I am new and I have 1 Million Incredibly Dumb Questions

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Regular Guy
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I am new and I have 1 Million Incredibly Dumb Questions

Post by Regular Guy » Tue Nov 22, 2005 12:36 am

Hello TapeOp,

There are a large number of basic things about recording that I don't currently understand and fear I never will. In attempt to push myself in the right direction, I have written out many of these questions and I am going to post them here. If anyone can point me in the right direction with at least one of them, I feel I will be much better off than I was yesterday, and therefore I will be extremely greatful.

Please don't eat me alive. I'm sure it might be tempting to some (those types exist on all message boards and in all walks of life), but my big hope is that maybe some of you veterans were in my place at one point and needed similar advice. Hopefully, out of the goodness of your hearts, you will grant me that.

Without further delay........

When connecting a board to a tape machine, do you simply plug the ins and outs of the board and the tape machine into one another, plug in a mic and record? Or is there more to it? It seems like there should be, and if there isnt....

How is it that all of the faders on the board effect both the live sound of whatever is going through the channel and whatever is being played back by the tape machine? Or does this even happen?

How do you assign channels on a board to tracks on a tape machine? Or a digital audio interface for that matter?

To what are monitor speakers connected? The board? The tape machine? Is there something that allows the user to switch from hearing the already tracked sounds to hearing whatever sounds are going through the board?

If you want to use your board with a digital setup and with a tape machine, do you have to unplug everything from one and into the other, or is there some way this process can be skipped? Or does this process need to happen? And do the controls on the board effect the digital audio in the same way they would anything recorded to tape? Do the mixers in digital audio software recognize changes made on a board plugged through an interface in any way? Or does an engineer recording with an analog board plugged into a digital audio interface simply ignore their software mixers and leave their leveling to the board sitting in front of them?

Do you have to re-route audio signals in order to mix down (tracking: board -> tape machine, mixing: tape machine -> board -> second tape machine (1/4in or whatever...just for example). If so, is there a way around this process or does this process simply not exist and I am inventing/imagining something way more complicated than the real world solution?

If your faders aren't somehow automated, how do you make multiple adjustments to them when mixing down? Is there some solution to this that doesn't involve growing extra hands?

If you've got an analog board with 24 channels plugged into a digital audio interface setup to record a project with 48 channels of audio, how do you use the board to control more channels than physically exist? Or can you at all?

If someone is editing tape, how do they know exactly where to cut the tape? What happens if you fuck up, is there any way to recover? How do you splice tape back together? What kinds of tools do you use for such a job?

If you have something like an external EQ, where does that fit into the equation in terms of signal path, where do you plug it in? How do you apply it to something that has been tracked?

Would it make sense to track to tape, import to a digital audio program for editing, and then mixdown to tape? Would it make sense to track to a digital audio program and then mixdown to tape? Or to track to a digital audio program, export to tape, and then mix the tape down to yet another tape? Would there be any discernable benefits (my thinking is that this way, tracks can be perfected in the computer so I don't have to keep taping over the little undesired imperfections, thus degrading the quality of the tape)?

On your average mixing console, how do you pan something to the top right or the bottom left? When mixing down how do you shift the panning of multiple tracks at once?

How do you use an external preamp? Do you simply plug your mic into the preamp and then run the line out of the preamp into the line in on the board?

What are AUX sends and how do they work? I understand they are used for effects and compressors and things of that sort, but how this works is a total mystery to me. I don't know what the term "Bus" means, and I try to visualize how this whole process works, but in the end it totally mystifies me. Lets say someone has 8 tracks on 8 channels and they want to compress the bass drum at :32 seconds with the one of their 3 compressors. How are these compressors connected to the mixer, how do they make their way through the board and onto tape and at the right times? How do you activate "Compressor A" on track 3 of 8 tracks and then later on use it on tracks 2 and 6 but with a bit of "Compressor B"? Is there plugging and unplugging involved? I essentially have no idea how outboard gear works. I don't know what it means to use something such as a "bus compressor".

To me, my lack of understanding of these things is the most frustrating thing in the world, because I can see the benefits of having such setups but I haven't the faintest idea how to use them, and in some cases I don't even have any idea how to ask about what it is I am trying to do.

I have been reading about recording and learning about the process on really primitive setups, but I feel as though I really can't move towards using something more advanced until I learn these basic things that everyone seems to know that I have more or less been embarassed to ask.


