Recording to Tape ( cassette, worth the hassle? )

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AK
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Recording to Tape ( cassette, worth the hassle? )

Post by AK » Sun Mar 20, 2016 1:37 pm

Hey all, been thinkin whether to pick up somethin like a Tascam 4 track to record stuff onto and then record back in the DAW aain but I don't know whether the results are oin to jusify the expense/hassle. I'm thinkin about synth lines, drums, parts etc, not the whole mix.

Thin is, I also have Waves Kramer tape pluin and I'm not sure whether that is authentic enouh to et me the same results and whether I will just be disappointed.

( sorry my 'Jee' note on this laptop doesn't work ) :lol:

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Re: Recording to Tape ( cassette, worth the hassle? )

Post by John Clees » Sun Mar 20, 2016 5:29 pm

interesting approach. worse case you can always sell if you think wasn't worth it.
I used to have a 4 track tascam tape recorder many years ago.
you found a good price for one?

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Re: Recording to Tape ( cassette, worth the hassle? )

Post by AK » Sun Mar 20, 2016 11:15 pm

No, I'm at the thinking about stage at the moment. I watched a production video on legowelt a while back and he did exactly this and I since discovered that others have used them. Unfortunately, I don't know anyone directly in order to ask but I have heard that it's useful when looking for some smearing, and gluing of sounds and parts and that you can get a warm rounder sound. Whether this sound is worth chasing is what I'm trying to establish, in that with plugins like satin and waves Kramer tape, have I already got the means to achieve this type of thing or will real cassette offer something that cannot be replicated in software?

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Re: Recording to Tape ( cassette, worth the hassle? )

Post by 4am » Mon Mar 21, 2016 2:02 pm

My personal tries with tapes were not successful, the result was not worth the hassle, and although the signal was compressed, there was a lack on certain frequencies.
I got much better results with saturation plugins (e.g. the one in Ableton) and loading samples into devices that have a typical 12bit compression like old EMUs.
If you really want to try, then I would suggest trying with a Revox... (Don't know if it is worth the investment).

AK
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Re: Recording to Tape ( cassette, worth the hassle? )

Post by AK » Tue Mar 22, 2016 6:28 am

4am wrote:My personal tries with tapes were not successful, the result was not worth the hassle, and although the signal was compressed, there was a lack on certain frequencies.
I got much better results with saturation plugins (e.g. the one in Ableton) and loading samples into devices that have a typical 12bit compression like old EMUs.
If you really want to try, then I would suggest trying with a Revox... (Don't know if it is worth the investment).
I am aware of the restricted frequency range and it is welcomed, in fact, the 4 track machine I looked at recently on EBay ( I don't even need a 4 track, a single track would suffice ) specified a 40hz to 12.5khz frequency range - although I didn't quite understand this as I thought it would be the recording medium and tape type rather than the machine itself which dictated the bandwidth.....

If you've ever listened to Boards Of Canada stuff, there's a warmth and lo-fi quality to a lot of the synth parts, I also like some Legowelt tracks and I know for certain a lot of his synth lines and mixes get their 'aged character' from a tascam 4 track, basically recording onto the cassette and then recording the tapes output back in the computer.

I've also looked into replicating the effect digitally and for say a synth line ( say some pad chords ) if you restrict high end information and cut off at about 12khz, you immediately start getting near to this vibe already. If you then use mid/side processing to keep any lower end mono and restrict an reverb stereo width, this also helps. But then, once you add subtle saturation, maybe add a sampled layer of genuine tape hiss and pitch modulation ( to simulate wow and flutter ) you can get very very close indeed to a tape style recording. Maybe it's psychological but I am aware that I have a digital recording TRYING to sound 'aged' rather than a genuine 'aged' recording.

What I can't figure out is whether these type of production techniques are equal to doing the real thing, ie: lets say I buy a Tascam 4 track off ebay, set it up and record some stuff. Is it necessarily going to satisfy what I am looking for, or am I already going to get what I need by continuing trying various emulation methods and production tricks?

