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Thread: FOSTEX R8 R2R - What cables/tape/master setup etc? - first tape machine -

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    FOSTEX R8 R2R - What cables/tape/master setup etc? - first tape machine -

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    So I took a plunge and got a Fostex R8 to do some mastering on, however my knowledge of how to use tape etc is non-existent.

    I'm hoping to get my mixes across from Ableton, through my mixer to the tape machine,



    I use an Allen and Heath DJ Mixer ( in's/out's shown below) as my soundcard that just has RCA in's with line/phone compatibility, and some RCA outs.

    xone-dx-jpg

    I read apparently the RCA's are unbalanced if that matters at all, would It'd be fine if I just ran two RCA's from the Fostex In's, and two from the outs, to my mixer RCA in's and that's all the cabling I'd need for sending what's going through my mixer to the tape machine and back, as it's got 8 I/O's but for sending a stereo mix it'd be fine like that?



    I also read that it takes 7-inches maximum wasn't sure.

    As it doesn't come with tape included or a take up reel, something like these would be alright just for getting to grips with? For example;

    tape: BASF Reel To Reel 1/4" Tape Spool With Tape - 7 Inch Spool With Storage Case | eBay

    take-up reel: 18cm 7" Inch Reel-to-Reel Recording Tape Empty Take Up Spool, New | eBay

    And that's all I'd need? Just stick the tape reel on one side and the take up reel on the other, then load the tape in and hopefully everything goes okay??



    I also wondered if the tape brand/make affects the take up reel or vice versa, as some are specifically branded?

    Some are also metal and a lot more expensive so I didn't really get the difference, is it just affecting the recording quality?



    Appreciate all the help,

    Thanks

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    Yes, the R8 maxes out at 7". There is a Fostex E8 which can take a 10.5" metal reel, but they're pretty rare.
    I should probably point out that the R8 is a multitrack deck, i.e. it was designed to track to, rather than for a stereo mixdown. Still, see how it goes.

    Ideally you want to feed it the right kind of tape, rather than anything that will physically fit. Different formulations are designed for different energy levels during recording, and you'll get unusual results such as the playback being noticeably louder or quieter than the original recording.

    The BASF stuff you linked to looks like it's designed for consumer machines. It'd probably overload and upset the noise reduction system.

    The Fostex machines were designed and factory calibrated for Quantegy 456 or 457 (457 being thinner, long-play tape), and the closest modern equivalent is probably RMGI LPR35 (thin) or RMGI SM911 (regular thickness, shorter but less fragile). Either way, make sure it's on 7" spools otherwise it won't fit on the machine.

    This is probably what you want - annoyingly I can't find a supplier in the UK for the 7" reels. https://www.thomann.de/gb/rmg_lpr_35...9m_trident.htm

    But yes, given some RCA leads, an empty spool and a fresh spool, that should - in theory - get you going.
    The machine being fairly old, there might be a few mechanical issues with it.
    Rubber components such as the belts and pinch roller can go soft and fail, so if the machine behaves erratically that would be the first place to start.

    Good luck!

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    Quote Originally Posted by jpmorris View Post
    Yes, the R8 maxes out at 7". There is a Fostex E8 which can take a 10.5" metal reel, but they're pretty rare.
    I should probably point out that the R8 is a multitrack deck, i.e. it was designed to track to, rather than for a stereo mixdown. Still, see how it goes.

    Ideally you want to feed it the right kind of tape, rather than anything that will physically fit. Different formulations are designed for different energy levels during recording, and you'll get unusual results such as the playback being noticeably louder or quieter than the original recording.

    The BASF stuff you linked to looks like it's designed for consumer machines. It'd probably overload and upset the noise reduction system.

    The Fostex machines were designed and factory calibrated for Quantegy 456 or 457 (457 being thinner, long-play tape), and the closest modern equivalent is probably RMGI LPR35 (thin) or RMGI SM911 (regular thickness, shorter but less fragile). Either way, make sure it's on 7" spools otherwise it won't fit on the machine.

    This is probably what you want - annoyingly I can't find a supplier in the UK for the 7" reels. https://www.thomann.de/gb/rmg_lpr_35...9m_trident.htm

    But yes, given some RCA leads, an empty spool and a fresh spool, that should - in theory - get you going.
    The machine being fairly old, there might be a few mechanical issues with it.
    Rubber components such as the belts and pinch roller can go soft and fail, so if the machine behaves erratically that would be the first place to start.

    Good luck!

    Always love appreciating the different hardware creations and how it's possible to create so much especially on things that have large or quirky limitations in regard to design. I've got an MPC and an S950 Sampler that I love, but I mainly end up finally arranging/editing overall etc in Ableton.

