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Getting that portastudio vibe

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Re: Getting that portastudio vibe

Postby Alba » Mon Feb 10, 2020 1:07 pm

Tim Gillett wrote:My first "decent" tape recorder in my teens was a second hand Philips unit like this one made around 1960.

https://www.radiomuseum.org/r/philips_el354100h.html

It had only the two tracks to record with and it was only mono but with some fiddling and use of its trick record feature I was able to record three tracks. I recorded a third track over the top of the previously recorded second but it erased the highs of the second track, so the second track had to be the bass line!

I have two of those EL3541 machines. One, my dear departed dad gave me. It was made in the year of my birth and was the first machine i ever recorded on. I took out the valve amp rewired it all and built it into a new surround as the mechanicals were shot to bits. Still use it to this day and it sounds great.

The second i found on ebay, mainly because I'd be gutted if the other one bit the dust.

Thanks, Dad.
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Re: Getting that portastudio vibe

Postby Alba » Mon Feb 10, 2020 1:27 pm

I get that portastudio vibe with an old Samsung N130 netbook, a Tascam US-122 that i got for fifteen quid off eBay, a little Spirit Notepad about thirty quid and for the proper portastudio experience a Korg Nanokontrol.

The whole lot goes in a briefcase, does a dozen stereo tracks in Reaper with ease and it all cost less than a hundred quid. Its my bitsa writing setup.
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Re: Getting that portastudio vibe

Postby jimh76 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 6:32 pm

He he he.

I'm still on the portastudio vibe and have been for 25+ years.

I got my first tascam porta02 in 1994, and am currently using a Tascam DP32SD. I don't use my computer at all..... apart from sometimes for 2 track mix-downs, or if I need to correct a vocal using autotune.

To correct the vocal, I'll take the SD card out the DP32, into my laptop, correct the vocal, then put the SD card back in the DP32 and carry on.

I've got a few basic bits of outboard gear (Lex MPX550, Warm WA12, GAP Pre73, Samson Gate, Klark T KT76, RNC) which I love messing about with.

If I do use the laptop for mixdowns, I'll open up Soundforge, open a stereo 24bit 44.1 file, go from the DP32, through my RNC/Gate using my MPX550, then record, top and tail and then onto CD. But that's all I use a computer for.

I think I'm a dying breed, but I just find that the creative side is a lot easier. I've never tried the logic/protools recording onto computer type thing, so can't compare, but for me it does help only have 20 tracks or so (the DP32 is 20 track mono, or 32 track if you use stereo tracks as well). I find I'm trying to work things out whilst recording, so I don't run out of tracks.

Like I say this work's fine for me, as I think I would be too tempted to "Definitely Maybe" a song and have 12 guitars, 3 snares, 4 kick drums etc if I had unlimited tracks. (Def May is one of my favourite albums by the way, but definitely not my favourite recorded album. It's a bit too mushy for me)

Hope this helps.

Jim.
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Re: Getting that portastudio vibe

Postby Eddy Deegan » Tue Feb 11, 2020 6:55 pm

jimh76 wrote: currently using a Tascam DP32SD.

I had one recently-ish. I bought it to get away from computer reliance but like an idiot I didn't do my homework and when I found out it had zero support for MIDI sync I realised it was utterly useless for my needs. There is no way I'm going back to FSK or any of its derivatives!

Rather than return it I boxed it back up and put it under the table thinking it might come in useful for something one day. I then realised that DAWs are actually brilliant, got a new PC, installed Reaper and all my plugins and have been very happy ever since.

The DP got a good home in the end - I gave it to the 15 year old son of a friend of mine who really needed something like that for his guitar-based work - but it still smarts that Tascam didn't implement MIDI sync on it, and also that I didn't check before buying one (I just assumed it would have it; shouldn't they all?)

It just goes to show how a specific feature one needs can make all the difference when it comes to the usefulness or otherwise of a bit of kit.

I should have done my homework for sure, but Tascam, no MIDI sync on a 32-track hardware recorder, really? Grrrr ...
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Re: Getting that portastudio vibe

Postby Darren Lynch » Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:14 pm

Part inspired by this thread, last night I got the toys out (Hootersound B1 preamp, Sansamp, Casio keyboard) and recreated my beloved Tascam DP02CF in Logic. That's eight tracks with Hi/Lo shelving EQ and now't else. I created a track very quickly, but started to feel trapped by the inability of the setup to accommodate some basic moves which are now instinctive (Check gain structure, check phase, HPF, plus LPF on the Sansamp guitars etc). So not even a portastudio environment in a DAW is especially useful when you enter, what Brian Eno calls, 'spanner mode'. And the required tools are but one tempting click away...
The irony is that my 2008 Mac/Logic 8 setup is itself antique by today's standards, but has proved reliable, day in day out. The mechanical complexities of a tape portastudio combined with being prodded continuously during operation meant mine lasted about 4 years apiece. My DAW is actually the most reliable and long-lived piece of recording kit I've ever owned.
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