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Can someone(s) give me an overview of 2 track reel to reel recordes

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Can someone(s) give me an overview of 2 track reel to reel recordes

Postby tc99 » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:16 am

I was interested in the following, and just any usefull information:

What is the sound quality like of a professional studio reel to reel, compared to a domestic one (well, how good do the domestic one get in terms of quality).

How much are you looking at second hand prices for studio and domestic. How much are the reels, are they easy to get hold off?
What time duration can you get from them at best quality (i know they do variable speed / time duration)

Any particular names to look for. I guess the best quality studio ones can get very expensive.
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Re: Can someone(s) give me an overview of 2 track reel to reel recordes

Postby hollowsun » Sun Feb 03, 2013 6:12 am

Depends what you want it for (and your budget).

If it's for just occasionally putting a bit of 'tapeness' on the odd track here and there (I dunno - some drums or a guitar part, whatever), some cheapo domestic thing might well suffice (in fact, one could argue that the sh!ttier it is, the better ... maybe even a cassette deck) but if you're looking for serious mastering/mixing down to final stereo duties, you'll want something better - something like a Studer 1/2" ... although a 1/4" Revox B77's not a bad bet - plenty of good stuff has been mixed to those sand they were built like brick sh!thouses.

The thing is, though, that taking on a reel-to-reel is a bit like taking on an old Jag - parts, maintenance, are the heads ok, does the capstan need replacing, belts, availability/cost of of parts not to mention cost/availability of tape and so on. Like owning a vintage car (or synth, whatever), it can get expensive and awkward and not cost effective.

Don't get me wrong - tape machines can be/are wonderful things and they can imbue a recording with a little 'something' due to their properties but they can also be one hell of a commitment and not one to be taken lightly perhaps. Furthermore, there are various plug-ins now that can go a good way to reproducing that sound more conveniently and cost effectively. They not might be 'the real thing' but can do the job.

I'd love a tape machine as they do have a certain endearing quality and can/do something to the sound (and there's something rather satisfying watching reels turning). On the other hand, in this day and age, they can be something of a commitment/expense.

FWIW
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Re: Can someone(s) give me an overview of 2 track reel to reel recordes

Postby Tartaruga » Sun Feb 03, 2013 8:34 am

Hi

Maybe this is something to consider,these days,for lovers of ‘tape sound’…Just an idea…

http://rupertneve.com/products/portico-5042/

Cheers
Pedro
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Re: Can someone(s) give me an overview of 2 track reel to reel recordes

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Feb 03, 2013 11:29 am

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Re: Can someone(s) give me an overview of 2 track reel to reel recordes

Postby Mixedup » Mon Feb 04, 2013 3:40 pm

What Hugh said. Plus this link, too: Endino's Tape Recorder Plots .

Just be sure that it is the tape sound that you're after though — if you're not familiar with it already, it might not be what you want. And if it is, you might find that a plug-in (Slate's VTM being the best to date IMO) is rather more convenient while still delivering the sonic goods.
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Re: Can someone(s) give me an overview of 2 track reel to reel recordes

Postby narcoman » Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:08 pm

Tartaruga wrote:Hi

Maybe this is something to consider,these days,for lovers of ‘tape sound’…Just an idea…

http://rupertneve.com/products/portico-5042/

Cheers
Pedro

I had four tracks of those for a while. They've been relegated to another room - big 300 hz hump on them and really do not sound like any tape machine I've owned or heard. A nice unit to run things through - but tape they are not!!

Finally selling my tape machines - an MCI 2 inch 16 track in lovely condition and an Ampex half inch ATR 102. Neither have been used for over a year.... got buyers within half a day of advertising. there is still a lot of interest in tape it seems !
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Re: Can someone(s) give me an overview of 2 track reel to reel recordes

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Feb 04, 2013 6:58 pm

narcoman wrote:there is still a lot of interest in tape it seems !


