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Thread: Going from TSR-8/38 w/ M2516 into a US-1641

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    Going from TSR-8/38 w/ M2516 into a US-1641

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    I know this should probably go in the "Tascam" forum, but I figure I might get better response from the seasoned recordists here.

    I just obtained a Tascam US-1641. I installed the drivers and hooked it up to my laptop, tested it with Reaper, and it works beautifully.

    Now, comes the interesting part. I've got my TSR-8 hooked up to my M2516. I've also got a 38 that I can swap out with if needed. After my initial excitement had ebbed over having a good interface for the digital stuff, I had a crushing thought: all of my analog I/O is RCA, the inputs on the US-1641 are XLR. How is that going to work out? I doubt there is a 8 channel RCA to XLR snake. Too bad that this interface doesn't have the newer plugs that integrate 1/4" and XLR into the same plug.

    Most of the time when I'll be recording, I'll be duping the feed and running it into the laptop for a quick and dirty copy to work with, leaving the tape for the actual working version.

    Any suggestions??
    The interface said to use "Windows XP or higher"...

    ... I used tape...

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    Well the bummer thing is that the US-1641 XLR inputs are mic level only...but it still may work out if using -10dBv outputs from the M-2516. The mic inputs have a maximum nominal input level of -2dBu which is about -4dBv...the point is that even with the mic trims all the way counterclockwise it is still a maximum nominal level of about -4dBv, and if the maximum nominal level of your mixer is -10dBv that is only 6dB's of headroom which is a bit cozy for my comfort. What you ought to do though, since you can control the level of your outputs from the mixer is hook up a cable and see...you may just need to keep the buss faders at "-10" which would, in theory, give you about (nominally) about 16dB's of headroom...noise may be issue or it may not since. And look at the impedances. THAT actually is probably the biggest issue...let's see...okay...the M-2500 direct or group outs are 100ohm and the US-1641 inputs 1~8 have a 2.2kOhm impedance. Should be fine. Try it out. The GOOD news is that the US-1641 is a handy unit, and is stable and reliable and has a great feature set of inputs for live tracking direct to DAW, so maybe you need to look at how you will be primarily using it and if it is primarily for open reel 8-track transfers or for interfacing the M-2516 with the DAW I'd personally look for something else.

    They do indeed make XLR to RCA cables and snakes. Look on eBay...search for "XLR snake". Pins 2 and 3 are strapped internally so it is an unbalanced cable but will allow you to connect up to an XLR input. Get the shortest cable or snake possible if you want to do this.

    [EDIT]

    I'm sorry...the XLR to RCA cable or adapter will strap pin 3 to pin 1 which is what you want...the US-1641 is conventional AES standard pin 2 hot and you want the two strapped at the XLR end. If noise is a problem (induced hum and RFI) you can try removing the connection from pin 3 of the XLR so pin 3 "floats"...you'd leave pin 3 and pin 1 strapped to the shield at the RCA end though which will provide shielding. Hope that makes sense.
    Last edited by sweetbeats; 10-19-2010 at 11:51.

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    Thanks Cory. I was looking at the mic level inputs on the front and wondering about that.

    I love this interface and you are right, it is very stable. What we are intending to do is having an "always on" type of option for digital. Most of the stuff we will be recording will be to digital, I'm pretty sure. However, the times that we fire up the tape decks, we still want a digital copy to do a quick mix down from and burn a CD for the students to practice with, learn from, etc.

    I'm debating on if I should have two totally separate setups for this though. I'd hate to have to constantly patch mics back and forth from the M2516 to the US-1641 (or whatever we would end up doing in a separate rig). I was hoping to just have the M2516 serve as the universal front end for both systems, if I could successfully get a good signal to both the TSR-8 and the laptop. Just trying to figure out the best option to keep the cabling/connection nightmare to a minimum.
    The interface said to use "Windows XP or higher"...

    ... I used tape...

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    Oh I understand...totally.

    If you want to keep cabling and hassles to a minumum though, and you want that M-2516 to be your hub or control center (which is what I'd recommend) then I'd seriously look at a different interface.

