Syncing reel to reel with DAW?

samth3mancgp

New member
I have read about SMPTE and other things used to connect a reel to reel to a DAW in EQ magazine and I just saw something about it in another thread here.

I'm not planning on doing this (unless it is easy and can be done with any recorder ;) probably not.. lol) but I am still very curious about it.

Is there a special sort of interface that hooks up to the computer that reads timecode off of one of the tracks on the tape? Is the audio recorded onto the tape and onto the DAW? Are things like arming tracks for record also controlled from the DAW? Is it possible to do automated mixing like this, or is that a completely different subject?

I am most curious!
 

sweetbeats

Reel deep thoughts...
Sorry for the blank brain...what deck are you running? A 38? 80-8? getting confused...let's start there and that way there will be a practical reference and then we can talk about what other decks can do and how that works.

But in a basic sense any deck can be sync'ed to a DAW, bu not all can be slaved. In order to be the slave in the relationship the deck has to have a capstan motor that will respond to external speed control.

And automated track arming and stuff like that...I believe you won't find features like that.

I have a TimeLine Micro Lynx synchronizer which can manage 3 decks and a MTC device...any one device can be the master. So, like with my current gear my Tascam BR-20T halftrack (with center timecode track) can be controlled externally. The timecode track (which would normally be the last track on a multitrack deck) would have SMPTE on it and if I were to sync it to my DAW, the DAW would be master and output MIDI Timecode (MTC) to the Micro Lynx. The Micro Lynx then knows how to listen to the MTC and the SMPTE and then tell the BR-20T capstan what to do to stay locked to the DAW as a result of comparing the two code streams. I have a remote control for the DAW (I use a Yamaha 01X). When I hit STOP on the DAW controller to stop the DAW "transport" the MTC stops outputting and the Micro Lynx knows to stop the BR-20T...if I hit FFWD on the DAW controller the Micro Lynx knows to tell the BR-20T to do the same.

So there's the opener.

Your turn...

-EDIT

3340S...you're running the 3340S.

So that can only be master which means your DAW is going to be locked not to your soundcard or digital interface's digital clock, but essentially to the capstan motor in the deck and all the little variations that go along with hat. Many do it that way...It works...its cheaper and easier, BUT it is fundamentally flawed IMO which is why I don't like to do it that way where a DAW is concerned...every little fluctuation will require the DAW to add or subtract bits of info to your digital tracks...
 

themaddog

Rockin' & Rollin'
-EDIT

3340S...you're running the 3340S.

So that can only be master which means your DAW is going to be locked not to your soundcard or digital interface's digital clock, but essentially to the capstan motor in the deck and all the little variations that go along with hat. Many do it that way...It works...its cheaper and easier, BUT it is fundamentally flawed IMO which is why I don't like to do it that way where a DAW is concerned...every little fluctuation will require the DAW to add or subtract bits of info to your digital tracks...

Sweetbeats is right, having the DAW act as the master is technically superior to having the tape machine play master. That being said, I have synced with the tape deck as master, and haven't noticed any audible irregularities. The convenience factor to running the tape deck as master is the DAW only take about a second to sync up, where as when the computer is master it can take some time for the tape machine to match up with the computer.

The 3340S is a 4 track machine and you'll have to sacrifice one of your tracks in order to have a SMTPE timecode track that the DAW can sync to. So,. with only 4 tracks on your machine, if you find that you only ever need an extra track or two to use, it might not be worth it to run such a hybrid setup; however, in an 8 track setup, sacrificing 1 track to gain an additional 2 or 3 makes a bit more sense to me.

As Sweetbeats pointed out, with your current machine the DAW would have to be the slave. The only equipment you would need is a DAW that can slave to MIDI time code (MTC) and a SMPTE to MTC sync/converter box, like the JL Cooper PPS-2 or the Tascam MTS-1000 MIDIizer.

-MD
 

samth3mancgp

New member
Awesome

Wow I looked up those units they don't seem too terrible expensive! I always thought this kind of setup was incredibly difficult and confusing.

I do have a 3340S, but I also have an 80-8 which i would be using with a box like that. Having 7 tracks to use instead of 3 after the timecode is a lot better. Could an 80-8 be setup as slave to the DAW which sweetbeats said was better? I know that the 80-8 did have a Tascam "Varispeed controller" that you could get with it.

Still some other questions.. :confused:

-Can this be done with ProTools M-powered? I Have seen something about MTC in the Peripherals setup where I setup my Project Mix I/O as Control Surface.

