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This may sound totally noob/stupid, but... I just got an old Sony TC-252 1/4" Reel To Reel. And I have no idea what to do with it. I mean... I've had -many- tape machines over the years... just not in the past 20 or so. I figured, if nothing else I could make little echo loops with it like when I was 16 or so... or make some nutty distortion with it.

Anyhoo... I have a couple of questions since it's been so long since I've worked with tape.
1. Where does one -buy- tape? I went to the usual super-store sites and it's nowhere to be found. I figured I'd type in '456' and there it'd be. What happened? How much does one expect to pay?

2. I used to mainly use Ampex 456 and something from BASF. I realise there are (were) many other brands and that they 'sound' different. And the funny thing is that of the many tape emu units I've heard the presets all sound -much- more different than I seem to remember from 'the old days'. Any suggestions?

3. Is it a totally stupid idea to consider using this thing as sort of a 'tape emulator'? I mean... for example, to run a parallel bus out to it and mix some of that grunge into a final pop/rock mix? IOW: Is that technique only useful for 'big boy' 2" tape @ 15IPS or can it be useful (not just a gaudy effect) with 1/4" tape @7.5IPS? Is there just not enough fidelity in such a machine to be considered for such a purpose? I guess I don't fully understand the physics of 2" vs. 1/4" well enough.

Just askin'



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BushmasterM4 Tue, 11/09/2010 - 13:40

Here are a couple sources for tape. [=""]reel deal pro audio .::. keeping the analog alive[/]="http://reeldealpa.c…"]reel deal pro audio .::. keeping the analog alive[/] and [[url=http://="http://www.tapestoc…"]Quantegy Reel to Reel Audio Tape[/]="http://www.tapestoc…"]Quantegy Reel to Reel Audio Tape[/] and [[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.atrtape…"]ATR Magnetics, LLC[/]="http://www.atrtape…"]ATR Magnetics, LLC[/]
There are others out there and a few places on ebay offer "new old stock". I got the R2R bug this summer and I now own 3 Akai R2R's and over 300 tapes (commercial and recorded). I have takin DAW mixes and ran then into one of the Akai's and back into the digital world for "shits and giggles". It did add some tape noise to the mix , or what some call "that analog feel", "saturation", etc... But I mainly use mine for my own self enjoyment. I have come across some very old stuff on tape that you just cant find elsewhere. Alot of, one off stuff. Hell I got a batch of tapes which have music from a High School musical in Texas done in 1960 that sound amazing !!! They even have the program from the musical listing cast members and such !!! And I have a few guest sermons Jimmy Swaggert did at a church. :) You never know what you will find at auctions, on ebay and yard sales. Have fun with it !!! Buy some tape and experiment. But first I would clean it and put new belts on it. Good Luck

Suntower Tue, 11/09/2010 - 14:46

BushmasterM4, post: 356477 wrote: Oh yea. The physics are the same between 1/4" and 2 or 3". The 1/4 has 4 tracks vs. the others having more.


I just guessed that @ 7-1/2, one can't possibly get the S/N of a pro deck. So even if one gets that 'analog goodness', one has to then somehow strain out the added hiss/noise/wow/flutter that we all shifted to digital to get away from. Perhaps it's more trouble than it's worth---except for a fun factor; distortion, etc.

I'd be interested to hear anyone use something as lo-fi as this in a more 'serious' way for mix processing.


TheJackAttack Tue, 11/09/2010 - 15:00

The size of the tape isn't what necessarily affects the hiss/noise/wow/flutter. That has to do as much with the quality of the tape itself (stretching) and the maintenance of the tape machine and the precision to which it was manufactured.

Many of us went to digital and away from reel tape because we didn't want to maintain the machines to a professional standard which is quite time consuming and has to be done frequently.

BushmasterM4 Wed, 11/10/2010 - 07:58

Yes indeed the maintanance on a multi track is from what Ive read very time consuming. I have a demo a national act did in my studio a month ago that we ran into the Akai and back. I'll see if they care if I post it for you to hear the difference. May take me a few days to get in touch with them. I have been taking some of my cd's and vinyl and transferring them to R2R. I run the signal through an outboard eq and them onto tape. I use the eq to add low, mid or high to the original source. Lord knows some need it. I just like the vibe of the R2R.

vttom Wed, 11/10/2010 - 09:25

At the risk of digressing just a bit...

In Jr. High School (20+ years ago), I had a really cool art teacher who also moonlighted for the local newspaper as an entertainment journalist. He spent most weekends going to rock concerts. We'd read his reviews in the Monday or Tuesday paper the following week. He was also an audiophile and DJ'd our dances. The coolest thing about that was that he would pre-record the tunes to reel-to-reel tape (IIRC it looked to be ~1in tape, but I could be wrong) on reels that were big enough to hold all the music for the whole ~2hr dance without changing out the reels. Come to think of it, it might've had auto-reverse, so it would play the first half in 1 direction and the 2nd half in the other. He always had the newest music and a lot of extended dance re-mixes that were probably comped to him by the labels. Anyway, I have fond memories of this big-ass reel-to-reel machine sitting on the stage in the Jr. High Auditorium cranking out dance tunes (tho' he always ended the dance with "Stairway to Heaven").