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What equipment do I need?

Member for

21 years 3 months
Hey this is five-foot and I am wanting to re-open a studio. The building was built 15yrs ago still in good condition. My problem is that I am wanting to be digital and analog. I already have a fast computer, a pair of peavey AMR monitors and Tascam 8-track reel to reel, and some other small gear. My question is what do need and what about the hookup to make everything work.

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Member for

21 years 3 months

archived member Fri, 04/18/2003 - 20:51
Ditto. Unless you have a pre-existing demand, then aren't you wizzin' in the wind? This is obviously a demo studio.

Why do you want to be analog and digital? Unless you have really great analog gear, it is better just to be digital. Also, your analog format should be one in demand. What analog deck do you have? I am going to get flamed, but if you have a Tascam or a Fostex, you can forget it. Those don't cut it anymore. They don't have the analog sonics that people think of when they think of a Studer, or even an Otari.

Member for

19 years 5 months

Kurt Foster Fri, 04/18/2003 - 21:47
Originally posted by lowdbrent:


Why do you want to be analog and digital?
I want to know this too, but not in the "Why would you want to do that?" way. Really what are your reasons for this?

I will say this. It's a good thing to be moving into a facility that is already built. Especially if all the room treatments are still there. But why did the first studio that was there leave/go out of business? Like Steve asks, "What about customers?" Is this studio going to be for your own use or do you want to start a commercial venture? Kurt

Member for

21 years 3 months

archived member Sat, 04/19/2003 - 02:43
Originally posted by lowdbrent:
Ditto. Unless you have a pre-existing demand, then aren't you wizzin' in the wind? This is obviously a demo studio.

Why do you want to be analog and digital? Unless you have really great analog gear, it is better just to be digital. Also, your analog format should be one in demand. What analog deck do you have? I am going to get flamed, but if you have a Tascam or a Fostex, you can forget it. Those don't cut it anymore. They don't have the analog sonics that people think of when they think of a Studer, or even an Otari.
A Fostex G16/24 will give you a sound quality that's better than some 2" machines.

A Tascam MSR24S comes close to the Fostex G series

Stephen Paul said some about it a year or so ago.

This is not meant to be a flame :D :p:

Member for

19 years 8 months

sdevino Sat, 04/19/2003 - 05:11
when thinking about analog tape, a good starting point is to do a little math. Generally (but not always) the best sounding tape scenario involves wider tracks and higher record speed (though some tape decks sound better at 15ips than 30 ips).

A. 1/4 inch tape with 4 tracks = 1/16 inch/track
B. 1/4 inch 2 track = 1/8 inch/track (better)
C. 1/2 inch 4 track = 1/8 inch/track (same as B)
D. 1/2 inch 2 track = 1/4 inch /track (Outstanding)
E. 1 inch 8 track = 1/8 inch/track (same as B)
F. 1 inch 16 track = 1/16 inch/track (same as A)
G. 2 inch 16 track = 1/8 inch per track (Same as C, not as good as D)
F. 2 Inch 24 track = 1/12 inch per track (not as good as B, C, E or G)

G. 1/4 inch 8 track = 1/32 inch per track (ouch!)
H. 1/2 inch 16 track = 1/32 inch per track (no thank you).

The only choices that have even a chance of sounding close to digital is D. Others that come almost close are: B, C, E and G.

Otherwise you are just fooling around.

Steve

Member for

21 years 3 months

archived member Sat, 04/19/2003 - 08:54
Originally posted by sdevino:
The only choices that have even a chance of sounding close to digital is D. Others that come almost close are: B, C, E and G.

Otherwise you are just fooling around.

Steve
Why should analog sound close to digital? It's just another world of experiencing sound/music.

A compact cassette is a 1/8" 4 tracks tape with a speed of less than 5 cm/sec.

Still a Nakamichi 582 with a metal cassette sounds incredibly good, better than some DAT machines.

My clients are shocked when they hear the difference between DAT/CDR and even a 1/4" 15 ips
Studer machine.

I don't want to have another analog/digital debate here, but hi end analog is simply different from hi end digital.

Many audio engineers say analog sounds better, more natural, more like the source, with more width, fore and background.

I'm one of them. Digital audio is popular because it's cheap and very flexible. An engineer who prefers analog for post production must be a lunatic :D

But for recording music in order to listen to it on your stereo?

A new built Studer 827 should cost as much as how many ProTools HD sets these days?

So my friend, don't tell me the best analog format comes "close" to digital. Then you must record a really nice sound with hi end mics, pre's and other hi end gear to digital and for example a Studer, Ampex ATR, or similar and listen very good.

And than tell me what sounds closest to its original.

