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Author Topic: Is 1/4 inch good enough for mastering?  (Read 9875 times)

Werewolf10

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Is 1/4 inch good enough for mastering?
« on: January 28, 2006, 02:53:16 pm »

I currently work with digital.  I track with Lynx converters and would like to start mixing that down to 2 track reel to reel.  Unfortunatly it's hard to find 1/2 inch two tracks.  Would a Otari Mx5050 or Tascam BR20 at 15ips be suitable for mixdowns?  Let me add that my recordings sound "OK" in professional terms. This is my home studio.  Also, is there a way to bypass those built in preamps on those tape machines? I just know they must add noise, I can't imagine them having an exceptable noise floor.  

Sorry guys im 24, im a digital baby:)
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electrical

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Re: Is 1/4 inch good enough for mastering?
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2006, 03:05:04 pm »

I have used Otari MX5050 and Tascam 1/4-inch machines, and there is no reason you should worry about them, provided they are in good shape.

The Otari has a switch to remove the mic preamp from the input circuit, and I would suggest you have it in the "off" position, although this is hardly a monumental problem if it isn't.

All records were made on 1/4-inch tape for a long time, and nobody ever thought twce about it. You'll be surprised how good it can sound.
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steve albini
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Werewolf10

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Re: Is 1/4 inch good enough for mastering?
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2006, 03:13:23 pm »

Kool... Thanks Steve!
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cerberus

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Re: Is 1/4 inch good enough for mastering?
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2006, 05:03:43 am »

5050?  don't forget lots of spare swingarms, the one you get will already be bent. brakes?  pros don't need them, so no worries.

maybe it was the tape i used back in the 90s, but every dub from one 5050 to another sounded like ass by comparison with a80s.  what does that mean?

anyone who wants to pool some petty cash, drop an example of "the workhorse" from a roof while professionally recording the event on a "reference quality" recording system... count me in.

imo, a typical reason to use tape in mastering is a typical reason not to use a 5050.  you don't want wow and flutter from a tin foil  transport. and the electronics don't flatter music.. who cares how they might spec.. nobody ever told me they were pining for this machine's sound (a matter of ears i suppose?);  but they do help make the piece of shit about five times cheaper than an a80.

steve, i am sure you could make a great record on your fingernail...
if this machine is "close enough for rock and roll"... OK...but i suspect that in BB's mastering forum you will get some responses like mine.

jeff dinces

electrical

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Re: Is 1/4 inch good enough for mastering?
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2006, 01:32:25 pm »

cerberus wrote on Sun, 29 January 2006 05:03


if this machine is "close enough for rock and roll"... OK...but i suspect that in BB's mastering forum you will get some responses like mine.


The question was "is one of these machines good enough for mastering?" My answer is yes, provided it isn't broken. Almost any pro-format machine will make acceptable masters if it is in good condition. If you have a broken MX5050, you should become phone-friends with the Athan corporation.

If the question was "What is the best machine for 1/4-inch recording?" I would have given a list that didn't include either the MX5050 or the Tascam, but that wasn't the question.

I used an MX5050 for years and I never felt like the sound of the machine was the biggest problem on a record.
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Teddy G.

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Re: Is 1/4 inch good enough for mastering?
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2006, 01:53:36 pm »

I encourage you to try your idea of mastering to 1/4".

I encourage you to determine for yourself whether it is better than whatever you are doing now or whether any number of "simulation"(distortion adding) "plugins" will do better.

Buy an old Otari, Tascam or Teac. Actually, when you find such a machine ask the owner if you may "take it off his hands", for free? If you're careful, you may even get someone to PAY YOU to take one! After all, they haven't used it for many years, (Really would have rather had an Ampex, when they did - don't want either now!)and will never use it again - what's it worth? The trashman, for one, will charge "extra" to include such a thing in this weeks collection rounds and it's too heavy to haul up/down the steps(The guy is old!) and even carry it to the curb - which is why he still has it at all...

Most young recordists(And some old ones) have a distorted idea of what running their digital signals through tape will do and not do. Even those "ultra pros" who DO use tape, somewhere in the process, go to amazing "pains"(And alot of cost) to make sure it is doing something "good" for the process, something worth the time, trouble and expense - check out ATR Services, of York, PA, to see the kind of machines they try to use. Far as finding good tape, itself? Even pro's, with money no concern, have had trouble finding such tape since at least the early 1980's.

Again, give it a try! Don't spend much on the project! Don't spend ANYTHING on the project if at all possible! The person with the old machine likely has boxes of old reels of useless tape around that he'll give you(Gladly) as well.

