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  • #16
    Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe View Post

    We used to track to 2" and then transfer (or send it to the DAW in near real time by monitoring off the playback head) straight to Pro Tools for edits and overdubs - that's still a somewhat popular approach out here in LA, but you see it being used less and less as time goes on.
    Remember CLASP? This was a system developed by Chris Mura (the guy who's refurbising MCI JH-110s) that involved a hardware controller for a tape deck that was realized as a VST plug-in. The idea was that you ran the audio through the tape, and the CLASP calibrated itself to the time delay so it put the played-from-tape signal on the track in the right place. I asked him at the show this year if anyone was buying them. He did sell a couple, that was it. He's hoping to do better with the ready-to-go tape decks.



    --
    "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
    Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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    • #17
      Originally posted by nat whilk II View Post
      So where does the magic happen with tape recorders? Is it in the recording head? Playback head? On the tape itself?? The saturation that's always talked about...and perhaps other audio-favorable artifacts.
      Well, some see it as magic, but it was always the goal of the people who designed and built tape recorders to make them play back what went into them as accurately as possible. It wasn't until rock engineers started to push the tape and electronics beyond its design area that they heard some distorted sounds that they didn't know how to make otherwise, and there were places where that was a good thing. The magic with a well designed and maintained analog tape recorder is that it reproduces what went into it very accurately (which, today, most would say: "BOOORRRRR-RING"

      I'm wondering if advances in tape manufacturing could tip the scale on the usual problems with tape - noise, friction, clumsy editing potential, degradation over time, and the sheer amount of physical tape required to hold the audio.
      I have to answer to that. The first on is easy: Digital tape recording. The Alesis ADAT revolutionized multitrack recording. Very low noise, no flutter, accurate speed beginning to end, no degradation to speak of (until the tape wore to the point of unrecoverable dropouts), and an hour of 8 track recording on a $6 tape cassette. They had a sound, oh, yeah, but if you built one today with modern A/D and D/A converters it would sound better than an analog tape deck.

      The other answer is that there were advances in tape manufacturing over the 50-some years of tape recorder glory. Polyester backed tape was nearly impossible to break - but the trade-off was that under enough strain, it stretched, and so did the sound along with it. A clean break was easy to fix with a splice. But overall, polyester tape was a big improvement. There was a fair amount of development in oxide formulation, and also in manufacturing, to make lower noise tape that could record linearly over a wider dynamic range than the original ferric oxide. Along with this development came the differences in non-linearity between different formulations when pushed into their non-linear range, and that's what brought the "magic" to tape recording. Before that, it was just a recorder. Back coating made for smoother winding, which made for a more accurate tape path, but the after-effects of a bump in the road with that technology was sticky tape that had to be refreshed before it could be played. But we know how to deal with that.

      There were better mechanics along the way, too. A good servo motor for the capstan along with tension controlled reel motors gave better speed stability and gentler tape handling. 3M experimented with a lubricated oxide surface for a while, but there's only so much you can do to avoid friction if you want a perfect tape path. As far as the amount of tape required to hold a program, look no further than a cassette. That had other problems, but the high grade cassette decks from Nakamichi, Sony, and TEAC made for some really good sounding recordings, an hour for a few bucks worth of cassette. And if we thought we'd actually want to play our tapes 50 years in the future, we could have come up with a better way of storing them so they wouldn't get damaged in a flood, fire, or just grow mildew.

      I may just be displaying my ignorance, but tape is actually the cutting edge medium for big data storage these days. Maybe there's no translation or relation between storing bits and storing audio...out of my depth on that.
      Thousands of terabytes of audio are stored on tape at the Library of Congress' A/V archiving and preservation facility in Culpeper, VA. It's digital tape on cartridges, and when you want to play something, there's machinery that plucks the cartridge it's on out of a rack, sticks it in a transport, and music (or a presidential inaugural speech, of "I have a dream") comes out. And your income tax records are probably stored in some similar fashion.

      If the tape didn't have to move much - would the noise go away??
      Well, it needs some help. Again I point you to cassettes. At 1-7/8 ips on narrow tracks, you need to goose some things up in order to get frequency response equivalent to standard track width tape at 15 ips. With that comes noise, so we add Dolby or dbx noise reduction to counter it. Those aren't without artifacts of their own, so it's a trade-off.