-Can Multiple Machines be synced? And do they have to be the same Make/Model?

-Does the audio in a setup like this record to just the tape, Or to ProTools AND the tape? which of the mentioned boxes would be the best deal. The JL Cooper one seems the simplest but dosent have many features. The Tascam one seems like a control surface too? Unless the controls on the Tascam one can be used with the 80-8 I may not need anything like that because I already have the control surface on the Project Mix.

Being able to sync analog with ProTools would be a very impressive thing to have. Nobody I know who record bands as a hobby around here has any analog equipment (except maybe a cassette portastudio). Most people I work with want to work digital because they don't understand analog or think it will sound "old". Bridging the gap might give me a chance to try some larger analog recordings with people. Having a Sync with a DAW could also give me much more precise punch in points and things like that. I didn't think this would be something I would be able to do, but those boxes are not that expensive! :)

Edit: I just found This Thread. It seemed to answer some questions about some of those boxes. The Lynx and The Tascam box will let me slave the machine to ProTools which is more accurate, the JLCooper thing is the alternative where I slave ProTools to the machine I think.
 

themaddog

Rockin' & Rollin'
Wow I looked up those units they don't seem too terrible expensive! I always thought this kind of setup was incredibly difficult and confusing.

I do have a 3340S, but I also have an 80-8 which i would be using with a box like that. Having 7 tracks to use instead of 3 after the timecode is a lot better. Could an 80-8 be setup as slave to the DAW which sweetbeats said was better? I know that the 80-8 did have a Tascam "Varispeed controller" that you could get with it.

Still some other questions.. :confused:

-Can this be done with ProTools M-powered? I Have seen something about MTC in the Peripherals setup where I setup my Project Mix I/O as Control Surface.

-Can Multiple Machines be synced? And do they have to be the same Make/Model?

-Does the audio in a setup like this record to just the tape, Or to ProTools AND the tape? which of the mentioned boxes would be the best deal. The JL Cooper one seems the simplest but dosent have many features. The Tascam one seems like a control surface too? Unless the controls on the Tascam one can be used with the 80-8 I may not need anything like that because I already have the control surface on the Project Mix.

Being able to sync analog with ProTools would be a very impressive thing to have. Nobody I know who record bands as a hobby around here has any analog equipment (except maybe a cassette portastudio). Most people I work with want to work digital because they don't understand analog or think it will sound "old". Bridging the gap might give me a chance to try some larger analog recordings with people. Having a Sync with a DAW could also give me much more precise punch in points and things like that. I didn't think this would be something I would be able to do, but those boxes are not that expensive! :)

1-I think the 80-8 could be a slave, but I've never handled that kind of connection. I think it's possible through the parallel interface, which would require making your own special cables, and a more expensive sync box than the JL Cooper. I believe it would require a Tascam MIDIizer and another piece of hardware, which I think is the Tascam IF/1000, but I could be remembering the number incorrectly.

2-Any machine (digital or analog) can be a master, but you're limited to what recorders can be slaves. Digital recorders tend to be easier to set up as slaves because they are random access and most accept and can slave to incoming MTC. On the other hand, getting an analog machine to slave can be a pain, because it can only replay the music linearly (unlike a digital recorder with a hard drive), only certain machines are capable of it (to varying degrees) and it requires special cabling. In either case, the master machine (even if it's digital) will have a SMPTE track recorded. If the digital machine is master, there is no translating the SMPTE to MTC; the tape machine, through it's sync box, will react to the computer's directions. In a scenario in which a tape machine is master, SMPTE can be coverted to MTC, and no tracks are actually taken up on the DAW. As far as I know, MTC can not be converted back to SMPTE.

3-Multiple tape machines can be synced. In terms of Tascam machines, the latest series of machines with serial inputs (called Accessory 2) are the easiest to sync. This series of machines includes the TSR-8, MSR-16, MSR-24, 238, and 688 (I've omitted listing machines with 4 or fewer tracks). With a Tascam MIDIizer, and the appropriate Accessory 2 cables, one could fairly easily sync a TSR-8 and MSR-24, and still have a computer slave using MTC.

The Accessory 2 cables are absolutely necessary for the slaving tape machine of the above mentioned series. Any of the machines I've listed above could easily slave to an 80-8, so long as the appropriate sync box was being used. However, in a set up with two of the above mentioned machines and 2 Accessory 2 cables, when the master machine is directed to rewind or fast-forward, the slave machine is directed to do the same. In this way, both machines will always be able to playback and record at the same time. I've never been able to accomplish this because I only have a single Accessory 2 cable.

