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What were your humble beginnings?
Old 17th July 2011
Lives for gear
mowmow's Avatar
8tk mixing was my first studio experience. It was a college lab and assignment was to mix using only faders and panpot.
Believe it or not, it was so exciting that I decided to become an engineer.
Old 17th July 2011
Gear Addict
GotGear?'s Avatar
A Ross 4-track machine and a Radio Shack mic in 1985. Has it really been 26 years? Seems like yesterday.
Old 17th July 2011
Gear Addict

AIWA portable......1964
Roberts 2 track........1969
TEAC 4430.......1973
TASCAM 80-8 with DATA MIX console.......1976
Scully 16 track with DATA MIX console.......1976
TASCAM MS-16 With ABH System eight..........1990
DA-38's with Alesis 32.........currently using
Old 17th July 2011
Lives for gear
evangelista's Avatar

Chronologically, my personal set-up -

1. Two boomboxes facing each other

2. Tascam 688

3. Mackie 1604 and ADAT

4. PowerMac 7300 and PT3.2

5. G4 and MOTU 2408

6. G5 and MOTU HD192, both of which I still use and are the core of a considerably more able/complex system.
Old 17th July 2011
Gear Addict

computer speakers
pirated copy of cubase 5 (the original one)
Old 17th July 2011
Motown legend
Bob Olhsson's Avatar

Old 17th July 2011
Lives for gear
bobwarren's Avatar

Originally Posted by swafford View Post
It was never easy for me. I was born a poor black child.
Me too.

My first setup included a cheap yamaha pcm synth (PSR-something), a QX-21 sequencer, and a two-track stereo cassette recorder. My local music center made it common practice to sell their gear at list price to inexperienced teenagers. I later upgraded to a Korg M1, Roland U-110 and Juno 106, Boss DR-50, Alesis HR-16 and MMT-8 synched to a Fostex 4 track cassette and a Shure SM58. I had a 3630 comp on the mix bus into a Fostex D-5 dat. Horrible, I know. Listening back, I prefer the sound of my two-track cassette recordings before the upgrade! I comp'ed the life out my initial recordings with that Alesis compressor. Only if I could be 20 years old again with what I know now!
Old 17th July 2011

This isn't my actual first tape recorder (and, yes, those are the MST3K robots down there) but it is virtually identical to it.

The machine had no capstan. (Meaning, of course, that as the tape built up on the takeup reel, the linear speed of the tape increased dramatically.)

It also had -- get this -- a permanent magnet on the end of a springy, metal lever for an erase head that would press against the tape in record mode.
Old 17th July 2011
Lives for gear

A tape deck from Lafayette along with two of their mikes.
Later a Teac deck with Teac mikes (much better!).
Old 17th July 2011
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
Actually, that lower one is pretty similar to the very first tape recorder I ever saw -- which was, in fact, used by my neighbors and my parents to ambush me in a candid mic recording when I was about 3-1/2 or so (in the mid 50s). They conned me into singing my big hit -- a cover of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" -- and then played it back. I recognized the tune but not the voice. I was utterly convinced that it was not me and no amount of the adults telling me it was could really convince me. But I went back the next day and begged to be recorded again so I could see the process and, at that point, watching the whole thing go down, I finally was convinced. But even after I got my own tape recorder (above) when I was near the end of grade school, I continued to be amazed by the that's-not-me syndrome.

By the time I got in grade school, there were a couple of the slightly later Wollensak's (the more angled ones as in the top pic -- only mono) at the school. In 5th grade I was made part of the small, elite (all-boy) circle allowed to haul tape decks and projectors around the campus. I don't think they called us the A-V squad but... you now... as the geek is bent...

First stereo sound I ever heard (and an equally mind-blowing, though not credulity-challenging experience) was from an old Ampex stereo deck, circa '58 or so, playing the still-great sounding Arthur Lyman Taboo.
Old 17th July 2011
Lives for gear
voicegenius's Avatar

My first experience in overdubbing...
Attached Images
What were your humble beginnings?-ihwx.f66c2c55-024f-4296-aab8-e4ab7c13cb4f.140.140.jpg 
Old 17th July 2011
Lives for gear
Radiogal's Avatar
1986... Tascam Porta One... and did a lot of ping ponging...

