Printing mixes to analog for mastering..... benefits?

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by ShoeBoxDude, Apr 21, 2005.

  1. ShoeBoxDude

    ShoeBoxDude Guest

    Hey guys, Im hoping some ME's can tell me what the sound benefits of printing DAW mixes to 1/2 inch are, and what kind of situation call for this process. I'll be finshing up a metal record pretty soon, and I want to know if this process is worth spending the extra $$'s on.

    Thanx a lot!
  2. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Chicago area, IL, USA
    Home Page:
    You print to analog for the sound of analog. If it's "in the box" and you stay there, you'll get whatever you put into it.

    If you're going through an analog chain or analog summing, you can go to a high rate/depth digital mixdown or DSD (quickly becomming my personal favorite mixdown media).

    Or get a 1/2" analog deck if that's what the mix is asking for during mixdown.
  3. splurge

    splurge Guest

    The best way to decide is to hear the difference for your self and see if you like it. Perhaps hire a 1/2 inch machine for a day and do a test mix.


  4. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2002
    NYC New York
    Home Page:
    Analog tape AHHHHHHH. Need a little super glue? analog tape comes to the rescue. I recommend it. If the machine is setup properly, it's the best compressor out there.
  5. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Sep 12, 2002
    NYC New York
    Home Page:
    One tip, if you are printing your mixes to tape, listen through the tape and adjust the mixes to compensate. Sometimes you may want to squeek up the snare a tad when going to tape, or not.
  6. ShoeBoxDude

    ShoeBoxDude Guest

    analog tape

    Thanx for all the replies guys!,

    its my first time dealing with an professional mastering engineer so im just kind of worried about everything. I think the best idea would maybe be to attend the session although i didnt really plan on it, and maybe mix in stems or something.

    thanx again!
  7. mixandmaster

    mixandmaster Active Member

    Jul 13, 2004
    Home Page:
    Doing a vocal up/down alternate will probably be easier for the ME to deal with than stems. Don't know what your budget is, though.

    I know that many ME's will give your stuff a listen before the session if you want, and let you know what they think...though if you're a first-time client, be curteous of their time. Good luck. :)
  8. JerryTubb

    JerryTubb Guest


    If your mixes are done in a DAW, they might have that characteristic "all digital" sound which can be a little cold, bright, and needing compression. As Fosse said in his reply, bouncing to Analog tape is a Great compressor, depending on how hard you hit the tape.

    When you bounce to tape you get the benefit of the tape compression, and the sound of the electronics and equalization of the machine itself, which can be a great thing, if it's a great sounding tape machine, that's properly set up.

    Last year, I mastered a CD for a great jazz composer-bassist in Austin. He had both hi-res digital mixes at 24/96k and 1/2" analog tape at 30 ips. When we compared the two, the dig mixes had really nice open-ness and clarity, which we really liked. But when we put on the Analog.... Whhoahhh.... it just sounded big and beautiful, the sounds were all connected (glued?) with that texture that makes musicians & engineers listen... and smile... and laugh... and proclaim the Majestic Glory... of Analog!

    To me it's like comparing digital video to film.... the film just has that texture.

    But, here is the reality:

    1. tape is expensive, if obtainable at all.

    2. working with tape takes much more time.

    3. tape machine must be stable & sound great.

    4. tape can add a little noise and distortion, usually negligible.

    5. engineer must be competent with tape.

    6. tape simulation, like using the Crane Song Hedd, or a really good plug-in, might be a more affordable option.

    Some styles of music or mixing may sound
    "better-as mixed" to you in digital.
  9. vagelis

    vagelis Guest

    do you suggest to use the the tape before or after the master?

    Thanks :)
  10. JerryTubb

    JerryTubb Guest

    It Depends, there can be variables.

    1. If the mixes are in pretty good shape EQ-wise, print to analog before the mastering.

    2. If the mixes new a lot of EQ help, fix the EQ first, then print to analog. Or, better yet, fix the EQ -as- you print to tape.

    3. Or a little of both, depending on the mixes, and the mastering engineer.

    Also think about how many times you want to convert from analog to digital to analog to digital, etc... don't overdo it there.

    Good Luck
  11. Zilla

    Zilla Active Member

    Mar 29, 2005
    WY / CA
    Home Page:
    The above comments made by Jerry are very good advise. If you don't have a good working machine and the know-how, you will probably be disappointed with the results.

    In my experience, transfering the digital 2track to analog has little advantage. Better to print the analog during the mixdown in tandem with the digital. Then both can be taken to the mastering session and compared. You and the ME can then choose which one best serves the music.

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