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ANALOG MORON RETURNS - He Needs a Mixer for his Tascam 238

 
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0wl
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Joined: 14 Jan 2016
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Location: Detroit, MI (Okay, I live in the Suburbs)

PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 1:36 am    Post subject: ANALOG MORON RETURNS - He Needs a Mixer for his Tascam 238 Reply with quote

Long ago you guys helped me pick out a mixer for my Tascam 238, but alas that trusty Fostex 812 has since bitten the dust. This time around I'm wondering if I can score something with a better EQ. I'm willing to spend a bit more, perhaps around 500.

Since the 238 is an 8-track, and I only record 2 tracks at a time, I'll need something with at least 10 channels. I'll reserve two for recording (wired to a patch bay to easily switch between my synths/samplers), and the rest will be used for mixing the returns from the 238. SO MOST LIKELY what I'm looking at is either a 12 or 16 channel mixer. I use an external preamp, placed before the mixer i.e. synth -> preamp -> mixer -> 238. SO the pres don't need to be amazing, just transparent enough to run an already line-level signal through them without making it sound crappy. And most importantly I want something with a solid EQ.

There's an Allen & Heath Mixwizard 14:4:2 listed for sale locally in my price range, and I've heard good things about the MW series. But it's billed as being mostly for live use...is there any reason it wouldn't be appropriate as a studio mixer? I know studio mixers will usually include tape returns, but the 14:4:2 has 10 separate mono inputs - 2 for recording, and 8 for the returns from the 238. Am I missing anything here?

Also feel free to toss out suggestions for other good compact (preferably older) mixers (with nice EQs) that would pair well with a cassette 8-track.

Thanks in advance!
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A.David.MacKinnon
mixes from purgatory


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 9:31 am    Post subject: Re: ANALOG MORON RETURNS - He Needs a Mixer for his Tascam 238 Reply with quote

The mix wizard is decent and would work well for you. The distinction between live and studio mixers usually comes down to tape returns and wether or not the line in is a dedicated line in (good) or just a pad on the mic pre (not as good but not the end of the world).

If I was you I'd look for a 12-16 channel board so that you've got channels for effects or to split track outputs over a few channels. In my 8 track days I'd often have one track that would be the catch all for backing vocals, guitar solos and other odds and ends. I'd split that track over a few channels on the mixer so each part could have it's own eq and fader level and then I just keep the channels muted until the part came around.
One other thing springs to mind. If you're running separate pre-amps you should just set up a patch bay and run them right to the tape machine. There's no reason to run through the mixer. A patch bay will let you patch channels quickly and easily. Running the pre through the mixer just adds another layer of electronics that can colour the sound and add noise.
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markjazzbassist
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 10:06 am    Post subject: Re: ANALOG MORON RETURNS - He Needs a Mixer for his Tascam 238 Reply with quote

soundcraft 200 or delta
sound workshop 1280
tac bullet
soundtracs topaz, t series
ramsa 8112 4412
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0wl
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 3:26 pm    Post subject: Re: ANALOG MORON RETURNS - He Needs a Mixer for his Tascam 238 Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies!

Dave, I'm curious about the possibility of recording direct into the 238. But then wouldn't I need to buy a dedicated EQ since I can't use the mixer's? And also wouldn't I need to run the audio back through the mixer anyway in order to pan tracks, set levels, compress, etc? It seems simpler to me to just use the mixer. Let me know what you think.

Also, how important are busses? My old mixer had 8 busses and I guess I sorta took that for granted. I just ran a snake from the 8 bus outs to the 8 inputs on the 238 and all I had to do was route my instrument to the bus that corresponded to the track I wanted to record to. Nice and easy. How would it work if I didn't have all those busses?

I'll see about finding a 16 track mixer. Any in particular that you like in my price range?

P.S. markjazzbassist a lot of those seem a bit out of my price range, but the SW 1280 looks awesome! I'd just be concerned about reliability since it's so old.

Thanks so far Cool
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markjazzbassist
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 3:31 pm    Post subject: Re: ANALOG MORON RETURNS - He Needs a Mixer for his Tascam 238 Reply with quote

0wl wrote:
Thanks for the replies!

Dave, I'm curious about the possibility of recording direct into the 238. But then wouldn't I need to buy a dedicated EQ since I can't use the mixer's? And also wouldn't I need to run the audio back through the mixer anyway in order to pan tracks, set levels, compress, etc? It seems simpler to me to just use the mixer. Let me know what you think.

Also, how important are busses? My old mixer had 8 busses and I guess I sorta took that for granted. I just ran a snake from the 8 bus outs to the 8 inputs on the 238 and all I had to do was route my instrument to the bus that corresponded to the track I wanted to record to. Nice and easy. How would it work if I didn't have all those busses?

