My First "Home Recording" 43 years old

TalismanRich

Well-known member
While I had played with recording on my old cassette deck, results were never much to care about. My first real recordings were with my Dokorder 8140. My sister's high school choir asked if I could record their Christmas concert in 1977. I had two AKG D160e omni mics, plus an Electrovoice electret microphone. I set up the AKGs in a spaced pair, and pointed the EV at the grand piano. That was all I had. At that point, I couldn't afford a mixer, but I had a Teac AX20 which gave you the option for each of 4 channels to go L, R or L+R. No EQ, panning etc. I used my buddy's Teac 1/2 track to mix down for a master tape.

The school sent the master tape to an outfit in New Jersey to have records pressed for the parents. i thought that the record was lost when my basement flooded in 2009. Over 150 albums were sitting in water, jackets disintegrated. Any artist with a name above "Journey" was on the bottom row. I tossed the jackets and sleeves, and put the albums in a couple of boxes The 7" tape reels were also underwater, so they got tossed.

This past week, I started going through the boxes of albums and today I came across a copy of that recording. After a really good scrubbing with a 50/50 water-isopropanol mixture and my record brush, I threw in on the Rega turntable and also fed the output to my Tascam line inputs. Dang! It doesn't sound half bad.

This is the finale song from the senior class. No EQ, compression or mixing. Pretty much as it happened 43 years ago.
 

Attachments

  • Presentation Girls Choir -1977 You Light Up My Life.mp3
    9 MB · Views: 64

Chili

Site Moderator
The piano sounds great. One mic, huh?

The choir? well.. you did what you could with the song given. :D But for real, very cool you found the old recording and got to listen to it again.
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
My first ever mix on the Fostex X-15 wasn't bad as I recall. I sent it to my sister just before she left Nigeria in '92 and I don't know if she ever received it as she never said. There was guitar, bass and mandolin on it. Well, I was happy with it.
My second mix a year later would probably get me banned from this site, deported and jailed, it was that bad. I have it and no one currently alive will ever hear it. I did give it to a few people in '93 and '94. It even scared some of them. :eek:
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
If nothing else, it's been really fun going through all the old stuff. First it was resurrecting some practice recordings from 2004-2005. I've added track to a few and sent them to a couple of other guys in that band. Now, going through the old albums has been really fun. There are things that I didn't remember having. Yesterday alone I cleaned about 10 albums, and threw them on the turntable. A couple were limited edition Nautilus and Sheffield Direct to Disc albums.

I still have a few of dad's 7" reels of tape. Not sure what's on them. I'm sure they're full of gems!

BTW, Chili:
Gee, you didn't like their selection? I think in 1977 that was #1 for weeks. Plus, they WERE a bunch of 17 year old high school girls. You don't expect them to rip into a choral version of Heart's Barracuda, do ya"? :laughings:
 

famous beagle

Well-known member
What a treat this was to hear. I absolutely love things like this: these homemade recordings from a bygone era. It really is like a little window to the past. I suppose all recordings are, but homemade ones especially affect me because they're so immediate-sounding. It really puts you in the room (IMO). This is especially affecting for me because, being born in 72, I have several vivid memories of hearing that song.

When I bought my first consumer-grade reel to reel several years ago (Sony TC-530), it came with several used tapes. None of them were marked, and it was just so fun to listen through them. There was a some barbershop quarter stuff, a town hall debate, someone reading some poetry, etc. You could tell that none of it was professionally recorded or anything. Nevertheless, the recorder did its job --- i.e., it made a record of the events for posterity --- extremely well.

IMHO, people get hung up on "recording quality" far too much. It's very rare, in my experience, that the recording quality gets in the way of something that I would otherwise have enjoyed. There are a few times when I've thought---"Eh ... maybe that could have been done a little better..." with regards to a recording's EQ or mic position, etc. But, again, that's rarely the fault of the recorder; it's usually the fault of the engineer.

