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1/2" analog (SR?) or Masterlink?

Member for

21 years 2 months
Could I get some feedback on what you guys are using more typically for a mixdown medium?

A while ago I picked up a Fostex E-22 1/2" 2 track (15-30ips) and am pondering whether I should get a couple channels of SR for 15ips mixdown or junk it and get a masterlink. Or is it really worth it to have both these days (analog and digital mixdown formats)? Any feedback on SR at 15 ips?

I can't see using the eq's etc in the Masterlink so I guess I would be using it for 24 bit recording to CD, assembly, and the ability to work with "masterlink" files. I won't be using the D/A's since I'm using the Waves L2 to redigitize after analog processing

By the way my chain is: Mac audio file (Waves Plug Ins)>Metric Halo 2882 D/A converters> Avalon 2055 EQ> TUBE TECH SMC2B> Waves L2 hardware> mixdown deck (?)

Any feedback would be appreciated.


Member for

20 years 1 month

joe lambert Wed, 12/04/2002 - 07:40
This is a good question.

Both! I love 1/2 inch tape. I like 30ips no dolby but I have worked on great sounding mixes that come in on 15ips quarter inch, 15ips 1/2 inch, with or without dolby SR. If you get dolby I suggest you get the SR/A unit.

I think you should get the Masterlink before the dolby. The mastelink is a great inexpensive tool to use for mixing. Think about it, you can record a whole record worth of 24bit 96K and put it on 3 or 4 CDR's that cost a buck each! Much less than tape.

Skip the internal procesing and use it as a master recorder. A lot of my clients are doing this now. You should mix down to both at the same time and see which one you (and your client) prefer for that particular project.

Member for

19 years 4 months

Kurt Foster Wed, 12/04/2002 - 10:50
I didn't know that Fostex made a 1/2" machine. I always thought that the E-22 was a 1/2 track machine on 1/4" tape. Anyway 15 ips for 2 track mix is not the best way to go.
IMO 30 ips is the "ticket". SR or not. At 15 IPS there is a major head bump right around 120 Hz. Up-ing the speed to 30 ips brings the bump up to around 350 or so and is IMO not as noticeable. I am not sure but at 30 ips it may not be as large of a bump (I'm guessing at this). 30 ips also reduces the need for noise reduction. The Masterlink has been well received in the pro audio community and has developed a very good reputation for it's A to D considering the cost. The D to A is a different story. This is the kind of gear I encourage people to purchase, functional but not over the top. If you are billing $1000 a day you can afford to purchase the latest high end converter technology every few months. But if you are like the majority of the people that frequent RO, you are looking for sensible choices that will have some longevity in your set up and not become a doorstop in a few short months. .......................... Fats

Member for

19 years 2 months

Michael Fossenkemper Thu, 12/05/2002 - 03:56
I think a 1/2", especially with a DAW, can be just the spice needed. Masterlink is a great bang for the buck.
I work with an engineer that prints all of his mixes to 1/2" 30ips, 1/4" 15ips, and masterlink. We listen to each song off all 3 and pick which one works best for that particular song. We end up picking something from all 3 formats, sometimes things sound better off 1 format. I really like how tape sounds. If you can find a way to have both, that would be best. If you had to pick just 1 though, I think masterlink would be the pick. The CD 24 that it creates can be read by any DAW and the cost of CD's compared to tape is really cheap.

Member for

20 years 10 months

GT40sc Thu, 12/05/2002 - 08:26
Just for fun sometime, try printing a mix to the 2-track analog machine, and take those outputs to the Masterlink at the same time...get some "analog grit" at 96k/24!

I used to do this all the time back when I had blackface Adats for helped a lot.

I even had one of our analog decks set up at +9, for some insane reason. We were using 456, and of course it was quite unstable at this level...the cool tone would go away if you didn't make a digital transfer within an hour or so...

Still, big fun. Good times, good sounds...


Member for

19 years 8 months

Gold Thu, 12/05/2002 - 13:07

There are very interesting and inexpensive options in the analog tape machine world. I just picked up an MCI JH-110 1/2" 4 track for $300. It's in pretty good shape but needs some work which will be done Monday. It came with a set of 2track heads which I'm sending to to install.
John Hardy is in the process of making replacement electronics for it. I'm not sure how much they will be but judging from his other stuff it will be reasonable. So for a good price I'll have a kick a** deck.

Another option is the
Ampex 440. You could pick up a pair of 440 frames cheap on ebay and install the replacement electronics. You could use your Fostex transport and hopefully heads. It would be a great sounding deck. Although I haven't heard the electronics they were designed by Neil Muncy who is well respected.

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Sun, 12/08/2002 - 14:01

those links are off the hook! John Hardy has always made killer mic pre's looking forward to anything new he's doing. JRM is where I called on info for the Fostex, found out that a senior tech also has my deck and says it's way underrated, worth tweaking up. Not to say I'd turn down a mint 102!