Mostly from those that never had to work with the bloody things, I suspect! :D

I love the nostalgia of tape, but hate the weight of the machines (as well as the wait for the rewinds!), the low fidelity, the noise, the routine lining up, the routine cleaning, the tape costs, and the inevitably expensive maintenance bills when the bearings, motors, drive belts, brakes and heads wear out...

And I'm still running a PR99 mkIII and a Studer A807... ;)
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Re: Can someone(s) give me an overview of 2 track reel to reel recordes

Postby narcoman » Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:50 pm

hahah - so true. There are a LOT in this biz that think of tape as some magic path to the sound of yesteryear. Most of the tape recordings given to me to mix are rather dull and lacking dynamics. Takes a lot of experience to record a band to tape!!
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Re: Can someone(s) give me an overview of 2 track reel to reel recordes

Postby The Elf » Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:58 pm

You guys! :)

'Bohemian Rhapsody' was obviously only any good because it was recorded to tape.

All anyone has to do it loop a few 'sick beatz' and run the whole thing to tape - instant hit record! :angel: :beamup:
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Re: Can someone(s) give me an overview of 2 track reel to reel recordes

Postby tc99 » Mon Feb 04, 2013 11:33 pm

hi

thanks all for the replies, very useful. it is something i am looking into at the moment. I would be using it for recording live instruments,synths,drums. And would not be in heavy use, and i don't think there will be much edtiting needed in what I am doing

replacement parts/maintenace are something i had not considered.

so i'm going to take a look at the articles and some of the machines that have been suggested.

hugh - that first article looks exactly what i need for starters

The reason that i have been interesetd in the sound. Is because after many years i think i am finally starting to here the difference between my vinyl and CD or WAV set ups (when using mint vinyl). So an all analogue path started to interest me, as something different. Of course there are diffferences in the comparison between analogue / digital listening and recording. But it just got me intersted. I am happy with recording digitally at the moment, but like I say just interested in hearing what the reel to reel route would sound like - not after some magical solution. Plus i just love watching those big wheels go round and round, haha.

I definately know what is being talked about as mentioned, with the "dull" recordings you can get with tape.
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Re: Can someone(s) give me an overview of 2 track reel to reel recordes

Postby narcoman » Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:05 am

You defo have to massage audio into tape in a semi blind way.
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Re: Can someone(s) give me an overview of 2 track reel to reel recordes

Postby Chaconne » Tue Feb 05, 2013 8:43 pm

Have a look at the Tascam / Teac 32 series of 1/4" 2 tracks - lots of models dont know them by heart.
They tend to be dismissed being "pro-sumer", but they are very well built, sound fantastic and if bought in good condition tend to need little maintenance, built as they were at the end / peak of tape machine technology - i.e quick accurate electronic control.

I got a 22-2 in the end, which is smaller and only takes 7" reels, but thats just enough for occasional use and, have found it very educational. Sometimes it does wonders, other times not, but I like using it as a sketchpad away from the computer. I like re-wind time, and for me watching reels go round while assessing a mix or song just works for me more than a screen - it sort of says - "is this really worth being on an expensive reel of tape?"

Anyway, I'm assessing some plug ins, and would be sad to let it go even if it sounded redundant - it sort of sits there saying "music". Mojo, gear placebo? - I dunnno - what isnt? ...and anyway any sort of music technology tinkerer should have some experience of tape just for scientific interest if nothing else - cant see anyone poo pooing that.
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Re: Can someone(s) give me an overview of 2 track reel to reel recordes

Postby James Perrett » Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:19 am

tc99 wrote:
What is the sound quality like of a professional studio reel to reel, compared to a domestic one (well, how good do the domestic one get in terms of quality).

There's a massive difference between the typical Tandberg/Akai/Sony domestic reels and a Revox. Certainly my recordings improved dramatically after I moved up to one. Some of the domestic reel to reels have very impressive specifications which beat the Revox but there's a certain solidness to the Revox sound - which is then carried through to its professional Studer cousins.

