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Thread: Analog Tape to Computer with Overdubs

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    Analog Tape to Computer with Overdubs

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    Hey everybody, I've got a question (again).

    I've read about people hooking up reel to reel machines to computers, and using the tape outs from their machine to go into their computer as they are recording it. That way, they can record in digital, but still have the "colored" analog treatment. My first question is, is this possible? Can the tape machine play what's off the tape as it's being recorded? Or can only certain machines do this?

    The other thing I was wondering was this: If I recorded say 8 drums tracks on my Tascam 388 and then put them to computer (2 track stereo), could I do overdubs using the above method? For instance, I would monitor the tracks recorded on the computer, have a bass or guitar or whatever go into the 388, then run the tape out from the 388 into the computer as it records a digital overdub. Further, I've been thinking about buying a two track mastering deck, like a Tascam 22-2 for this purpose. Would it be possible to do what I'm talking about on this machine? I haven't had any latency problems with my computer when multitracking, but I wondered if there'd be any delay coming from the analog source. I figured buying a Tascam 22-2 would ensure a greater amount of headroom and run the tape at a faster speed for higher quality, since my overdubbing would only consist of track at once recording anyways.

    I'm trying to bridge the analog and digital mediums here. As much as I don't want it to, the sound has to go digital at some point or another, since I'm hard-pressed in trying to find people that will listen to tapes or records. I wouldn't mind mixing everything in digital, although I'd prefer to do it in analog since it's much easier to do with hands-on controls, but I was thinking this might be a cheaper solution.

    Thanks for any and all help for my wacky ideas,
    -MD

  2. #2
    Beck Guest
    There will be a slight bit of latency with a 3-head machine if listening to material on the playback head in real time.

    Let me get this straight -- are you basically using the analog machine as an effect by passing signal through it before it goes to the digital recorder?

    I've found that doing everything in analog and only going to digital, as the final phase is the easiest. I record everything, overdubs, bouncing and all to analog. I then pre-master to 2-track analog and finally make a slow-speed CD master from that. What you have then is a final digital product that's as warm as it can get and still be 1's and 0's.

    When CD first started catching on, most professional studios were still doing all the work in the analog realm. CD was a convenient interface for the consumer. It wasn't half bad at first because on the studio side it was still analog. But once digital recording invaded the studio at all levels you had nearly all digital from tracks to mastering to final product. That's why older CDs will sound warmer than the latest.

    The first thing I ever bought on CD was Boston "Don't Look Back" -- sounds great. Years later I bough one for the car -- "digitally re-mastered" -- sounds like shit... thin and lifeless with the dynamics squeezed to death. It's hard to listen to after growing up listening on tape and vinyl -- breaks the heart.

    -Tim

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    Could it be done on a two head machine, like the 388? In the past I've mixed to digital, and then mastered from digital. I don't like this new form of mastering where they squeeze the hell out of everything to make it louder and louder. I prefer some dynamics. But, I was trying to come up with a way to still use analog, while using digital, but also to be able to use both at the same time without time sync or anything like that. I'm going to try it out with my 388 in a day or two, soon as I get the chance. If it works, I'm looking into buying a Tascam 22-2, that way (since I'll only be overdubbing track at once) I can use cheap tape (1/4") but still have a wide track width and relatively high speed (15 IPS).

    -MD

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    Quote Originally Posted by themaddog
    Could it be done on a two head machine, like the 388? In the past I've mixed to digital, and then mastered from digital. I don't like this new form of mastering where they squeeze the hell out of everything to make it louder and louder. I prefer some dynamics. But, I was trying to come up with a way to still use analog, while using digital, but also to be able to use both at the same time without time sync or anything like that. I'm going to try it out with my 388 in a day or two, soon as I get the chance. If it works, I'm looking into buying a Tascam 22-2, that way (since I'll only be overdubbing track at once) I can use cheap tape (1/4") but still have a wide track width and relatively high speed (15 IPS).

    -MD
    Yeah, you can run an analog deck so you monitor on the Playback head (which is post tape). I remeber some of the old guru's here in Minneapolis working on a head stack/open-reel where it operated much like an analog pass head thus getting the same saturation from tape (working much like a tape delay containing a continuous loop reel). Most of the people I have talked to have up on the idea considering you can do the same thing, for the same cost as buying the real thing.

    I'd have to look in to it but I've noticed a difference between going off my 2" 24 track playback head-live as opposed to dumping-importing tracks post tape. It COULD be all in my head tho.

    -- Adam Lazlo
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    Analog Electric Studio
    Minneapolis, MN, USA

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