Sorry for ranting :p:

Member for

19 years 8 months

sdevino Sat, 04/19/2003 - 18:02
My point was that not all analog is created equal. If you go buy a fostex 1/4 inch 8 track you are not necessarily getting all the analog goodies of a 1 inch 8 track ATR. THAT was my point.

You can argue all day long about whether or not you prefer analog or digital as a format. That is personal taste. But a preference for analog in my opinion does not mean it sounds more like the source, just that you prefer its kind of distortion vs what digital does.

Sometimes it is the engineer though, because I know I can get digital to sound warmer and bigger and more real than any format of analog. In order to do this you need to throw away your analog recording habits when tracking and mixing in digital.

Analog in the hands of a great engineer is a wonderful thing.

Digital in the hands of a great engineer is a different wonderful thing.

Which you prefer is personal taste. The engineer in me has never liked the hiss on tape and the musician in me can't stand the sound of dolby noise reduction.

With digital I get exactly what was coming through my speakers when I tracked the subject, every single time I play it back. The trick is to make it sound great when tracking. Get instrument placement in the mix using the room detail you never heard in analog. Lay off the EQ, compress to taste and use time and phase to move things in the mix if needed rather than a lot of panning.

Digital is popular with younger engineers because they know how to get it sounding sweet better than they do analog. The opposite is true for a lot of old timers (I am 45) because they track using vintage gear or stuff with toooo much high end AND they monitor input while tracking rather than the digital 2-bus.

Thats my opinion anyway.

Member for

19 years 5 months

Kurt Foster Sat, 04/19/2003 - 18:17
Originally posted by Han:
A Fostex G16/24 will give you a sound quality that's better than some 2" machines.
That would have to be a sorry assed sounding 2" machine. I have worked on Fostex G16 w/ Dolby S custom configured at the factory for 30 ips, and I think it sounded good.. but still no where as good as my MCI JH 24 2" did with a 16 track headstack on it @ 30 ips with no noise reduction (didn't need it). Stephen may have been speaking about acoustic guitar tracks or vocals but for deep bass, you gotta have that wide tape. Kurt

Member for

21 years 3 months

archived member Sun, 04/20/2003 - 00:59
Steve, yes, we can argue about the subject for a long time, but there has been so many discussion about the subject already.

I have heard recordings, done on great tape machines that sounded so good that I can't imagine it would sound any better on whatever. Because the sound was just perfect.

I agree with you about the 1/4" 8 track stuff, sounds bad.

I must admit I got a little upset about your statement that 1/2" 2 track comes close to digital. Sorry for that.

I still think though, 1/2" 2 tr. sounds nicer than any digital format, a matter of taste.

Sometimes it is the engineer though, because I know I can get digital to sound warmer and bigger and more real than any format of analog. In order to do this you need to throw away your analog recording habits when tracking and mixing in digital.
I would very much like to hear one of those recordings. I have Nuendo and although it sounds really good, I still find 2" even with Dolby A a better sounding format. I guess I'm an old tape slut :D

Thank you Steve for giving your honest opinion. :tu:

Peace, Han

Member for

20 years 8 months

Ethan Winer Sun, 04/20/2003 - 04:17
Steve,

> With digital I get exactly what was coming through my speakers when I tracked the subject, every single time I play it back. The trick is to make it sound great when tracking.
Spoken from experience. Thanks for taking a subject that is argued about constantly and putting what really matters in the forefront.

--Ethan

Member for

19 years 8 months

sdevino Sun, 04/20/2003 - 09:59
Han,
Just add a small amount of perspective, I will never refuse an offer to mix to 1/2 inch 2 track. It is definitely the king of analog sound. And yes, it may be better suited to certain source material than digital.

Digital has made marked inprovements in the past 12 months. Check out the Digi 192i/o if you haven't already. And I am sure that most of the new converters have significantly better sound than anything older than 1 to 2 years.

Member for

19 years 5 months

Kurt Foster Sun, 04/20/2003 - 10:47
Han,
To add a bit more perspective, I have also worked with 15 ips G16s and I thought the 30ips G16 machine sounded better. Much more headroom, quieter and still plenty of low end down to 40 Hz. I have also worked on 1/2" and 1" Tascam 16 tracks with and without the DBX or Dolby on (all scenarios) and I don't think any of them hold a candle to 2" tape at any speed. The best sounding narrow gauge format machine I have ever used was an OTARI 1” 16 track, with +4 electronics.

These are all great machines and I would never give away one that was working but IMO the 2" format is the best. This has much to do with the fact that the electronics are better on the professional format machines as well as the added track width.