As others have said, don't ignore the servicing. These things are going to be 20-40 years old and will, at the very least, need alignment checks every few months. A service manual is essential for whatever you buy - while my machines don't go wrong that often, they've all gone wrong at some point in their lives and having the service manual has saved me a great deal of time.

James.
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Re: Can someone(s) give me an overview of 2 track reel to reel recordes

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:37 am

James Perrett wrote: There's a massive difference between the typical Tandberg/Akai/Sony domestic reels and a Revox.

True -- and it's a combination of build quality and robustness, reel-size capability (few domestic machines can take 10.5-inch NAB reels), and tape speed/format.

Most domestic machines are 'quarter-tracks', which means they record and playback two tracks in one direction, then you turn the reels over and play two more tracks in the other direction -- just like a cassette machine, really. In contrast most pro machines are 'half tracks' meaning they record and play two tracks in one direction only. This means that they recorded tracks are twice as wide, and so have half the noise -- and there is also less crosstalk between the tracks.

Domestic machines also tend to run at slower speeds -- 1.875, 3.75, or 7.5 inches per second, whereas pro machines are usually 7.5, 15 or 30 -- with 15 ips being the most common standard for general purpose use. Again, faster tape speeds means less noise and significantly better top end.

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Re: Can someone(s) give me an overview of 2 track reel to reel recordes

Postby ef37a » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:06 pm

Mention was made of the Teacs?
We have an A3440 4track 1/4" machine and it is very good indeed (for tape!)It has also proved very reliable, son gave it a reet hammering for ten years I would think and all I have ever done to it is replace the capastan belt (a bit of a PITA to do as would be any in depth servicing, tho line up is easy. Bear this in mind!)
The Revoxes (have used an a77,fine for fidelity but a bit "fragile" also the B77, super machine) and the Teacs ARE better than the others but mainly I think because of the higher speed and, most importantly, people tend use the tape the machine was setup for on the former whereas they tend to chuck anything on the "hi fi" decks and expect 20-20k results! Dood not happen.

As for tape being dull! My 3440 was flat to ~25kHz at neg10 last time I looked (I don't use it,it is Son that is smitten!) If tape repro lacks sparkle you have the wrong tape/bias, dirty heads or things are magg'ed up! But I am with Hugh. Old technology and (almost!) not worth the trouble.

Forgot...OR machines are rarely as quiet as the average laptop (my 3440 sometimes squeals!)something to think about if recording ac guitar for instance.

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Re: Can someone(s) give me an overview of 2 track reel to reel recordes

Postby ken long » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:36 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
narcoman wrote:there is still a lot of interest in tape it seems !

Mostly from those that never had to work with the bloody things, I suspect! :D

I love the nostalgia of tape, but hate the weight of the machines (as well as the wait for the rewinds!), the low fidelity, the noise, the routine lining up, the routine cleaning, the tape costs, and the inevitably expensive maintenance bills when the bearings, motors, drive belts, brakes and heads wear out...

And I'm still running a PR99 mkIII and a Studer A807... ;)
Hugh

When the nostalgia wears off, gimme a call about that 807... ;)
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Re: Can someone(s) give me an overview of 2 track reel to reel recordes

Postby Elephone » Wed Feb 06, 2013 5:53 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
narcoman wrote:there is still a lot of interest in tape it seems !


Mostly from those that never had to work with the bloody things, I suspect! :D


I do think it's good, though, that people are putting the desired sound before the practical problems. It's the way it should be. Most of the music I love, production wise, was done on tape and the associated gear. I even like dodgy cassettes sometimes.

It's just sound, after all. Who's to say one sound is more appealing than another on the basis of how faithful it is to the original signal ? Someone might say it's more 'accurate' to listen to a dry electric guitar output than a reamped one.
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