    How much did the US-1641 set you back?

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    If the M-2516 is to be the center of it all the interface should have at least 8 line level inputs that can accomodate -10dBv.

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    For a straight-ahead stable 8 x 8 (minumum) interface I can't recommend a better one than the Presonus Firepod (now called the FP10)...this has the same mic, line and instrument amps and wordclock as my Presonus Digimax FS and it is a favorite piece of kit. The wordclock cleaned up my digital audio and the mic and intrument amps sound great for this type of unit. It has MIDI I/O, S/PDIF I/O and the combo jacks on the front...combo jacks 1 & 2 are for instruments but there is a set of TRS outputs and and TRS inputs for channels 1 & 2 (yes, fully balanced insert points for channels 1 & 2) that can easily serve as line inputs for channels 1 & 2 so you've got your 8 line level inputs there...or instrument inputs and mic inputs for location recording for instance. My FS has been rock solid and it was a bargain. FP10 is selling for $349 at MF new.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sweetbeats View Post
    Oh I understand...totally.

    If you want to keep cabling and hassles to a minumum though, and you want that M-2516 to be your hub or control center (which is what I'd recommend) then I'd seriously look at a different interface.

    How much did the US-1641 set you back?
    I gave $200 for it. It is barely used and came with all paperwork, cables, software, etc. I guess I can always use it here at the house for my personal stuff if all else fails.

    I was wondering about a US-428 but know virtually nothing about it, other than it is a bit older of an interface (USB 1.1 maybe??).

    Craptastic...
    The interface said to use "Windows XP or higher"...

    ... I used tape...

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    Quote Originally Posted by sweetbeats View Post
    For a straight-ahead stable 8 x 8 (minumum) interface I can't recommend a better one than the Presonus Firepod (now called the FP10)...this has the same mic, line and instrument amps and wordclock as my Presonus Digimax FS and it is a favorite piece of kit. The wordclock cleaned up my digital audio and the mic and intrument amps sound great for this type of unit. It has MIDI I/O, S/PDIF I/O and the combo jacks on the front...combo jacks 1 & 2 are for instruments but there is a set of TRS outputs and and TRS inputs for channels 1 & 2 (yes, fully balanced insert points for channels 1 & 2) that can easily serve as line inputs for channels 1 & 2 so you've got your 8 line level inputs there...or instrument inputs and mic inputs for location recording for instance. My FS has been rock solid and it was a bargain. FP10 is selling for $349 at MF new.
    I'll have to look into that one Cory. Thanks for the tip.

    For the immediate moment, I'm trying to figure out why the session I recorded on Sunday sounds so muddy. I wrestled around for about 45 minutes trying to troubleshoot why I wasn't getting half the signals into the board and finally just decided to replace all of the mic cables. Figures the simplest solution would work, huh? There is another guy who attempted to record some stuff the weekend before and wasn't very successful. Wonder why... Oh well. I'm starting to wonder if my TSR-8 and 38 are calibrated for two different tapes. I was hitting the tape pretty hard on the TSR-8, yet when I brought it home and played it back on the 38, the meters didn't move around as much as I expected. I really need to get a MRL tape and just get it over with. Which one would I need to get for +6 tapes?
    The interface said to use "Windows XP or higher"...

    ... I used tape...

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    US-428 is a 4 x 2 interface. Wrong direction for you AFAIC.

    I'd hold off getting dithered about why recordings are turning out as such until you get the machines calibrated.

    What one for +6 tape? Understand that you can use any calibration tape for calibrating to any tape type. "+6" means "I am a tape that distorts to 3% when exposed to 355 nanowebers of magnetic flux over a meter of tape." 355nWb/m is equivalent to "+6" at 1kHz.

    Get your head around this for a sec...Calibration is all about "what does '0' on the VU meter mean, and let's get all channels/tracks operating the same."

