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Thread: My first R2R Deck. How many tracks do I really need?

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    My first R2R Deck. How many tracks do I really need?

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    Hello,

    I hope you can help me to choose my first reel to reel deck.

    First of all I'm planning to mixdown my digital demos to this deck, as a way to familiarize myself to analog recording.
    I can't afford buying a deck and a decent console at the same time, but my DAW (an Akai DPS24) has dedicated inputs and returns for a 2 tracks mastering and four sends and returns so it casn be Ok for that task.

    Once I feel confident I'd like to record in analog and probably a two tracks machine is not going to be enough: I would need at least 4 tracks for my personal projects and 8 tracks for my band projects.

    I don't know if I should get a two channels deck as a first step or I should get a 4 or even an eight tracks machine from the very beginning of my analog adventure.

    4 tracks seems to be better than 2 (at least for recording a band) but I'm unsure if two tracks decks (1/4) are basically the same animals then their counterparts of 4 or 8 tracks. I mean, can you use a four track deck for mixing down?

    I've been offered a Revox B-77 MKII (two channels) and an AKAI GX4000D (4 tracks but two channels?)
    On the other hand I've seen a Tascam 38, apparently in good shape.

    The Revox B-77 looks great to print my 2 tracks mixes (i'm sure it will add some glue and warmness to my digital recordings). what should I do?



    Thanks a lot.


    ps: I cannot find a 388 in my country. Nobody wants to ship it. so, I'm afraid, that's not really an option

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    Sure, you can use a 4-track deck for mixdown if you wanted. You'd just record to 2 of the tracks. For that matter, you could use an 8-track, 16-track, or 24-track the same way. It's just that most people use 2 tracks because of the extra tape width: 1/4" for two tracks, as opposed to 1/4" spread out over 4 or 8 tracks or even 1/2" spread out over 8 tracks.
    famous beagle

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    look for 8 tracks on 1/2". out of all the machines you mentioned, I would go for the tascam 38

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    The Revox B77 will record 2 tracks across the entire 1/4" tape, while that Akai will record 2 tracks across 1/2 of the same width tape. Sounds like the Akai is more of a consumer deck - I am not all that familiar with thier models. You could then flip the tape over for more recording time. For analog mastering I would go with the 2 tracks across the whole tape approach, you will likely get better sound overall. Remember that the condition of the deck is likely more important than the brand... I'd rather have a mint condition Akai consumer deck than a worn out Revox professional unit. Many here will likely call that statement blasphemy, but a worn out pro deck isn't of any value, and with parts being hard to come by these days.....


    Just my opinions and as they say YMMV.

    AK

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    I would reccommend the TSR-8 over the 38-8 any day. Better electronics and just better all the way around. same format tho 8 tracks on 1/2" tape.
    Another reccommendation? If you think you can do it with 8 go for 16. Or you'll end up being sorry...
    I own: Tascam TSR-8
    Tascam M-1600 mixer

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    I would not use a multitrack machine for a simple stereo mixdown, personally.
    Ideally you want a high-speed 2-track machine. The Revox might well be... find out if it runs at 3.75ips and 7.5ips (low speed), or 7.5 and 15ips (high speed).

    The Akai was a popular consumer machine dating around 1973. The GX version is quite desirable as it has glass heads that supposedly do not wear out. It has its good points, but at the end of the day it is a low-speed stereo machine which records on half of the tape (you can turn the reels over like a cassette deck). The Akai defaults to 3.75ips, with 7.5ips only available by putting a special bushing over the capstan. If you decide to go for it, find out whether the thingy comes with the machine otherwise it will be stuck at very low speed instead of just low speed.
    The Revox will almost certainly record over the entire width of the tape, with better results.
    Also, the Akai can only take up to 7" reels. The Revox will be able to take 10.5" metal ones, giving about 32 minutes at high speed.

    The 38 is a nice machine to track to if you want to do an all-analogue recording. Bear in mind that the tracks are as narrow as in the Akai, so it's probably a bad choice for 2-track mixdown.

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    "My first R2R Deck. How many tracks do I really need?"

    All of them. I got my first back in January, near-mint TSR-8. All love.
    Tascam TSR-8

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    well I would reccommend an Otari over anything tascam, but I get the feeling the OP has limited options.

    getting back to the original posters questions... why are you interested in two track decks? I think you may end finding the 2 track mastering decks much less useful than a four track or an eight track.

    what kind of music are you making? tracking a full band with drums?

    I suggest the 8 track because it will likely be sometime before you outgrow it, compared to a four track deck. also in the meantime you can use it to experiment with two track mixdowns.

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    POSTED TWICE, sorry!
    Last edited by MAXRB; 07-29-2008 at 06:52. Reason: posted twice

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    Thanks for your answers so far.

    I suppose I have to decide myself between my two options:

    1. A good mastering machine only for mixing down my projects (and maybe recording my acoustic two tracks demos) like a Revox B-77 (7ips/15ips) or the Otari MX-50 (after your comments I think I will not choose the Akai).

    My interest for those comes from the book Analog Recording. Using Analog Gear in Today's Home Studio, the author talks about how to make a stereo master from a two track digital mix.

    I bought my DAW 6 months ago, (after I gave up my search of a Tascam 388 ) so for me it would be an easy and not too expensive ( as I don't need a console) way of having some analog flavour in my songs.

    But I'm unsure about the result of a digital recording with a tape mixdown: pastiche or a real analog sound recording?


    2. Multitrack deck (4 or 8 tracks) and console. I play in a garage two-man-band, so I think 8 tracks is OK for our minimalistic rock (drums+guitr, Echoplex and spring reverb and that's it)

    http://profile.myspace.com/hollersfromspain

    just in case, is there any 4 tracks deck that you can recommend me?

    And should I look for a TSr-8 instead of a Tascam 38? And what about the console? I've got a serious problem of space (analog consoles are big).

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