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Does anyone have any preferences to analogue recording over digital?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Does anyone have any preferences to analogue recording over digital?

I've noticed that there are more and more people who are choosing to record in analogue these days, rather than using a workstation such as pro tools, and was just wondering if anyone has any first hand accounts as to why they prefer (or would ideally prefer) recording on tape, instead of recording digitily?

I also wanted to know if terms such as 'analogue warmth' actually carry any practical meaning, as it sounds to me like it's merely rhetoric to support a nostalgic aesthetic which surrounds analogue recording. Is there really that much of a noticeable difference when it comes to recording this way?
Thanks
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
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Sharp11's Avatar
 

This is your second post - couldn't you have just done a search with the terms "analog", "digital"??? You could lose half your life and most of your sanity reading through all the pablum.

I wonder why admins allow for these repetitive posts time and again ... ughh.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
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Northward's Avatar
I like to work full analog, except for tape. I use the DAW as a tape machine in 1:1 with the 64ch console.

Tape is just too much hassle. I have a Telefunken/AEG M15A 1/4" master tape machine but it's mostly for decoration.

What you get from analog is a particular type of distorsion / saturation, crosstalk, etc. But too much of it and you're losing instead of gaining something.

For example, I don't like to go 2x through the console (or the same console) it colors the recording too much. So I'll record to DAW via very transparent preamps and then monitor and mix through the console post DAW return. To further 'simulate' tape I don't do any editing other than broad comping of takes (tape sound to me is also the sound of good musicians actually playing their instruments rather than looped parts and songs edited to grid in a DAW).

If you're a commercial studio, then I strongly advise against going the full analog route as it's too slow and too expensive to run such a facility in most cases and locations (i.e unless you're in Berlin, NYC, L.A., Nashville etc). Just the maintenance costs are very high within the context of today's industry.

My studio is not my source of income and is not "on the clock", so I can allow such tools to be used and can do slow maintenance. But my experience as a Studio Designer is that you should think twice about going that route unless you know exactly what you're doing and you have the clientele for such a studio.

A studio we designed a couple rooms for (the Mix and Mastering rooms) provides full analog recording services, and does it really well:

https://thebunkerstudio.com/

But these guys have a ton of knowledge and experience, know their gear in depth and how to fix it all.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
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avare's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by samgrahamynwa View Post
I've noticed that there are more and more people who are choosing to record in analogue these days
In the early 80s multitrack tape recorder manufacturers included:

3M
Ampex
Fostex
Lyrec
Otari
Sony
Soundcraft
Stephens
Studer
Tascam
Telefunken

Today"s multitrack tape recorder manufacturers include:

Last edited by avare; 3 weeks ago at 06:29 PM.. Reason: Forgot some brands
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
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Kyle P. Gushue's Avatar
Its case by case. A dance club banger is probably best suited to be produced fully digitally. A live folk band in a good room, playing well, may benefit from the sound of tape. A garage rock band could sound great on a dirty tascam 34, where a jazz band might love a studer.

As in all things recording "it just depends". Tape can be wonderful, or a hindrance. My personal favorite role for tape is hi gain electric guitars. Its for me the easiest path to guitars that sound like they do when in front of the amp playing. I find it more difficult to attain that digitally, even with boutique outboard. Its not the right fit for every case.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
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Brian M. Boykin's Avatar
I could post a long reply but it would read almost identical to Northward’s post minus being a famous room designer. I track through very transparent preamps and mix through a console with outboard. I do have an MCI JH100b for mix down and an MCI JH16 I’m currently restoring for tracking and dumping to DAW. My studio is not my main source if income. There are subtle sonic differences I enjoy mixing analog and I like the workflow. All my gear has been recapped and had op amps, VCA’s, resistors, etc upgraded. So part of my obsession is the electronics aspect of it. Sitting for hours soldering on PCB’s is time well spent.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
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chrischoir's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by samgrahamynwa View Post
I've noticed that there are more and more people who are choosing to record in analogue these days, rather than using a workstation such as pro tools, and was just wondering if anyone has any first hand accounts as to
Quote:
Originally Posted by samgrahamynwa View Post
why they prefer (or would ideally prefer) recording on tape, instead of recording digitily?
IMO they generally lack essential/fundamental recording technical skills. Analog covers things up so they don't have to face the truth. An argument can be made analog tape can cover up certain lack of musical technique as well. the more things are saturated the less you are going to notice imperfections.