      --
      "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
      Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

      Comment


      • #18
        Originally posted by Anderton View Post
        As to the OP...is it still possible to buy reel-to-reel tape?
        https://www.google.com/aclk?sa=l&ai=...BAgVEBA&adurl=

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        • #19
          Ya done me a solid there Compadre. Was running my Akai RTR this weekend and realized I had no blank tape. Gonna order some just for grins.

          An aside....The Lad loves watching it run....Lol. I asked him what he found so fascinating about it...His reply? "It's just so Steampunk!"

          he's a constant source of joy...

          Comment


          • #20
            Originally posted by MikeRivers View Post
            Well, some see it as magic, but it was always the goal of the people who designed and built tape recorders to make them play back what went into them as accurately as possible....The magic with a well designed and maintained analog tape recorder is that it reproduces what went into it very accurately

            Sure - but isn't what would drive some new market for tape be other than the desire for clean/accurate recording? The "other" being the saturation/distortion, etc.

            Originally posted by MikeRivers View Post
            I have to answer to that. The first on is easy: Digital tape recording. The Alesis ADAT revolutionized multitrack recording.
            Appreciate the detailed answers - I am familiar with ADAT and DAT et al. But again, some new market I don't think would be sellable on that.

            Originally posted by MikeRivers View Post
            The other answer is that there were advances in tape manufacturing over the 50-some years of tape recorder glory. Polyester backed tape....better mechanics...better speed stability and gentler tape handling...

            I'm wondering about another entirely new level of tape abilities...the old tape is, as all have been mentioning, too expensive, too unwieldy, etc.

            As far as the amount of tape required to hold a program, look no further than a cassette. [/QUOTE]

            What I've been reading about is IBM's very recent advances in tape storage abilities. A quote from a zdnet article from 2014:

            "IBM said they can pack 85.9 billion bits of data per square inch on areal data density on linear magnetic particulate tape. At that density a standard tape cartridge could store 154 terabytes of uncompressed data, 62 times better than existing cartridges. With the advance, IBM is keeping tape relevant for big data applications. Tape still has appeal given that it can last for decades and doesn't require power when not in use."

            Just wondering here - if a new super-version of tape came available that held a lot more analog audio per reel - and perhaps could run a lower speeds - and if the new tape machines were improved mechanically over the old lot still being maintained out there...that I think could draw a new market.

            nat








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            • #21
              It's a difficult argument to make, because I don't like distortion, but I think that the problem is that people who want to use tape today have never used it before and think that it's the only way they can make recordings that sound like tape. There's a lot more than tape saturation that went into making the revered 1970s and 1980s recordings. The most important thing is how they were made - a combination of great musicians playing together at times, and at at other times, working on tiny bits to get them to sound just like what they want them to sound like. And when newer tape formulations came into the market, their goal wasn't to offer different tape distortion sounds, it was to reduce distortion and noise.

              A lot of the distortion that you think it tape is overshadowed by getting the tone out of an instrument amplifier or overdriving a mic preamp or choosing the right mic. I think it's possible to completely emulate all of the non-linear characteristics of a tape recorder, and even any tape recorder. And I think it's also possible that some people will use it creatively rather than saying "well, that's what the recorder does so let's work both with and around it."

              What is it that makes you think that we need tape today? That you can't make good records without it?

              As far as reducing tape cost by increasing recording density - well, first off, those huge tape storage systems for data still use vast amounts of tape. They can increase the density of information to well beyond that of analog tape because you dno't need any dynamic range. You can pack a few terabytes of digital data on to a spinning magnetic disk because all you need to know along the length of the spiral track is whether, every clock cycle, there's a change in magnetic polarity or not. But for analog magnetic recording, there's a lot more mechanics at play that interact to affect frequency response, noise level, and distortion including, but not limited to non-linearity.

              If some new super tape appeared that could provide significantly higher density analog recording and be cost effective, it would probably have its own "sound" that would be different from what people today think that tape sounds like. How much more storage efficiency do you want than 1000 hours of stereo on a 1 terabyte hard drive that costs less than an hour's worth of 1/4" analog tape? And using hardware that costs 10% of the equivalent analog recorder?

              WE DON'T NEED TO RECORD ON ANALOG TAPE ANY MORE . . . but that won't stop some people from wishing they had it available. And I think that those who really want it should be able to get it, so I'm glad that there are still tape manufacturers, and people keeping the recording and playback hardware available. Just like after all of our cars are solar or nuclear powered, there will still be people who want a car with a gasoline engine because the newfangled cars just aren't the same. And someone will still be making gasoline even if it costs $50 per gallon.

