Music Player Network Home Guitar Player Magazine Keyboard Magazine Bass Player Magazine EQ Magazine
Topic Options
#2408462 - 05/03/12 03:26 AM Analog vs. Digital Recording!
Aaron Trumm, NQuit Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/20/05
Posts: 30
Loc: Albuquerque, NM, USA
Hey all - I'm trying to strategize a new recording project that has potentially no budget and I wonder what people's opinions are on something...

Ideally I would love to track to 2" analog and then transfer those to 192k/24b (or higher! smile ) digital for mixdown/editing.

but that may prove impossible - so i'm thinking about how would it work if i had to record digitally first and THEN transfer to analog and back. why that would be possible and not initial tracking is a long story but it involves possible access (in the wrong acoustic space) to a 4 track deck.

i'm trying to figure out if that would give us a kickass result or not. at first i thought no way, you've already lost that beautiful analog "infinite res" capture of the instruments. and the magic is in the machine.

but then i thought hmm - if you capture at high res digital - you've got this very accurate picture. now you can transfer to tape and introduce your nice tape compression and subtle distortion - maybe it would work.

obviously people do this - mastering engineers do tape layback a lot - but i never really heard about people recording to digital and laying back the multitracks. i just can't decide if I think in theory it would be as cool.

anybody have any thoughts or experience with this?

thanks for the discussion!
_________________________
-------------
Aaron Trumm
NQuit
www.nquit.com

Top
#2408484 - 05/03/12 06:23 AM Re: Analog vs. Digital Recording! [Re: Aaron Trumm, NQuit]
Griffinator Moderator Offline
TPS cook & bottle washer
20k Club

Registered: 03/28/02
Posts: 20318
Loc: Lynchburg, VA, USA
Terrible idea to dump clean digital to crappy 1/4" tape. Mastering engineers do tape layback to 1" two-track tape, which is about as clean as tape gets.

Top
#2408487 - 05/03/12 06:32 AM Re: Analog vs. Digital Recording! [Re: Griffinator]
A String Administrator Offline
Admin
10k Club

Registered: 12/18/03
Posts: 11988
Loc: Ontario, Canada
I agree with Griff.

If it's a sound you're after, record digital and add tape compression afterward. If you are a purist, just go with analog.
_________________________
Craig
The String Network Forums
My Music
My Pics

Top
#2408546 - 05/03/12 09:38 AM Re: Analog vs. Digital Recording! [Re: A String]
Aaron Trumm, NQuit Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/20/05
Posts: 30
Loc: Albuquerque, NM, USA
Indeed - wouldn't do it to crappy 1/4" - a friend has a 4 track reel to reel which is I'm not sure which - 1/4" or 1" - so if 1" - may be something to consider. then again - are there 1" FOUR tracks? does that even exist?

also wow what an arduous task to do transfer multitracks one by one or two by two to a 1" 2 track - but could be cool!

A String - dunno how anyone in my financial shape could ever be a purist! *laugh*
_________________________
-------------
Aaron Trumm
NQuit
www.nquit.com

Top
#2408553 - 05/03/12 10:07 AM Re: Analog vs. Digital Recording! [Re: Aaron Trumm, NQuit]
Griffinator Moderator Offline
TPS cook & bottle washer
20k Club

Registered: 03/28/02
Posts: 20318
Loc: Lynchburg, VA, USA
Originally Posted By: Aaron Trumm, NQuit
Indeed - wouldn't do it to crappy 1/4" - a friend has a 4 track reel to reel which is I'm not sure which - 1/4" or 1" - so if 1" - may be something to consider. then again - are there 1" FOUR tracks? does that even exist?

also wow what an arduous task to do transfer multitracks one by one or two by two to a 1" 2 track - but could be cool!

A String - dunno how anyone in my financial shape could ever be a purist! *laugh*


Let's go a bit deeper, shall we?

There is such a thing as a 1" four-track tape - it's the same type that ME's use in two-track mode to dump for analog mastering.

However, unless your friend either used to work for, used to run, or bought out a closed up recording studio, it's highly unlikely his is anything but the garden-variety 1/4" consumer four-track reel decks that exist in abundance out there. I own one of these myself, and I use it for one application only: To record drums, which is where that tape compression is most beneficial and the noise floor is more manageable with a standard hiss removal plug.

Even if you had a great 2-track or 4-track reel to reel, you couldn't accomplish what you're intending to do.

