Quality analog gear?

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by beat117, Jan 28, 2008.

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  1. beat117

    beat117 Guest

    I was just wondering if anyone could tell me what equipment was necessary for putting together an analog studio for recording?

    Obviously I would need a mixer, but is it possible to simply play through it and record to PC or some other high quality recorder? Or do I need something in between? And is Mackie a decent brand to go for?

    I appreciate any advice. If my request needs clarification, please ask for it.

    Thanks 8)
  2. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    Feb 9, 2005
    South Florida
    Home Page:
    LOL! OK, if you are going to record to a PC, you aren't recording analog. You need a tape machine for that. PC recording is digital recording, but it sounds like it's what you want to do.

    There are several routes you can take. We'll start with the mixer route.

    A Mackie mixer is a decent brand to start off with. It's got preamps and outputs which is all you really need if you are using a PC. With computer recording many of the functions of the mixer are handled by the record software which makes having the mixer a bit redundant. Something like a Mackie Onyx satellite or 400/800 firewire may be a smarter purchase. With these you get the preamp AND the interface with the computer - via firewire. With just a mixer, you'll need a separate interface. Of course, there are some mixers that have the interface as well. You'll have to decide what you need.

    If you got with just a mixer you'll need an audio interface. This takes the audio signal from the mixer, converts it to digital and sends it to the computer recording softward. There are lots to choose from. You need to decide how many channels you want to be able to record at one time; 1, 2, 4, 8 or more?

    Most audio interfaces come with audio software that you can use to record. From there it's just a matter of buying microphones, stands and cables and you're recording.
  3. beat117

    beat117 Guest

    Thanks for the information.

    I'd like to stay as far away from digital as possible. I have experience using a Boss digital recording studio and it's good for goofing around but I'm not completely satisfied with the results.

    The only reason I want to put a PC in my recording process is to get it onto CD or other formats.

    I want to be able to record and mix analog and only bring the finished mix to PC for that reason.
  4. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    Yeah, that's a good reason to stay away from digital audio. Buy the cheapest, piss-poorest quality TOY that you can find, then judge the "results" on the format. First off, there basically is no more analog recording medium currently being manufactured. OK, maybe a Tascam 4-track cassette recorder. Now there's some real quality, eh?
    Dude, forget this whole "analog vs. digital" thing. It's a digital world these days. Learn to use it. Embrace it. Appreciate that you don't have to go through the nightmares of repairing, aligning, and maintaining an analog recorder. Old farts like me did that years ago so that you "youngsters" wouldn't have to!!
    P.S.: I still have a couple of Otari MX5050 8-track r-t-r machines if you REALLY want analog. $500.00 each. They're great conversation pieces!
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    Home Page:
    Moonbaby has given you the truth about analog recording today. However, you can still work in an analog way while using digital technology where necessary.

    Just as an example, how about this: you get a high quality fully analog mixing desk (such as a Midas Venice) and an Alesis HD24XR 24-track hard disk recorder, and you connect input and output looms to the desk. Now you can record and play back just as you would on an analog recorder, only with greater accuracy and reliability. You mix in analog just as you always wanted to and with all the analog outboard gear you always dreamt of. Now here's the trick: limit yourself to 22 recorded tracks on the HD24XR and use the other 2 tracks as a stereo mixdown destination. Now the HD24XR can play the 22 recorded tracks while acting as the A-D converter for the stereo out. You also get an ADAT lightpipe interface for your computer so you capture the data in real time on your computer for burning to CD. Alternatively, you later take the caddy out of the HD24XR and plug it into a FireWire adaptor connected to your computer to transfer the stereo track. I know this recording method works and gives high quality results because I use it whenever I have fully analog desks to deal with.

    It's a way of working that preserves the analog feel and sound whilst not only embracing digital technology but also acting as a stepping stone to greater digital working, e.g. copying the 22 tracks to the computer and mixing "in the box". The only thing you don't get directly with what I described is natural compression due to tape saturation, but there's a trick for that too....
  6. BrianaW

    BrianaW Active Member

    Jan 10, 2008
    New York
    I'm using both analog and digital (seperately). and there are the obvious pro's and cons of both. However, if you want to work in analog, I suggest researching tape machine maintainence on the web. Whether you want to or not, you are going to have to become technically inclined in order to maintain the machine. You'll probably need various tools for demagnetizing, biasing, and other important adjustments.

    If after your research you decide this is something you want to do, look for a Fostex e-16 on eBay (make sure the heads and pinch roller are in good shape, that the guides are straight, and that it comes with a service manual) and pick an analog board with preamps and phantom power that suits your needs.

    Also, keep in mind that tape is even more expensive now that Quantegy has discontinued manufacturing it. The e-16 takes 1/2" tape, so do a search for Quantegy 456 1/2" tape on 10" reels. 456 is/was a sort of standard, and that's the lowest quality I'd recommend. GP9 is amazing tape, but it's also a bit more expensive.

    I love my analog setup. I do not care for analog saturation, but I feel tape has a more dynamic and natural sound to it, so it's worth it to me to have these machines around. Not to mention how much better of a musician it makes you having to retake everything with no copy and paste. The only editing you can do on analog, is with a razorblade or a trash can. Fostex also makes an r-8 I think... which is only 8 tracks but it's cheaper. Tascam made some nice ones too, or like Moonbaby said, Otari.

    However, If you're a beginner, the analog road will definitely be more diffucult, these guys are just trying to save you the time/trouble by suggesting digital, and they are right... a good PC setup with a decent interface is going to sound 1000x better than the one you used. My first digital experience was the Roland VS-880 (which was $2,500 at the time... OUCH!), and when I moved to PC, I noticed a remarkable improvement. The problem with a lot of those all-in-one boxes is that the preamps suck, and they use data compression which decreases the sound quality (like an MP3).

    Coming from another practicing analog and digital user, my advice is that you really research the costs, and what it takes to maintain and properly use a reel to reel machine before you purchase one. If you like what you find, get one... in my opinion, even though it's becoming very unsupported, it's still a great format. Hope this helps. :)
  7. beat117

    beat117 Guest

    Thank you all very much for your input. I really do appreciate it. However, I think I had the wrong idea in my mind about the capabilities of analog recording mixers... For some reason I blocked the fact tape was necessary for recording tracks. A pretty dumb thing to forget, I know. We can't all be the sharpest knives all the time, can we? Anyway, my experience with reels is enough to know that I'd rather not deal with it for recording. Not to mention the space and time it'll take up while trying to record.

    Anyway, thanks again for the input. (I'm gonna head on over to the digital recording forum :oops: :lol: )

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