I thank all of you in advance, I hope this wasn't too much too soon. I am just very eager to advance my abilities in the field of recording (what few exist).

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Re: I am new and I have 1 Million Incredibly Dumb Questions

Post by roy » Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:13 am

Well, it's late and I'm feeling punchy. I'll try a few of your questions.
Regular Guy wrote: If your faders aren't somehow automated, how do you make multiple adjustments to them when mixing down? Is there some solution to this that doesn't involve growing extra hands?

How do you use an external preamp? Do you simply plug your mic into the preamp and then run the line out of the preamp into the line in on the board?
Great questions, and I'm sure there are different answers than mine, but here is how I handle these situations:

In regards to automation, the most common way for non-automated mixers is to use computer based DAW software to automate levels for individual tracks. You can record onto tape, then copy or dump your tracks into this software to edit (I think this also answers one of your other questions), and then automate the mix.

Of course, another solution is to have multiple people help with the mix. There are many stories of tricky mixes being done by several people over and over until they nailed it.

As for an external preamp, I run the mic into the pre, then straight to tape, or whatever you are recording into. I do not run the pre into the board, then to tape. In my "ideal" situation, I would have all the mics going into external preamps, straight to tape, and use the board for monitoring and playback. Your senario is not wrong, it's just not how I would do it.

Hope these answers help you along, and I'm sure there will be more to come.

Roy

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Post by Regular Guy » Tue Nov 22, 2005 2:08 am

Yes, Roy thank you. Those types of answers are exactly what I am looking for. It gives me a sigh of relief to know that all of my questions and concerns aren't absurdly idiotic.

Seriously, thanks again.

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Post by Cyan421 » Tue Nov 22, 2005 2:18 am

Wow that is pretty close to a million questions (in one post).

Many recording consoles have lots of different in's and out's. You can use any kind of output you want to go to a recording device. Most large format analog consoles use tape outs, also called multitrack sends, or direct outs for recording. But, you could use auxillary sends or even main outs for recording if you wanted to. Anything that sends the sort of electronic level (line level, +4 or -10) that your recorder is looking for would WORK. The most ideal output to use is the one that has the shorteset signal path, i.e. Direct Out.

Most of the time a recorders output would be connected to the line in's or tape returns (multitrack returns).

Patchbay. A patchbay is the answer to a lot of your questions.

A patchbay is what allows a studio be dyanmic with its types of recorders and outboard gear. You could have all the gear in your studio pluged into a patchbay, so at any time you could change what mic pre was going to what tape track, or what compressor was on which channel. A patchbay makes for a very flexible studio. I would venture to say that a modern recording studio would not function without a patchbay.

I suggest you purchase some reading material to answer a lot of these questions. If someone did decide to answer everyone of these questions in the detail needed to for you to trasnfer it to the real world they would likely neglect their life, family, clients, laundry, nourishment, ect....

You have come to the right place to get some questions answered, but its very likely you will be met is a high degree of hostility, as this is an exorbent amount of techniclal questions asked in one place.

This board has a SEARCH FUNCTION. Where you could type in something like SIGNAL FLOW. If you did that, you could probably spend the next month reading really good stuff. Its even possible your mixer, or tape machine came with some instuction on this subject. I can't think of a console manual that I've seen without some signal flow diagrams.
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Post by Regular Guy » Tue Nov 22, 2005 2:28 am

Cyan, thanks for the info and the heads up. I realize it's a ridiculous amount of questions for one thread, but I thought that if I put them all in once place it would be substancially less annoying than a million seperate threads in one day from a brand new poster. Maybe I thought wrong?

Either way I hope I haven't irked anyone just yet. I thought I'd just throw this up as a way to get some words, terms and ideas to go on. You've already provided me with two such terms, Signal Flow and Patch Bay. I hear people use these terms all the time, but I never hear anyone ask about them. It seems like everyone who's into recording already just knows these things.

I definitely plan on using the search function, and I definitely don't plan on spending all my time here begging for answers that could be found by employing the search function. My current handicap is that I'm sort of clueless to the point of not knowing what to search for in a lot of these areas :?

Either way, thanks again for reading and responding, it was definitely very helpful.

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Post by centurymantra » Tue Nov 22, 2005 6:06 am

It's not that long ago that I was in your shoes and I will second the recommendation to pick up a few books as a means of moving you down the path of audio engineering, with message boards like these used to augment your reading and experimentation. This worked quite well for me. Believe it or not, I thought the "Home Recording for Dummies' book was acutally pretty decent as well as the books by Owsinski; 'The Recording Engineer's Handbook' and 'The Mixing Engineer's Handbook'. I also read a couple books about microphones, whose titles elude me, though I remember one was written by Huber. There's a bunch of other good books out there. You could probably search this board to find some further recommendations.