Old 17th July 2011
Originally Posted by rene-lemieux View Post
A few years ago I tried making a recording with my old "lift the computer" method, using the same old mac I started on. The results were gritty, but very cool regardless... Low end was not very present however. That recording got radio play that week if I do correctly recall... proves that the music is always more important than the tools.
Haha...last year, I engineered a record with one of the biggest bands in Holland...whilst we were tracking the record in the studio, in the lounge they were messing around with a laptop, and made a track that ended up as the bonus track on the album! including bass recorded through inbuilt mic, etc etc...!
Old 17th July 2011
Gear Head
jake not's Avatar

Great way to use my first post. Been coming here for a while but just recently registered........I'd rather read than talk.

Late 70's figured out how to do sound on sound with a couple mono cassette decks. It's been down hill from there
Old 17th July 2011
a first act microphone i stole, a tascam cassette tape machine i thought about stealing, some ****ty ****ty cables given and found, a kawai drum machine, and a Jackson guitar, the last Jackson to be a Jackson before they were fenderized.

then it was a carvin tube amp that i still to this day miss, an ampeg bass amp i still to this day miss, that same jackson guitar, several japan drum kits, one ****ty no namer kit which actually wasn't half bad, and then a tama kit i still sorta miss, an epiphone bass i still to this day miss with a fostex mr-8 i will never ever miss, and a Moog satellite with a yorkville p.a.

then it was a few electribes, that same jackson guitar with a throng of cheaper guitars that came and went, that same moog satellite with a few other moogs that didn't get used during that era, that same epiphone bass with a tune up, that same carvin guitar amp with a few different cabs, that yorkville p.a. which was turned around and sold for a few different variations of a real p.a.

then, i went solo. and it all got even worse. I'm not even gonna go there. needless to say everything above except the final p.a., the moogs and the jackson is all gone. replaced with other things.
Old 17th July 2011
Gear Maniac
Kelly Cameron's Avatar

4 track Akai mini studio thingamajiggy, crap 12 string with Fishman pickup installed, old Roland synth, drum machine and some dbx and lexicon rack stuff, and my trusty Selmer sax and and 2 x SM57 mics.

Then i upgraded to the Fostex 8 track reel to reel! With the removable transport controls and those wickid LED meters! Man, it was like the coolest thing back then.

Then a heavily modded Power Computing Mac clone, Cubase, Waves plugins, 7 gig external high speed hard drive which cost a fortune back then! A Mackie board, mic collection started to happen, modified Tele', Roland JV80, Roland A-50, an old Leslie speaker, Roland rack module, Ensoniq keyboarf, some Behringer stuff..and I still couldn't get the sound I wanted on the final product (duh!) so a wizard I knew named Rick said "it's the footprint of your ****ty prosumer gear, buy a killer Neve preamp to track thru". So I said "tell me what to buy"...the Great River Mercenary Edition MP2NV had just come out and Rick said "buy that" and a Gear Slut was born...

The difference once I first started tracking everything thru the Great River was like "I don't need all this EQ and plugin **** anymore, the tracks sound good as is!!!!" An epiphany like no other. Obviously there are other elements that are important like mic placement, room acoustics, near-fields, a/d convertors etc than just good preamps BUT good pre's is the big one and a lot of angry mixxing time got chewed up before I realised it was the missing pc to the project studio puzzle.
Old 17th July 2011
Lives for gear

Playing Rosemarie Clooney singing This Ole House with Buddy Cole and his orchestra on the Victrola (flip side: Mambo Italiano). This Ole House was the #1 hit in 1954, though I discovered it at age 7 in 1959. True classics.

‪Rosemary Clooney - This Ole House‬‏ - YouTube


Old 17th July 2011
Lives for gear
Ephi82's Avatar


My dads 1/4 stereo reel to reel tape recorder, with cheesy mics, recording yours truly singing along with Beatles records played on a Zenith "Stereophonic" Console Stereo Record Player. I LOVED the way the VU meters moved!

