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Thread: Convert and enhance old live Board Tapes to Digital - Questions

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    Convert and enhance old live Board Tapes to Digital - Questions

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    Hello,
    I have lots of old cassette mono board tapes from my band, basically plugged a cassette recorder up to the mixing console and have dry live performance. I have been attempting to dump them down to my computer DAW (MixCraft 7) and do some work on them to get them to sound a little better, with questionable results. I am a newbie and could use some advise and direction on the primary steps to take.
    I have been making 2 tracks out of the one, to simulate a stereo effect and using EQ and Compression and a "noisey tape" reducing plugin...... it sounds different but not sure if i am way off in what i am doing.
    Any help would be much appreciated.

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    I am not qualified to tell you anything about DAW treatment (did clean up 50 sides of punk 45s for daughter some years ago though with Sony Soundforge) but you do need to get the best results you can from the cassette machine.

    A good machine is a start but you will also need access to the replay head to tweak the azimuth to get the best HF response from the tapes, and they won't all set the same! A good supply of ISIOPROPA for head and tape path cleaning...EVERY side!

    I am not sure if trying to get a stereo effect is a good idea? A stereo deck will play a mono tape as two mono tracks. I would leave them like that.

    Dave.

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    When I transfer tapes, assuming I'm not using the same deck I recorded them on, the first thing I do is align the head to the recording. There's information on the tape that can't be recovered by any other means if the alignment is off. It's a delicate process that involves going back and forth between some listening based procedures and some measurement based procedures. The listening based part of it involves turning the HF way up on the playback system and tweaking the alignment screw. The measurement based part involves using a goniometer plugin.

    I'm not sure artificial stereo effects will really make it better, but I guess that's up to you. Noise reduction can be useful but you have to be careful to avoid degrading the sound. Eq and compression can help if applied appropriately.

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    Great minds think alike, eh?

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    Quote Originally Posted by StPaddy View Post
    Hello,
    I have lots of old cassette mono board tapes from my band, basically plugged a cassette recorder up to the mixing console and have dry live performance. I have been attempting to dump them down to my computer DAW (MixCraft 7) and do some work on them to get them to sound a little better, with questionable results. I am a newbie and could use some advise and direction on the primary steps to take.
    I have been making 2 tracks out of the one, to simulate a stereo effect and using EQ and Compression and a "noisey tape" reducing plugin...... it sounds different but not sure if i am way off in what i am doing.
    Any help would be much appreciated.
    Unless you're planning to "release" the music in some form that's on the tapes...I would leave them alone and enjoy them as-is.
    I too have some band cassettes from years ago, both live gigs and rehearsal sessions, and even though I have the equipment and a fair amount of skill to try and "improve" them...I prefer to leave them the way they went down, at the time, because they are strictly for my own listening pleasure, and nothing that will ever be "released" in any way. I like hearing them all raw and even crappy sounding at times...it's more genuine.

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    Thanks for the advice so far.
    A little more info:
    These are copies of the originals. The originals were made from the 1985 - 1990 time period. The cassette deck they were made on was just generic and is long gone. I am using an old Tascam Porta2 to play them going into a M-Audio M-Track into my pc to Mixcraft 7.

    I do a basic recording without any changes and save. I also want to "improve" because i like to share with some of the people that were around at the time and even post online with some pictures from the time as well, so i would like for them to sound as good as they can for that purpose... at least better than the raw dry board tape. They are very drum and vocal heavy with very little bottom end.

    I will try a single mono track. Should I apply any FX on the track or just on the Master Fader? I tend to try a little EQ, compression, and "noisy tape" suppression, but honestly i dont know what to try or tweek, im using mostly presets.
    If thats about all i can hope for than okay, just wanting to check with people that know.
    Thanks all

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    As others have already said, the best way to improve the sound is to adjust the head azimuth. There's no point in trying any other tweaking if the head azimuth is wrong. The quickest way to check the azimuth (although not always the most accurate) is to listen to both channels together in mono and see if the treble changes. If the azimuth is wrong the treble will reduce and also sound like it is passing through a filter. Just adjust the azimuth screw on the head a little, first one way and then, if there is no improvement, the other way until you hear maximum treble. Of course this method relies on the gaps on the playback head being properly in line but it works on most machines.

    On many machines you will have to remove the cassette cover to access the adjustment screw - you'll then usually see a hole next to the head to give access to the adjustment screw. Make sure you use a non-magnetic screwdriver to adjust the screw.
    JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration
    http://www.jrpmusic.co.uk

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