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Author Topic: Was low-flux 1/4" tape the best 2-bus compressor?  (Read 9620 times)

breathe

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Was low-flux 1/4" tape the best 2-bus compressor?
« on: October 18, 2010, 03:35:45 pm »

I have an issue with high flux tape (SM900, GP9, etc.).  Yes it has higher headroom, but when you hit the top of that headroom, the distortion is really hard and unmusical.  It can sound cool on drums (I think of Rick Rubin's production of 'System of a Down') but it doesn't offer the *sound* that people crave tape for for most instruments.  I think of the Beatles' recordings, around Rubber Soul, and I have that stuff on the original vinyl in good condition, and there's no problem with tape hiss at all and the recordings sound perfectly compressed.  I am under the impression that they were just slamming the 1/4" 2-track super hard with the low-flux tape of the time, and that made for a really smooth compressor.  Am I wrong?

Nicholas



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Fletcher

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Re: Was low-flux 1/4" tape the best 2-bus compressor?
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2010, 04:29:12 pm »

Yeah - you're wrong.  Most things, especially vocals and drums went through a Fairchild 660 [not 670] on the way to tape... which was a 1" 4-track tube Studer [not two track as in "mix buss compression" stuff we know today].

Some of the lower flux tape [Ampex 406 and 456] compressed great, some didn't [Scotch 250 comes immediately to mind -- some of the most "musical" sounding tape ever... until you hit the limits of its capability in which case it distorted like a bastard and told you to back the off your levels in a big hurry!!].

Peace.
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch.  
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

compasspnt

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Re: Was low-flux 1/4" tape the best 2-bus compressor?
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2010, 05:45:12 pm »

At Abbey Road then they used Emitape, their own formulation.

And everyone was quite well trained, and knew better than to "slam things to tape."

They took excellent care with their gain staging, and kept things right where they should have been.

These silly thoughts of yours are perpetuated by myth and urban legend.
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Podgorny

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Re: Was low-flux 1/4" tape the best 2-bus compressor?
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2010, 05:50:38 pm »

breathe wrote on Mon, 18 October 2010 14:35

Yes it has higher headroom, but when you hit the top of that headroom, the distortion is really hard and unmusical.




While I almost always shake my head at your posts, I agree 100% with this. Never liked how GP9 responded when hit hard.  But you must remember, it was made when people didn't romanticize tape saturation.
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Fletcher

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Re: Was low-flux 1/4" tape the best 2-bus compressor?
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2010, 06:54:02 pm »

EMI tape was made by Zonal -- which in my opinion was THE best sounding tape ever [especially the 999 formulation, and not just because I loved the way the box looked when you turned it upside down]... but yeah, Terry is spot on [as usual].

Well trained, dedicated, watched their levels [and every other detail] like a hawk... it was all that was "right" about recording -- real education and knowledge vs. bullshit myths and marketing fashion of the month.

Peace.
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch.  
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

breathe

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Re: Was low-flux 1/4" tape the best 2-bus compressor?
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2010, 07:43:06 pm »

I deeply apologize for regurgitating studio myths.  Fletcher made a post awhile back about how good of a 2-bus compressor a 1/4" 2-track running 456 was.  And 456 is a +6 tape, I was talking about the virtues of +3 or lower tape.

Nicholas




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Otitis Media

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Re: Was low-flux 1/4" tape the best 2-bus compressor?
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2010, 09:11:07 pm »

What I'm stuck on is how you conflate the sound of an LP as being an accurate way to make statements about the level of tape hiss or compression on a master tape. You do understand the difference, and realize that an LP is going to be created from stampers that carry an additional generation of dynamics control (cutter heads used limiters to prevent damage) and EQ (RIAA pre/de-emphasis) and a noise floor high enough to make tape hiss the least of your worries.

Vinyl records sound INCREDIBLE when you consider that they're scratches in plastic...
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Dan Roth
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CWHumphrey

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Re: Was low-flux 1/4" tape the best 2-bus compressor?
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2010, 10:18:25 pm »

breathe wrote on Mon, 18 October 2010 16:43

  And 456 is a +6 tape, I was talking about the virtues of +3 or lower tape.