If someone made a brand new tape machine, good as any ever made and someone else made new tape, good as any ever made, ANY "HSN special" Dell, with on-board sound and a "trial version" of any audio recording program would bury it - in every way...

If you could go out and buy a 1963 Chevrolette Corvette, would it be better than a 2006 Corvette? Yes, in some ways it would - particularly if you were a young person in 1963, and couldn't possibly afford it then. But as a car? Today? Don't trade your Ford Focus(Plus lots of cash!) on the '63...

If every good thing said about tape, tubes, film and carburators is absolutely true, it is still no longer possible for most of us to make use of this past technology.


TG
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pg666

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Re: Is 1/4 inch good enough for mastering?
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2006, 02:29:12 pm »

sorry if this seems obvious, but one thing you should keep in mind when using semi-pro otari/tascam recorders is that they should be used within their limits. while hitting the tape hard can be a desirable sound on a well-maintained Ampex, you'll just get flutter, dropouts, and more crosstalk with the lesser machines (and that 'saturation' is basically just the inputs crappin' out). hell, my p.o.s. fostex 8 track sounds pretty good as long as you keep it away from the red (and don't mind a little noise).

i also wouldn't record over the same piece of tape over and over on these things as the eraser heads aren't perfect, but if you're mixing out of the box you shouldn't need to.
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Greg Norman

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Re: Is 1/4 inch good enough for mastering?
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2006, 02:59:10 pm »

Werewolf10 wrote on Sat, 28 January 2006 13:53

I currently work with digital.  I track with Lynx converters and would like to start mixing that down to 2 track reel to reel.  Unfortunatly it's hard to find 1/2 inch two tracks.  Would a Otari Mx5050 or Tascam BR20 at 15ips be suitable for mixdowns?  Let me add that my recordings sound "OK" in professional terms. This is my home studio.  Also, is there a way to bypass those built in preamps on those tape machines? I just know they must add noise, I can't imagine them having an exceptable noise floor.  

Sorry guys im 24, im a digital baby:)

Both those machines have regular line level inputs.  The mic input on the MX-5050 is just an extra feature.
The best thing you can do is find a studio with a working! 2-track, and record something on it.  If you can, rent or borrow one.  Test it out before committing.  If you buy a roughed up machine, you will not have a good frame of reference for its quality.  It might play and record well, but have old caps which would f- with the frequency response for instance.  You wont know if the sound you're hearing is normal for the machine or not.
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Spiritwalkerpro

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Re: Is 1/4 inch good enough for mastering?
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2006, 12:30:55 pm »

Anybody had any experience with a Studer A807?  I mixdown digital right now but have the opportunity to acquire an 807. Is this machine considered worthwhile or should I look for other Studers?

Norm
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magicchord

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Re: Is 1/4 inch good enough for mastering?
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2006, 05:43:15 pm »

"Studer Snobs" consider the A807 and the A810 (which I have) to be lesser machines, designed for broadcast use and without the precision transports that the A80, A800, et. al. have.

Still, I think my A810 sounds damn sweet and I don't hesitate to mix to it.
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redfro

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Re: Is 1/4 inch good enough for mastering?
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2006, 09:22:32 pm »

Teddy G. wrote on Sun, 29 January 2006 12:53

I encourage you to try your idea of mastering to 1/4".

I encourage you to determine for yourself whether it is better than whatever you are doing now or whether any number of "simulation"(distortion adding) "plugins" will do better.

Buy an old Otari, Tascam or Teac. Actually, when you find such a machine ask the owner if you may "take it off his hands", for free? If you're careful, you may even get someone to PAY YOU to take one! After all, they haven't used it for many years, (Really would have rather had an Ampex, when they did - don't want either now!)and will never use it again - what's it worth? The trashman, for one, will charge "extra" to include such a thing in this weeks collection rounds and it's too heavy to haul up/down the steps(The guy is old!) and even carry it to the curb - which is why he still has it at all...

Most young recordists(And some old ones) have a distorted idea of what running their digital signals through tape will do and not do. Even those "ultra pros" who DO use tape, somewhere in the process, go to amazing "pains"(And alot of cost) to make sure it is doing something "good" for the process, something worth the time, trouble and expense - check out ATR Services, of York, PA, to see the kind of machines they try to use. Far as finding good tape, itself? Even pro's, with money no concern, have had trouble finding such tape since at least the early 1980's.