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Post by Mark Alan Miller » Tue Nov 22, 2005 6:19 am

I do say that I agree - read, read, read before asking too many questions. When you read stuff, you may learn about other things you didn't know you had questions about, and often they will be closely related to what you're interested in - and you may get your questions anwsered in a relavent context, unlike a shotgun list... ;)
Like others have said, use the search function here to find answers that might already exist, and pick up a book or three on recording as well. And recording magazines! (Like TapeOp (duh - haha) and others like Home Recording, Recording, and EQ, Music Tech or Future music all of which have introductory stuff as well as more advanced reading. Read everything - even if some of it goes over your head at first, you'll start getting things by context and will also become more comfortable with all the jargon. Once you find a magazine or three that you think you really get stuff out of, subscribe. (If you don't have a TapeOp sub, there's no reason not to! It's free and absolutely wonderful.)

Good luck, and keep on reading and posting. Welcome to the board!
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Post by dynomike » Tue Nov 22, 2005 7:37 am

I read about half your questions before my brain started to hurt.

I will attempt to answer a few of them line by line in my next post BUT...

Reading some books may, as others have suggested, be a better start to understanding signal flow.. I would suggest that an even better start would just be to go to a pro audio dealer and take a good look at a typical analog mixing desk (if you don't have one), for instance, a soundcraft ghost or spirit or even a mackie 8 buss or something. Download a signal flow diagram for one of these mixers and see if you can figure out where the sound will go when you patch things in differently.

Alternately, are there any pro studios in your area? See if you can get an internship - be prepared for some cleaning and coffee duty, but hopefully while no one is around you'll be able to take a good look at the patchbays and the console and see how stuff is typically hooked up. This will help you far more than reading our answers and trying to imagine how it works. Nothing wrong with some enthusiasm for learning though, thats just a daunting amount of questions! :)

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Re: I am new and I have 1 Million Incredibly Dumb Questions

