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Tape deck needed for recording

ballynally

Member
Messages
2,137
I used to have an old TEAC tape (not cassette) deck years ago (early 80's) and did a few recordings on it then i sold it as i thought i needed more track options. Did recording in studios with Ampeg tapes/ multi track/mixing desks. All sounded good.
And then everybody went ADAT and then full digital. Then later side gear simulating compressors/limiters and finally analog tube stations.
So we're trying to get back to the egg sorta, this time with expensive gear before getting to digital/ daw.
After listening to the old SUN recordings i thought, gee, i wish i still had that tape deck. Such natural compression. No need to add anything or put anything in front. A bit of hiss but who cares?
Many years ago (here i go again) i worked in a library for the blind and operated pro Studer tape decks. Awesome.
Now i wonder, any decent 2 track pro tape decks about? What should i look out for (heads and stuff). Anything decent and affordable (up to 500 euro)?
 

oldhousescott

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,812
You might be able to find an Otari or AKAI (or even Tandberg or Revox) for a decent price, but I'd be concerned about the condition of the heads and transport, and that it might need to be recapped soon.

Honestly, I'd look into a tape simulator plugin like Slate's VTM. Will it sound 100% like a tape machine? No. Will it get you most of the way there? IMO yes, and without any need for maintenance or supplies. Check out some demos and see if it does enough of what you remember the real machines doing.
 

335guy

Member
Messages
5,228
Well, I'm glad tape has gone the way of the dodo. The machines, both pro level and consumer level, needed constant maintenance to sound their best, the tape ( good stuff ) was expensive, especially the 2" tape, hissy and noisy and when you used the DBX noise reduction, you seemed to lose the highs. And don't even talk to me about editing. Editing in the digital realm is many light yrs ahead of anything done with tape.

I have some old tape recordings I've transferred to digital without "enhancing" the sound. The fidelity sucks compared to even a 44.1hz 16 bit file. Even mp3's sound better.

The last tape recording I did in a pro studio was in Darrel Dragon's Rumbo Recorders. It sounded impressive at the time. 48 tracks with an automated board. State of the art facility that cost millions. Today, you can get better audio quality for around $ 5000 or less.
 

loudboy

Member
Messages
27,316
I'd look around for an Otari.

I gave some guy a Tascam 32 last fall, when he bought an amp from me.
 

soulsonic

Member
Messages
980
Tascam BR-20 is an awesome deck if you want to do any editing. Not as common as the Otari MX-5050, but from what I've seen they're a bit nicer, and the used prices generally reflect it. Rather big and heavy though - best if you get the roller stand with it.
 

Motterpaul

Tone is in the Ears
Messages
13,081
There are still plenty of great reel to reel tape decks out there - not new but used. Just google them. And I would think many of them are in good shape, especially if they were purchased in the 80s when tape was just started to fade. Prices varied a lot, Studer would $100k for a 24-trk, while MCI might be $25k. Ampex depends on the age - the old ones are cheap built likely too old to maintain now.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odk...der.TRS0&_nkw=24+track+recorder&_sacat=180014

Studer, Telefunken, Sony... (need I say more)
 

Cropduster

Senior Member
Messages
2,698
Well, I'm glad tape has gone the way of the dodo. The machines, both pro level and consumer level, needed constant maintenance to sound their best, the tape ( good stuff ) was expensive, especially the 2" tape, hissy and noisy and when you used the DBX noise reduction, you seemed to lose the highs. And don't even talk to me about editing. Editing in the digital realm is many light yrs ahead of anything done with tape.

I have some old tape recordings I've transferred to digital without "enhancing" the sound. The fidelity sucks compared to even a 44.1hz 16 bit file. Even mp3's sound better.

The last tape recording I did in a pro studio was in Darrel Dragon's Rumbo Recorders. It sounded impressive at the time. 48 tracks with an automated board. State of the art facility that cost millions. Today, you can get better audio quality for around $ 5000 or less.
I think some of us like the "crappier" sound of tape. I can't see anyone with Pro Tools coming close to, say, the vibe of Toys in the Attic. Pretend they had digital in the studio in 1975 doing parallel recording of that album and comparing the results. Wouldn't come close to the analog warmth and whatever built in noise/compression that those old boards had.
 