Note: I was careful to capture a stereo mix! Cheesy mics criticaly placed!


"home" rig (actually my buddies, WE LIVED IN SAME COLLEGE APT BUILDING) two Technics stereo cassette player/recorders, a 4 channel board (I think Radio Shack!): you could record up to four sources tracking live into one deck(typically a two channel stereo mix), and then live ping that with up to 2 more sources to the other Technics deck.

Do this to understand the term "wow and flutter"!


TASCAM 244 4 track deck with tacsam's external very cheesy 4 track board
(important upgrades: SM 58 and 57 mics)


Tascam 644 4 track bouncing to and mastering with a pro quality VHS "Hi Fi" recorder. The VHS Hi FI format was VERY quiet and stable, striping audio diagnonaly across 1/2 inch of high quality tape. Too bad the 644 didnt sound 1/2 as good!

Upgrades:(I thought they were cool!) Alesis 3630 compressor, Alesis Quadraverb and Alesis Stereo EQ, styling!
Old 17th July 2011
Gear Nut
lds's Avatar
Originally Posted by voodoo4u View Post
A small mono sony reel to reel tape machine with 3" reels I got for christmas in the '70's. The first creative thing I did was borrow a friends' portable cassette recorder and bounce back and forth between the two of them speaker to mic adding a little something each time. It didn't take long for the whole thing to turn into a complete, high pitched lo-fi squelch. That was it, I was hooked. Still am.
LOL! Same here, but it was a Phillips R2R. Then later on multiple cassette decks like you describe. Then on to Teac, Dokorder and Tascam 4-track R2Rs. Toss in some Tascam, Fostex and Yamaha cassette 4-tracks, a brief flirtation with an 80-8 prior to moving on to a couple of Alesis ADATs and a Sony and Tascam DAT or two along the way and end up at the here and now with 16 channels of MOTU 2408 goodness and a couple of Tascam 1641s.

That was for the home stuff. In the meantime I got to work on and occasionally play with Studers, Revoxes, Otaris and other nice stuff at the day gig...
Old 17th July 2011
Lives for gear

Rosemary Clooney correction: This Ole House was on the flip side of Hey There, which was an astonishing mono mix:

‪Rosemary Clooney-Hey There Columbia Records‬‏ - YouTube

Mambo Italiano was on a different 78.

BTW, the amazing bass on This Ole House was one Thurl Ravenscroft - how's that for a great name? If he sounds familiar, he should -- he was the voice of Tony the Tiger in 500 TV commercials, and sang "You're a Mean One, Mister Grinch".
Old 17th July 2011
Lives for gear
mike vee's Avatar
about year 2000

akai dps16 16 track digital recorder

akg c3000b

art tubepac

actually worked out pretty good
Old 18th July 2011
Gear Guru

1. a 3" reel to reel deck, with a crystal mic. I was 12. I recorded trains going through tunnels, wind noises, firehouse sirens and a dog kennel. I held the mic up to the TV and recorded Al Kelly double-talking on the Soupy Sales show, and listened back over and over until I could double-talk myself.

My friends and I sent audio letters to each other through the mail, just because we could.

2. Ampex reel-to-reel with a lid that turned into two speakers. Brought it to college with me, when everyone else had records. Taped radio shows as well as my record collection. Pointed the speakers right in my face to practice the drums. Some f*cker stole the deck and all my tapes (but oddly not my drums) out of the storeroom I had my drums set up in. Man, I loved that deck. That was the last time I could afford an Ampex!

3. Did some overdubs ping-ponging between two cassette decks, carefully positioning the mic between speaker and source to balance the old and the new.

