouldn't be recorded onto the computer. If I use a control surface for mixing, then I wouldn't be able to easily record all analog.
What is the best way to use an analog mixing board for the purpose of being able to switch between going into tape or digital, and from digital back to tape or tape into digital? Should I use the busses for tape? Would I be better off with a mixing control surface as well??
The interface is Echo Audiofire 8.

There's a Yamaha RM800 for example on craigslist for $200 and it looks like it would work well for going analog with my API500 preamps but I'm not sure if it would play well with the digital aspect of this project.

I'm curious how you would set up this studio so that it was flexible and easy to rout between tape and digital. I've thought about just having a panel on the front of the patchbay with DB25 plugs on it so I could simply move the plug (which fans out to 8 tracks worth of TRS cables) from tape to digital but there's probably a more elegant solution. What would you do?
Old 26th August 2015
  #2
If I split the tape outs and ins of the mixer to the echo 8 and 8 track with Y cables, but only used one at a time, would that work? I guess the recording template on ableton would have to be set at full line outs like a tape machine and then I'd have to have a way to turn on the computer mix when working with ITB mixing when doing all digital recording. That means I would have a board mix and a computer mix but I suppose those could be set to match. It might be kind of a pain before I get sounds dialed in to baseline settings.
Would I be able to play out of the computer and into the tape machine at the same time? I would guess the channel switches between tape in and tape out couldn't be activated at the same time because it would make a feedback loop...
Old 27th August 2015
  #3
The Yamaha RM800 mixing board looks like it could work for tape and digital 8 tracks to be hooked up at the same time:
Attached Thumbnails
Board for Looping w/ Ableton and a Tape Machine Teac 80-8-tape-send.jpg  
Old 11th September 2015
  #4
Also looking at Allen and Heath System 8 mkIII. To do the 2 8 tracks, I would have to split outputs. I think I could split 1-8 outputs to tape and digital and then bounce track 1 to 9?
Old 12th September 2015
  #5
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Old 12th September 2015
  #6
I think I might want a "split console" setup where the monitoring channels are on separate tracks instead of inline. Split would be better to have the studio setup for "set it and forget it" as I would spend less time playing with sliders but it would require a huge board. 24 tracks for mics all over the studio and then 8 for the split tape/digital returns. If I wanted to switch to 16 tracks, then I would need a total 40 channels!
The main difference is usually you set up a mixing board for recording. Then when you play back through the mixer, you adjust everything again for mixdown. A split console would essentially be one mixer for the mic and inst. tracks going onto tape, and one mixer for the tape outputs into new channels for mixdown - but they're next to each other on the same board.

The second picture is a "split console" setup, which requires lots of tracks, but doesn't require re-mixing after both input and monitoring channels are set up. It's the number of tracks you'd need for the inputs, PLUS the number of tracks on your recording medium.
The first picture is an inline setup which you switch each track from record to mixdown. This specific setup would work well for putting a stereo bus mixdown of 8 drum tracks, with 6 channels to patch in for the rest of the tracks.

It's hard to imagine workflow for these two setups. It's hard to decide if the "split console" (maybe less-mixing) would be worth the added size and cost of the board versus the inline, (maybe more mixing) setup.
Attached Thumbnails
Board for Looping w/ Ableton and a Tape Machine Teac 80-8-bandrec.gif   Board for Looping w/ Ableton and a Tape Machine Teac 80-8-split-console-wiring-diagram.jpg  

Last edited by 6dyslexicelephnt; 12th September 2015 at 10:16 PM..
Old 16th September 2015
  #7
I got a Mackie 32•8 with the meter bridge for $400. Score. It's got the MIX B feature on it to switch from analog to digital. The Alesis Studio 32 and Behringer MX9000 eurodesk also have this apparently. I guess I'll post when I get it hooked up, but no one seems to be interested...
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