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post mixer recording advice sought

Discussion in 'Recording' started by NordicNorm, Dec 20, 2012.

  1. NordicNorm

    NordicNorm Active Member


    Up to now, I've been recording (and mixing) straight onto a Teac A3340S R2R and then transferring onto my laptop via an Emu 0404. I'm using Audacity once the music is in my laptop. I know this is far from a professional setup but it works for the type of projects I do.

    But now I'm feeling adventurous and would like to expand beyond 4 mics. So I recently went looking for a mixer and acquired a Yamaha DMR8 (and the AD8X). I realize that this quite old technology nowadays, but hey! I've been using a 70's R2R so this is a step up for me! :) Also, I got it for a great price.

    I'm looking for advice on what to record onto from this board. It has an onboard DAT recorder. The downside is that I have to use Yamaha's proprietary tapes, which are limited to 30 minutes. Do I keep using my R2R? Record directly to another DAT deck? Directly into my laptop? My preference would be to record directly into my laptop.

    I've never used DAW tools but I am correct in assuming that if I recorded into my laptop, I'd require some type of DAW software?

    I'm in uncharted waters here, so I'd appreciate any advice/tips from this forum!

  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Your best bet is to probably look into recording directly to your computer, and to do away with the older technology.

    While Reel to Reel (analog) certainly had it's "thing" when it came to sonics - saturation and harmonics - on the scale of what you are using, it's probably more likely an anchor, in that it's not really a pro spec machine.

    S to N is probably way low, and even if that machine would be running at an optimum scale, (meaning no head stack wear, good alignment,electronics and motors all good and using premium new tape), it's still a dated technology on a deck that was considered to be consumer grade at best at the time. I'm very dubious that the deck is in fact running at optimum operation. I could be wrong of course... but I bet I'm not. :wink:

    If you have a computer that is fairly modern, then all you would need would be production software, the type of which would be determined by what you want to do and how much you want to spend...
    Sonar, Cubase, Studio One, Reaper, Pro Tools, and a slew of others all make nice production programs, ranging in price from $100 to Thousands.

    Although, if I were you, I'd look at something inexpensive and user friendly as a beginner. Start with entry level, and you can always work your way up from there as experience grows and the necessity determines. Trust me... even the cheapest and most basic entry level software and audio I/O device is going to be a gigantic improvement over what you are using now.

    You will also need an audio I/O device, a mic preamp that will allow you to get mics or instruments into your computer. There are hundreds of models available, USB, Firewire, even PCI slots... ranging in price from around $50 to thousands of dollars.

    Can you be a bit more specific about what it is you want to do?

    The more information you give us as to what your goals are, what you want to accomplish, the better we can help you.
    It may be time to dump the stuff you have grown used to, particularly because the stuff you have was never really considered to be professional grade equipment to begin with.

    I remember that Yamaha... the DAT based all in one mixer... I'm surprised that you can even still get those proprietary tape cartridges anymore.... and if you can't, and you are simply using the same carts over and over again, well, it won't be long until you start to hear some serious degradation - although truthfully, I'd be shocked if you hadn't already passed that mile marker several years ago.

    As for now, I can give you some immediate advice: stop spending money on 20+ year old consumer grade gear.

    Even if it's only 20 bucks...it's 20 bucks thrown into the wind.

    Trust me, you're not getting much bang for your buck, if any at all. The money you are spending on this stuff could be put to far better equipment, with far greater productivity... and superior fidelity.

    Give us a bit more info and we can help accordingly.

  3. NordicNorm

    NordicNorm Active Member

    I initially got into recording by going the simple route, using older, but well maintained equipment. I'm handy with electronics, so I recapped the Teac (which I paid $130 for). The heads were pristine, so I had them aligned, had an MRL calibration tape made ($175!!), bought a couple of Apex 460 mics (which I then modded), a mic preamp, and I was off to the (recording) races! For learning purposes, it fit the bill.

    But I do get your point regarding wasting money obsolete consumer gear. Which is why I'm here. To seek advice and learn from the more experienced.

    I do have a couple of m-audio DMP3 mic preamps, which I'm pretty sure are decent, albeit entry level, preamps. While I was looking for a mixing board, I came across the DMR8. From what I know about it, it was definitely pro kit in its time. So, although it is 20+ year old technology, at least it is pro grade 20+ technology (and it was well maintained)! :tongue:

    And I'm not wedded to the idea of recording to the DMR8's DAT recorder. It came with board, so I thought I'd ask about it as a potential option.

    You asked what it was I wanted to do.