Post by dynomike » Tue Nov 22, 2005 8:08 am

Regular Guy wrote:When connecting a board to a tape machine, do you simply plug the ins and outs of the board and the tape machine into one another, plug in a mic and record? Or is there more to it? It seems like there should be, and if there isnt....
There should be direct outs for each channel of the board. Plug those into the corresponding ins on the tape machine/daw/etc. Plug the channel outs from the tape machine/daw/etc to the "tape returns" on the board - if your board doesn't have this, it probably wasn't designed for recording - you can always use channels 1-16 for mics and 17-32 for tape returns.
How is it that all of the faders on the board effect both the live sound of whatever is going through the channel and whatever is being played back by the tape machine? Or does this even happen?
They don't.. either you'd switch between the mic inputs and the tape returns on each channel (switching fader banks on a digital board) or you'd just use different channels. A lot of these questions are pretty specific to whatever board you're using...
How do you assign channels on a board to tracks on a tape machine? Or a digital audio interface for that matter?
In the analog world, a patchbay. In the digital world, you just have to select what channels go to what outs from a menu on a digital board..
To what are monitor speakers connected? The board? The tape machine? Is there something that allows the user to switch from hearing the already tracked sounds to hearing whatever sounds are going through the board?
A mixer has a monitor section. It should be quite obvious where to plug your monitors (or monitor amp) into when you have a board... usually "monitor A" or "control room out" or something like that. You can assign what goes through the monitor section, whether it be the l/r mix or whatever - and of course, you can assign what goes to the l/r mix on the board, so that should answer your second question.
If you want to use your board with a digital setup and with a tape machine, do you have to unplug everything from one and into the other, or is there some way this process can be skipped? Or does this process need to happen? And do the controls on the board effect the digital audio in the same way they would anything recorded to tape? Do the mixers in digital audio software recognize changes made on a board plugged through an interface in any way? Or does an engineer recording with an analog board plugged into a digital audio interface simply ignore their software mixers and leave their leveling to the board sitting in front of them?
Think of your daw as exactly the same as a tape machine. Whatever you change on the board (channel eq's, etc) will affect what is recorded to tape or daw, depending on whether the direct outs are pre or post eq of course.. depends on the board. I think you probably would want a patchbay if you have a 24trk AND a daw AND an analog desk :) There are many answers to your latter questions - some people prefer mixing "in the box", some mix entirely on the board (which is a pain if you don't have automation for recalling settings, etc), some do their automation "in the box" and sum on the analog board - it all depends.
Do you have to re-route audio signals in order to mix down (tracking: board -> tape machine, mixing: tape machine -> board -> second tape machine (1/4in or whatever...just for example). If so, is there a way around this process or does this process simply not exist and I am inventing/imagining something way more complicated than the real world solution?
You should be able to leave everything plugged in as I explained at the top... thats what tape returns are for. You can just plug the main outs of the board to a 1/4" deck or whatnot.. no need to repatch there. Most boards will have a 2trk in as well for monitoring off your mixdown deck. You've got some pretty lofty gear goals (analog board, daw, analog multitrack, analog 2 trk).. sounds like you've read a bit about this at least..
If your faders aren't somehow automated, how do you make multiple adjustments to them when mixing down? Is there some solution to this that doesn't involve growing extra hands?
Answered above
If you've got an analog board with 24 channels plugged into a digital audio interface setup to record a project with 48 channels of audio, how do you use the board to control more channels than physically exist? Or can you at all?
You can't. Mix the extra channels on your DAW or just send busses to the board (use two faders for all the bgvs together, not one for each track, etc)
If someone is editing tape, how do they know exactly where to cut the tape? What happens if you fuck up, is there any way to recover? How do you splice tape back together? What kinds of tools do you use for such a job?
Beats me! :)
If you have something like an external EQ, where does that fit into the equation in terms of signal path, where do you plug it in? How do you apply it to something that has been tracked?
Channel or buss inserts.
Would it make sense to track to tape, import to a digital audio program for editing, and then mixdown to tape? Would it make sense to track to a digital audio program and then mixdown to tape? Or to track to a digital audio program, export to tape, and then mix the tape down to yet another tape? Would there be any discernable benefits (my thinking is that this way, tracks can be perfected in the computer so I don't have to keep taping over the little undesired imperfections, thus degrading the quality of the tape)?
If you don't want "degrading quality" don't track to tape at all - what most ppl do when the want the sound of tape and analog circuitry but the clean edits of digital is they'll track to tape, dump that to the daw, mixdown on the analog board (or at least sum busses on the analog desk) and send that either back to the daw or to a 1/4 or 1/2" 2 trk if they have one. But really, you can do whatever you want.
On your average mixing console, how do you pan something to the top right or the bottom left? When mixing down how do you shift the panning of multiple tracks at once?
top right? bottom left? most of us don't mix in 3d... or even 2d (surround). If you want to pan (or otherwise process) multiple tracks at once send them to a buss and pan or eq or whatever that buss altogether. Generally speaking though, high frequencies sound "higher" and low frequencies sound "lower" (spatially) ..
How do you use an external preamp? Do you simply plug your mic into the preamp and then run the line out of the preamp into the line in on the board?
Usually you run the out of the preamp into the record ins on your tape deck or daw.. but you can run it through the board if you want, the sound just isn't as clean that way. But then you do have access to another gain stage (if you want to run the first preamp hot then attenuate it.. etc.. or use the board eq's).
What are AUX sends and how do they work? I understand they are used for effects and compressors and things of that sort, but how this works is a total mystery to me. I don't know what the term "Bus" means, and I try to visualize how this whole process works, but in the end it totally mystifies me. Lets say someone has 8 tracks on 8 channels and they want to compress the bass drum at :32 seconds with the one of their 3 compressors. How are these compressors connected to the mixer, how do they make their way through the board and onto tape and at the right times? How do you activate "Compressor A" on track 3 of 8 tracks and then later on use it on tracks 2 and 6 but with a bit of "Compressor B"? Is there plugging and unplugging involved? I essentially have no idea how outboard gear works. I don't know what it means to use something such as a "bus compressor".
compressors, eq's, limiters, and other "tone shaping" devices are usually connected to channel or buss inserts - which are loops which go out from the board, through the comps or whatever, and back into the board at the same point in the signal path. Busses are just ways that the board organizes the tracks. You can send things to either the master fader (l/r) or a buss, which then goes to the master fader. This way you can put all your drums to one fader ( a buss) and process that via the buss insert. There is nothing different about a buss compressor from any other except that its sound is a little more critical since you're probably sending a lot of stuff through it.

