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Thread: mixdown hiss

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    mixdown hiss

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    still looking at mixdown decks and I noticed most of them do not have dolby. is this because hiss is not an issue? or are you expected to get outboard NR? what do you all use?

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    Noise is not an issue with mixing consoles. It exists to a small degree when you crank the levels up, but most pro and semi-pro boards don't add any noticable noise whatsoever to the signal flow.

    Noise IS an issue, in analog tape. Because the erase heads of tape decks do nothing more than re-arrange the magnetic particles in a random order, the result of blank tape, and what resides on all sound recorded on analog tape, is "whitenoise," or "tape hiss."

    That's when dolby NR comes into play.

    If you're looking for a nice board to use for mixing down with, and you don't wanna rape your wallet, Tascam makes some nice ones. I use an M-308 board. It's 8 channels, with 4 busses, and it rocks.

    Good luck. hope that cleared things up a bit for you.

    -callie-

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    I mean I am looking at mixdown reels and most of them (otari, tascam) dont seem to have any NR, while my multitrack reel does. Is this because it is unneccessary? or because you are supposed to use outboard NR?

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    Quote Originally Posted by FALKEN
    I mean I am looking at mixdown reels and most of them (otari, tascam) dont seem to have any NR, while my multitrack reel does. Is this because it is unneccessary? or because you are supposed to use outboard NR?
    Remember, the wider the tracks the better the signal and the less noise.
    Unless you have a really badass multitrack, the mixdown deck is going to have much wider tracks than the multitrack.

    Multitracks will tend to squish the tracks together, e.g. 1/2" 8-tracks, 1/2" 16-tracks etc or the crazy cassette thing with 1/8" 8-track.

    A decent mixdown deck will be quarter-inch 2-track.. almost half the width of the tape per channel. Half-inch stereo is also popular, and the amount of hiss will be correspondingly reduced. For those who are totally made of money, JRF make conversion kits to build 1-inch or even 2-inch stereo recorders.

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    OH ok, i thought you meant mixing consoles my bad.

    Yes, indeed, most mixdown decks sound pretty dang good. As long as you go with half-track quarter inch or half inch, at 15 or 30 ips, and use +9 tape on a such calibrated machine, and you're levels are hot enough when you mix down, you're good to go.

    NR is an option to further enhance the quality of a master recording, and Dolby is the pro-grade stuff.

    One of the best sounding Dolby NR's out there is Dolby SR, but it's also the most complex one, and it requires several different test tones at the beginning of tapes to make sure that the SR is consistent through different decks. THey usually come in a rack-unit, w/ 2 cards in it, for L and R.

    That's all I know about that.

    -callie-

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    Quote Originally Posted by FALKEN
    still looking at mixdown decks and I noticed most of them do not have dolby. is this because hiss is not an issue? or are you expected to get outboard NR? what do you all use?
    I'm sorry but I'm not familiar with the way you record and your expectations for the final product. For example, if you record with cassettes then obviously your "mixdown" deck or method is going to be vastly different than if you record to "semi-pro" or "pro" open reel. Tell us more.

    To answer your question, tape hiss (noise) can be very subjective as each person reacts differently to it and it would be correct to say that certain decks don't need noise reduction as much as others ... It perhaps would be better and more accurately stated that every deck, depending on the electronics, track width, tape speed, type of tape etc ... will vary to some degree on tape hiss.

    ~Daniel

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    Quote Originally Posted by Muckelroy

    As long as you go with half-track quarter inch or half inch, at 15 or 30 ips, and use +9 tape on a such calibrated machine, and you're levels are hot enough when you mix down, you're good to go.
    I'd hate to disagree with my fellow analog recordist but this is just plain overkill and, dare I say, wouldn't apply to a majority of situations.