    I've been fascinated by minamilistic recording techniques found on recordings like Harry James' "King James Sessions", Stan Kenton's "Live at Keesler Air Force", and the Cowboy Junkies "Trinity Session". As well, I've been influenced by recordings from Telarc, Sheffield Labs, the BBC and TACET (a German recording company that uses tubes exclusively in the entire recording chain).

    In trying to emulate the above (with varying degrees of success - let's just say none of those engineers are losing any sleep over my efforts!), my approach has been to mic the room in order to capture the ambiance (as opposed to mic'ing the individual instruments). I do very minimal post production to the recording, mainly because a) I don't have the skills/knowledge/tools, and b) the groups I record are just happy to hear how their performance sounded.

    I hope this information sheds more light on my objectives/aspirations.

    Thanks for the response Donny!
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I did some freelance work for Telarc several years ago (they were based in Cleveland and I'm about 40 miles south in Akron) and I can tell you those guys were into ambient miking and multiple mic arrays, in a MAJOR way.

    They used all kinds of arrays, from the standard coincidental pairs and ORTF set ups, to M-S, as well as Decca Trees and Dummy Heads.

    Their whole thing was all about the organic: natural, dynamics, and space... man, it was all about the space. Lots of it.

    That being said, I don't think you're going to be able to accomplish what you want with that dated mixer, a DAT, or with a consumer grade reel to reel.

    If I were you, I would absolutely save your money and look into some nice mic pres as well as microphones. Condensers are always nice to have, but Ribbon mics would be an outstanding choice for what you would like to accomplish, Norm. I'll tell you who knows a lot about ribbon mics, and that is RemyRad. You should send her a PM or page her on the forum and query her about it. Remy is definitely someone one to talk to in regard to what you are doing.

    I would also brush up heavy on multiple mic arrays and techniques, research the techniques, experiment with them, because the bulk of your sound is going to come from your source... at the mike..

    If you have the right mics in the right patterns, ( and in the right environments acoustically) you'll need to do very little in regard to post production with EQ, gain reduction, etc. I'm not saying to NOT use the tools available to you, but if I'm correctly understanding what you want to do, getting it right at the mic will be crucial.

    You can move a microphone as little as an inch or two in any direction and change the texture of the sound in a major way. When you start implementing multiple arrays, the differences become even more apparent. The downside to this is, unless you really know what you are doing, the problems can also become very apparent.

    I think you'll find out sooner or later - sooner, I think, that the current media you are using to record with will fast become a hindrance to you.

    Again, I would consider putting money into a few nice pres and some nice mics, along with a production program like Sonar, Reaper or Studio One.... as opposed to spending another dime on antiquated gear.
    Some antiquated gear is great. What you have is... well, it's not. LOL

    In my humble opinion, of course.

  5. NordicNorm

    NordicNorm Active Member

    Thanks for your thoughts Donny!

    As I mentioned in my original post, my preference was to start recording directly into my laptop.

    What I am unclear of is how I can combine the signal from, say, 8 mics, into the laptop?

    I thought the path would be: mics -> preamps -> mixing board -> audio interface -> laptop? Are you saying I can eliminate/bypass the mixing board completely?

    Thanks for the heads up about RemyRad! I'll ping her.

  6. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    No mixing board needed. Many of today's mic pre's are also audio I/O device as well, and some can accommodate up to as many as 24 ins at once, although the more inexpensive models generally offr 8 XLR ins and 4 to 8 line ins.

    These are discreet inputs, each with their own gain.

    Your production software will have input assignments per track. So, for example, let's say you have Sonar as your platform. Once your mic pre/audio I/O has been installed on your system and is recognized, Sonar will then allow you to choose which mic or line inputs you want assigned to each track. Let's say you have 8 tracks created within sonar (the track count is limitless, the only limit you ave is how many tracks you can record at once... but you can do endless overdubs on endless tracks if you like)... for each track you create in Sonar, you select the input for that track. So channel 1 on your Audio I/O will be assigned to track 1 in Sonar's track view. The same for ch2/trk 2, ch3 trk 3, and so on and so on...

    After recording, you can then add any EQ, compression, reverb, delay, whatever processing you like. And what you choose for track 1 doesn't have to be the same for the other tracks. Each track's processing, along with it's volume, panning, phase, etc are all independent.

    You do your mixing "in the box" or ITB. The program contains a virtual mixer where all levels, pans, fades, effects, processors, EQ's, etc. are controlled and mixed.

    When all is said and done, you "render" the project and output it to a wav file, or an MP3, or an AiFF, pretty much any popular audio format you like. From there you can burn CD's, upload to internet sites, stream from websites... the possibilities are endless, and the audio never leaves your computer for processing. Once you record the tracks through your preamp/audio I/O, all your production, editing, mixing and mastering can all be done "ITB". :)

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