456 came along long before we were working at +6 over 185nWb/m.  You must be referring to 499.

Cheers,
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Carter William Humphrey

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maarvold

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Re: Was low-flux 1/4" tape the best 2-bus compressor?
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2010, 11:50:02 pm »

Fletcher wrote on Mon, 18 October 2010 15:54

EMI tape was made by Zonal -- which in my opinion was THE best sounding tape ever...


I seem to remember my buddy Dan Wallin saying Zonal made the best-sounding mag stock as well.  
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Michael Aarvold
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jonathan jetter

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Re: Was low-flux 1/4" tape the best 2-bus compressor?
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2010, 11:57:46 pm »

a lot of this has to do with the beatles being the best band ever, writing the best songs ever.

it's pretty easy to say "man that compression sounds amazing" when you're listening to Rubber Soul, or Revolver, or the White Album, etc etc.

might be a little harder to love that compression on, say, the latest Black Eyed Peas track.
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J.J. Blair

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Re: Was low-flux 1/4" tape the best 2-bus compressor?
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2010, 12:05:40 am »

Fletcher wrote on Mon, 18 October 2010 13:29

Yeah - you're wrong.  Most things, especially vocals and drums went through a Fairchild 660 [not 670] on the way to tape... which was a 1" 4-track tube Studer [not two track as in "mix buss compression" stuff we know today].

Some of the lower flux tape [Ampex 406 and 456] compressed great, some didn't [Scotch 250 comes immediately to mind -- some of the most "musical" sounding tape ever... until you hit the limits of its capability in which case it distorted like a bastard and told you to back the off your levels in a big hurry!!].

Peace.


I thought you had  a copy of RTB?  It's the RS124 that was used far more than the 660.
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breathe

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Re: Was low-flux 1/4" tape the best 2-bus compressor?
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2010, 01:18:25 am »

Okay, let's get our tape flux understanding in order.  I thought 185 nWb/M reference meant 456 was +6 and 250 nWb/M reference meant 456 was +3.  Which makes "hi flux" tapes like 499/GP9/900 +9 in the first case and +6 in the second...

Nicholas




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Fenris Wulf

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Re: Was low-flux 1/4" tape the best 2-bus compressor?
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2010, 03:19:48 am »

The standard nomenclature uses 185 nWb/M as the 0 reference. 406 is +3, 456 is +6, 499 is +9.

I use 406 all of the time on punk or black metal projects ... for tracking. I calibrate the machine for +9 and it makes a great limiter. For mixdown you want something cleaner or you'll hear IM distortion. Preferably higher speed/wider trackwidth than the tracking machine so the coloration doesn't build up.
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MagnetoSound

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Re: Was low-flux 1/4" tape the best 2-bus compressor?
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2010, 08:48:12 am »

Fenris Wulf wrote on Tue, 19 October 2010 08:19

... so the coloration doesn't build up.





Release the hounds!



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Fletcher

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Re: Was low-flux 1/4" tape the best 2-bus compressor?
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2010, 11:56:30 am »

CWHumphrey wrote on Mon, 18 October 2010 22:18

breathe wrote on Mon, 18 October 2010 16:43

  And 456 is a +6 tape, I was talking about the virtues of +3 or lower tape.




456 came along long before we were working at +6 over 185nWb/m.  You must be referring to 499.

Cheers,



Due respect, you're thinking 250 nWb/m - not 185 nWb/m

The standard alignment for 456 was 3db>250 nWb/m [which was called "+6" but was really like +5.2] and 499 [and other "elevated level" tapes that came out around the same time as Dolby SR and the unfortunate acceptance of the DASH format] was generally aligned to 6db>250 nWb/m [a.k.a 355 nWb/m]

I don't think anyone actually had a 185 nWb/m alignment tape after about 1978 - 1979
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch.  
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

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