Reel to Reel tape recording as an effect

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redroomrecordings
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Reel to Reel tape recording as an effect

Post by redroomrecordings » Sun Oct 12, 2008 7:14 pm

I've always recorded everything directly into cubase and never took much interest in tape recording until seeing this video:



i was really intrigued about what he had to say about about sending tracks out to tape and then back into the daw. This is something i would like to try but have absolutely no knowledge of tape recorders. I'm sure some of you guys use them perhaps you could give me some info on some decent affordable machines to look into. Also how does it work with the tape it self, obviously i would need something where the tape is still available. Can you re-use the tape? I wouldn't want to keep back ups on tape, just use it then re-use it, is that possible?

sorry for the really uneducated question, but this is a part of production i really have no knowledge about.

thanks guys.

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Re: Reel to Reel tape recording as an effect

Post by wiss » Mon Oct 13, 2008 2:28 am

Just get a two track recording machine for mastering. You can still buy tape, use a tape eraser/degausser to reuse tape.
"All we used was the explosion and the orchestra hit. The Fairlight was a $100,000 waste of space."

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Re: Reel to Reel tape recording as an effect

Post by redroomrecordings » Mon Oct 13, 2008 2:45 am

wiss wrote:Just get a two track recording machine for mastering. You can still buy tape, use a tape eraser/degausser to reuse tape.

thanks, are there any particular brands / models to look for specifically?

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Re: Reel to Reel tape recording as an effect

Post by wiss » Mon Oct 13, 2008 2:49 am

I use an Akai and I'm fine with it....Revox, Tascam, Fostex, Sony, Taec, Otari,
"All we used was the explosion and the orchestra hit. The Fairlight was a $100,000 waste of space."

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Re: Reel to Reel tape recording as an effect

Post by Esus » Mon Oct 13, 2008 2:39 pm

redroomrecordings wrote:Can you re-use the tape? I wouldn't want to keep back ups on tape, just use it then re-use it, is that possible?
Since you're not archiving any of your recordings, I'd say save your money. Don't buy a degausser and just re-record over any earlier material. Degaussing usually leaves a "bulk pattern" that shows up as a kind of whoosh effect in shuttle modes. You can't hear it at play speeds, but it leaves a lot of low-end information that can muddy up the sound.

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Re: Reel to Reel tape recording as an effect

Post by redroomrecordings » Mon Oct 13, 2008 4:11 pm

Esus wrote:
redroomrecordings wrote:Can you re-use the tape? I wouldn't want to keep back ups on tape, just use it then re-use it, is that possible?
Since you're not archiving any of your recordings, I'd say save your money. Don't buy a degausser and just re-record over any earlier material. Degaussing usually leaves a "bulk pattern" that shows up as a kind of whoosh effect in shuttle modes. You can't hear it at play speeds, but it leaves a lot of low-end information that can muddy up the sound.

yea i would literally just be recording a synthline or drum part to the tape then recording it back into cubase, no need for archives. So you can just rewind and record right over? will the quality degrade with each time you re record over the same spot?

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Re: Reel to Reel tape recording as an effect

Post by Esus » Mon Oct 13, 2008 4:40 pm

redroomrecordings wrote:So you can just rewind and record right over? will the quality degrade with each time you re record over the same spot?
Yes on both. But a few factors come into play. One is the quality of tape you're using. Second is the quality of your tape machine. Third, and probably most important, is how well the machine is calibrated and adjusted.
Analog tape always loses something, even if it's subtle, every additional time it's played--you are essentially scraping rust off a plastic strip every time you play a tape. If you use Ampex (Quantegy), 3M (Scotch), or BASF, their upper grades of tape will take a lot of plays and still sound damn good. When (if) you get a machine, make a serious effort to find a tech who knows tape machines, and have him/her go over it. The most important (and usually first to go) things are the heads, reel brakes, and rubber parts like the pinch roller.
Having said all that, Wiss' recommendations are good. I'd add some specifics to that list. Try to get 10" reel capability, 3 heads (a must), quarter-track/2-track head stack (the Otari 5050), and 7.5"-15"ips tape speeds. 3 3/4"ips and below are just too lo-fi to really do you any good; you might as well get a cassette deck.
I'd also steer clear of eBay on this. Shipping something this heavy to you (and possibly back) would really be pricy. :(
Better your local Craigslist or pawn shop.
Hope some of this made sense--Good Luck!

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Re: Reel to Reel tape recording as an effect

Post by redroomrecordings » Mon Oct 13, 2008 7:01 pm

Esus wrote:
redroomrecordings wrote:So you can just rewind and record right over? will the quality degrade with each time you re record over the same spot?
Yes on both. But a few factors come into play. One is the quality of tape you're using. Second is the quality of your tape machine. Third, and probably most important, is how well the machine is calibrated and adjusted.
Analog tape always loses something, even if it's subtle, every additional time it's played--you are essentially scraping rust off a plastic strip every time you play a tape. If you use Ampex (Quantegy), 3M (Scotch), or BASF, their upper grades of tape will take a lot of plays and still sound damn good. When (if) you get a machine, make a serious effort to find a tech who knows tape machines, and have him/her go over it. The most important (and usually first to go) things are the heads, reel brakes, and rubber parts like the pinch roller.
Having said all that, Wiss' recommendations are good. I'd add some specifics to that list. Try to get 10" reel capability, 3 heads (a must), quarter-track/2-track head stack (the Otari 5050), and 7.5"-15"ips tape speeds. 3 3/4"ips and below are just too lo-fi to really do you any good; you might as well get a cassette deck.
I'd also steer clear of eBay on this. Shipping something this heavy to you (and possibly back) would really be pricy. :(
Better your local Craigslist or pawn shop.
Hope some of this made sense--Good Luck!
thanks! that's quite helpful actually. I am going to try and find something locally at first which could be difficult though because my city is severly dry for any sort of used gear purchases, everything i get has to come from ebay or new purchases from music stores...finding a tape machine may be easier than finding synths though.

