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Recording to Tape

I wonder, how many of you pro engineers are still recording on tape?

I'm only interested in the professional engineers because the majority of the home recording guys are using a DAW I guess :)

And which mixing console do you use?


anonymous Fri, 10/12/2001 - 01:36

Well, thanks a lot for responding and keep them coming!

I thought I was a rare kind of engineer, most studio's in the Netherlands are digital.

Maybe we can have a constuctive discussion about the topic, there has been so many analog/digital debates on several forums that became flame wars.

I have tried them all, PT, Radar, MX2424, Nuendo, Soundscape a.o. but still prefer the sound of my tapemachines. (Otari, Telefunken, Studer, Tascam, Philips Pro)

Last week I had to tranfer an old 1/2" 30ips master of a famous (American) guitarist to digital.

I had to 'bake' the tapes for 8 ours but boy, what a great sound!!

Bob Olhsson Fri, 10/12/2001 - 08:08

When the word got out that we were moving to Nashville among my San Francisco clients, a number of different people asked me to make CDs of their older projects. On the whole those analog projects sounded far better than the same people's more recent digital projects. Even projects recorded on a DBXed Tascam 80-8 and mixed to a Panasonic 3500 DAT machine often sounded better.

Granted I have an absolutely amazing sounding modified Revox 2 track but it was still a lot of food for thought.

anonymous Fri, 10/12/2001 - 14:12

Originally posted by Rog:
I'm no 'pro' when I do music in my own time but I use analog. I use digital stuff at work and the sound quality is absolute total crap in comparison. It's harsh, unmusical, grating and other entirely subjective words :)

This afternoon I was at a masterhouse and the guy had an interesting remark about the subject.

He said: it's like a vegetarian sausage, don't try to make it taste like meat, make it taste good in another way.

Anyway, thanks for the input. Keep them coming!

anonymous Fri, 10/12/2001 - 14:41

Bob, it's an honour to have you on the forums.

My brother had an 80-8 in the eighties and I had a Tascam 38 by that time, good machines.

I still have a Tascam MSR24S (dolby S) and a Fostex B16.

Last weekend I did a job on location for a big brass band and I took the MSR because the two inch machine doesn't fit in the (Volvo) car.

The sound of this Tascam MSR amazes me every time. I bought it new in 1992 and it never let me down, not for a split second, it needed a new head once, but it sounds almost as good as a two inch machine.


anonymous Sun, 10/14/2001 - 14:22

If you are DYING to go analog, I have an Otari MX 80 2" 24 track w/ autolocator for sale. It is in very good condition. I have a new head report you can see. Heads are 70% or better. It comes with an MRL and an XLR to Elco harness. I am even willing to deliver it if you live somewhere in Oregon or Washington. $7k Visa or MC accepted. Trades considered.

Craig Alvin

anonymous Mon, 10/15/2001 - 22:44

so far the last 8 project I've done were all on 2", Tascam ATR80.
It is not the best on teh market, but it sound quite good and what I get is far superior to the digital setup I have (MAC G4 with 2408mkII and DP3.0).
The cost of the DAW was the same as the 2".
I use BASF911 calibrated at +6over250nW.


anonymous Wed, 10/17/2001 - 03:01

I prefer 2"/24tracks, but I haven't been getting the clients capable of finishing the project entirely on tape, lately. Sadly, most of them count on editing capabilities of the DAW. So typically only drums, bass and sometimes guitars get to taste the tape.

Then again, this is Croatia - the superpower in the music world.

I forgot to mention the fact that I provide the 2" tape. There's no way I could make a client pay for it.


anonymous Wed, 10/17/2001 - 11:27

Hi all,

As for the question.Analog SOUNDS analog.
Sadly both of our 2" and 1/4" Otaris haven't been switched on for the past year or so.Budgets plus the ease of editing dictate the use of D.A.W.s,-
Soundscape R,eds in our case.
We're trying to get the best out of this, using all of our analog gadgets from the past or present (console,outboard,e.t.c).


anonymous Sat, 10/20/2001 - 16:51

Hi, I'm from Argentina. I am actually working/tracking on a Studer A 800 MK3, SSL 4000 G+. I agree with the " vegetarian food statement".
Anyway, I am mixing a lot in PT, and it gets a lot harder to make it feel good. But I am enjoying a lot the editing/automation capabilities.By the way, I track almost exclusively at 15 ips, and also provide the tape. I gets harder to get the right levels on tape. I use the repro head a lot to check them.Greetings

anonymous Mon, 10/22/2001 - 23:06

The projects I got from clients these days are stuff from ADAT, Protool session file, or some odd ball DAW. I use protool at 24bit to do my pan, plug, and automation then dump every track into 2" analog then monitor thru an analog mixer for simple mix down to 2 track. The stereo output go into whatever good converter I can borrow (Cranesong HEDD or Apogee PSX100) to mix down to tape. I also use the masterlink, if I can borrow one, to save the mix down in 24bit. Client commented that the mix is "fatter". I hope this help, it works for me.

anonymous Tue, 10/23/2001 - 13:50

Last week I got two CD singles from a record label. Both recorded at my place, one on a MX2424 and one first on two inch tape and then transferred to the MX2424.

The recording which was made on two inch first has a more natural sound. It has some acoustic instruments like guitar, cello, upright bass and accordeon.

The vocals has much nicer 'f' and 's' sound than the vocals from the MX only recording.

Both vocals were done with the same Neumann M149.
The difference in sound is significant :)

Rog Wed, 10/24/2001 - 02:20

I think it's all too easy to get caught up in the technology. The foundations of what we do now were laid decades ago and have often never been bettered. Whether it be a Fender Strat or a classic mic or analog tape, everything else is just refinement of that basic design.

The problem is that engineers working in R&D these days simply cannot re-invent the wheel and yet are obligated to produce new designs. So, what do they do? they do their best is all and then hand it over to the marketing department (one of the few departments in which there has been a marked 'progression' in what they do over the work of decades ago) All of a sudden, you have products you never knew existed and you are told you can't live without them but, in fact, you don't need them.

ADATs sounded terrible when they first arrived, as did soundcards, CDs and just about everything digital. Things have moved on from there but we still are no way near getting the sheer quality of sound achievable through good analog gear. Maybe one day this will happen, I think it's inevitable as all those R&D engineers beaver away but it's not here yet.

It's indicative of the times we live in though. Has the quality of musians declined over what it was decades ago? probably! Often it isn't enough to just hit record and let them do their stuff, they need edits, autotune, etc. just to get the artist up to a percieved level of quality comparable to that produced by artists who could actually play and sing properly.

If you took all that apparatus away from them they might just have to go away and learn to play properly, more likely they would take their business elsewhere.

C'est la vie.

Bob Olhsson Thu, 10/25/2001 - 09:01

Perhaps the greatest loss resulting from the development of inexpensive, "do it yourself" recording gear has been losing the community that used to surround professional studios. It has allowed bad performers to create a sea of mediocre recordings while exceptional performers who don't have enough money or engineering chops frequently go unnoticed.

This is part of why I harp on the need to rebuild everything. There are few paths left between playing at home and being a superstar other than performing on the Mickey Mouse Club.



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