analog quality


New member
so, all i hear from most others is that the tape medium is all but dead, and that to be serious, we all should switch to digital. but when i read the forums about digital, they all sound like a bunch of gear-heads who seem to have endless problems in ripping to cd, weird software and hardware conflicts, etc. i would like to hear whether you tape folks feel like all your work is only "demo-quality", or can you produce a CD as well as the people recording to their hard drives with cakewalk, or using roland vs series machines, etc. is it time for me to put my 4-track to pasture and start recording on my computer?
I think the analog tape medium has merit when pushed to its limits. The TASCAM Portastudio series provides an economical entry into this region because of the compromise they've made with the format and the double speed. Tape really starts sounding good when it's moving at 30ips and has two tracks sharing 1/2" of tape. And if you want the reliability of a digital system with regard to reproducibility of recording capability, you'll need to spend a bit more than the cost of an ADAT or a minidisk or a standalone HD system to make it happen.
drstawl - thanks. please elaborate on your last comment - that it requires more than an ADAT to truly do it properly - what does it take? i will be trying to produce my first CD shortly for a flute and harp duo. i will be taking two first-generation dry tracks from the 4-track, mixed down through the reverb right to DAT. i do not seem to need to do any complex track manipiulations or special effects. i have a nice large studio, a mackie board, a lexicon lxp-1, akg c3000s, a yamaha mt4x, and a sony DAT. mastering will be done at a local studio ($200). i accept the idea that maybe the 4-trac is a weak link in this age of digital silence, but am i kidding myself to think i can produce a decent CD with it. i figured if i wasnt satisfied with the results, i would break down and buy an ADAT - so, what else do i need to do this right?
I think tape is still a very valuable medium in the recording industry. I use a tascam 488 a bunch, and I think that if used correctly, the quality is very good. I also prefer the analog sound for drums, bass and especially distorted guitars. If you are serious about analog I recomend getting a reel to reel recorder, but a tascam 424 is a very good machine. Digital is nice, and I use both frequently, but don't let other people tell you what is better, try it for yourself.
My comment about the DAT was only directed toward its advantage in the price/performance ratio. If you want this sort of quality sound with analog tape you've got to spend more than the price of the DAT. Both media formats are stuck with the user-unfriendly nature of tape when compared to hard disc. (or even minidisk)

If you've already got a DAT deck, you need not enquire about an analog tape replacement in that pricerange. The DAT will do the job nicely. All this hoo-hah about the warmth of the analog environment.... well: spend your dough on a great microphone. Or two.

[This message has been edited by drstawl (edited 09-22-1999).]
Alot of people on this forum know im a analog advocate and a analog nut! but when it comes to recording alot of tracks you just cant doit on analog unless you blow aton on a big two inch machine! i think the fourtrack still has its merits its great when you're using it to its fullest, but for any this else go digital for the fact that you can do more and still make it sound good.
As you know, I'm with reco on analog. It's amazing what you can do with a analog 4-track. Personally, I've never liked the sound of music in a digital domain. I have found that tracking with analog and mixing and mastering digital seems to work well. I just hate to see people twisting themselves in knots over their digital/software studio problems and never really having the freedom to create. I mixdown to my PC because it sounds good and it works. If it didn't, I wouldn't waste my time. Just a thought.
To Jnorman.

Your making a classical CD?
you already have the equipment. Find a nice room with natural reverb (bathroom) use your mics and mixer and record straight to your DAT. You will get excellent results. Don't use the 4-track cassette.

With the right software, any additional EQ of extra reverb, can be added on the computer as your engineer and you transfer the DAT to a CDR.


On the theoretical question you posed.

Analogue reel to reels are still used extensively for pop and rock recordings. 1/2 " 8 track is common as is 1/2" 16 track.

4-track cassette is tho bottom of the barrel in the multi-tracking world, but surprise surpprise, it is also the least expensive format.

I have a TASCAM 424mkIII and if I do everything right before I record, while I record and after I record the sound quality for pop music is amazing. 4-track cassette if everything is maximized to its limits can sound surprisingly great. Still, to actually sell that recording, I would have to incorporate the 4-track sound onto my marketing strategy. (like Beck, Wean etc...) Sounds of the common people... yadda yadda...