    Definitely always open to just messing around with things and seeing how I can do things differently, I was wondering if it was possible to sort of chop the tape and kind of edit it. I do a lot of sampled down-tempo/alternative hip-hop kind of stuff and ambient/analog bits as well, so I thought it'd be cool to sample to it possibly and chop bits to see if I could get some weird sounds to use.

    I did find a small UK supplier for some RMG LPR35 " long-play x 7" open reel tape x 1800ft tape pretty sure that's what I'm looking for!

    In regards to connecting to my mixer to use stereo. Recording a mixed track from ableton to the Fostex R8, what RCA cables would I need exactly, because based shown are the inputs (with line/phono) and outputs on my mixer, I don't have 8 in's and i just use XLR for my speakers while there are like 4 different RCA outs. I just want to do stereo so I don't know what the setup would be or if I need phono RCA's or anything like that, how would I go about it exactly...??

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    I just put mine up on Reverb and eBay late last night. Did you buy the one that was $600?

    I don't understand what you mean by mastering on it though? You wouldn't better a mix by sending it to two tracks on the R8 and then running it back, and from my own experience with these Fostex machines (I own all 3 of em) it's not really worth it to record to a DAW and then run the tracks to tape and back to try and get some of kind of effect like tape compression etc. Tracking to the R8 is the way to go. Whatever though, you may like it.

    Read as much as you can about reel to reel care and make sure to clean the tape heads and path before using it. I would honestly recommend new tape to start out with

    LPR-35 RTM PYRAL RMG REEL TO REEL 1/4" x 1800' 7" PLASTIC REEL BRAND NEW | eBay

    That is great tape to use and really get a feel for what the machine is capable of.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThirdEye616 View Post
    Always love appreciating the different hardware creations and how it's possible to create so much especially on things that have large or quirky limitations in regard to design. I've got an MPC and an S950 Sampler that I love, but I mainly end up finally arranging/editing overall etc in Ableton.

    Definitely always open to just messing around with things and seeing how I can do things differently, I was wondering if it was possible to sort of chop the tape and kind of edit it. I do a lot of sampled down-tempo/alternative hip-hop kind of stuff and ambient/analog bits as well, so I thought it'd be cool to sample to it possibly and chop bits to see if I could get some weird sounds to use.
    Yes. Again, that kind of stuff is better suited to a 2-track machine - the Fostex E2, for instance. On a half-track stereo machine, doing an edit gives you a cross-fade because you're cutting into the tape at an angle. Using a stereo pair from an 8-track machine wouldn't have the same effect because the tracks are so much narrower.

    Here's a good example of tape editing, Mr. Millar has got it down to a fine art, IMHO. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lo2bROmVz8w
    I've done a bit of creative editing myself. Lately it's also been useful for mixing down complex songs, though it's easy to mess up. That kind of 'no undo' mentality is part of the fun, mind.

    I did find a small UK supplier for some RMG LPR35 " long-play x 7" open reel tape x 1800ft tape pretty sure that's what I'm looking for!
    Who was it? I usually use StudioSpares, but they only stock 10.5" tape these days. ProTape stock ATR and claimed to have 7" RMG tape as well, but they didn't have a link to actually purchase any.

    In regards to connecting to my mixer to use stereo. Recording a mixed track from ableton to the Fostex R8, what RCA cables would I need exactly, because based shown are the inputs (with line/phono) and outputs on my mixer, I don't have 8 in's and i just use XLR for my speakers while there are like 4 different RCA outs. I just want to do stereo so I don't know what the setup would be or if I need phono RCA's or anything like that, how would I go about it exactly...??
    Oh - one thing to check is whether the DJ mixer is using RIAA equalisation on the phono inputs. That would throw the frequencies out of whack.
    I don't know how that mixer works when used as an audio interface, or how Ableton works for that matter, but probably the simplest way would be to ensure Ableton is outputting a stereo mix on, say the master output pair. You can record that into a stereo pair on the Fostex, maybe channels 2 and 4. The edge tracks tend to be a bit dodgy and on my old A8 there was a lot of bleed with adjacent channels.
    Then, you'd rewind the tape and connect the outputs from channels 2 and 4 of the deck to one pair of inputs on the mixer, say 'deck 1'. Looks like those switches might turn the RIAA equalisation on/off.

    Alternatively, if you can get Abelton to output four stem mixes, you could record those to say, tracks 1-2, 3-4, 5-6 and 7-8 via the four soundcard output pairs, and then play them back into the four deck inputs and mix them the old-fashioned way. You'd have to ensure that the soundcard was recording the stereo sum of the mixing desk rather than the 8 independent inputs, though.

