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Digital to Analog Reel to Reel Tape!

I'm using a Pioneer RT-909 1/4" R2R deck at 15ips to record some personal tapes mixed from two Mac computers which are outputting from iTunes via mini-jacks wired through a Gemini PS-04 3-Channel 10" DJ Mixer with FX. The iTunes music that I'm sourcing from is (I believe) stored on my Macs in a digital format which when played can be either output as digital via the optical outputs on the Mac or as analog via the mini-jacks. I am using the analog outputs from the Macs to the mixer, then on to my Pioneer R2R tap deck using Quantegy 456 (2500 feet) 1/4" brand new sealed tapes. So theoretically, once I rebuild and calibrate my R2R deck, plugin all the cables, etc. I should have a farily good change of making decent tapes, for my personal listening.

My question is this. Bearing in mind that my source music is coming out of iTunes, having been originally acquired and still stored on the Mac on the hard drive in a digital format, then the signal getting converted within the Mac to analog by the time it's output from the Mac via the stereo mini-jack I'm wondering how much if any sound degredation is being introduced during the D/A conversioqn in the Mac?

At least this is all being done locally withing the computer itselft so presumably Apple (being audio and video concious) has done a half decent job in the A/D conversion I should be getting a farily good analog signal quality when it's output from the Mac via the mini-jack, right?

If not however, would it be prudent, possible, to output from the Mac via OPTICAL cable to some kind of an aftermarket D/A converter box vs. jusing the hardwired Mac mini-jack analog output?

I'm not really concerned as much with theory as I am just getting good listening quality tape sound when I'm all done, the tune mixes are laid onto my R2R and it's finally time to just sit back, hit the play button on the R2R and enjoy.

Opinionsor advice on this greatly appreciated.

TIA, John


anonymous Sun, 05/14/2006 - 05:37

Well the source ( itunes ) is gonna be your biggest problem as these files are compressed and low quality to begin with. Buying an external d/a would be a waste of time as the audio files themselves are the problem. It would be like taking the old oil out of my truck and using it for your brand new sports car. Maybe thats not a good analogy, but basically crap in = crap out

RemyRAD Sun, 05/14/2006 - 21:07

I think the same an analogy applies here to myself?

When I delight in seeing an old acoustic, windup Edison gramophone.

Wind it up.

Put the needle on the record, put the needle on the record, put the needle on the record and the drummer goes like dis!

Then sitting back to enjoy all of the beautiful low fidelity, scratches, inconsistent speed and horrendous acoustic resonances of a playback system that uses no electricity. Now that was living!

And don't forget to smoke that dooby?
Ms. Remy Ann David

NewMedia Mon, 05/15/2006 - 04:23

Thank you all for your replies, and pass th dooby LOL, oh the good old days! Getting too old for most of my vises but sure have a lot of memories. Of course I've forgotten half of what I ever knew or could remember so have to relearn as I age .

What I hope to accomplish, as was alluded, is to revisit the past in a sense in terms of the pure joy in (as John Lennon so susinctly pened in the lyric "...I love to sit and watch the reels go round and round") seeing, feeling, and touching the media (the 1/4" tape on those huge 10.5" metal reels) as the tunes get so magically layed down to the moving magnetic tape. Silly I know, but such a magical process to experience purely on a visceral level.

I'm taking the analog output from two of my Mac desktops, on a dual G5 running Tiger and also a Mac cube running Panther, both loaded up with over 10,000 iTunes songs, and feeding it into the Gemini FX mixer, then out of the mixer to the Reel to Reel deck.

I know that the weak link in all this from a technical point of view is the source music in iTunes, but I accept this for gaining the ability to mix the music and apply special efftects. I like going long mix-overs between songs and I like applying special effects like flanging via the mixer, so I'm in heaven.

This I suppose is my little way of being creative, short of being a *real* audio tech with higher-end resources. This is after all the "Home Recording Forum" .

In the end after I've created my *masterpiece* I can hit the play button on my R2R and sit back and the reels go round and round!



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