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Thread: Using tape for saturation

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    Using tape for saturation

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    Anyone here running tracks into a tape machine from their DAW? I've been thinking of running a stereo mix of drums into a 1/4 real to real and then back into my computer in an attempt to capture a more saturated sound.
    Also, do most mastering houses go to tape during any stage of the mastering process?

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    Quote Originally Posted by pathdoc View Post
    I've been thinking of running a stereo mix of drums into a 1/4 real to real and then back into my computer in an attempt to capture a more saturated sound.
    Not a bad idea if you have the time for it, and if it gives you something you like.

    Also, do most mastering houses go to tape during any stage of the mastering process?
    Usually not. But some do. And others can if specifically requested.

    .

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    Sometimes I use a compressor with a curve imitating tape saturation and set attack and release to 0, thus introducing the same harmonics.
    HDCD's peak expansion works this way, as this process is reversible (up to 6 dB).

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    Quote Originally Posted by pathdoc View Post
    Anyone here running tracks into a tape machine from their DAW? I've been thinking of running a stereo mix of drums into a 1/4 real to real and then back into my computer in an attempt to capture a more saturated sound.
    Also, do most mastering houses go to tape during any stage of the mastering process?
    Sometimes I'll do a mix in analog instead of mixing in the box to get a particular sound. You need to have good D/A - A/D converters or you'll degrade your sound.
    Busy recording...
    http://nysteacherjobs.com/

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    whats so great about tape saturation? I usually try to get as little distortion as possible while getting as little hiss as possible....1/4" doesn't really saturate all that much anyway........

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    Quote Originally Posted by LogicDeLuxe View Post
    Sometimes I use a compressor with a curve imitating tape saturation and set attack and release to 0, thus introducing the same harmonics.
    Quote Originally Posted by FALKEN View Post
    1/4" doesn't really saturate all that much anyway........

    Oh great. We got the Genius Brigade here today!

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    Quote Originally Posted by FALKEN View Post
    whats so great about tape saturation?
    Vintage sound. In small amounts, it can add warmth. Exciters do similar things.
    I usually try to get as little distortion as possible while getting as little hiss as possible
    As I do.
    "usually" is the key word here. I rarely use exciters either.
    1/4" doesn't really saturate all that much anyway
    It is only a matter of level. The hotter, the more harmonics you'll get due to saturation. You certainly can wreck any tape recording if you go too hot.
    The same thing applies with the compressor method, ie. if the curve does not match the input level, this doesn't work as intended.

    The advantage of the compressor method is that it doesn't jitter like tape. Thus, you can add a high pass filter to basically get the harmonics only and mix them with the input. This can help old tape recordings which are missing the high end to a degree. If you just seek vintage sound, the tape method should do, of course.
    While tape saturation (and imitations thereof) add 3rd harmonics, you can also try a ring modulator, which can produce 2nd harmonics (with twice the dynamics, so you probably want to compress them). Also works great, if you're restoring old recordings.

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    Oh my god. (hides head in shame)

    Is this really what it's come to?

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    Quote Originally Posted by LogicDeLuxe View Post
    you can also try a ring modulator, which can produce 2nd harmonics (with twice the dynamics, so you probably want to compress them).
    Whoa.

    And now we gotta worry about tape jitter, too?

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    Quote Originally Posted by pathdoc View Post
    Also, do most mastering houses go to tape during any stage of the mastering process?
    It can happen, but it's usually reserved for mixes with severe digititus. Other techniques include using a HEDD, or a variety of other "color" producing plugs and hardware.

    I recently did a shootout with a client using 1/2" tape versus Crane Song's Phoenix plugs and the plugs won in this case. Sometimes tape wins over the plugs, it just depends on the amount of additional noise you don't mind adding and what glues the mix better.
    Tom Volpicelli
    The Mastering House Inc.
    www.masteringhouse.com

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