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Thread: Using 4 track for live sound? crazy idea

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    Using 4 track for live sound? crazy idea

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    My band loves the distorted and exciting sound you get when driving the tape too hard, especially on the drums. You can never get that sound live tho. I was wondering if it would be possible to run some mics (maybe just one condeser near the kit) into the 4 track and then out to the mixer and sneaking that in with the clean signals for a bit of excitement. I know some people use them for guitar distortion but I never heard of anybody doing this. Would there be a delay in a bad way? Anybody have any tips or tricks?

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    Arrow It depends on which 4-track.

    You can't do tape saturation, real-time, with a Portastudio as the saturation throughput medium, [efx-box], due to it's 2-head design. If you want to record directly to tape that way, then it's okay, but you can't read back that tape signal in real time, on any 2-head deck.

    If you have a 3-head deck, cassette or open reel recorder, then this tape saturation technique is feasible, but you will have a delay in the line to deal with.

    The comment about other users touting how they used a [4-tracker/Portastudio?] to get real time guitar distortion has me thinking they were simply overdriving the mixer channels really hard, more than they were using "tape compression". That is, unless they were talking about getting that sound directly to tape, and not talking about using it as a tape compression throughput-efx unit.

    I can't tell from the outset which 4-track you're referring to, which makes a difference in the answer, but hopefully that covers it.

    Anyway, whatever you're trying to achieve, it couldn't hurt to try. I may not be understanding your question or details.

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    If you are trying to achieve this distortion effect on the drum kit in a live situation to a PA system, you might just want to try creating a two channel mix of the drums on your PA board and insert a couple of distortion pedals as an insert on the drum's sub mix and use a mild distortion setting that will simulate the overdriven tape effect to some degree of realism.

    You can't do it with any form of a real tape recorder live as there will always be a delay on a three head tape system which portastudios do not have anyway.

    About the only way to do this live with a real tape deck is to get a reel to reel deck that could run at 30 ips or better and it must be a three head deck so that you can monitor it off the repro head live. This method will still yield a slight delay effect but it shouldn't be too bad to work with as we would only be talking about a few milli-seconds of delay.

    Are you guys making enough from your live gigs to justify this expense? If not; try the distortion pedal method or a couple of POD's on a mild setting.

    Cheers!

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    Thanks for the replys and suggestions. You've made me realise that I have an old Echoplex that would probably work. I could set it for almost no delay and hit the input hard . That would be a lot cheaper than a real tape machine. We are not making much live of course. You can check us out at www.super400.com if you like. I guess I could also take a condeser and put it in front of the kick drum where it would get that mostly and a bit of everything else and put it through a guitar distortion (maybe a tube screamer) and into it's own channel and just sneak it in the mix a bit?

  5. #5
    Beck Guest
    An inexpensive compressor, such as the Alesis Nano Compressor can give you the effect you describe. I've also heard of people using the Rockman Sustainor to great effect for just this purpose. This supports FM's recommendation of using a POD.

    The Echoplex is an interesting idea, but since the saturated sound will be delayed behind the unprocessed sound it might not quite work the way you want. Could be an interesting effect in its own right though.


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    Cassettes can definetly saturate, but usually the preamps start to cut out way before it.
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