4-About precision and punch-ins: SMPTE is a time code that divides up each second of time into 30 frames. This offers a very high level of precision, and even without a computer or DAW, this can be exploited using a sync track, an Accessory 2 cable, a capable machine, and a Tascam MIDIizer.



In my own opinion, it's very easy and fairly inexpensive to slave a DAW to a tape machine, particularly if you have a DAW that you are familiar with and enjoy using. If you're at all interested in this area of audio technology, I recommended experimenting at first with having the tape machine act as the master, because it only requires (in addition to the sync box) a standard audio cable and an inexpensive MIDI cable. If you are not satisfied with how the computer is slaving to the tape machine, and you still really want to run this kind of hybrid setup, then at that time it would be worth it for you to look into constructing your own cables and assembling the appropriate hardware.

-MD
 

samth3mancgp

New member
Sounds cool! I might look into either a used Lynx box or Tascam Midiizer thing since they are the ones that can go both ways. (Where they can be setup so the tape is running as master or as slave.) The setup with Tape as Master seems incredibly easy. As easy as setting up a MIDI controller. I'll do Tape as master first and come back at some point to discuss using DAW as master sometime later.

I'm probably going to start a new thread about noise reduction units as they are first priority especially for the 3340. The 80-8 has less hiss, but I have also spent some time calibrating that and got new tape for it.

DAW as master seems much more difficult because of the special connectors used to vary the speed of the capstan among other things like having the ability to sync up multiple machines. They would have to be wired special to start and stop at the same time?
 

jjones1700

Learning, always learning
Okay, I don't mean to hijack the topic, but it's along the same line. How would I slave the TSR-8 to the computer? MTS-1000? I figure the TSR-8 is modern enough to be controlled in a similar manner to what Cory was saying. Am I wrong?
 

samth3mancgp

New member
3-Multiple tape machines can be synced. In terms of Tascam machines, the latest series of machines with serial inputs (called Accessory 2) are the easiest to sync. This series of machines includes the TSR-8, MSR-16, MSR-24, 238, and 688 (I've omitted listing machines with 4 or fewer tracks). With a Tascam MIDIizer, and the appropriate Accessory 2 cables, one could fairly easily sync a TSR-8 and MSR-24, and still have a computer slave using MTC.


-MD

Okay, I don't mean to hijack the topic, but it's along the same line. How would I slave the TSR-8 to the computer? MTS-1000? I figure the TSR-8 is modern enough to be controlled in a similar manner to what Cory was saying. Am I wrong?

According to mad dog you should have very little trouble getting your TSR-8 hooked up as a slave to the DAW since it has the serial connections.

I will probably have much more trouble with my 80-8. It has the port for my remote control but I don't think it is the same thing as the serial ports.
 
Last edited:

themaddog

Rockin' & Rollin'
According to mad dog you should have very little trouble getting your TSR-8 hooked up as a slave to the DAW since it has the serial connections.

I will probably have much more trouble with my 80-8. It has the port for my remote control but I don't think it is the same thing as the serial ports.

You will need a Tascam MIDIizer (not familiar with other sync boxes, but others can do it) and an Accessory 2 cable. The Accessory 2 cable can be a real pain to come by, although it is possible to make one; I just never have.

The other thing is, when your tape deck is a slave to the computer, you have to wait for the tape deck to sync up. Let's say you want the song to start at 2:00 in. You hit play on the computer for a second, and the sync box drives the tape machine to fast forward or rewind to the specific point. When the tape machine is close to or at 2:00, you can hit play again on the computer and it will synchronize within a few seconds. The downside is you're always going to have to follow this procedure every time you want to play back or record.

-MD
 

sweetbeats

Reel deep thoughts...
IMO I wouldn't bother trying to setup an 80-8 as slave...you'll have to have the more rare DC servo capstan motor in it...most AFAIK were AC...and even if it does have the DC motor, interfacing it will be a struggle. The advantage to the DC motor at the time was its ability to be controled by the VS-88 varispeed unit, but you aren't going to find "brown 'n' serve" info on controlling the DC capstan by a sync box...and there will be no other transport control. You'll still hae to manually shuttle the transport. This is the same thing I'll be dealing with on my Ampex MM-1000.

Check and see if Protools M-Powered will clock to incoming MTC...

Does the MIDIizer sync MTC and SMPTE or is it a SMPTE-only box?

Add the BR-20 to that list of serial decks...

As far as recording on the computer at the sam time as the analog deck, you record what you want wherever you want...the idea with sync is that you get two recorders to stay locked up as one.

