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Anyone still using analog?

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  • 3 weeks later...
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Picked up an Otari MX5050 1/4" half track in the early spring. Just gotten around to really exploring its possibilities. It's now wired up in the basement of our house here at school, getting weekly use primarily tracking Daptone-style stuff. On friday, it's getting hooked up to an Allen and Heath board and some vintage mics and outboard (specifics, I know not) to become a hybrid setup. We're hoping to do one-off mixes live to tape throughout the course of the year.

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  • 2 weeks later...

A good half track can be used in a lot of different ways... as a stereo mixdown deck of course, but also as a tape delay unit, and even as a "analogizer" / signal processor for your DAW tracks. :)


Send a DAW track (or two) out of your interface, into your tape deck and record it... set the tape deck to monitor off the playback heads instead of monitoring the source (input) or using simul-sync. That way, the signal comes out of the DAW, hits the record head on the analog deck, and gets recorded. It then travels a short distance from the record to the playback head, where it gets played back in "near real time". There will be a delay - the length of which will depend on the distance between those two heads and the speed the recorder is set to (15 IPS, 7.5 IPS, 30 IPS, etc.). Plug the output(s) of the analog deck into a couple of inputs on your DAW interface and re-record the sound to two new tracks.


So essentially, you're playing tracks off of the DAW, recording them on to the analog deck, playing them back off the analog deck and recording the processed results back on to a new set of tracks in the DAW - all at the same time.


Once you're finished, you just nudge the "new", analog processed tracks back into position to compensate for that slight delay. On my Otari, when set to 15 IPS, the delay is about 73ms.


One great thing about this trick (which I learned from Craig Anderton) is you can adjust the amount of tape compression and distortion - the "warmth" - after the fact. Want it to sound more compressed? Do the "pass through" again, except with higher levels going to tape. A bit too much? Back off the level you're printing to tape and run it again. :)


You can process as many of the tracks in your DAW as you want.. with each getting as much, or as little of tape compression and distortion as you want. This technique will work with any three head analog deck that allows you to monitor off the playback heads while recording, and can sound very cool with things like drums, bass, and distorted guitars.

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