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  • How should I start my analog recording studio?

    I want to put together a home studio, and record analog. What are the first materials I should get together? I would like somewhere between 10 and 20 tracks to work with. I am new to the analog game, any advice would be great.
    Download Don't Make A Sound from The Saltshakers' new EP.

  • #2
    Why analog? There is so much more requisite entry level knowledge that is required to work in the analog domain than the digital domain. There is greater expense, both on the 'entry level' side of things, as well as the 'routine maintenance' side of things that you really need to examine this idea in greater detail than can ever be provided on an internet forum.

    I would have to say that your minimum initial expense should be like 3-4 years of working in a studio where analog recording is the rule, rather than the exception.

    There are things that can be learned from books... like what 'azimth', 'zenith', and 'wrap' might be... like what is 'bias' and why it's important... like why a tape path alignment is as important as an electronic alignment... or even the process for an electronic alignment... but the fact of the matter is that until you're heavily immersed in these activities on a nearly daily basis... they'll have little meaning.

    Frankly... for someone "starting out" [and from your question, I would, perhaps incorrectly, assume you're pretty much 'starting out'] a good software system with quality A/D-D/A converters is pretty much capable of turning out product as well as an analog plant can turn out product... as long as the operator has the requisite skills to craft that product, and a good supporting cast of quality tools to assist the crafting of the product.

    I don't necessarily want to discourage you from learning what is required to record in the analog domain... however, you can get busy "recording" or you can get busy "studying history"... and while I will not claim to know, nor understand your current set of objectives... I will say that recording **************** is a hell of a lot more fun than doing alignments and other routine and necessary maintenance.

    Best of luck...
    .
    CN Fletcher

    Professional affiliations:

    R/E/P -- professional Recording Engineer and Producer forums... serious hobbyists welcome

    mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
    We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid

    "I'm not a vegetarian because I love animals. I'm a vegetarian because I hate plants." -A. Whitney Brown

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    • #3
      yeah dude-
      get used to punching, punching, punching - accurately-
      because any "editing" will be a nightmare compared to using a digital system

      B
      Utinam logica falsa tuam philosophiam totam suffodiant!

      Creativity is a Work Ethic

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by chadomac
        I want to put together a home studio, and record analog. What are the first materials I should get together? I would like somewhere between 10 and 20 tracks to work with. I am new to the analog game, any advice would be great.


        Mmm, explain why you want to record analog. In detail please.

        It sound like you know anything about recording analog. If you don't know how you need to start, is obvious that you don't know the basics. If you don't know how to record analog this is the wrong way.

        Not to offend, but the art of recording isn't buy some things and push the record button. There are a lot of things, a lot of detailing, a lot of art. I suggest you read the topics in this forum and take the decision you want but with good knowledge.

        Comment


        • #5
          Assuming you are of sound mind, I would recommend you find a used Mackie 32/8 mixer and a clean Tascam MSR16 or Fostex G16. This combination, though not world class, will make great stuff and still be in a home studio budget ($3K-$4K). Also stock up on 1/2 tape as it might get scarce in the future.

          If you can afford some serious green then get a Studer or Otari 2" 24 track and an SSL or Neve desk.

          If you aren't of sound mind or have no clue, then consider a computer setup or HD recorder for the simplicity. You probably will be more than satisfied with the quality and sound.

          Comment


          • #6
            Take it easy folks:
            Maybe Chadomac is into TONE ?
            Maybe Chadomac wants his acoustic instruments to sound like they really do
            and his drums to be big and fat ?
            Maybe Chadomac doesn't like the sound of artificial/digitally created music ?

            I dunno.
            If it's because any of the above, Chadomac, don't let the digi-nasayers dissuade you.
            Go to TASCAM's web sight, and check out the analog discussion group. Lots of
            great, friendly, and knowledgeable folks will help you there.

            Digital blows analog tape away in terms of functionality and ease of use, and ease
            of making bad performances sound good, and producing pristine, virtually noise
            free recordings if top gear is used (very expensive, if you take into account, for example,
            multiple high-end mic-preamps, and multiple high-end compressors).

            But, I used to have a friend who often wore a pair of very ugly, vinyl shoes (that lasted forever) because, he said, they were very "functional". The moral to this story
            is that I don't think I lost his virginity until after his 30-somethingth birthday.

            To my ears, some things sound good on Digital. Some don't. Analog, to my ears, (and those of other musicians I know - - as opposed to engineers who hate bothering with tape and hate enduring hassle when fixing tracks with out-of-tune singers, or out-of-synch bands - - ) blows digital away in terms of fatness, warmth, and "air" - - the mixes "float" and don't just sit there (No Gertrude, I have not dropped any acid today . . . .). I know some great musicians, who to this day, willingly shell out the large extra expense to record first to 2" tape, then transfer to Pro Tools for editing/mixing, for the sound quality. One of them recorded her latest project direct to Pro Tools, and, rumour has it she is sorry she did.

