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Anyone still using analog?


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This thread on the Effects Forum got me thinking... the OP was surprised to find that the studio he got a gig interning at doesn't have any analog recording equipment at all. Honestly, I didn't find that to be all that surprising, but it got me thinking...

 

is anyone here using analog tape for anything these days? If so, please tell us what applications you're still using it for - multitrack, mixdown, etc. etc.

 

Inquiring minds want to know. :D

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I have my Akai MG1214 in beautiful operating condition, which I still use, but only for tape transfers. I don't multi-track on it anymore because I'm getting a really great sound on my Pro Tools rig.

 

However, I use analog gear for other stuff (guitar pedals, guitar amps, compressors...hell yeah!!! :D ).

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I use analog recorders whenever possible. Depends on the band, the budget, how I'm feeling on any particular day.

 

I enjoy things like rewind time, the vibe of the session when there's no computers anywhere, so on and so forth. I also learned how to do all this {censored} on analog machines, so I guess you could say it's a format that I'm somewhat "tied to at the heart". I also tend to give the big spiel about tape being a more reliable storage medium (I've had INFINITELY better luck "restoring" tapes than I have with hard drives or DVDs!!!!!) and it usually turns into a 3 page argument about oxide.

 

We keep an Sony/MCI JH24 in excellent condition at the shop. It's a great sounding machine. It works.

 

The thing is, we've also got a RADAR V Nyquist which "feels" JUST like a tape machine if you turn off the optional monitor, is far more reliable (and it took me a long time to say that!), has an UNDO BUTTON, and it forces you to make a lot of decisions and work just like if you were using a tape machine. There are no plugins, no digital mixbuss, no crazy manipulation features (you can copy, cut, paste, move, erase, reverse...), and puts the focus back on the music instead of on ProTools and having some pimply faced kid move a {censored}ty bass player's "one" on every bar when the "one" sounded better late! Oh, and the sound that comes out of the RADAR is pretty much unmatched when compared to almost every digital or analog medium I've heard. And you'd have to pry the RADAR Session Controller from my cold dead fingers.

 

So the tape machine doesn't "get the gig" much around here. When we run simuls to the JH24 and the RADAR V, the RADAR is typically the sonic favorite of everyone in the control room...and if I wanna run the deck 2dB hotter or lower on input or output for any given project or song it takes about 2 seconds instead of 5-15 minutes (depends on the amount of beer I've taken in) on a tape machine.

 

But we DO HAVE a tape machine. And we know how to use it. And sometimes, we do use it. Most times, we're recording to the RADAR.

 

BUT, over the next 12-24 months, I'll be building a studio at my house (attic of the enormous barn garage. 900sf with 9-12ft cathedral ceilings) based around 8 microphones, a console, 2" 16 track, and 1/2" 2 track. When doing my own music (which is THE ONLY THING this studio will be for), I 100% prefer to keep it "on tape"...if only because it's the way I've always done it FOR MY MUSIC. If we were talking about me running a "real" room, I'd have a RADAR with an MM1200 on "standby".

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Bravo. I still think it sounds GREAT. I've also been interested in those RADAR machines for a long time but don't have the scratch to make that happen (and if I did, I'm not sure I could warrant the expense anyway).

 

I use Pro Tools now, but still mostly use it as a tape machine. I record things, they don't get quantized or snapped to a grid, there's no virtual anything, I do very little editing, and that's about it.

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The last six or so albums I've been involved in have been with the same producer at the same studio. Generally, guy in question records all the drums (and sometimes the bass) to 2" tape, then dumps everything into Pro Tools for guitars, vocals, mixing, etc.

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cept a Radar is so overly priced only a moron would buy such a limited thing!

 

 

24 channels of top flight converters in and out, plus the "record deck"/"software"/"computer" side of another system, plus two hard drives and a DVD-RAM drive, fully featured and easy to use controller with a roll-around stand, complete and utter RELIABILITY, no hearable latency even with A/D AND D/A, and no second guessing as to whether or not certain third party applications or hardware will work with what you've already got or what you want to add down the line...oh, and factor in the research and development that went into the RADAR...and the rather endless support. I can go on if you'd like.

 

How is that overpriced? Price out a 24 I/O Apogee rig with a brand new computer and DAW software. Price out a ProTools HD rig with NO I/O, NO computer. ProTools doesn't even work with the new Mac OS yet!!!! RADAR will come out of the box, you can arm a track, and immediately record something. Which is EXACTLY what I'm trying to do. Does that make me a moron? What about every other guy at our shop? Are they morons? What about people that have awesome studios that are booked several months in advance and use a RADAR in place of any other digital system. Are they morons? Or are they just recording something? Do you know how much tape machines were when they were new?