    EDIT:
    If you want to try tape editing, you'll need the following:
    1. Quarter-inch splicing block (e.g. Canford Audio 1/4 Tape Splicing Block | eBay )
    2. Splicing tape (e.g. SPLICING,EDITING TAPE 1/4" INCH FOR REEL TO REEL / EIGHT TRACK | eBay )
    3. Single-sided razor blades, e.g. ( 10X single sided razor blade COMPATIBLE WITH IPHONE 5 SAMSUNG S3 S4 HTC LG | eBay )
    Last edited by jpmorris; 12-15-2016 at 03:09.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jpmorris View Post
    Yes. Again, that kind of stuff is better suited to a 2-track machine - the Fostex E2, for instance. On a half-track stereo machine, doing an edit gives you a cross-fade because you're cutting into the tape at an angle. Using a stereo pair from an 8-track machine wouldn't have the same effect because the tracks are so much narrower.

    Here's a good example of tape editing, Mr. Millar has got it down to a fine art, IMHO. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lo2bROmVz8w
    I've done a bit of creative editing myself. Lately it's also been useful for mixing down complex songs, though it's easy to mess up. That kind of 'no undo' mentality is part of the fun, mind.


    Who was it? I usually use StudioSpares, but they only stock 10.5" tape these days. ProTape stock ATR and claimed to have 7" RMG tape as well, but they didn't have a link to actually purchase any.


    Oh - one thing to check is whether the DJ mixer is using RIAA equalisation on the phono inputs. That would throw the frequencies out of whack.
    I don't know how that mixer works when used as an audio interface, or how Ableton works for that matter, but probably the simplest way would be to ensure Ableton is outputting a stereo mix on, say the master output pair. You can record that into a stereo pair on the Fostex, maybe channels 2 and 4. The edge tracks tend to be a bit dodgy and on my old A8 there was a lot of bleed with adjacent channels.
    Then, you'd rewind the tape and connect the outputs from channels 2 and 4 of the deck to one pair of inputs on the mixer, say 'deck 1'. Looks like those switches might turn the RIAA equalisation on/off.

    Alternatively, if you can get Abelton to output four stem mixes, you could record those to say, tracks 1-2, 3-4, 5-6 and 7-8 via the four soundcard output pairs, and then play them back into the four deck inputs and mix them the old-fashioned way. You'd have to ensure that the soundcard was recording the stereo sum of the mixing desk rather than the 8 independent inputs, though.

    EDIT:
    If you want to try tape editing, you'll need the following:
    1. Quarter-inch splicing block (e.g. Canford Audio 1/4 Tape Splicing Block | eBay )
    2. Splicing tape (e.g. SPLICING,EDITING TAPE 1/4" INCH FOR REEL TO REEL / EIGHT TRACK | eBay )
    3. Single-sided razor blades, e.g. ( 10X single sided razor blade COMPATIBLE WITH IPHONE 5 SAMSUNG S3 S4 HTC LG | eBay )

    Ah okay, I could still get some kind of effect out of it whether it's more choppy or not it could work with certain sounds etc.

    I did find one place online in UK selling some RMG, it doesn't say it's used either and it's around 20

    I read somewhere that said there are Two stereo phono inputs for turntables with magnetic cartridges requiring RIAA equalisation, cause the buttons next to the in's are for making it either line or phono, so would I be using phono or line?

    With the RCA's am I just getting the standard red and white for both ends, as the Fostex is just white ports for everything, but I'd just treat say input/output 2-4 as left and right, with the RCA's?


    I'd have to try that for sure, I use a lot of the ports for hardware but I'll definitely see if I could get that all to happen, recording to and from it.

    Thanks for the links, really helpful I'll check out the video too when I can!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThirdEye616 View Post
    Ah okay, I could still get some kind of effect out of it whether it's more choppy or not it could work with certain sounds etc.
    Yes. One of the classic tricks is to take a length of recording, cut it up into little bits and then reassemble it all randomly, as was done by the Beatles on 'For the benefit of Mr. Kite'. I did this myself once, it can produce an interesting collage to link several parts of a song.

    I read somewhere that said there are Two stereo phono inputs for turntables with magnetic cartridges requiring RIAA equalisation, cause the buttons next to the in's are for making it either line or phono, so would I be using phono or line?
    You definitely want it to be line level. I don't know enough about that mixer to know how it works, I've not had a DJ mixer before.

    With the RCA's am I just getting the standard red and white for both ends, as the Fostex is just white ports for everything, but I'd just treat say input/output 2-4 as left and right, with the RCA's?
    Any RCA lead should work as long as it's male on both ends. If you're using the R8 as a multitrack you'd usually get a couple of 8-way looms, and those tend to be colour-coordinated so you can tell each channel apart.

    Something that does trip people up sometimes when coming from a DAW is that all the tracks on tape are mono. If you need a stereo signal you'd have to have two of them, one for left and one for right. Which ones they are doesn't usually matter - usually, e.g. if you were doing the whole song on the R8, you'd pick two adjacent ones for a stereo pair, e.g. bass on 1, vocals on 3, drums sub-mixed on 5 and 6 or something.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jpmorris View Post
    Yes. One of the classic tricks is to take a length of recording, cut it up into little bits and then reassemble it all randomly, as was done by the Beatles on 'For the benefit of Mr. Kite'. I did this myself once, it can produce an interesting collage to link several parts of a song.