            The problem, of course, is that 24 track, 2" tape is extraordinarily expensive, especially if run at 30 IPS. You might want to look at machines with less tracks and a bit smaller tape. If you synch up to a digital system (e.g. M20 ADATS,
            or TASCAM DA38, 88, 98, or 78 recorders), you can record basic tracks, dump to the
            digital recorders, then do more tracks on the reel-to-reel, then dump again.

            I am currently in a project going direct to Pro Tools for the basic rhythm and vocal tracks.
            I am reserving my final opinion until I hear the stuf EQ'ed and mixed properly.
            Without EQ, the drums are loud, with lots of punch, but sound digitally recorded
            to me - especially when I walk out of the room and listen from the outside (fatness and warmth missing from snare and kick, and that everpresent upper mid-high range digital harshness/distortion I seem to hear). We will see . . .
            monitors).

            Some Pro's record to tape, then transfer to digital for mixing/editing - -
            i.e. a "hybrid system". Some others record digitally, then mix down to analog tape
            for some warmth. Some digital folks use "analog" simulators, like the $3,000 Crane Song unit, or the $29 Crane Song CD, or other software analog emulators.

            Perhaps you might want to consider a "hybrid" system -
            A nice reel-to-reel, plus a warm analog board, and then have a
            digital system to load down to and edit with. That way, you cut basic tracks
            (you could even use a fairly inexpensive 8 track recorder - - e.g. a TASCAM 38
            which is 8 tracks on 1/2 tape (big sound ! and tape not too expensive) for initial tracks, synched to your digital set up. Transfer the analog tracks to the digital, so that you don't lose any resolution as you continue to add tracks on the analog tape, and do any editing there. Then record more tracks on the analog tape.

            My new system includes an MSR-16, 16 track Tascam reel-to-reel (actually two of them - I'd like to get a 1" tape 16 track someday) and a TASCAM 388 (combo mixer and recorder), plus three Alesis M20 ADATS (24 bit ad/da converters and records 20 bit to tape), and a Sountracs (British) Topaz Project 8, 24 track analog mixing board. I'm just hooking up the system now. Eventually, I will probably get a computer editing software system so that I can dump tracks to the computer for editing, then back to the M20's for mixing. I can mix to CD, or to a two-track, TASCAM reel-to-reel mastering machine, which is great for warming and blending instruments recorded digitally.

            Good Luck

            Gutter Pup

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            • #7
              I like analog not because of the sound or whatever but because of the limits it puts on you. If you end up with a 100 digital tracks or be what it may, and the ability to have so much control, sometimes it is too much. But thats just me.

              I think limiting yourself will help in the long run, but again that is just me.

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              • #8
                thank you, gutterpup... you understand what I am going for.

                i love the sound of analog recording. i like recording a take and not punching in and out and fixing it. i love the warmth.
                Download Don't Make A Sound from The Saltshakers' new EP.

                Comment


                • #9
                  No one is telling you that analog recording is outdated or a waste of time. We're telling you it's expensive to do it correctly. I'd kill to have a 2" Otari machine but I just can't see myself coughing up so much cash for recording purposes (maybe, a down-payment on a car...).

                  If you have the scrills and the patience to get into analog recording, I wish you all the luck in the world...but at the rate digital stuff is catching up, you might want to reconsider...
                  http://www.thestillcity.com
                  http://www.myspace.com/thestillcity

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                  • #10
                    Fletcher and others are right about the patience and research needed to get into analog, but don't let this discourage you in any way. I started digitally with a Digi 001 a few years ago, so I guess I learned the basics in the digital domain, or at least the process of recording.

                    Then I decided to get into the analog domain. So I bought a 1"-16 track Tascam machine about 2 years ago. And yes, at first my machine was out of electronic alignment (I had the machine for 6 months before I even owned an MRL Calibration Tape... go figure). I've didn't work in a studio before I started my own or had any type of schooling on how to maintain tape machines. But people are very willing to help you out and there's tons of material on the internet to assist you. Just learn as you go, but always be careful !!!
                    For example, I can tell that the brakes on my machine need a little bit of "tweaking." I've never had to adjust them before. So I've been reading my manual and talking to people and I am going to attempt to adjust them this weekend.

                    And I hear alot of talk about how analog is so much more expensive than digital, and this is a fallacy as I see it. I mix down 2-track to the digital domain (mostly for editing reasons), and the cost of my hard disk recorder (Alesis Masterlink) + the cost of my 2 channel Lucid A/D cost the same as my 16 track tape machine (appx $1700). And I know I could get a great analog 1/2" 2 track for less than $1700. Just an example to illustrate a point. So let me put it this way, high fidelity is expensive in any domain, and I think most, if not all, people will agree with this.
                    Greg Stein
                    Capstan Recording
                    New Orleans, LA

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      What parts of the Joshua Tree were recorded digitally and which parts were recorded on Analog tape? and which parts were recorded on a tascam home studio?



