advice on using my revox a77
Hey all this us my first posting here and was after some advice on using my recently purchased 2 track Revox A77.
First of all I will be recording a three piece band that must be recorded all at the same time. Guitars x2 +drums. I do have pro tools but would like to capture AT LEAST the drums on tape. I have done a few test of recording to digital the transfering to tape but recording directly to tape gives a much more pleasing result. Would it be a good idea to:
A/ record the drums to tape Using the stereo outs of a small mixing desk whist recording the guitars to pro tools. Use a film clapper board for sync then re-record the drums back to pro tools.
B/ put everything into a mixing desk, take time setting all the correct levels the use the stereo outs to the Revox.
C/ record everything to pro tools and master to tape.
I had an A77 until it vanished mysteriously, never to be recovered. They are fine domestic/semi-pro units but an A77 is not a pro studio recorder. If you like the compression effect of tape, then a deck like this can be made to work as an effect in conjunction with a digital recording system, provided you apply a bit of thought about how and when you hook it up.
Firstly, there is the problem of tape speed variation. For its class, the A77 is very good in this respect, but even a perfect mechanical machine cannot deal with uneven tape stretch without using a sync reference track or some other compensation system. One way of minimising this problem is to record and monitor off tape in one pass, capturing the monitor output signals on your digital system. It's much easier to shift the timeline of these tracks by the amount of delay time between the record and playback heads than to try to line them up on a separate replay pass when you have tape stretch and other mechanical effects to deal with.
Then there is the question of which tracks to put through the tape. I've had acceptable results by making a two-track live sub-mix of the drum mics and using that, but your workflow may have other needs. You don't mention what type of PT rig you have, but with a Digidesign unit as your PT interface, it would be important to use the original analog signals as your mix source, as you need the best headroom on drum tracks for the tape saturation to do its work. My guess is that if you tried replaying drum tracks recorded via a Digidesign interface to tape and re-recorded the off-tape tracks, you would be disappointed.
With these two simple guidelines, you should be able to start experimenting. It could be that you like the sound of the whole drum track group put through tape and the other instruments recorded direct to digital. I don't think I would go as far as to put the master two-track through tape (at least using a recorder like the A77), partly because the A77 is some way off being a mastering machine, but mainly that the ear will respond well to certain parts (e.g. drums) having the crunch of tape while other parts are left direct.
Give it a go and let us know how you got on.