I'll see about finding a 16 track mixer. Any in particular that you like in my price range?

P.S. markjazzbassist a lot of those seem a bit out of my price range, but the SW 1280 looks awesome! I'd just be concerned about reliability since it's so old.

Thanks so far Cool


the ramsa and soundcraft could easily be found for 500 or under on ebay or CL. people sleep on them all the time, plus they're bigger so sellers can't ship and usually just unload them for cheap due to that.

best of luck.
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A.David.MacKinnon
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 9:12 pm    Post subject: Re: ANALOG MORON RETURNS - He Needs a Mixer for his Tascam 238 Reply with quote

0wl wrote:

Dave, I'm curious about the possibility of recording direct into the 238. But then wouldn't I need to buy a dedicated EQ since I can't use the mixer's? And also wouldn't I need to run the audio back through the mixer anyway in order to pan tracks, set levels, compress, etc? It seems simpler to me to just use the mixer. Let me know what you think.
Thanks so far 8)


Not suggestion you don't need a mixer (you obviously need it on the playback end) just saying that if you've got external pre amps you don't have to run through the mixer on the way in. If you do lots of EQing on the way in then running through the board is a no brainer (and cheaper then an external eq). If you don't then it's just an extra stage you probably don't need.
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0wl
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 10:27 pm    Post subject: Re: ANALOG MORON RETURNS - He Needs a Mixer for his Tascam 238 Reply with quote

I get that I'd still need a mixer, but I guess my point was that if the signal is still going through it on the playback end, would I really notice that it didn't make the trip during recording? The fewer trips the better, maybe? And I don't have any experience bouncing tracks to a DAW, but I suppose when I got around to that I could skip the mixer and just record the outputs of the 238 individually and then mix/master digitally, thus bypassing the mixer's sound altogether in the end. It's an interesting idea for sure.

Most of my sources are line level, synths and samplers etc. so my external preamp is really just for color. I rarely need any serious gain. But to take your point things definitely sounded different through my old mixer even if I didn't boost the signal at all.

Another thought is that if I DO go for the direct-in route, I could get away with just a basic 8-channel mixer, and perhaps use the extra cash for a good standalone EQ like an Orban 622b.

I appreciate the suggestion, it's nice to know I have options.

All that said, a Mixwizard 16:2 is starting to look pretty attractive to me because it apparently has pretty good pres and EQ, all in one package and within my budget.
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floid
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 11:33 pm    Post subject: Re: ANALOG MORON RETURNS - He Needs a Mixer for his Tascam 238 Reply with quote

Your input chain can be as convoluted or as simple as you want. In addition to preamp/ e.q./ compressor/ reverb/ etc, your mixer may have insert points, direct outs, bus outs, main outs, and more where there's a signal you can send to tape. The earliest stage where you can get the sound you want will usually have the least noise and color, and best headroom. For your synths you might not even need a pre, just send their line level output to a 238 input.
The catch is that you might then need all your convolutions to come downstream of the noisy, hissing tape - additive e.q. and compression, or having to bounce multiple tracks you could just as easily have bus'ed, for example, might do more harm than good.
Point being you might think about separate activities that require different things of your mixer to first get good sounds to tape, while monitoring what's already there, and then from tape to finished mix.
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0wl
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2016 10:37 pm    Post subject: Re: ANALOG MORON RETURNS - He Needs a Mixer for his Tascam 238 Reply with quote

floid wrote:
Your input chain can be as convoluted or as simple as you want. In addition to preamp/ e.q./ compressor/ reverb/ etc, your mixer may have insert points, direct outs, bus outs, main outs, and more where there's a signal you can send to tape. The earliest stage where you can get the sound you want will usually have the least noise and color, and best headroom. For your synths you might not even need a pre, just send their line level output to a 238 input.
The catch is that you might then need all your convolutions to come downstream of the noisy, hissing tape - additive e.q. and compression, or having to bounce multiple tracks you could just as easily have bus'ed, for example, might do more harm than good.
Point being you might think about separate activities that require different things of your mixer to first get good sounds to tape, while monitoring what's already there, and then from tape to finished mix.


Yeah you're helping me see that the process is a lot more open-ended than I thought. There's a lot of ways of achieving what I need to do. But I have to wonder, if I decided to skip the mixer on the way in, how would I monitor the incoming signal if it's not going through the mixer?
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floid
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2016 6:55 am    Post subject: Re: ANALOG MORON RETURNS - He Needs a Mixer for his Tascam 238 Reply with quote

If you have a patchbay, you can set up a mult on the last four jacks. Or one of those Jensen/Whirlwind/Rapco etc splitter boxes.
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Nick Sevilla
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 13, 2016 9:33 am    Post subject: Re: ANALOG MORON RETURNS - He Needs a Mixer for his Tascam 238 Reply with quote

Hi 0wl,

Hopefully my crude picture helps with what you are doing...