                      Utinam logica falsa tuam philosophiam totam suffodiant!

                      Creativity is a Work Ethic

                      Comment


                      • #12

                        And I hear alot of talk about how analog is so much more expensive than digital, and this is a fallacy as I see it. I mix down 2-track to the digital domain (mostly for editing reasons), and the cost of my hard disk recorder (Alesis Masterlink) + the cost of my 2 channel Lucid A/D cost the same as my 16 track tape machine (appx $1700). And I know I could get a great analog 1/2" 2 track for less than $1700. Just an example to illustrate a point. So let me put it this way, high fidelity is expensive in any domain, and I think most, if not all, people will agree with this.


                        Yeah- but analog tape (2") is like 280.00 per reel-
                        CD's are about .09
                        DATS are like 8.00
                        Utinam logica falsa tuam philosophiam totam suffodiant!

                        Creativity is a Work Ethic

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          BryanMichael,

                          No one's gonna deny that analog media costs money. But first, 2" reels aren't $280.00, they're in the $130-$170 range depending on the quantity and what type you buy. Second, high quality CD-Rs are more than $0.09. So please don't exagerate prices.

                          Now don't foget there's also archiving costs involved in digital hard disk recordings that must be considered. For example, you go to some studio and your recording 24 tracks of 24 bit data with a high sample rate, aka high fidelity, you can expect to pay at least a couple hundred on up of archiving expenses because you'll have a tremendous amount of data that'll need archiving. As for the reels, that, in a way, is the archiving. And yes, I know that 2" reels at 30ips last about 17 minutes, but as a recording artist/band you need to ask if it's worth it.

                          As for ADATs, you definitely save on media expenses. But I've used ADATs (I even own a couple) and I'm not a huge fan of them.

                          I think the point I was trying to make to chadomac is that don't let cost deter him from analog, because it seems that he's going to be more in the range of 1" tape (which I buy for $65 from Full Compass in bulk of 5). And since my machine runs at 15ips, I get about 32 to minutes per reel. So it's not that bad.
                          Greg Stein
                          Capstan Recording
                          New Orleans, LA

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                          • #14
                            Start by making it digital

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ram3n
                              BryanMichael,

                              No one's gonna deny that analog media costs money. But first, 2" reels aren't $280.00, they're in the $130-$170 range depending on the quantity and what type you buy. Second, high quality CD-Rs are more than $0.09. So please don't exagerate prices.

                              Now don't foget there's also archiving costs involved in digital hard disk recordings that must be considered. For example, you go to some studio and your recording 24 tracks of 24 bit data with a high sample rate, aka high fidelity, you can expect to pay at least a couple hundred on up of archiving expenses because you'll have a tremendous amount of data that'll need archiving. As for the reels, that, in a way, is the archiving. And yes, I know that 2" reels at 30ips last about 17 minutes, but as a recording artist/band you need to ask if it's worth it.

                              As for ADATs, you definitely save on media expenses. But I've used ADATs (I even own a couple) and I'm not a huge fan of them.

                              I think the point I was trying to make to chadomac is that don't let cost deter him from analog, because it seems that he's going to be more in the range of 1" tape (which I buy for $65 from Full Compass in bulk of 5). And since my machine runs at 15ips, I get about 32 to minutes per reel. So it's not that bad.


                              I'm not going to disagree with you on some of this- but seriously, the last time I bought 2" tape ( about three years ago) it was running pretty close to that (maybe 225.00 per reel now that I reconsider) and I bought 20 reels Quantegy (used to be Ampex) perhaps the price has dropped ?
                              High quality CD-R's ??? I've noticed no difference in the ability of a Mitsui or Sony CDR (Or Imation OR Maxell OR etc...) to retaining data as a bulk Micro-Center buy of CD-R's- The bottom line is that they all basically come from a couple manufacturers and are re-branded appropriately. I used to operate an $80,000 recordable media budget at the production house I used to work for- and I dealt with all kinds of wholesale suppliers.

                              As far as archiving costs- I never considered that, but you are correct that you must archive. But your price point is including the SERVICE of archiving- Buying a DVD-R (once) 400.00 and blank DVD's are running down in the 4.00 range now= FULL ARCHIVING system. (DVD's can hold DATA as well) I'm not exaggerating anything- If you want to go analog that's fine, I'm not trying to stop anyone from following their dream. A 1" machine would be much more economical. And my other question still stands- Which parts of the Joshua Tree were recorded at home on a Tascam porta studio, on an Otari Hard Disc recoder, and on analog tape?

                              My point is that analog does NOT = Good sounding recording automatically. Nor does digital= crappy sounding recording automatically.
                              Utinam logica falsa tuam philosophiam totam suffodiant!

                              Creativity is a Work Ethic

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