The song "Re: Stacks" by Bon Iver comes to mind. He recorded that on a Macbook in a cabin somewhere. That recording itself sounds fairly flawed to me, especially the guitars. They're boomy and not very clear at all. However, that still didn't stop that song from affecting me greatly the first time I heard it, which was during a very poignant scene in the TV show House.

It's the same reason why, when I listen to Robert Johnson recordings, they can still send chills down my spine today, even though they were recorded nearly 85 years ago. When I listen to those songs, I'm not thinking at all about the recording quality, because I'm immediately sucked in to the performances.

Of course, I understand that they were using the best recording technology they had at the time. And I'm not saying that people shouldn't do that. I'm just saying that I think it's a bit ridiculous when people argue about whether or not you can make "pro" recordings on a budget interface, etc., because the "converters are sh*t" or whatever. Or when they talk about "lossy mp3" formats vs. lossless. LOL

I would gladly pay someone $50 if they could tell a 128 kbps mp3 from a WAV (or other lossless) file 10 times out of 10 in a blind test.

The most important thing has and always will be what's happening in front of the microphone --- not behind it ... especially when you're talking about recording "natural-sounding" performances like a singer-songwriter, a choir, etc. I know that sometimes studio manipulation is part of what defines the "sound" of a record --- i.e., the Beatles, Brian Eno, etc. --- and that's a different bag, obviously.

I guess my overall point is that I think it's funny how people rag on and/or dismiss "consumer-grade" or "prosumer-grade" analog recorders because of the recording quality.

Think about this test: Let's say you have a song in digital wav format and you record it to a (properly calibrated, up to spec) consumer-grade reel to reel or even a Tascam cassette portastudio (again, in great shape). And then you played that recording back on the tape recorder. Do you think in a blind test most people would immediately be able to tell the difference between the original file and the tape? Because if the recording quality is as crappy as most people make it sound, the difference should be utterly obvious, shouldn't it?

I would be willing to bet that many people --- the majority even --- would not get it right 100% of the time. And I'd also be willing to bet that many of the folks who would immediately say "Yes, of course I'd be able to tell!" have probably never even used a cassette 4-track or consumer-grade R2R and are just parroting what they've heard other people say.

I did this test myself when I first got my Sony TC-530 (from 1967). And I hadn't even overhauled the machine (recapped, checked bias, alignment, etc.). All I did was clean the tape path --- maybe demag the heads (I can't remember). In other words, this was just a test I did at the onset to test the machine's functionality to see if I could keep it or needed to return it.

And I couldn't tell the difference between the digital file and the tape ... literally. Now, maybe lots of others have much better hearing than I do, but I doubt it's that much better.

And so my point is, if that's the case, then the recorders are more than doing their job. And any "crappy" sound that comes from these machines in other scenarios is not the fault of the recorder but rather the recordist.


Anyway ... that was a serious digression. But hearing this recording just reminded me of going through those tapes when I got my Sony deck, and that got me thinking about how everyone rags on those consumer decks, and so on.

Thanks so much for sharing this! I really enjoyed it! :)
 

miroslav

Cosmic Cowboy
This is the finale song from the senior class. No EQ, compression or mixing. Pretty much as it happened 43 years ago.

That's cool stuff....being able to step back in time and "you're there" again...hearing it the same way as the day you recorded it. :cool:
I've got my own stash of band tapes and early recording from way back...I just held on to that stuff, even though I never planned to do anything with it...it was just for historic reasons...though sometimes with originals, I can pickup on some recorded ideas I had way back, and now, with more "educated ears", hear some new potential for a song or piece of a song to be reworked.

Do you have any of your own music from way back...or were you pretty much recording others at that time?


I would gladly pay someone $50 if they could tell a 128 kbps mp3 from a WAV (or other lossless) file 10 times out of 10 in a blind test.

Did you want to send me a check...or just PayPal me? :)

[EDIT]

I moved your comments and the rest of my reply to a new thread...so as not to mess up this thread of the OP's topic.

Here: https://homerecording.com/bbs/gener...consumer-gear-vs-pro-gear-405582/#post4542604
 
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spantini

COO of me, inc.
Count me in.. :thumbs up: I liked it too. I get a lot of satisfaction and pleasure from my old band recordings.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
Sadly, the few band practice recordings I had from the late 70s were just on tape reels, and were stored on the lower shelf in the basement when this happened.

