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Thread: Advice needed on equipment hook-up

  1. #1
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    Advice needed on equipment hook-up

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    I'm very close to getting started on a garage remodeling project.For the short-term,I plan on using 200 sq. ft. of my garage as a recording studio.I can handle all the construction work with no problem,but need some advice on what will work best for my gear.
    Haven't been messing with recording for the last few months,as I was busy putting an engine in my old car.That's finished,so it is time to get back into recording.
    The main pieces of gear I have are an Otari 8-track reel,a Roland VS-2480CD digital recorder,and a Mackie 1604VLZ Pro mixer.The mixer was bought for use in a PA.
    Basic question is,would the Mackie do me any good in recording?And if so,where should it be in the chain?
    Most of my recording is drums,bass,vocals,and guitar.
    I don't yet own a stand-alone preamp.
    Since getting the Otari,my plan is to record tracks to it first,then send them to the Roland and mix and edit.Would there be any advantage to sending them through the Mackie first?I have no idea which has the better pre-amps-the Mackie or the Roland.
    I'm guessing it wouldn't be a good idea to record through the Mackie to the Otari-probably best to get the best raw signal onto tape as possible?
    Thanks for any suggestions.

  2. #2
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    Feb 2005
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    In a real big, totally sync'd system utilizing what you have, there are a bunch of ways you could go...which in order to eliminate confusion, I'll skip.

    To keep it simple with what you have, here are some options to consider...

    Option 1.....

    Since no standalone preamps, use a channel strip (or several) in your Mackie for the front end for mics and line signals...and run the Mackie outputs to your Otari.

    I use separate preamps but after 40 some years in this biz, intense preamp scrutiny is mostly overblown imo. I'd just use the Mackie.

    If you really want to test, run a common signal through the Macke and 2480 at the same exact time, recording the result onto two different tracks of the Otari. (I believe the 2480 can simultaneously take an input and route it to an output). Listen to the result and decide which you like better...imo it doesn't really matter..the Mackie preamp will probably sound just fine..and be more convenient to use.

    Record your eight parts on the Otari, monitoring back through spare channels or whatever monitor section the Mackie has.... and then when finished filling up the eight Otari tracks, dump to the 2480. This assumption is that you are starting the entire song at the Otari.

    Next step, add digital track overdubs on the 2480 as needed and then mix the total tracks...either mixing totally within the 2480, or...piping out of the 2480 box to your standalone mixdown deck,... or pipe the 2480 outputs over to the Mackie and (if you have enough channels to handle the number of tracks + effects) mix manually from the Mackie outputs to whatever your stereo mixdown machine is (you didn't say what it is).

    Option 2...

    A slight step up for more complicated work where you want to use MORE than 8 Otari analog tracks.......and this depends on the 2480 having the capability to nudge digital tracks around in time (which I don't remember whether it can do)......

    Step 1
    Starting on the Otari as you mentioned you wanted, fill all the 8 tracks and dump to 2480 as mentioned on option 1.

    Step 2....

    Run the Otari up to a blank spot on the tape..or load a new reel of blank tape if you're almost out of tape. Supreme rule number 1...Don't erase anything. NEVER erase anything. Keep those original individual tracks. Someday, you'll be glad you did. Perhaps even during this project.

    Now, play the 2480 which contains the 8 ported Otari tracks...either submix the Otari tracks (which are now in the 2480) to a rough stereo mix within the 2480, out the 2480 outputs, through your Mackie to make a rough stereo mix...and then back onto two tracks of the Otari and it's blank tape. This is a rough stereo mix guide...the quality of the mix doesn't matter. You just want something you can play along with in order to make new analog overdubs.

    Now, turn the 2480 off. You don't need it for awhile.

    With that stereo guide mix on the Otari, you can now overdub 6 more analog tracks on the Otari. Monitoring via the Mackie for all the signals. Fill up the 6 analog Otari tracks.

    Turn the 2480 back on and "play" the 6 Otari overbubs (not the rough stereo tracks) into the 2480 on 6 of it's spare tracks. Just roughly fly them in in the general vicinity of where the original separate flown in Otari tracks are sitting. IF the 2480 can nudge tracks, you don't have to sync anything up. Just get the 6 tracks in there.

    Now you have fourteen analog tracks in the 2480. Now...IF the 2480 has the nudge can simply slide the newly added 6 tracks into sync with the original 8 that were ported over to the 2480.

    You can keep doing this all you want till you run out of 2480 tracks. You could carry things further by submixing tracks within the 2480 to open more tracks for porting in from the Otari...totally up to you. If you do it that way though, you're sort of committing to submixes that you're stuck with later in the process.

    The BEST part of this general scenario is that you can always go back and forth to whatever generation you want in order to remix, or re-record parts because your separate tracks are always available somewhere or other. Just don't ever erase anything and you'll be fine.

    As I mentioned, there are ways to set up elaborate synchronized analog/digital systems for flying parts back and forth in sync without nudging. I won't get into those here, but I might if the question comes up somewhere else.

  3. #3
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    BRDTS-thanks very much for the detailed reply.That definitely gives me some things to think about.
    I haven't yet really learned the 2480 all that well,as I started my car engine project shortly after getting it.The only CD I've actually finished before was done on a BOSS BR-8.A lot of the reason I got the 2480 was to be able to record drums with more mics than the BOSS allowed.
    Also don't have a dedicated stereo mixdown machine.I've just done the mixdown in the 2480.Would you suggest something different?
    I also have an RPC-1 card which goes into a computer,which will allow the 2480 to send tracks to the computer for software editing.Don't have it set up and configured yet,though,as I don't have any software to load yet.Was thinking that eventually,I'd like to have the analog tape deck,the digital deck,and probably Pro Tools LE loaded onto a PC that can interface with the 2480.Figured a set-up like that should give me a lot of good options.
    Also,I burn the cd's with a stand-alone Denon DR-C550R.
    Anyway,thanks again for your input-I'll print that out and save it,and start working towards bringing this all together.

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