Again, give it a try! Don't spend much on the project! Don't spend ANYTHING on the project if at all possible! The person with the old machine likely has boxes of old reels of useless tape around that he'll give you(Gladly) as well.

If someone made a brand new tape machine, good as any ever made and someone else made new tape, good as any ever made, ANY "HSN special" Dell, with on-board sound and a "trial version" of any audio recording program would bury it - in every way...

If you could go out and buy a 1963 Chevrolette Corvette, would it be better than a 2006 Corvette? Yes, in some ways it would - particularly if you were a young person in 1963, and couldn't possibly afford it then. But as a car? Today? Don't trade your Ford Focus(Plus lots of cash!) on the '63...

If every good thing said about tape, tubes, film and carburators is absolutely true, it is still no longer possible for most of us to make use of this past technology.


TG



Wow... I could not disagree with this entire post more...other than the "try it out" part...
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Wes Pitzer
WCS Media

pipelineaudio

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Re: Is 1/4 inch good enough for mastering?
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2006, 03:13:39 am »

you guys are making me feel very bad about my partner selling our 1/4" 2 track, especially now that tape may be available easily again

it wont fit in my room
it wont fit in my room

(keep telling myself that)

Werewolf10

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Re: Is 1/4 inch good enough for mastering?
« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2006, 02:02:35 pm »

Redfro ,  Interesting you feel that way about Teddy's post.  That post had me questioning everything about everything.
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vernier

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Re: Is 1/4 inch good enough for mastering?
« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2006, 03:46:18 pm »

Quote:

If every good thing said about tape, tubes, film and carburators is absolutely true, it is still no longer possible for most of us to make use of this past technology.

We can all use past technology ...there's a jillion tape recorders out there. Go for it!
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redfro

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Re: Is 1/4 inch good enough for mastering?
« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2006, 04:12:17 pm »

Alright, here we go...

Teddy G. wrote on Sun, 29 January 2006 12:53


I encourage you to try your idea of mastering to 1/4".
I encourage you to determine for yourself whether it is better than whatever you are doing now or whether any number of "simulation"(distortion adding) "plugins" will do better.



As Steve has stated before, tape in most cases is NOT used for saturation. Saturation USUALLY means you don't know how to use tape. And no plug in I've heard does tape effects worth a crap. Not even close.

Quote:


Buy an old Otari, Tascam or Teac. Actually, when you find such a machine ask the owner if you may "take it off his hands", for free? If you're careful, you may even get someone to PAY YOU to take one! After all, they haven't used it for many years, (Really would have rather had an Ampex, when they did - don't want either now!)and will never use it again - what's it worth? The trashman, for one, will charge "extra" to include such a thing in this weeks collection rounds and it's too heavy to haul up/down the steps(The guy is old!) and even carry it to the curb - which is why he still has it at all...



Look on EBay and see how much these machines are going for before you make a blind statement like that. If people were giving them away I don't think they'd be selling for $200 to $500.

Quote:


Most young recordists(And some old ones) have a distorted idea of what running their digital signals through tape will do and not do. Even those "ultra pros" who DO use tape, somewhere in the process, go to amazing "pains"(And alot of cost) to make sure it is doing something "good" for the process, something worth the time, trouble and expense - check out ATR Services, of York, PA, to see the kind of machines they try to use. Far as finding good tape, itself? Even pro's, with money no concern, have had trouble finding such tape since at least the early 1980's.



Again, another completely untrue statement. It's not about it doing something good, it's about it not doing anything at all. And no one I know (including myself) has any trouble at all finding tape. Hell, you can get it from Musician's Friend.

Quote:


If someone made a brand new tape machine, good as any ever made and someone else made new tape, good as any ever made, ANY "HSN special" Dell, with on-board sound and a "trial version" of any audio recording program would bury it - in every way...

If you could go out and buy a 1963 Chevrolette Corvette, would it be better than a 2006 Corvette? Yes, in some ways it would - particularly if you were a young person in 1963, and couldn't possibly afford it then. But as a car? Today? Don't trade your Ford Focus(Plus lots of cash!) on the '63...



This part of the statement, in my opinion, is so wrong I can't even begin to comment on it.

Quote:


If every good thing said about tape, tubes, film and carburators is absolutely true, it is still no longer possible for most of us to make use of this past technology.


TG


Strange, cause I can. And I'm fairly new to it. And it hasn't cost me anymore than good digital to do it. And at least I know in 20 years I can still play it. What digital recording medium will be unplayable in 20 years? How can you tell?
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Wes Pitzer
WCS Media
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