Shame I cannot find any sounds online where I can hear a live synth line and then the same synth line after it has been recorded to tape. ( I'm not talking about reel to reel stuff btw, specifically, cheaper cassette tape. )

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Re: Recording to Tape ( cassette, worth the hassle? )

Post by AK » Tue Mar 22, 2016 6:33 am



This is kinda what I mean, a lot of roundness, warmth and glued together thing going on.



Not a fan of this track but right at the end, he records to tape and explains that he will re-record it back into the computer. A Tascam 4 track is used here.

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Re: Recording to Tape ( cassette, worth the hassle? )

Post by oblioblioblio » Sat Apr 22, 2017 4:10 am

Tape is interesting. I read somewhere that if tape was deconstructed and compared to digital techniques, it would have a near infinite sample rate, and the sampling clock frequency would have a gaussian distribution (i.e. white noise), because the magnetization is stored by billions of atoms. CDs are 44k samples per second, and the sample time is fixed.

Recording individual elements to tape you could get away with cassette, for a master mix I think you would be better off with a proper 1/4". You can get good deals on them (£500 for a VGC Otari MX5050), but it's a whole world and good tape is £70 a reel new.

I suppose it depends on your personal circumstances, but personally, having done all cassette recording for a few years, I would probably go with digital recording and spend the money instead on good sound sources.

Ekoplekz is all 4 track recorded, and gives a good idea of the cassette sound. Personally, I think they sound terrible when overloaded into clipping, but when driven softly tape certainly does have a certain magic to it, if you don't mind the noise floor (cassette), or can afford the time and maintainence (reel2reel).

One definite positive about tape is that is you are recording onto it you can't just fck around, you know you have to play like you mean it or don't record at all.

AK
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Re: Recording to Tape ( cassette, worth the hassle? )

Post by AK » Mon May 08, 2017 1:59 pm

oblioblioblio wrote:Tape is interesting. I read somewhere that if tape was deconstructed and compared to digital techniques, it would have a near infinite sample rate, and the sampling clock frequency would have a gaussian distribution (i.e. white noise), because the magnetization is stored by billions of atoms. CDs are 44k samples per second, and the sample time is fixed.

Recording individual elements to tape you could get away with cassette, for a master mix I think you would be better off with a proper 1/4". You can get good deals on them (£500 for a VGC Otari MX5050), but it's a whole world and good tape is £70 a reel new.

I suppose it depends on your personal circumstances, but personally, having done all cassette recording for a few years, I would probably go with digital recording and spend the money instead on good sound sources.

Ekoplekz is all 4 track recorded, and gives a good idea of the cassette sound. Personally, I think they sound terrible when overloaded into clipping, but when driven softly tape certainly does have a certain magic to it, if you don't mind the noise floor (cassette), or can afford the time and maintainence (reel2reel).

One definite positive about tape is that is you are recording onto it you can't just fck around, you know you have to play like you mean it or don't record at all.
Hey man, how's it going?

I'm moving home soon so with the extra space it might be something I will delve into, for now, ( limited space ) I started experimenting with a bunch of things just to get a sound I like ( not tape orientainted as such ) but inspired by certain things like that. U-he Satin, Audioease speakerphone ( which is impulse response type stuff for the most part but damn good esp with a VHS type setting I have ), resampling through a hardware sampler ( 32k sampling rate ) and resampling back in via audio interfaces preamps. Other simple things like 10k roll offs and welcomed noise, slow lfo on pitch and whatever else came to mind got me a resulting sound I have been quite happy with and the tendency is to overdo it, so I kinda like the subtle effect and it's something I have been getting into in a roundabout way. I'm not really liking synth sounds right off the synth itself if you know what I mean? So resampling really.

I put the question on a Facebook group and got some good responses but I've since come off there, at least for a while but I tried one interesting thing which was more of a lofi-esque kinda sound which I hadn't even tried and that was to play the sound ( in my case it was a Juno chord ) through loudspeakers, pc speakers, laptop etc into my field recorder capturing the room ambience, additional noise and texture and layer that in with the original. Some slight detune helped there to avoid phasing but got some nice results. I first thought it was a tape/cassette texture I wanted but it kinda grew into trying a fair few things just for tonal interest and to 'age' sounds and move away from a raw synth sound. :)

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