Quote:
Originally Posted by samgrahamynwa View Post
I also wanted to know if terms such as 'analogue warmth' actually carry any practical meaning, as it sounds to me like it's merely rhetoric to support a nostalgic aesthetic which surrounds analogue recording. Is there really that much of a noticeable difference when it comes to recording this way?
Thanks
As long as you record analog sources and good songs there will be plenty of warmth for your ears and your heart
Old 2 weeks ago
  #8
I use both but try to stay in the analog world as much as possible when recording my own material. I have a Tascam MSR-24 one inch 24 track machine, iZ Technology RADAR 24 digital recorder and an ancient ProTools Digidesign Digi 001. They all have their place depending on what a client may want or can afford. I have done some A/B tests with clients, family members and friends in the past by taking the final stereo mix and having them listen to the original digital mix and that same mix slammed onto a couple tracks of the Tascam MSR-24. The final tally was 95% of the listeners preferring the analog treated mix,... so, there has be something going on with analog that draws the listener to it. I should also mention that the listeners were of all ages from 15 to 83(my mother) years of age.

I am currently looking to upgrade my console from a Mackie 32x8x2 to something more high end. I was initially considering to dive into the digital world 100% and started looking at a decent mid-level digital console,... but, after much deliberation I decided to stay with something I feel comfortable working with. I like the hands on approach which incorporates turning knobs and outboard gear, etc.. So, after much research I decided to go with the Allen & Heath GS-R24M console which will deliver the analog sound and workflow along with some digital capabilities,... it is the perfect match for my current needs.

GS-R24 is designed to fulfil the needs of musicians, sound engineers and producers and is adaptable to different workflow methods.

Briefly, some of the capabilities of the GS-R24 include:

• Multi-track recording to the digital domain with easy interfacing to a computer DAW with zero latency monitoring of
live sources.
• Multi-track recording to the digital domain with monitoring sourced from the recorded track in the DAW.
• Over-dubbing a recorded track whilst monitoring the track and/or live source.
• Multi-track mixdown using state-of-the-art analogue summing techniques.
• Multi-track mixing performed in the DAW using the GS-R24 as a controller.
• Patching, routing and monitoring a comprehensive matrix of signals in a studio environment—artists monitors, effects
processors, external devices and studio control room monitors.
• Surround sound mixes can be created in a DAW and conveniently monitored through a single level control.
• Automating a mix using the motorised faders on GSR-24M to either create an automated mix in the digital domain or
create an automated analogue summing mix using the faders for channel level control as well as parameter control.

In the end,... to each their own. I have no prejudices against those who fully work ITB.
I couldn't be bothered in wasting time and energy engaging in some infinite heated debate. Just get on with what motivates you and produces the results you're after.

And don't even bring up studio design, soundproofing or acoustical treatment around here in some areas,... your brain and patience will be in a world of hurt, ,
Old 2 weeks ago
  #9
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I record both to 24 track 2 inch tape and digitally. Rarely a project stays analog until final mix down. I love the sound (depth, width and esparation) of an analog mix but need the flexibility and recall of a digital mix. I also find the speed of daw mixing great especially when I'm feeling inspired and able to try different approaches quickly. I fine that setting up a mix in 2-3 hours and then refining at a later stage works best for me anyway.
For mixes that I didn't record myself I sometimes go to tape but mostly to get the production en recording to where I want it before I start mixing.

Things I love about tape:
  • the highs
  • tape compression
  • drum transients
  • recording with compression on the way in
  • overall better performances and choosing rerecording over editing (I do edit later on in the box before mixing but only if really nescesary)
  • not looking at a screen all day
  • having a console in the studio, I love having everything at my fingertips and eq-ing without looking
  • having lots of hardware compression in the studio which helps digital recordings a lot because it makes for a better tracking mix
  • muscle memory, I don't have to think about the remote at all but I guess a daw controller could achieve this too.

Things I love about digital:
  • take/comp folder workflow for vocals. It really helps me in getting the best out of singers.
  • not having to dump prerecorded track to tape or having to record click tracks during tracking or in advance
  • freedom, while the recording is running I can fumble some space echoes, dial in a reverb or patch in a different compressor or take out a mic, distortion pedal and a large pan to put next to the drumkit on the next take.
  • not having to track time codes or worrying if I really have enough time while recording the amazing end feedback of a guitar overdub
  • not keeping track of rec levels that much, just set them and you'll be fine.

Now, if I need a lofi tape sound I get out the portastudios, re301 & memo recorders.