Why? Tape drift. Even if you meticulously printed timecode to every single reel of tape you used, there is just no way to guarantee that your dump from the tape to the DAW would result in tracks that would sync perfectly in the DAW, because the tape speed is not going to be 100% perfectly consistent throughout the process. Tape speed drifts; it's the nature of the beast. This is why the only thing I ever track to tape and then dump is the drums, because it's a single pass, no punching in and out, and the drums become the foundation upon which you can lay all the other tracks - so any drift becomes part of the overall composition.

Top
#2408560 - 05/03/12 10:23 AM Re: Analog vs. Digital Recording! [Re: Griffinator]
Aaron Trumm, NQuit Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/20/05
Posts: 30
Loc: Albuquerque, NM, USA
oh man that's a great point about tape drift.

that is a GREAT point. at first i was going to say oh i'll just line them up in the daw later - but no way because the variable tape speed will cause the tracks to be different actual TEMPOS

holy crap. GREAT point man.

hmm. the only conceivably good way to do it then would be to hire a good studio do to the transfer in one pass - well two - because back again to the DAW.

what you think about THAT? smile i think that would be more expensive than I want - BUT - probably way cheaper than actually tracking in there.

MAN. tape drift. blast from the damn past there. lol
_________________________
-------------
Aaron Trumm
NQuit
www.nquit.com

Top
#2408575 - 05/03/12 10:48 AM Re: Analog vs. Digital Recording! [Re: Aaron Trumm, NQuit]
Griffinator Moderator Offline
TPS cook & bottle washer
20k Club

Registered: 03/28/02
Posts: 20318
Loc: Lynchburg, VA, USA
If you're not in the budget range for a 24-track 2" tape deck, then the only other way to get it done is this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bswx5zrFRl0&feature=channel
(and part 2)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-II32AvVd8&feature=relmfu

It's a bit of a Goldberg machine, but it will get the job done.

And let me re-emphasize - the amount of extra noise coming from a consumer-level deck is going to erase any gains you make from tape compression if you track everything this way, because the noise is multiplicative.

*edit*

Otherwise, yeah, you could hire a studio with a 24-track to do it for you, but not only are you facing the expense of the transfers, but also the need to ensure that they have whatever DAW software you use so the project is compatible with their setup.

Top
#2408610 - 05/03/12 12:13 PM Re: Analog vs. Digital Recording! [Re: Griffinator]
Aaron Trumm, NQuit Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/20/05
Posts: 30
Loc: Albuquerque, NM, USA
interesting. i'm not sure i get the "repro" mode thing - it's actually reproducing the signal that's on the TAPE somehow simultaneously to it getting recorded onto the tape? wha?? wha? why? wha? huh??

and yeah definitely i get ya about consumer decks. would even consider it. ha that reminds me i guess I HAVE done analog recording - back in 90 when I was a 14 year old with a four track cassette machine! smile

i'm not worried even a little bit about compatible DAW part of it. Once we get back to 1s and 0s we ARE in my realm of expert badassery - MUHAHAHA!!! smile


**EDIT**

oh - yes yes I do get the repro concept. wow that is actually quite slick.


Edited by Aaron Trumm, NQuit (05/03/12 12:24 PM)
_________________________
-------------
Aaron Trumm
NQuit
www.nquit.com

Top
#2408708 - 05/03/12 03:52 PM Re: Analog vs. Digital Recording! [Re: Aaron Trumm, NQuit]
audiofreek Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 05/09/01
Posts: 782
Loc: Prince George,CANADA
I think analog benefits drums,bass and electric guitars.But you can't get the tape compression you want on idividual sources by doing a stereo analog master.I think 1/2" 2 track at 15ips sounds pretty good for a master,and can give you analog warmth,and presence,but a master is no time to be slamming the signal on tape.You want it hot to achieve good signal to noise,but as little distortion as possible.
I have done a 16 track to 1" Tape D/A A/D on a Tascam MS16 with no noise reduction engaged.We used the onboard converters on a digi001,and the converters an a Panasonic DA7.It included drums,bass,electric guitar,but no vocals.We tracked the vocals after it was back in Pro tools.The drums sounded bigger with better attack,the bass sounded rounder,and more present,Guitars did not improve a whole lot,perhaps it was because they were already super saturated.I know the noise floor increased,but the client happily paid the $250.00 price tag for the tape and the time.
I agree with Griff,the dump has to be made simultaneously.