This would be the MINIMUM way to plug in your set up.

This I did with much larger equipment, but basically it is the same no matter what you use.

Now for some detail:

1. Always try to get THE SOUND sounding the way you want before even using a microphone or DI to get it to the tape machine input. This will save you time.
Now, as to WHAT that sound is, well, you want to use whatever outboard gear here, EQ / Compression / Tone effects (distortion, phase flanging, chorus et al), at the sound source, but NO time based effects, such as reverb or an overall delay you might use with other instruments. This keeps it sounding better, cleaner, and allows some flexibility at mix time.

2. ALWAYS plug in the tape output to the "tape return" or "line input" of the mixer. Never to the Mic input. This is due to the output levels needing to be matched as close as possible to the mixers' input levels. The Mic inputs will be too "lout" on the mixer side, you'll distort them and not listen properly.

3. ALWAYS have the tape machine listening the the TAPE and NOT the INPUT. This means never ever use mults on a patchbay or whatever suggestions you might have gotten. You NEED to listen off the actual TAPE, because if there is an error in the tape, you would not know it UNLESS you are listening after the sound has been recorded onto the tape itself. Anything else when recording is way, way wrong.

4. Once you are done RECORDING the sounds you need to your tape machine, and you are done overdubbing etc. and are ready to MIX, you can re use the outboard EQ and effects by plugging them into the mixer console in whatever way you want to use them. You would use the mixer's INSERTS to use fancy EQs and compression on individual channels, and a patchbay would be the easiest and fastest way to get in and out of the mixer with less hassle than using a bunch of wires each time.

5. IF you want to have 8 dedicated mic preamplifiers which are the same, you want to use a larger than 8 channel console, and since you have an 8 channel recorder, you need a 16 channel console as minimum. You then decide to use, as an example, channels 1-8 as PLAYBACK, and channels 9-16 as INPUT, and always have them connected this way. NOTE: The INPUT channels you would take OUT of the mix monitoring path, and NEVER actually listen to them before tape, as these are the ones feeding the TAPE machine, not the mixer. Plus you would get feedback if you did, in some cases.

6. IF you do have this setup as described in step 5, then you will want a patchbay in order to use the mixer console's INSERTS and other facilities on a patchbay so you can connect any outboard gear to a single channel, or use the mixer's auxes with different effects depending on your needs at mixdown.

7. IF you do NOT want 8 identical mic preamplifiers as the way to get to tape, and you want to use individual, stereo pairs or whatnot as microphone and line amplifiers, then you can get away with an 8 channel mixer, at a minimum. The path remains the same regardless of what you would use to feed the tape machine inputs.

8. When monitoring your tape during recording, you would just use the mixer to send a mix to your headphone amplifier(s). Typically most small mixers have headphone capability, usually tied into your mix channels. Just turn off the speakers when in the same room as the microphones to avoid feedback.

Cheers!


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Brett Siler
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2016 4:40 am    Post subject: Re: ANALOG MORON RETURNS - He Needs a Mixer for his Tascam 238 Reply with quote

Not to be all spammy buuuut I have a Ramsa WR-S4424S thats in great condition for sale. The preamps and EQ sound sick. Look up anything about them on here or gearslutz and you'll read nothing but rave reviews. 24 channels, direct outs on each channel, inserts on each channel, 4 aux 4 buss, and most of all tone. PM me!
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snufkin
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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 11:18 am    Post subject: Re: ANALOG MORON RETURNS - He Needs a Mixer for his Tascam 238 Reply with quote

bumping this thread because I also want advice on a mixer for my 238.

I am mainly recording electronic instruments in a very space conscious rack mount setup.

Also primarily looking to lay down multi tracks in single live takes with instruments synced via analogue clock.

Is there a good compact rack-mount mixer that I can use for both monitoring/mixing the 8 outs from the deck and also act as an input mixer for the 8 ins?
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kayagum
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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 1:44 pm    Post subject: Re: ANALOG MORON RETURNS - He Needs a Mixer for his Tascam 238 Reply with quote

Speaking as a former owner of a 238s, I made good use of a Mackie 1202. Everything bigger than that is gravy. In fact, you can use the mixer as a mixdown only and use whatever preamp or other mixer as your recording input. You can make your setup as convoluted as you want but in my experience the minimalist setup was very rewarding,
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