To visit digital, IMO in the bass regions is where digital excels. Actually, from 10k down, what you put in is what comes out. No head bump and flat down to 20Hz. No analog machine compares in terms of accuracy. It's the high frequencies that get messed up with digital, resulting in a loss of high frequencies, collapse of stereo imaging and perceived depth and a feeling that a ceiling has been lowered down.

I think both mediums can be put to use successfully and that either one is really just a tool, neither of them being perfect. Both have their attributes and drawbacks.

What has become desirable now in the present, 20 years ago, recordists were fighting. Mic preamps, eq circuits and outboard dynamics processors that "colored" the signal were being complained about all the time with the "holy grail" being transparency. Now engineers and producers crave those colored sounds in an effort to recreate some of the magic that was produced in those times. But I think that magic really came more from the fact that without all the manipulation and tuning and time stretching and morphing and all the other sh*t that can be done now using digital tools, to make a good recording one had to rely on talented performers. In the end, I think that talent (what you are recording) is of much more concern than what you are recording it with. I would much rather be recording Keith Moon or John Lennon with a mono cassette recorder than “Enema Em” at Ocean Way! .. Kurt

Member for

21 years 3 months

archived member Sun, 04/20/2003 - 11:14
Originally posted by Kurt Foster:
Originally posted by Han:
A Fostex G16/24 will give you a sound quality that's better than some 2" machines.
That would have to be a sorry assed sounding 2" machine. I have worked on Fostex G16 w/ Dolby S custom configured at the factory for 30 ips, and I think it sounded good.. but still no where as good as my MCI JH 24 2" did with a 16 track headstack on it @ 30 ips with no noise reduction (didn't need it). Stephen may have been speaking about acoustic guitar tracks or vocals but for deep bass, you gotta have that wide tape. Kurt LOL! That is true.

I don't care what SP says. Those narrow format machines suck major keister. The bleed is worse, the S/N is worse, the tape handling is way worse, you can't record as hot, and their bass bump is not very musical to me. I think that the Studer A80's, 800's and MCI's have the smoothest. most linear response over all. I used to have documentation of a comparison, with nearly every 2" machine made, side by side, set to factory specs, using 456. It was amazing how bad the Otari and Tascam 2" machines were.

Member for

21 years 3 months

archived member Sun, 04/20/2003 - 11:15
These are all great machines and I would never give away one that was working but IMO the 2" format is the best. This has much to do with the fact that the electronics are better on the professional format machines as well as the added track width.
Kurt, I have two 2" machines, an old B16 and an MSR24S.

A while ago I had recorded a female singer/songwriter CD and a couple of songs needed more than 40 tracks, so the MSR came in. We tracked percussion, Hammonds and that sort of things to the MSR.

The record company decided to mix it in New York and because the studio there didn't have a 1" dolby S machine and couldn't rent one (?) I had to transfer the 1" tape to 2", which I did reluctantly because of the "generation loss".

Much to my surprice the 2" copy didn't sound worse, even a tad better. I think the better electronics had "overcompensated" the generation loss. Weird experience! :)

Member for

21 years 3 months

archived member Mon, 04/21/2003 - 10:40
Originally posted by lowdbrent:
Originally posted by Kurt Foster:
Originally posted by Han:
A Fostex G16/24 will give you a sound quality that's better than some 2" machines.
That would have to be a sorry assed sounding 2" machine. I have worked on Fostex G16 w/ Dolby S custom configured at the factory for 30 ips, and I think it sounded good.. but still no where as good as my MCI JH 24 2" did with a 16 track headstack on it @ 30 ips with no noise reduction (didn't need it). Stephen may have been speaking about acoustic guitar tracks or vocals but for deep bass, you gotta have that wide tape. Kurt LOL! That is true.

I don't care what SP says. Those narrow format machines suck major keister. The bleed is worse, the S/N is worse, the tape handling is way worse, you can't record as hot, and their bass bump is not very musical to me. I think that the Studer A80's, 800's and MCI's have the smoothest. most linear response over all. I used to have documentation of a comparison, with nearly every 2" machine made, side by side, set to factory specs, using 456. It was amazing how bad the Otari and Tascam 2" machines were. Buddy, Stephen Paul made some comments about the quality of the Fostex G series a while ago and he was very impressed about this narrow format machine. There is not a more narrow format than a cassette. A Nakamichi 582 can sound amazingly good.

You can find some sound fragments on my website.
Jazz example 2 (The Troupe) was recorded with a Tascam MSR narrow format machine, a small Seck board and a number of dynamic mics. The whole band recorded at once in a small room. It was a CD of the month in a Hi Fi magazine and got te maximum score of 10 for sound quality.

Folk example 1 (Dockside) was recorded with the "bad sounding" Otari 2" machine.

Have a listen, hope you like the sound. My next machine will be a Studer 827 :D

Peace, Han

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