Top
#2408738 - 05/03/12 05:01 PM Re: Analog vs. Digital Recording! [Re: audiofreek]
Aaron Trumm, NQuit Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/20/05
Posts: 30
Loc: Albuquerque, NM, USA
interesting, audiofreek.

i had an email conversation a little bit ago with a mastering engineer (who I don't know from Adam smile ) who regularly does multitrack laybacks but with mastering stems. he said he felt like the extra conversion BACK to the DAW loses some of the tape magic and usually keeps it in the analog domain after the first dump.

i hadn't thought about it from that angle - because why wouldn't people talk about losing the magic on the dump to DAW when they've recorded to tape first?

this is a pretty interesting thread to me when we get into the detail of it.

thanks for the responses guys!
_________________________
-------------
Aaron Trumm
NQuit
www.nquit.com

Top
#2408807 - 05/04/12 02:30 AM Re: Analog vs. Digital Recording! [Re: Aaron Trumm, NQuit]
audiofreek Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 05/09/01
Posts: 782
Loc: Prince George,CANADA
Yes,if you have the hardware to process the audio in the analog domain then staying analog is the best option.I guess you could print the effects from the plug-ins,especially any hi frequency sweetening if you are lacking good limiters,EQs,reverbs etc....
The AD DA AD xtra coversion is a no no in pro studios,but you really will not find out what it will sound like until you try it.
Analog summing into a multi track tape,then back to 2 track digtal,printing the processing and panning to master busses would be the way to go in my opinion.As long as you have a great set of ADDA converters,fresh tape a well maintained pro format tape machine,and a really good mixer to do the summing.Then you get the benefit of the sound tape and analog summing.
Make sure you get it right on the first pass to tape,as you will lose some of the tapes performance if you have to erase and re-record,unless you use a bulk eraser,and even then you may have some oxide shed.(There is another benefit of digital recording first,never having to record over the last take.)
All that being said,I think analog tape modeling plugs have come a long way.Waves has some interesting new wares.I use the PSP Vintage Warmer occationaly with pretty satisfactory results.I would not go as far as to say it sounds just like analog tape and tube warmth,but it sounds really good on some sources.


Edited by audiofreek (05/04/12 02:55 AM)

Top
#2409628 - 05/07/12 02:53 PM Re: Analog vs. Digital Recording! [Re: audiofreek]
Aaron Trumm, NQuit Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/20/05
Posts: 30
Loc: Albuquerque, NM, USA
I'm so resistant to plugin versions of kickass analog gear...and I don't know why. Probably I just don't trust my ears (which is an odd thing to say after 18 years doing this)

boy audiofreek you were up late

yes I'm really attracted to NOT tracking to tape directly because of being able to do multiple takes and comp 'em together and stuff. that's sort of my bread and butter.

AND I'm pretty sure our budget on this next project won't allow me to NOT track a lot in the home studio. Hmm. But I did intend to hand the mix sessions off to a good pro anyway. I might could go the route of transferring to analog and staying there for mix. Would do all edits first.

Although I have to say the idea of a badass 8 track 1" at home and doing the repro head realtime method is a mouth watering idea... smile smile

i suppose I'll check out some of these plugins too...*sigh* wink
_________________________
-------------
Aaron Trumm
NQuit
www.nquit.com

Top
#2409641 - 05/07/12 03:51 PM Re: Analog vs. Digital Recording! [Re: Aaron Trumm, NQuit]
audiofreek Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 05/09/01
Posts: 782
Loc: Prince George,CANADA
The play Back head is there for a purpose,it is alignied,and biased for playback,thus has better HF response.The repro/sync head is the record head,it is in record mode while monitoring and creates eddy currents that supress HF and although you must monitor off of that head while tracking and over dubbing.If you are tracking to digital,there is no need to use the repro head once all of the material has been transfered to tape.

Top
#2451962 - 11/23/12 02:50 PM Re: Analog vs. Digital Recording! [Re: Griffinator]
JeffLearman Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 08/09/04
Posts: 8693
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Originally Posted By: Griffinator
...you could hire a studio with a 24-track to do it for you, but not only are you facing the expense of the transfers, but also the need to ensure that they have whatever DAW software you use so the project is compatible with their setup.
They don't need the same DAW. If you provide all full-length tracks as .wav or AIFF files, and they can't handle it, then they're not pros. You have to know how to make full-length tracks, regardless of what punch-ins or edits you've done, but that shouldn't be hard with any decent DAW.

Griff is definitely correct, that it's all-or-none, and all in one shot. You can't do just some of the tracks, or do them a few at a time. But I think you got that point. :-)

Top


Moderator:  Griffinator, Griffinator