    You definitely want it to be line level. I don't know enough about that mixer to know how it works, I've not had a DJ mixer before.

    Any RCA lead should work as long as it's male on both ends. If you're using the R8 as a multitrack you'd usually get a couple of 8-way looms, and those tend to be colour-coordinated so you can tell each channel apart.

    Something that does trip people up sometimes when coming from a DAW is that all the tracks on tape are mono. If you need a stereo signal you'd have to have two of them, one for left and one for right. Which ones they are doesn't usually matter - usually, e.g. if you were doing the whole song on the R8, you'd pick two adjacent ones for a stereo pair, e.g. bass on 1, vocals on 3, drums sub-mixed on 5 and 6 or something.
    Ah I'll have to check that song out too, I have listened to a producer that does that kind of thing and I really enjoyed the kind of effect it can have.

    So is it not possible to keep the stereo aspect of a mix that I'm sending to the Fostex via RCA to 2-4 I/O, I'd create a stereo mix on Ableton and then just have a mono track after running it through...

    Cause mono is just one track, so I'd be using two tracks either way, and getting a stereo signal like that right?
    Last edited by ThirdEye616; 12-15-2016 at 10:25.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Level Anything View Post
    I just put mine up on Reverb and eBay late last night. Did you buy the one that was $600?

    I don't understand what you mean by mastering on it though? You wouldn't better a mix by sending it to two tracks on the R8 and then running it back, and from my own experience with these Fostex machines (I own all 3 of em) it's not really worth it to record to a DAW and then run the tracks to tape and back to try and get some of kind of effect like tape compression etc. Tracking to the R8 is the way to go. Whatever though, you may like it.

    Read as much as you can about reel to reel care and make sure to clean the tape heads and path before using it. I would honestly recommend new tape to start out with

    LPR-35 RTM PYRAL RMG REEL TO REEL 1/4" x 1800' 7" PLASTIC REEL BRAND NEW | eBay

    That is great tape to use and really get a feel for what the machine is capable of.

    I didn't buy your one no, the one I bought was $600 /471, but from Portland though.

    Yeah I get that, it'll take some experimenting. I don't really have the option of 8 I/O's to my mixer, but could use it like that with my MPC with 8 I/O's eventually, and send out the tracks from that to the tape machine and mix etc on there? Then send it back to the MPC or record into Ableton.

    I kind of want to use it all different kinds of ways so It'll just take some messing around with and getting used to.

    The tape I found from a UK supplier seems to be new as it is the LPR 35 which is a modern make right?

    Is there anything you'd reccomend to clean the tape heads, or does it not matter too much?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThirdEye616 View Post
    Ah I'll have to check that song out too, I have listened to a producer that does that kind of thing and I really enjoyed the kind of effect it can have.
    So is it not possible to keep the stereo aspect of a mix that I'm sending to the Fostex via RCA to 2-4 I/O, I'd create a stereo mix on Ableton and then just have a mono track after running it through...
    Cause mono is just one track, so I'd be using two tracks either way, and getting a stereo signal like that right?
    Note quite sure I follow while you're saying, but yes-ish. The Fostex R8 has 8 tracks you can record on (hence its name). Each track is mono, but you can use two of those tracks to store a full stereo image, one track for the left and one for the right. That's what you'd be doing if you bounce a stereo track from Ableton to tape. You would then have 6 tracks left if you wanted to use those for something else.

    Quote Originally Posted by ThirdEye616 View Post
    I didn't buy your one no, the one I bought was $600 /471, but from Portland though.
    Now I'm a little confused. All your ebay links were for items the UK - if you're actually in the US, there will be local dealers of RMG tape, though someone else would have to point you to them.
    If you are in the UK but you bought a machine from the US, be aware that the R8 doesn't like being shipped around and you will probably have to open it up and check everything is in the right place.
    AFAIK they just clipped the circuit boards in place after the M80, hence they can easily become unplugged or otherwise out of kilter if the deck gets bounced about.

    The tape I found from a UK supplier seems to be new as it is the LPR 35 which is a modern make right?
    Yes, that's your best bet.

    Is there anything you'd reccomend to clean the tape heads, or does it not matter too much?
    Isopropyl alcohol, ideally 90% pure or better. Less pure than that and there are likely to be water or other substances which will rust or otherwise mess up the heads.

    If you are in the UK, StudioSpares sell it under 'Media accessories'. If you get it from there, it might also be worth getting a chinagraph pencil while you're at it. They are wax pencils which you can use to mark the edit point on the tape before cutting it. If you're serious about tape editing, I would recommend getting one.

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