I truly love both. Both are great. About tape I always feel it really does sound great and with digital conversion I feel it really does sound fine (must admit that our antelope Orion isn't the most fancy converter around).
Old 2 weeks ago
  #10
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I'm thinking of running a similar experiment myself as part of my university assignment. Something along the lines of having people listen to a digitally mastered track, and an analogue version of the same track, without them knowing which is which and then asked to give their opinions on the sound of both of those tracks.
Of course all of this experienced information is useful, but I want to know whatis a general consensus on the two ways of recording are to the untrained ear.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #11
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standup's Avatar
Earlier in my life the bands I was in recorded to 2” 24 track tape.

Mostly I record to Pro Tools and logic.

But we have cassette 4-track decks here, and I record some stuff to tape. Not because it sounds better—4 track cassette does not sound “better”. But it’s a fun way to work. No undo. You have to play your part. And punch ins are a PITA, so there’s creative pressure from that.

It’s a fun way to work, and I can drop a cassette in the mail to somebody else...
Old 2 weeks ago
  #12
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Papanate's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by avare View Post
Today"s multitrack tape recorder manufacturers include:
That's not true. Ballfinger built the Tonbandmaschine M 063 starting in 2017.
Thorens built a new Tape Deck in partnership with Ballfinger. The TM 1600.

There are few more - but as you noted none are built by major manufacturers.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #13
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Papanate's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by samgrahamynwa View Post
I've noticed that there are more and more people who are choosing to record in analogue these days, rather than using a workstation such as pro tools, and was just wondering if anyone has any first hand accounts as to why they prefer (or would ideally prefer) recording on tape, instead of recording digitily?
Recording to tape (like Jack White does) is more about an aesthetic to preserve the older methods and sound. You can of course hear the difference between analog tape and digital hard disk recording - but whether that's better or worse or one is preferred over the other is arbitrary. It's more akin to whether you like playing a Stratocaster or Telecaster.

Quote:
I also wanted to know if terms such as 'analogue warmth' actually carry any practical meaning, as it sounds to me like it's merely rhetoric to support a nostalgic aesthetic which surrounds analogue recording. Is there really that much of a noticeable difference when it comes to recording this way?

Warmth....well there's a bulls**t term if I've ever heard of one. Tape doesn't add warmth it adds compression, distortion and noise that hides good and bad things. It's very forgiving for most people. Digital recording is generally clean, articulated and generally doesn't add any compression, noise or distortion of its own. Producing and engineering musicians these days requires a whole new level of expertise to clean up the playing.

I like the sound of tape but wouldn't use it voluntarily - it's a PIA to edit, splice, maintain, and keep clean. Plus the storage medium is fragile, difficult, overly expensive, and bulky to archive. And while it may sound great today there is no guarantee tape will sound the same in 5, 10 or 20 years. And I've also found that (as most have found) Digital doesn't require the same approach to recording that Tape does. When people got past that they don't require the same sort of tools - they find they enjoy the sound just as much if not more than analogue.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #14
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EvilRoy's Avatar
 

Artist here. Money and time are not the priority. If it was, then tape may be a bad choice. I still have the Tascam 80-8 I started recording on back in the 80s, for sentimental reasons (and dbx instead of dolby) but just got an old Otari 8 track/1” with transformers I want to use. My mixer is an automated D&R, transparent. Intending on tracking some things (and not some other things) directly to tape and pulling a feed directly off the 3rd head to DAW. More like using it as a processor than a recording medium. Could probably achieve the same result all digitally, but I’m I’m a better musician than engineer and it works for me.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #15
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avare's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Papanate View Post
That's not true. Ballfinger built the Tonbandmaschine M 063 starting in 2017.
Thorens built a new Tape Deck in partnership with Ballfinger. The TM 1600.

There are few more - but as you noted none are built by major manufacturers.
I wrote multitrack recorder meaning recording studio gear more than stereo. The Balllfinger is a high end home recorder. The Balllfinger is like a cross between ReVox and Bang and Olufsen.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #16
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norfolk martin's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by samgrahamynwa View Post
I've noticed that there are more and more people who are choosing to record in analogue these days)
Or perhaps there are just more and more and more people who want to be "noticed" as choosing to record in analogue.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #17
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avare's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Papanate View Post
Thorens built a new Tape Deck in partnership with Ballfinger. The TM 1600..
The unit is not multitrack and is not a recorder.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #18
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i'm glad i (mostly) got off (any form of) tape many years ago - out of five studios, only one is left with an all-analog signal path: nice for occasional fun (or if you have a clientele willing to pay for it) but soundwise, i much prefer using filters/processing of my choice than have it built into the machines/gear...
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