4. Teac 3340s 4 track reel to reel. I figured I would see more people listing this deck. Simul-sync allowed true overdubbing. We got extra tracks by bouncing to a stereo deck, the left and right became 1 and 3 when you put the tape back on the 4 track. Mixing was a Sony 6x2 mic/line mixer with no EQ, sends or anything, just faders.
Attached Thumbnails
What were your humble beginnings?-little-tape.jpg   What were your humble beginnings?-ampex.jpg   What were your humble beginnings?-teaca-3340s033.jpg  
Old 18th July 2011
Lives for gear
mbvoxx's Avatar
Teac 3340, Teac 8 ch mixer, Shure SM5B, DBX compresser...I can't remember the model of the DBX but it had a slider control that just said,
"More". Still have it in a box in the studio bone yard.
Old 18th July 2011
Lives for gear
Old Goat's Avatar

Originally Posted by voicegenius View Post
My first experience in overdubbing...
Me, too..

I used to make tapes to send to my grandparents in Jamaica with the Peace Corps, circa '72.
Old 19th July 2011
Lives for gear
Cody's Avatar

This is a fun thread!

My WAY back beginnings were the boombox stereo my dad bought me when I was 6 with the built in mic. Would make "radio" broadcasts and skits and stuff on it, plus I ripped music off the radio station in Spokane (I lived in small town British Columbia hundreds of miles away, crazy atmosphere bounce).

My semi-WAY back beginnings were the Pentium 3 Dell I had in grade 11 (circa 1999-2000) with a ripped copy of Cool Edit Pro 1.2a (Licensed to Peter Quistgard!!), the built in soundcard, a vintage (read: ****e) mixer from the 60's-70's that shorted out and electrocuted me, and a handful of radio shack mics.

For drums, I had a mic on the kick, a mic on the snare, and a mic taped to each cymbal stand near my rack and floor tom. I would submix this and output unbalanced rca -> headphone cable, then into my ****e soundcard. I would then EQ/Compress DESTRUCTIVELY! in Cool Edit. I would add effects DESTRUCTIVELY as well.

To tell you the truth, I miss those days. I was more concerned about the music being played, not the gear. And the friendships. There you go, my humble beginnings/latter years of high school.
Old 19th July 2011
Lives for gear
scoring4films's Avatar

An Atari 1040ST packed with 1Mb of RAM and no hard drive, running Notator (Logic's great-grandfather), synched up to a TASCAM portastudio with a MIDI timecode box.

Back then it was a great way to make pre-production demos, so we could make the most of our time in the studio.

Old 19th July 2011
Gear Nut

Got the chance to record in a real studio when I was about 17. Not by being good, more about who I knew. They were an adat based studio moving to pro tools.

This was about when the mbox and 001's were out. The studio owner was talking up how we could get one of those and start the recordings at home and then bring them there to finish. Looking back he was probably telling us to go home and practice and you won't waste as much of my time lol.

So I found the duc and made a parts list. Went to fry's to buy the parts to build a pro tools pc. Well I made some substitutions. I also didn't have enough left for the mbox or 001. Got a sound blaster instead. The other guitar player had found a cracked copy of cubase and waves gold. Worked with that rig for a while. Did I mention I monitored through a surround sound system with pioneer 3 ways with 15" subs lol?

Finally got the mbox. It worked but not flawlessly. Probably due to my parts substitutions. Decided to try a Mac. Bought the first Mac mini. G4 powered 1.42 ghz processor with I think 512mb of ram. Found my preferred combo. Mac + pro tools.

Haven't looked back. Now I'm on pt9 with a MacBook pro and uln-2. Kinda interested in what apple does with the mini. May have to pick one up if it gets the new i7 chip. It should blow the doors off my c2d MBP and be in another universe compared to the original mini I had.
Old 22nd July 2011
Here for the gear
The_Captain40's Avatar

A radio shack mic duck-taped to a cymbal stand which ran into a quarter inch to XLR adapter which ran into a 100 dollar PA system. The PA's line out went into the computer. The computer would then output into my 14 inch tv's rca input.
I then upgraded to a Sony MiniDisc recorder and thus began the journey.
Old 22nd July 2011
Originally, cakewalk on a PC trying to make it work with a built in sound card and our performance PA. Shortly after that a blue and white G3 mac with a 001, both setups I was monitoring through a decent bookshelf stereo. Don't miss those days too much.
Old 22nd July 2011
Gear Maniac
k3nnyt4n's Avatar

i started with fostex 4 tracks,tried to record vocal in cupboard!
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