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The last six or so albums I've been involved in have been with the same producer at the same studio. Generally, guy in question records all the drums (and sometimes the bass) to 2" tape, then dumps everything into Pro Tools for guitars, vocals, mixing, etc.

 

 

If I have both a PT and a great analog deck available, I sometimes like to do "pass throughs" when doing basic tracking - route the audio to the analog deck, monitor off the playback head and route that right into PT. Then do your overdubs directly to PT.

 

Of course, after the fact you can do something similar. Record directly to your DAW, and then later, route the audio from the DAW to the 3 head analog deck. Again, set the analog deck so that you're monitoring off the playback head instead of off of the record head. Route those signals back to the DAW and re-record them to new tracks and then nudge the delayed audio back into alignment. There will be a delay due to not only the A/D - D/A conversions, but also due to the distance between the record and playback heads on the analog deck. The amount of delay will depend on the distance between those two heads and the tape speed.

 

There are a few advantages to the "after the fact" technique (which BTW, is a technique I learned from Craig Anderton): You can play with how hard you slam the levels to tape. You can try different tape formulations, different tape speeds, different bias and calibration settings - all without messing with the original source tracks or risking damaging a "great take" because you decide later that you hit the tape too hard (resulting in more tape compression / saturation than you wanted) or too low (resulting in a worse s/n ratio than you wanted). IOW, if you're going straight to tape and are in an experimental mood, and the guy pulls off the take of a lifetime, you're fine - as long as your sonic experiment "worked" - if not, you are left with the unpleasant decision of either retracking and hoping the musicians can do as well or better on the next pass, or living with the excessive saturation or whatever. With Craig's technique, you can experiment after the fact - using the analog deck as a "signal processor" - without losing the great take.

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I still have five tape decks in the studio - the Otari multitrack and half track, a blackface ADAT, a Sony DAT and a Tascam dual cassette. The multitrack is in storage, the half track is still in service and gets used for various things, the Tascam and the Sony are still in the rack, but I honestly can't remember the last time I was ever in a situation (client brings in something on a DAT for a transfer or on cassette to reference or whatever...) where I needed to use either one, and the ADAT deck was there solely as an optional clock source to provide varispeed capability to PT. Now if I can just get elastic audio in PT 7.4 to work properly, I can probably ditch the ADAT deck... but I'll probably hang on to everything else. Even though the Sony has very low hours, I wouldn't get much for it if I sold it, and you never know when you'll need to transfer something off a DAT.

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24 channels of top flight converters in and out, plus the "record deck"/"software"/"computer" side of another system, plus two hard drives and a DVD-RAM drive, fully featured and easy to use controller with a roll-around stand, complete and utter RELIABILITY, no hearable latency even with A/D AND D/A, and no second guessing as to whether or not certain third party applications or hardware will work with what you've already got or what you want to add down the line...oh, and factor in the research and development that went into the RADAR...and the rather endless support. I can go on if you'd like.


How is that overpriced? Price out a 24 I/O Apogee rig with a brand new computer and DAW software. Price out a ProTools HD rig with NO I/O, NO computer. ProTools doesn't even work with the new Mac OS yet!!!! RADAR will come out of the box, you can arm a track, and immediately record something. Which is EXACTLY what I'm trying to do. Does that make me a moron? What about every other guy at our shop? Are they morons? What about people that have awesome studios that are booked several months in advance and use a RADAR in place of any other digital system. Are they morons? Or are they just recording something? Do you know how much tape machines were when they were new?

 

kool aid (Edited by Phil to remove personal attack / insult).... fucking overpriced bullshit. go get a real job and... (Edited by Phil to remove additional personal attack :( ).

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AJ, that's way over the top, and not the type of dialog I want on a forum with my name on it. :(

 

You're entitled to your POV, just as Sean (and everyone else) is entitled to theirs, but I insist we keep it reasonably civil on this forum, even when we have strong disagreements with others.

 

Please edit your post so that it reflects that policy, or I will have to. :(

 

Thanks. :wave:

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I just finished a project in which we tracked to PTHD, mixed both in and out of the box, and printed the final mix to 1/4" (all we had available). Other than that project I don't use tape. However, I use a LOT of outboard gear in tracking and mixing (preamps, compressors, EQs, even delay/verb sometimes). The studio I do most of my work in has an Otari 24-track 2" machine, but nobody ever uses it.

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