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Thread: Digital Cassette

  1. #1
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    Digital Cassette

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    Hi,
    Question for the audiophiles and tekkies.
    Background: I'm a cassette 4 track recorder, but hybrid would describe me best as i tend to record instruments on cassette, transfer to DAW then record vocals and mix.
    I'm trying to get the vocals to sound a bit more like as if they were recorded to tape. So what frequency bands do you recommend should be scooped or boosted to get there. I know we're already sitting on the fact that cassette range is 20Hz - 18KHz (ish)
    I'm already cutting frequencies in that range, adding some saturation and compression...but yeh, boost lower mids? scoop some highs?
    And yes of course, no need to jump on the "every tape sounds different" & "every machine will sound different"...lets talk some averages.

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    I think 18kHz may be optimistic for cassette. Maybe try rolling it off gently starting a bit lower so it's a couple of dB down at 15kHz and gone at 18kHz.

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    Is this any use? It's a frequency response plot for a TASCAM 122 with an EMTEC cassette.

    http://www.ant-audio.co.uk/Tape_Reco...C_FE_I_DIN.gif

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    If this helps, using a Fuji JPII C90 in my oldest Tascam 244 recording at 0dB on VU meter Track 1 with dbx I measured the following on replay (other tracks pretty much the same):

    25 Hz -3dB
    40 Hz 0dB
    100Hz 0dB
    400Hz 0dB
    1000Hz -1dB
    10000Hz 2dB
    12500Hz 2dB
    16000Hz 0dB
    18000Hz -6dB
    20000Hz -10dB

    I've never found any need to adjust eq on recording vocals - an old Shure Unidyne III sounds pretty good for vocals as is and I think you get that "tape sound". I actually prefer to re-bias for Maxell UR Type I tape on the 244 - this eliminates dropouts and, surprisingly gives virtually the same freq response.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jpmorris View Post
    Is this any use? It's a frequency response plot for a TASCAM 122 with an EMTEC cassette.

    http://www.ant-audio.co.uk/Tape_Reco...C_FE_I_DIN.gif
    I always found it sort of interesting how good tape looks (behaves) down -20 or so.
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    Some great insight, thanks guys. Basically taper off the high end, add some noise and yeah it's interesting how tape flattens out the quieter it gets. I'll let you know how i go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by maxdoubt View Post
    Some great insight, thanks guys. Basically taper off the high end, add some noise and yeah it's interesting how tape flattens out the quieter it gets. I'll let you know how i go.
    Aye ther's ^ the rub. You cannot it seems to me to ignore the massive difference between the professional tape machines and cassettte. 15ips 1/4" two track tape is spece'd at -10vu, cassette, as stated, at -20 (VU or ref Dolby level) This means cassette has enormous HF "squash" (more upper mids really!)

    Then, back of envelope calc' tells me a pro 1/4" machine is moving a 3" "mass" of magnetic material a second (15ips) whereas cassette shifts just 0.187 inches per sec. That is 16 times more magnetic material per second. Of course, modern casstte tapes are of much better performance but not 24dB better!

    It's a wonder casstte sounds as good as it does!

    Dave.

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    Agreed at the marvel of cassette fidelity in relation to the physical size of it. TBH although I've had the option to buy a 1/4, 1/2 & 1" recorder in my time I've never gone ahead with it, although I admire anyone who's doing it at home, for what I get out of having something so compact, efficient and easy to keep clean vs the greater fidelity of reels...I just go cassette all the way. A very respectable smaller brother to the big boys.
    Last edited by maxdoubt; 08-10-2019 at 04:00. Reason: typo

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    If the material is important to you, I'd buy a decent tape deck to start with. This isn't difficult, just go to a local pawn shop. Then, clean the heads with some Isopropal and a qtip, and purchase a decent interface. One could be bought for under 100 bucks that would be fine for your needs. Local guitar center can Sarkari Result Pnr Status 192.168.1.1 help you with that (hate to direct you to a guitar center, but it's the easiest choice).
    Last edited by uwiakjer12; 02-03-2020 at 04:30.

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    I've still got a 122 Tascam somewhere here. I'm frankly amazed by the frequency response plots - I have NEVER got anything useful off cassettes above 15K - the hiss was always there masking any useful output. When I was using cassettes, I'd record with Dolby and replay with it off, and then just tweak the top end down a little. Dolby on always made them dull - so my solution a workable half-way house.

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