The great flood.jpg

That was when the albums were trashed, along with computer games, magazines, Christmas decorations, etc. After about 1981, I had gotten remarried, and pretty much quit playing and recording for nearly 20 years. Things started up again when I bought my AW16G, which was also in its case in the flood, completely underwater. I had to replace the CDROM drive, but the rest of the unit still works fine, along with the Peavey Classic 30 in the right corner, and the 486 tower on the back wall. I had to reglue the bases to the IMF TLS50s. The guitar case on the chair was for my Heritage H157, which was standing in water up to the bridge. After 3 months of drying, I had it refinished by the factory. It way my 50th birthday present to myself.

In case you're wondering, the reason there are 4 computers in the single room is that at the time, I was heavily into network gaming. We had a group that gathered on Saturday nights to play wargames, Diable, Everquest, etc.

Anyway, that's one of the reasons I was so thrilled to hear that record. I figured it was lost.
 

miroslav

Cosmic Cowboy
Aww man...that totally sucks to have your personal things wiped out like that. :(
I don't know what is worse...fire or flood...but in either case, it's hard to look at the aftermath, and see your world destroyed.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
The great thing about that recording is that it sounds exactly like they really sounded like. I've always done pro and amateur choirs and orchestras and that one for a school is very decent - the arrangement is good too - the unison suddenly splitting and that's managed very well but the choir and the conductor/leader. Sure, it's got the characteristics of vinyl - the surface noise and 'feel', but that also paints the period. It would be good to see if it can be cleaned up. I found an old live recording a while back but it's an archive copy made from a random mix of mics on the live boards unused aux outputs. It sounds far worse than that! Good job. I'd definitely see if you can go further - the choir is worth it.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
Gosh, its been a year since I found that choir album! Time sure flies.

Anyway, I was going through stuff that was on my AW16G. I had pulled all the tracks off from my practices, but this one I had forgotten about. One of my best friend's son was in his middle school jazz band, 6th - 8th graders. One night they had a fund raiser at a local club called the Jazz Factory. I think it was 2004 or 2005, and I had my new Studio Projects B3s, and the AW. They asked if I could record the show for the kids. It was a simple setup, two mics set up about 10ft from the band. Don't remember for sure, but I might have tried doing ORTF since I had gotten a bar to use.

They did 10 songs, I ran off about 30 or so CDs for the parents. From what I heard, they loved it. I wonder how many have listened to it since....

This was the 6th number, September. The kids were into it.
 

Attachments

  • September - Meezeek Middle School 6.mp3
    4.7 MB · Views: 0

rob aylestone

Well-known member
I’ve just made somebody very happy. A band that nearly made the big time in the 70s, but two members got cold feet when it came to leaving their jobs, choosing to remain in the local circuit where they still are with loads of member rotation over the years. I found on an old hard drive, their complete record deal done first album. I might have, er, accidentally, run myself a copy of the master, when in the studio, and at some point when I sold my analogue gear, I dumped it to my new Sony F1 digital system, then onto a hard drive, and eventually forgotten. I found it on one of the pile of old drives, searching for something else. I found the original founder of the band, now 70, on Facebook and sent him the link. He’s over the moon. He didn’t get a copy from the record company, and they buried it. He doesn’t even remember some of the songs. The quality is really good too. A very happy find.I also found some terrible recordings I made. I even found in my searches of old material a recording I did of somebody who is now a ‘celebrity’ and I am not allowed to distribute, promote or make it available to anyone for any reason in any territory, in perpetuity, in any medium. That has stitched me up completely. Words from the cease and desist letter. Never liked her! She also hated me in 1996!
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
Finding this old stuff is fun. It's like finding vacations photos from long ago.

One of the things that I regret is that I didn't do a lot of recording when I started playing in bands. These days, everyone has at least cell phone video of their bands. The quality may be suspect, the the memories are wonderful.
 
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