the sound of analog tape recordings

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by thma, Oct 15, 2005.

  1. thma

    thma Guest

    Currently I'm using a simple chain of vst-effects to create masters from my mixdowns.

    - Kjaerhus GEQ parametric Equalizer
    - (optionally) some reverb or stereo basis enhancement
    - and PSP Vintage Warmer with a Compressor/Limiter setup

    I'm quite happy with the results, but from time to time I still miss the punch and headroom of an analog tape machine.
    The PSP Vintage Warmer comes quite close, but it's not the real thing.

    But I'm still reluctant to buy a analog tape engine, as my studio is already crowded with a lot of gear and those machines need a lot of maintenance and finetuning.

    So I'm looking for alternatives. I'm thinking of using outboard gear like the SPL Charisma II to get that special analog saturation sound.

    Do you guys have any recommendations for me?
    Is the Charisma good for my purpose? Are there better choices? Or should I go for the real thing and buy a tape machine?

    thanks for your help,
  2. iznogood

    iznogood Guest

    imo..... don't buy a tape machine unless you can afford a 2-inch (or 1/2 inch for masters)
  3. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Why? I get 1/4" all the time. probably more than 1/2". To me, 1/4" 15ips sounds great.

    I've had my machines for 8 years and they don't require that much maint. maybe 1 hour a month total (cleaning the heads and alignment). I have 1 machine with 1/2" and 1/4" headstacks. sits in the corner when not used. looks cool.
  4. thma

    thma Guest

    So if not going for a tape machine, what are your alternatives then?
  5. iznogood

    iznogood Guest

    just my taste.....

    i'm a snob you know! :lol: :lol:
  6. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    If not tape, then try transformers. I love the sound of transformers. CLASSIC gear is all about the transformer. Maybe is a pair of vintage neve's. You can also try the new portico. I haven't listened to it yet, but it's designed around the same principle as the legendary audio tape simulator in the mastering console that I have listened to. that sounded pretty good.
  7. atlasproaudio

    atlasproaudio Active Member

    I use 1/4" 2 track. I lucked out and got a deal on an Ampex machine that had NOS heads. There is something about tape that you can't really simulate with outboard.

    For outboard, I'd recommend the Chandler TG-1 to warm up tracks. It's what I'm using lately on mastering projects. I have't tried the Charisma, but SPL makes great stuff. I have several clients who are running line level signal into OSA preamps to use the transformers to warm up their signal.
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    I still like IK multimedias T-Racks. It can an a lot of that analog tape sound for around $399US. It is a standalone program for PCs or VST/RTMAS or Macintosh. Some people don't like it because they are too purist to use it. Adds similar nonlinear tape like distortion and clipping.
  9. thma

    thma Guest

    Thanks for all your helpful comments!

    After reading a bit about transformers and the pre-amps and channel strips that use them I guess you are right.

    It's exactly that "roundness in the bass" and the "silk in the high frequencies" what I am missing in digital masters.

    I'll think I have to raise some money to get one of those analog beauties...

    thanks again,
  10. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    How valid is this technique really? I gave a mastering guy some tracks recently and he ran them through a couple Neve 1073's (or were they 1081...?) for "the sound." Seems a little crazy to me; I would think the tracks would need to be originally recorded with the Neves to reap much benefits of "the sound." Plus I think there was some kind of added low-level hum problem in his chain somewheres. :(
  11. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Quite valid. Of course, if you do it on the track level versus the final 2-bus level, it can be far more effective.

    For tracking, I avoid plugs a lot of times and use external boxes. Hitting a box with a transformer is often all that is needed to add some iron or "girth" to the sound.

    On the mastering side - running the 2-bus through a box with trannies can have a similar effect, but it's often not as desired as say running stems or individual tracks out. As with everything mastering or 2-bus related, any change you make affects something else.

  12. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Depends on a lot of things. Type of transformer, type of instrumentation, level. Sure there are some drawbacks but if a track needs it, then i'll do it.
  13. All of this stuff is so minor - if the song is great, and the performance connects, then you can record it using the worst 16 bit converters on computer (assuming some decent ears behind the controls) and music fans will stay get married to it. Let's get real folks. Oops, here come the insults ...
  14. Reggie

    Reggie Well-Known Member

    OK, will do. Thanks for saving us a lot of trouble trying to further our recording abilities. We'll just have to cut down our clients to those who sound magical no matter how they are recorded. :cool:
  15. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Nope, no insults here. You're dead on. A good song with a good performance and a good recording engineer equals a good mix. These little minor items (and you're right - they are VERY minor) are the nuts on the otherwise good hot-fudge sundae.

    They shouldn't ever be considered necessary or essential.

  16. axel

    axel Guest


  17. maistrow

    maistrow Active Member

    Don't go chasing shadows trying to find some sort of tape simulation device and go for the reel deal.I use tape on about 95% of my mastering sessions and everyone loves the final results.I can't wait to get update to 1 inch 2 track.Nothing sounds like tape.
  18. SeniorFedup

    SeniorFedup Guest

    i run my sounds through tascam388 and send it to the computer to touch it ^ with wavelab .
  19. I used to live near a studio outside of New Orleans, La(now gone) that did Alt Rock Bands and the Majority was EDM. This was around 1 1/2 ago when I was getting into that "I need that warm/fuzzy sound" phase of recording and production.
    He said that ALL of his tracks in one way or another got ran through his Empirical Labs Fatso. He said that it gives that "Warm" sound to anything you run through it.
    This might be worth a looking into instead of getting a analog tape machine.....

  20. SeniorFedup

    SeniorFedup Guest

    fatsos a great alternative to the tape machines i cant believe this is the first time mentioning it. for two k . think about all the reels you save on

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