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I am going to be recording in a studio and the engineer wants to record to tape and slow it down to fatten the sound. I havent used this process and was hoping that someone out there has done something similar and can give some pointers with regard to how many bpm's we should raise the tempo when recording as well as how far we should tune up so that when we bring it back to the correct tempo everything would work out.

Any input would be greatly appreciated.


pr0gr4m Mon, 06/18/2007 - 20:56

It all depends on how much you are planning to slow it all down. The tempo is not as much to be concerned with as is the pitch. I dont think simply tuning up would work. I've never tried doing something like least not to a whole track and not just to "fatten the sound". I would have to think that there are less complicated ways to fatten up your tracks.

I'd be interested in hearing your comments on the results.

Boswell Tue, 06/19/2007 - 01:49

One "sound fattening" trick I have used in the past is to perform EQ, compression and effects on a half-speed tape replay of the dry track, then play the wet tape at double speed to regain the original pitch. Used with care and only on selected instruments or vocals, this produces a sound that I have not been able to achieve any other way. Probably not the technique your engineer was referring to, but I would be very wary of trying to perform at a higher pitch and greater speed just to slow down the result.

Cucco Tue, 06/19/2007 - 08:27

If I'm reading what I think you're saying, it will have no effect on the "fatness" or "thickness" of the track, only the pitch.

However, if you *know* how the track sounds at one pitch then lower the pitch, it will *sound* thicker to you. However, not knowing the track and then hearing it at a lower pitch (slower tape speed) will not give you that same impression. It's all relative to whether you *know* what it's *supposed* to sound like or not.

Kev Wed, 06/20/2007 - 14:33

I'm with cucco
the only thng I can think of is the over-dub trick

when doubling a voice or instrumental part
you can tweak the tape speed to induce a slight change in the voice on playback

so you have a natural voice plus the slightly changed voice

things are still in key as the part is sung at the different pitch during the sync head overdub and then on playback the pitch is back to the original pitch

I'm not explaining this well

the effect can be like ... it was you brother that sung the background vocal

that was a crap explaination !
shut up Kev

you explain

anonymous Wed, 06/20/2007 - 15:42

Is it possible the engineer meant only to do this with drums? Slowed-down drums can definitely sound fatter, and can be implemented into your music by a number of ways:

1.) As you mentioned--to record drums at a higher tempo and slowing them down to match the arrangement. This will sound the most natural, but tracks time-shifted by a matter of a few bpms can adversely affect feel.

2.) Recording at the music's correct tempo, time-shifting the tracks, and then using a pitch-accurate time shift up by the same amount as was shifted down.

3.) Using the slowed-down drums as samples and replacing the tempo-correct ones with a program such as Drumagog

Dweezil Zappa mentioned using method 1 above to record a song called "Drops Me Down" for Lisa Loeb. Apparently she felt the drums weren't "sad enough" in the original performance.

anonymous Sun, 06/24/2007 - 23:38

I was searching for something else on google when I came across this thread, and I just had to reply, so I signed up... :P

I can't believe this isn't a more well-known technique. The beatles did this all the time (mostly just on drums)- listen to the drums on "strawberry fields" or "a day in the life". That's why the feel on those fills is so incredible- it was performed at about 115 percent of the final speed, I believe.

For a good example of what slowing down an entire track does, listen to the song "No Surprises" by Radiohead- that song was recorded at higher speed and then slowed down for the vocal overdubs. The effect is most apparent on the drums and guitars.


anonymous Mon, 07/02/2007 - 06:24


I don't know if anyone saw the same documentary here in the UK about ABBA and their sound. They re-recoreded the whole band with the tape slightly slower (or faster). I imagine they retuned the bass and guitars, but I'm not sure of the precise technique.
That gave it a bigger sound, although always a bit bass-light for todays market. Dave.

Davedog Mon, 07/02/2007 - 10:48

My hope would be that the engineer in question really does have a trick he's used to using for this recording. To simply state right out of the box BEFORE recording that you intend to do something before even hearing the results would seem to be a bit bogus. Usually tricks of this sort are used because they're needed in a certain setting rather than as a planned go-to from the git-go.Capice-o?

Cucco Mon, 07/02/2007 - 11:09

Like usual, I'm with the Dog on this one!

First of all, I can state from personal experience, this will NOT do anything on its own. I don't care what the Beatles did.

Now...if you were to take the original tracks and layer them with the slowed down tracks (providing that the tracks weren't *that* slowed down and could occassionally be resynched) then yes, the sound will get thicker. Simply slowing the tape speed down though will do absolutely NOTHING to "fatten" the sound. No additional overtones are added, no distortion should be added (provided your tape machine is properly calibrated) and even if it were, I doubt it would be the euphonic type of distortion you'd be looking for (2nd and 4th order harmonics).

Your best bet to get a "thicker" sound from the tracks is to do this at the front of the chain - at the instruments or at the furthest point in the line - the microphones. Beyond that, any "warmth" or "thickness" added will only bog down the mix. Doubling the track and slowing the speed of one won't really weigh the mix down too much, but it will add some good depth and complexity to the track. Do it sparingly though. If you can hear the effect consciously, it's too much.


Cucco Sat, 07/14/2007 - 06:29're talking about running it along with the regular speed tape. That works well.

Simply slowing down the tape though without adding it back to the original....nope.

BTW - Long time no see Rosemary (on the boards that is!) Welcome back! It's nice to have a lady around who knows her analog tape and her weapons! (Remy's got the tape down, but not so much on the guns...) :)

anonymous Sat, 07/14/2007 - 06:50

Actually I'm here for the first 1/2 hour of every morning before I go ouot to the studio. I read a lot, and I've learned a tremendous amount here. Cool place, no?
And I do love my 1911sr and k31 rifles. Its way too hot to shoot right now. We're setting heat records almost every day this week here! Oof!! Sometimes I do miss the snow!

aracu Sun, 07/15/2007 - 19:44

By slowing down or speeding up recorded sound, you can mildly or drastically change the sound quality and the perception of the sound in many different ways, depending on the particular sound and how much the speed is altered. It is commenly done in electro-acoustic music and sometimes rock music. The expression "fatten up the sound" is pretty
ambiguous to get worried about, why not try it. Nice photo! Have you ever seen the 50's film Trigger Happy?