any specific models to suggest in the $500 and under range? i don't want to invest a lot of money into this at first, if i get good results i will later upgrade to something higher end...i saw the pioneer rt-909 and it looks beautiful but it is a little expensive and im not sure if it is actually any better than models which are cheaper.

oh, also, for tapes are there manufactures that you can still buy from new? or do you have to buy old stock from ebay?

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Re: Reel to Reel tape recording as an effect

Post by Esus » Mon Oct 13, 2008 7:46 pm

Glad the info was helpful... :)
As far as recommendations for machines goes, the ones I have had experience with are probably going to be more than $500.00. There are a lot of Sony, Pioneer, Akai, etc. home machines out there that probably sold for that price new. Most of those I've seen recently were in really bad shape. Good choices would be the Teac 3340S or 2340S. the Otari 5050B, and the Revox A77. All great machines and built like tanks, but probably more than what you want to spend. Keep in mind that it could also cost upwards of $100-$200 just to have a competent tech go over it. Maybe Google any reel to reel or home recording sites and see if they have forums like this-- you could possibly score a machine that way. Chances are good it would be in better shape anyway. An upside to you might be a higher resale value.

As far as tape, I think there is still some NOS Quantegy floating around, and I believe BASF still makes tape. Try Sweetwater, B&H and the like. For used tape, Ampex made 406 and 456 Grand Master up until the late '90s. I used miles and miles of that stuff from 1/4" to 2". Whatever tape you buy, you want 1.5mil thickness, not 1 mil (e.g. 407 or 457). You want original 10" metal or 7" plastic reels with NO SPLICES. I can't emphasize that enough.
Happy Hunting...

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Re: Reel to Reel tape recording as an effect

Post by tallowwaters » Mon Oct 13, 2008 9:54 pm

Until you get the tape machine, you might want to play with this -
http://rekkerd.org/jeroen-breebaart-upd ... x-to-v105/

I used to use tape all the time, but this is just more convenient and sounds really close (to me, at least)
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Re: Reel to Reel tape recording as an effect

Post by redroomrecordings » Tue Oct 14, 2008 2:53 am

tallowwaters wrote:Until you get the tape machine, you might want to play with this -
http://rekkerd.org/jeroen-breebaart-upd ... x-to-v105/

I used to use tape all the time, but this is just more convenient and sounds really close (to me, at least)
that's not a bad idea, but part of the appeal was to pull the digital media off the computer and work with it in a tangiable form, also working physically with the tape machine was really interesting...i would try something like a plug in at first, but alas i run an intel mac studio and that particular one wont work.

thanks for the help guys.

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Re: Reel to Reel tape recording as an effect

Post by Stab Frenzy » Tue Oct 14, 2008 4:08 am

You can get new tape from RMGI, who I think bought the old BASF or Ampex factory. Comes from the Netherlands I believe.

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Re: Reel to Reel tape recording as an effect

Post by ned-ryarson » Tue Oct 14, 2008 12:31 pm

im so intrigued by tape machines too.

they just look so f**k cool

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Re: Reel to Reel tape recording as an effect

Post by Esus » Tue Oct 14, 2008 1:47 pm

redroomrecordings wrote:part of the appeal was to pull the digital media off the computer and work with it in a tangiable form, also working physically with the tape machine was really interesting...i would try something like a plug in at first, but alas i run an intel mac studio and that particular one wont work.
Digidesign came out with their Reel Tape plug-in a couple of years ago. It looked intriguing, mostly because it was a partial admission that not everything Digital is better.
There's also something to be said about physically handling your media. Ten years ago Digi was telling users to chuck their mixers; just use your mouse instead. Now, I'd argue that their primary direction is in the ICON and VENUE control surfaces--just gotta be able to nudge those faders and twist those knobs. :D
Make sure you get a 3-head machine, and plan for a splicing block & tape, and a bunch of grease pencils. They won't cost that much, but I think you'll be needing them.

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Re: Reel to Reel tape recording as an effect

Post by Sir Ruff » Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:20 am

bouncing to tape has always intrigued me too... autechre do it apparently, and it's not surprising, given how much digital high end they must produce. seems like a cheap and easy way to smooth out digital recordings.

something no one mentioned but is super cheap-you can record to VHS tapes through a VCR... it won't sound great, but it might work well for individual tracks that you want to muddy up a bit. I guess you could do whole tracks too for a certain lo-fi sound. some people swear by it.

Just as a general comment, that was a very entertaining video... it's interesting to see such high end mastering on techno material. It's nice he bothered giving the full run-down on each piece of equipment too. the only thing that's kind of odd is that he's got an amazing mixing setup, and a relatively weak slew of synths... the juno would certainly not be one synth I would want to "rediscover" on the premise of finding the programmer alone! (where is mine anyways?) :lol: anyways, more power to him...
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