2HBStrat

Senior Member
Messages
41,244
Well, I'm glad tape has gone the way of the dodo. The machines, both pro level and consumer level, needed constant maintenance to sound their best, the tape ( good stuff ) was expensive, especially the 2" tape, hissy and noisy and when you used the DBX noise reduction, you seemed to lose the highs. And don't even talk to me about editing. Editing in the digital realm is many light yrs ahead of anything done with tape..........
And yet all of the classic albums that we call classic and that we love, from Coltrane to Sinatra to Beatles to Allmans, and more, were recorded on tape......'splain THAT!
 

loudboy

Member
Messages
27,316
And yet all of the classic albums that we call classic and that we love, from Coltrane to Sinatra to Beatles to Allmans, and more, were recorded on tape......'splain THAT!
There wasn't anything else available?

Sure, tape and the studio techniques used back then imparted a certain sound quality to the records, but I have a feeling that those records are way more about the music than what medium was used...
 

jdogric12

Member
Messages
2,549
Some folks forget that as far back as the Beatles, pro studios had lots of other equipment that contributed to the awesome "classic" sounds they love - amazing Neve preamps, serious tube compression, Neumann mics, etc. A lot of semi-pro folks doing recordings today lack that gear and their results suffer, often sounding tinny, scratchy, or -gasp- "digital."
 

soulsonic

Member
Messages
980
I have an old Fostex A8. It's fun. Sound quality isn't the best - 1/4" 8-track format was always kinda grungy anyway - but the noise reduction actually works pretty well and it sounds good for heavy guitar stuff. And I have a Tascam 22-2 for mixdown, and it's pretty solid. Put a new belt in it and it was good as new. I probably wouldn't use tape for any "serious" "professional" recordings, but for my having-fun-at-home-hobby-music it's a good time. And I feel like those tape skillz I learned in school aren't going to waste. LOL
 

335guy

Member
Messages
5,228
Hey guys, I get the nostalgia for tape. I was there in that era. I recorded, or rather, was recorded, in dozens of studios, from 4 track project studios to state of the art studios. I saw the lengths the engineers would go to, to get as clean/pleasing of a sound as possible. Many were very creative, especially in tape editing, mic selection and techniques, choice of outboard gear used, etc. Pro studios in the 70's were a button pusher's delight. Massive mixers, racks of outboard gear, McIntosh tube amps in the back, Altec Big Red monitors, it was candyland.

It wasn't unusual for the pro studios to charge at least $60 an hour for studio time, and that was for a 16 track studio during off hours. Many studios charged much more than that. Artists racked up huge recording costs that they were expected to pay back to the record company from record sales. Those studios were expensive to design, build, equip and operate.

My point is today, any artist can record for much less cost, which I think is advantages for the artist. He doesn't have to go hat in hand begging a record company for a contract to record him/her. The nostalgia for tape is fun to revisit, but I wouldn't want to have to go back to that era.
 

oldhousescott

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,812
The nostalgia for tape is fun to revisit, but I wouldn't want to have to go back to that era.
I totally agree, but to the OP's point, whether on purpose or by accident, tape actually did something to the sound that many have found missing on the switch to digital. It seems engineers and mixers have had to work extra hard to regain that depth and liveliness that was once obtained simply by printing to tape.
 

FFTT

Member
Messages
28,356
Technically, you only need a good 2 track deck.
Bounce those tracks over to your DAW.
You can bounce tracks back and forth almost infinitely.

If you want old school realism, just remember how they worked around available track limitations.

Technically, you could bring in a rehearsal PA and track the band live using a stereo deck.
 

FFTT

Member
Messages
28,356
You can buy a used ADAT cheap or if you're really desperate, just hook up a VCR and use the audio section.

Frankly, I'd love to see a 2 track machine using the full width of VCR tape as the medium providing it has a smooth enough transport.
 

3dognate

Member
Messages
6,066
Foo Fighters recorded to tape... sounded awesome... so did their previous digital recordings. The limits of tape forced them to record in a particular (and unforgiving) way. Anyway tape isn't going to get you garbage in > Gold out. (That's Alchemistry and is looked down upon in some circles as hokum.)
 




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