              --
              "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
              Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

              Comment


              • #22
                Originally posted by MikeRivers View Post

                What is it that makes you think that we need tape today? That you can't make good records without it?
                Oh, I'm probably not in the market myself on this. I'm happy with digital and plugins - and the Kramer Tape plugin from Waves in particular. I won't go so far to say I'd never ever go back to tape - depends like everything else on cost and efficiencies and results. I'd certainly go back to a hardware digital recorder if the right one came along. My VS-1680 has been gathering dust for a decade or so....but not because it was hard to use (it wasn't/isn't) but because of the lack of VST support, the small HD capacity, and the less-than-stellar sound quality by current standards. If some new recorder used some super-souped-up-super analog tape and it passed the cost/efficiency hurdles - what do I care what the physical medium is?



                Originally posted by MikeRivers View Post
                If some new super tape appeared that could provide significantly higher density analog recording and be cost effective, it would probably have its own "sound" that would be different from what people today think that tape sounds like.
                You're probably right about that. Wouldn't it be just like the manufacturers then to add digital effects to make it "vintage tape"-like?

                Originally posted by MikeRivers View Post
                WE DON'T NEED TO RECORD ON ANALOG TAPE ANY MORE
                Well, "need" is as "need" does. If it works, and it's inspiring to the musicians and studio types, they'll want it. Same type of thing with hardware summing boxes, right? You can tell folks all day they don't need to sum outside the box - but if the hardware summing unit imparts some magic they can hear (or even simply think they can hear), they'll buy it and love it. If people only bought gear they absolutely "need", then the gear market would be a few whales-squared smaller, gear would be more expensive, and a lot of happy accidents would never happen.

                My interest in all this is to just see where it goes. Places unexpected is what I expect.

                nat


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                • #23
                  Originally posted by nat whilk II View Post
                  My interest in all this is to just see where it goes. Places unexpected is what I expect.
                  Fair enough.

                  My Mackie hard disk recorders still work (somehow I've manged to collect four of them) and my Soundcraft console doesn't need no stinkin' VST plug-ins. I'd really like to replace the console with something newer, but, like analog tape, the cost of a functionally equivalent analog console has become prohibitive. Actually, that's not really the case. The Soundcraft cost about $8500 in 1980, so I could buy a Trident 78 for the $26,000 that the Soundcraft's cost would be in today's dollars.

                  Problem is that in 1980, I was doing enough paid work so that I recovered the cost of the console in just a few years. At the rate I'm doing paid work now, I'd never recover the cost. I keep thinking about a modern modest priced digital console, but they're all basically designed for live sound work and for recording, they expect to be mated to a computer DAW, and while it would be possible to expand the I/O with some outboard boxes, it would still be missing some routing and easy-to-see metering. That's all too fiddly for me, so most gigs nowadays are done with a couple of mics and a pocket-sized 2-track digital recorder and edited in Sound Forge on a computer running Windows XP.
                  Last edited by MikeRivers; 11-28-2018, 06:43 PM.
                  --
                  "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
                  Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by nat whilk II View Post
                    My interest in all this is to just see where it goes. Places unexpected is what I expect.
                    Fair enough.

                    My Mackie hard disk recorders still work (somehow I've manged to collect four of them) and my Soundcraft console doesn't need no stinkin' VST plug-ins. I'd really like to replace the console with something newer, but, like analog tape, the cost of a functionally equivalent analog console has become prohibitive. Actually, that's not really the case. The Soundcraft cost about $8500 in 1980, so I could buy a Trident 78 for the $26,000 that the Soundcraft's cost would be in today's dollars.

                    Problem is that in 1980, I was doing enough paid work so that I recovered the cost of the console in just a few years. At the rate I'm doing paid work now, I'd never recover the cost. I keep thinking about a modern modest priced digital console, but they're all basically designed for live sound work and for recording, they expect to be mated to a computer DAW, and while it would be possible to expand the I/O with some outboard boxes, it would still be missing some routing and easy-to-see metering. That's all too fiddly for me, so most gigs nowadays are done with a couple of mics and a pocket-sized 2-track digital recorder and edited in Sound Forge on a computer running Windows XP.
                    --
                    "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
                    Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

                    Comment

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