Recording Through a Tape Machine

Joyo

New member
Hi, I’ve been experimenting with different ways to integrate my Tascam 38 into my home studio and I’ve tried a few different ways. From recording first into a daw, then bouncing onto tape and the reverse, recording onto tape then bouncing into a daw. Though I had seen somewhere of a more efficient way of doing the latter which involves just recording through the tape machine.
Obviously theres quite a few potential latency issues but the thing I’m most concerned with is what head to monitor. My 38 has the option to monitor input, Repro and Sync As far as I know input doesn’t travel through the tape just the machine itself so wouldn’t get the ‘tape sound’. Repro I know definitely has the audio going through the tape but sync I wasn’t as sure. Recording through the sync function would eliminate a lot of the latency problems but would the audio passing through the tape, specifically the live audio input.
Thanks, Jo
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
You have choices - what exactly do you want to do? Use the machine for what it was designed for or just use it to add the mysterious analogue tape flavour? If the idea is to do the clever stuff in the DAW - the choice gets more down to you. You could do the entire thing in the mix, then transfer the mix to the tape and then record it back in. Or you could do this for selected tracks and deal with the realigning back in the DAW, or you could set up an output from the DAW, feed that to the tape, select off tape monitoring and then feed that back to the DAW on another channel, and with some clicks and patience set up a time shift to output this track early, so when it arrives back, treated, it's back in time.

I'm not into the reel to reel thing myself, but I respect those that are. They find it worthwhile - so if I was doing it, I suspect I'd just do it on the tracks that need it - and in Cubase, what I use, I'd just add in the time advancement by trial and error and probably do it with clicks, tweaking till they align, then using that mS advancement figure for tracks that need it to compensate for the tape delay between rec and replay heads.
 

38869420

Member
I’m currently working on a project where I’m sub mixing songs recorded into Logic Pro down to my 388 then mixing down to a stereo file back into logic. Definitely adds a tonne of vibe but I prefer the workflow of recording to tape first. Just a preface as I’ve been thinking a lot about this kinda stuff. I don’t have the heads to record thru the tape live, but I also think you should just record to tape first then bounce those tracks out to your DAW. Then you get a chance to add some eq and do a bit of a mix before getting the stems into your daw.
 

jpmorris

Tape Wolf
Hi, I’ve been experimenting with different ways to integrate my Tascam 38 into my home studio and I’ve tried a few different ways. From recording first into a daw, then bouncing onto tape and the reverse, recording onto tape then bouncing into a daw. Though I had seen somewhere of a more efficient way of doing the latter which involves just recording through the tape machine.
Obviously theres quite a few potential latency issues but the thing I’m most concerned with is what head to monitor. My 38 has the option to monitor input, Repro and Sync As far as I know input doesn’t travel through the tape just the machine itself so wouldn’t get the ‘tape sound’. Repro I know definitely has the audio going through the tape but sync I wasn’t as sure. Recording through the sync function would eliminate a lot of the latency problems but would the audio passing through the tape, specifically the live audio input.
Thanks, Jo
You'll have to use Repro monitoring. In Sync mode, the tracks which are playing back will come off tape so that you can hear the rest of the song while overdubbing. The tracks which are being recorded, you'll be hearing the original input before it reaches the tape.
 

RRuskin

Rick Ruskin
You'll have to use Repro monitoring. In Sync mode, the tracks which are playing back will come off tape so that you can hear the rest of the song while overdubbing. The tracks which are being recorded, you'll be hearing the original input before it reaches the tape.
The specs for the play & record/sync heads are identical. The play head is there for alignment purposes more than anything else. Once the machine is properly set up, all work is supposed to be done from the record/sync head stack. In addition, recording new material while monitoring in play will result in the new being out of sync with the prerecorded material.
 

bouldersoundguy

<div><p>&nbsp;</p></div>
The delay imparted by monitoring from the play head should be extremely consistent and quantifiable. Measure it and keep that value handy. So if you want to record the the DAW then bounce through the tape, just shift the resulting tracks by that value.
 

RRuskin

Rick Ruskin
The delay imparted by monitoring from the play head should be extremely consistent and quantifiable. Measure it and keep that value handy. So if you want to record the the DAW then bounce through the tape, just shift the resulting tracks by that value.
Why go through all that when you can just do overdubs to tape and then transfer it all to DAW?
 

bouldersoundguy

<div><p>&nbsp;</p></div>
Why go through all that when you can just do overdubs to tape and then transfer it all to DAW?
Maybe you want that tape sound on some tracks and not others. Maybe you want to experiment with the sound of pushing the tape harder without the risk of spoiling a take by going too far. Maybe you only decide to add the tape sound after you've recorded a dozen tracks. Maybe you want to see how the tape sound affects a whole drum bus.
 

bouldersoundguy

<div><p>&nbsp;</p></div>
I agree. I'm not judging whether it makes any sense to use a Tascam 388 at all, I'm just addressing the technical questions of how one might do it. If it were me, I'd just record to the DAW. If I wanted tape vibe, I'd try out some tape emulation plugins. If I really wanted tape vibe, I'd use a large format tape machine, something with wider, faster tape.
 

Chilljam

transitional phase
Maybe you want that tape sound on some tracks and not others. Maybe you want to experiment with the sound of pushing the tape harder without the risk of spoiling a take by going too far. Maybe you only decide to add the tape sound after you've recorded a dozen tracks. Maybe you want to see how the tape sound affects a whole drum bus.
Also a very excellent way of saving money on tape and machine costs.

Multitracking to a 16/24 track 2" machine then dumping all the individual tracks to DAW is essentially the equivalent of recording through a pro 1/4" 2 track machine like a Revox or Otari and you save bucket loads on tape.
 
Top