The TSR-8 is fully capable of comprehensive transport functions as a slave machine.

The number of transports in a sync relationship depends on the sync box. I can slave three transports to MTC with my Micro Lynx...this is not common (nor of much use to me).
 

jpmorris

Tape Wolf
IMO I wouldn't bother trying to setup an 80-8 as slave...you'll have to have the more rare DC servo capstan motor in it...most AFAIK were AC...and even if it does have the DC motor, interfacing it will be a struggle.

If you know how to design your own motor control circuits, then yeah, you could do it, maybe even with the AC version if you made your own frequency generator. Otherwise, forget it ;)
 
P

pianodano

Guest
As far as I know, MTC can not be converted "back" to SMPTE.


-MD

I wonder exactly what "back" means in your sentence, but a Microlynx handles the job with no problem.

So does a Midiman Syncman.

Danny
 

samth3mancgp

New member
Ok, I found a MIDIman Syncman box for dirt cheap on eBay, $50? dosent seem to bad. It seems like it has the same simple capabilities as the JLcooper one that will let me slave protools to the tape machine.

As sweetbeats said, The timecode just synchronizes the tape machine and protools together so in essence I get 24 total tracks that I can use to record onto 16 digital, 8 analog that are both in sync. I can pick and choose which one I want to record what on.

However, I will not be able to lock to the click track in protools for good punch ins and stuff like that that because protools is slave to the machine. Since the box can only read the SMPTE off of the machine, and then turn it into MTC hitting play or record in protools will have no effect on the machine. All play and record functions have to be done by the machine. Is this mostly correct? haha.
 

themaddog

Rockin' & Rollin'
Does the MIDIizer sync MTC and SMPTE or is it a SMPTE-only box?

The MIDIizer can only send out MTC. It can't take MTC and convert it to SMPTE for tape decks. So, if you want a tape machine to slave to a DAW, you have to sacrifice a track and a channel of audio so that the MIDIizer can listen to a track of actual SMPTE.

-MD
 

samth3mancgp

New member
Hey I found this old MIDIMAN box on eBay and I wanted to run it by the people here before I go ahead and get it. would this be able to do the Tape Master, Daw Slave setup properly?
 

LUNE

...a pieds joints
If you're using a mac I think you can use the software "SMPTE Reader" instead of hardware. I think it might be 'freeware' now. from searching I get the impression there's nothing like this for PC though (which slightly surprises me), but if anyone knows of something, please post for us!:)
 

Dan Matthew

New member
Syncing an 80-8 to DAW

I have an old gadget labs card with Samplitude Sequoia on XP, an 80-8, and a Midiman Syncman pro (new to me). I don't have the manual for the Midiman. I want to stripe channel 8 on the 80-8 and sync it to the DAW through the MIDI ports on the gadget labs card to get 14 or 15 tracks with 6 or 7 analog and the 8 on the Gadget Labs card. I don't know how to stripe the tape (SMPTE I think) or how to use the Midiman to generate MTC (I think) and record with this hopefully fun set up. Please render any guidance that you can.
 

jpmorris

Tape Wolf
I have an old gadget labs card with Samplitude Sequoia on XP, an 80-8, and a Midiman Syncman pro (new to me). I don't have the manual for the Midiman. I want to stripe channel 8 on the 80-8 and sync it to the DAW through the MIDI ports on the gadget labs card to get 14 or 15 tracks with 6 or 7 analog and the 8 on the Gadget Labs card. I don't know how to stripe the tape (SMPTE I think) or how to use the Midiman to generate MTC (I think) and record with this hopefully fun set up. Please render any guidance that you can.

Well, the 80-8 cannot chase the DAW unless you redesign the capstan motor system, even if it could, the Syncman wouldn't be able to control it. So the DAW will have to follow the tape deck.

You need to get the DAW to chase timecode and how that is done depends on the DAW. Many modern DAWs can chase and generate timecode directly via the audio interface, which would not require the Syncman.

Otherwise, you'll have to find a manual for that device online and figure out how to make it work. You'll need to hook the Syncman up to channel 8 of the multitrack, and have the MIDI out from the Syncman go to a MIDI in on the computer, and get the sequencer to chase that as an MTC timecode source.

Before recording, you'd stripe track 8 of the tape with a timecode generated by the Syncman (or the DAW if it can handle timecode directly). When you play back the tape with the DAW set to chase timecode on track it, it should then be synced with the tape deck. It may take a few seconds to achieve a lock so leave a suitable gap at the start of the project before the song starts.
 
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