    The standard for "+6" tape is to set "0" to mean 250nWb/m of flux level...250nWb/m equates to "+3"...why do we want to set "0" to mean "+3" when you are using "+6" tape?? Because the "standard" is to have your meters tell you that at "0" you have 3dB's of headroom before you start saturating the tape to 3% distortion. Keep in mind that your program material doesn't typically sustain at 'X' nWb/m...its typically complex and all over the place, okay? But we are talking about a "calibration reference standard". So, okay...hopefully you now understand why the standard calibration tape for operating "+6" tape is a 250nWb/m test tape. No compensating has to be done. You reproduce the level set tone and anjust the trimmers so the meter reads "0".

    Okay...let's say you don't mind, or rather LIKE the sound you get off of tape when its pushed to 355nWb/m...well if you calibrated the machine for "0" at 250nWb/m then you are going to want the VU's hovering at +3 instead of 0 when tracking. Does that make sense? And it works the other way too...let's say the machine is setup for "0" at 250nWb/m but you want clean-clean-clean coming off of tape and the program material has high periodic sustained transient peaks...then maybe you're going to set your levels so that the meters are hovering around -3 to keep those peaks out of distortion. The downside is that now you're going to hear more tape noise during the amplitude valleys but you'll avoid saturating the tape on the peaks. Your material and your ears are the ultimate judge in HOW you setup your machine and WHAT kind of tape you use and HOW you use the tape.

    NOW...let's say most of what you do is in the former category (i.e. you like what you are getting off of tape when you are pushing your nominal levels to +3...this is not normal BTW because remember that the meters are averaging meters...they show the "average" level which means your transient peaks especially on stuff like percussive sources is likely to be WAY above +3 when the meter reads "+3", and you risk clipping the record amps and such...overhead is goooooood...but I digress...) and let's say you'd rather not have to deal with looking at +3 all the time and to have that room on the meters to see what is going to tape...IOW you want "0" to really mean 355nWb/m. Do you need to get a 355nWb/m test tape? Well goodness sake no. During calibration instead of setting the levels to "0" on the VU meters when the test tape is reproducing the level set tone (typically 1kHz) you would set the meters to reflect -3dB's. Think about that...if the 250nWb/m level set tone drives the meters to -3, then what are the meters saying if they are at 0?? Well they are saying "hey you're hitting me with the equivalent of 355nWb/m." (i.e. +6). Same test tape, any ol' operating level you choose.

    This also means you can use a 185nWb/m test tape (which was the standard for +3 tape...zero the deck to +0 to get that 3dB's of headroom before 3% distortion) and set the deck up for any operating level...just changes the offset you use during calibration.

    My recommendation is that you get a 250nWb/m tape. Its likely where you want to start and it is just easiest not to have to mess with offsets in the beginning. Tascam designed both the 38 and the TSR-8 for 250nWb/m operation...i.e. +6 tape with 3dB's of headroom before 3% distortion. Its what the amp electronics were designed for. Then later you can take it anywhere you want if there is something you are trying to achieve that you aren't getting with that setup.

    Both the 38 and the TSR-8 are also designed around the IEC equalization standard, so if you are in the position to choose your MRL tape then that's what I'd get...250nWb/m, IEC eq, 15ips.

    Subject for another day but you can ALSO use any equalization standard tape to cal to a different standard (i.e. you can use an IEC tape to set the deck up for NAB equalization and vice versa). You can ALSO use tapes of different speeds to cal at a given speed (i.e. you can use a 15ips MRL to cal a 7.5ips machine). There are limitations here though, and I will tell you that of these three areas (flux level, equalization standard, and transport speed, trying to use an MRL of a certain speed to cal a transport at a different speed is the most sizeable PITA, and ultimately it comes down to how many tones are on the tape...if using a 15ips tape to cal a 7.5ips transport everything is halved...1kHz tone will reproduce at 500Hz etc. So if the 15ips tape only goes up to 16kHz then the highest tone you will be able to reproduce is 8kHz which, depending on the machine, may not be adequate for fine-set azimuth and/or checking your HF response in order to diagnose the health of the heads, etc.

    Yup. That was more than you wanted to know.

    Look at these tapes on the linked catalog pages...same standards (i.e. 250nWb/m, IEC 15ips), but one has more frequencies:

    31J229 $220

    341-673-482-103 $145

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