    One of the best sounding Dolby NR's out there is Dolby SR, but it's also the most complex one, and it requires several different test tones at the beginning of tapes to make sure that the SR is consistent through different decks. THey usually come in a rack-unit, w/ 2 cards in it, for L and R.
    While I agree with Doby SR being great (the best many would say), why give such expensive and "overkill" options, when you can obtain fantastic and quiet mixdown results, and for far cheaper and easier, using a TASCAM 22-2 or TASCAM 32-2 + Quantegy 407 or 456 ? No NR needed.

    My 2 cents ....

    Daniel
    Last edited by cjacek; 05-13-2005 at 23:12.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FALKEN
    still looking at mixdown decks and I noticed most of them do not have dolby. is this because hiss is not an issue? or are you expected to get outboard NR? what do you all use?
    Yeah, some people choose to use outboard NR and some don't -- depends on the type of music being recorded. Integrated NR on half-tracks never caught on. It's an issue, but there are so many types of NR and everyone has something they prefer. The general thinking for open reel is to not add a feature and expense the buyer might not want.

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    I am recording dirty ass rock music, but I still want it to be professional. I am looking at the MX 50 II N , MX 5050 B II , PR99, A77, plus some tube models, like a roberts. I really like the AKAI GX decks, but I want something that is qtr inch half track, so those are out i think. Not sure about the tube models though. I would probably have to bring the deck to my amp guy at some point. heh. But I would really like to find something already refurbed. Suggestions on the above models would be nice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FALKEN
    I am recording dirty ass rock music, but I still want it to be professional. I am looking at the MX 50 II N , MX 5050 B II , PR99, A77, plus some tube models, like a roberts. I really like the AKAI GX decks, but I want something that is qtr inch half track, so those are out i think. Not sure about the tube models though. I would probably have to bring the deck to my amp guy at some point. heh. But I would really like to find something already refurbed. Suggestions on the above models would be nice.
    Unless you're doing lo-fi, you will want a 15ips deck. Most consumer decks are 7.5ips!

    I don't know about the Otaris, but they are supposed to be very good. I think Channel 4 News in the UK does (or perhaps did) use them. Parts are supposed to be expensive and hard to obtain though. Apparently Otari is still selling them, but I have no idea what the list price is since I can't find a retailer.

    The Revox PR99 is also much-loved as a mixdown machine but be very careful. There are a lot of those that have been messed about with. ASC did this a lot, and some of their modded machines are playback-only which you do not want!
    The high-speed version of the B77 is also quite popular. Make sure it IS the high-speed version, and make sure that it is 2-track. Most B77s (and A77s) are low-speed, many are 4-track (stereo not multitrack). There are also some high-speed 4-tracks, so make sure you know what you're getting first. The high-speed A77 is sometimes called the HS77.

    I don't think there are any high-speed AKAIs.

    For valve decks, you're going to be a bit restricted. The ferrographs are popular and plentiful but are consumer machines, so only 7.5ips.
    You'll probably be looking for a Studer of some kind. The last semi-pro valve revox was the G36. There are high-speed versions of this but they aren't common. It was replaced by the A77. Occasionally you get C37s turning up on ebay. These are supposed to be fantastic and they certainly look the part but weigh more than a cooker and cost big bucks.

    Other valve decks include the BTR machines which the Beatles supposedly recorded on, and I once saw an old Philips professional machine on ebay. Nice looking machine, but again drastically heavy.

    If you're looking for cheap, cheerful and portable you probably want a Tascam.
    I use the model 32, which is a straightforward 2-track recorder. It does the job and only weighs 35kg so it can be hefted around unlike the C37 which takes two or three men to lift.
    It has some irritating design problems including the tension arm system which is made of string, a demented rewind system where it overshoots zero and has to wind forwards to compensate, poor tape pack and suspended heads (I want them fixed down!).

    I'd like to replace mine with a BR20 which is Tascam's replacement design. It's microprocessor controlled, the heads are fixed down and can't lose alignment (or be adjusted either, but I'd prefer that personally). The machines will tend to be newer than the model 32. Apparently they were discontinued around January so you're likely to find new ones. The list price was almost three thousand pounds, though.
    Used ones turn up on e-bay sporadically, usually when I can't afford to buy one.

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