Hope this helped a little bit.. but you really do need to go look at a mixer and its manual for the signal flow diagram to figure this stuff out. Of course, there's always recording school ;) which would answer these questions 100% and also give you hands on access to try these setups out, as an internship would at a studio. So get in there and learn.
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Re: I am new and I have 1 Million Incredibly Dumb Questions

Post by tactics » Tue Nov 22, 2005 8:12 am

Regular Guy wrote:


To what are monitor speakers connected? The board? The tape machine? Is there something that allows the user to switch from hearing the already tracked sounds to hearing whatever sounds are going through the board?
Active monitors have their own built in amp and can plug straight into the console whereas passive speakers need an amplifier to work.


If your faders aren't somehow automated, how do you make multiple adjustments to them when mixing down? Is there some solution to this that doesn't involve growing extra hands?
1.You could mix complicated sections one at a time then edit together later.
2.Get automated console (expensive)
3.Use a DAW (digital audio workstation)for automation.
4.Get some friends over to help.
If you've got an analog board with 24 channels plugged into a digital audio interface setup to record a project with 48 channels of audio, how do you use the board to control more channels than physically exist? Or can you at all?
Yes you can. You could assign the 48 trks in groups.Say send the drum tracks out to channels 1 & 2 on your board.It's known as mixing 'stems'.it does affect quality however.
If someone is editing tape, how do they know exactly where to cut the tape? What happens if you fuck up, is there any way to recover? How do you splice tape back together? What kinds of tools do you use for such a job?
With alot of practice.If you fuck up you're fucked basically, unless you've made copies.(which you would do if it was critical).You splice it back together with splicing tape.Tools are a razor blade that has been demagnetized and a splicing block.
Would it make sense to track to tape, import to a digital audio program for editing, and then mixdown to tape? Would it make sense to track to a digital audio program and then mixdown to tape? Or to track to a digital audio program, export to tape, and then mix the tape down to yet another tape? Would there be any discernable benefits (my thinking is that this way, tracks can be perfected in the computer so I don't have to keep taping over the little undesired imperfections, thus degrading the quality of the tape)?
This stuff is done every day in every way you described above it's personal preference.
How do you use an external preamp? Do you simply plug your mic into the preamp and then run the line out of the preamp into the line in on the board?
Yes or straight to a recorder.


The only way to learn is to dive in and get hands on and just go for it.It's just not practical to explain some of these questions without being shown an example.All people who are good at something were at some point a novice also.
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Re: I am new and I have 1 Million Incredibly Dumb Questions

Post by drumsound » Tue Nov 22, 2005 11:02 am

I'm just gonna go through you whole list. Some of these things may alrady be covered, but I'm doing it anyway. You see, I'm too lazy to read all of the responses today. HAHAHAH
Regular Guy wrote:Hello TapeOp,
Regular Guy wrote:There are a large number of basic things about recording that I don't currently understand and fear I never will. In attempt to push myself in the right direction, I have written out many of these questions and I am going to post them here. If anyone can point me in the right direction with at least one of them, I feel I will be much better off than I was yesterday, and therefore I will be extremely greatful.

Please don't eat me alive. I'm sure it might be tempting to some (those types exist on all message boards and in all walks of life), but my big hope is that maybe some of you veterans were in my place at one point and needed similar advice. Hopefully, out of the goodness of your hearts, you will grant me that.
Most of the gang here is pretty nice. Many of us started like you and have learned by doing and asking. You can get a lot of good information here.
Regular Guy wrote:Without further delay........

When connecting a board to a tape machine, do you simply plug the ins and outs of the board and the tape machine into one another, plug in a mic and record? Or is there more to it? It seems like there should be, and if there isnt....
On a board made for recording there should be inputs/outputs for Tape, mic and line, or some variation there of. If your adapting a live board you might have to work around its 'limitations." Generally you'd have the mic inputs go out to the tape deck and the tape deck come back to the tape returns. You'd send the tape returns to the monitors not the mic ins. You want to hear what the tape machine in doing to the signal. Tape machine inputs are usually line level, so even if there is an XLR, you still don't plug a mic right into it. The mic will need a preamp to get it to line level.
Regular Guy wrote:How is it that all of the faders on the board effect both the live sound of whatever is going through the channel and whatever is being played back by the tape machine? Or does this even happen?
I'm not sure I get your question...The Faders are output controls. If a mic is coming into a channel and you lower the fader, you lowering the output of that channel. This will also lower the level going to the tape deck. If you are asking about tracking versus mixing, that has to do with channel assignments. On a recording console, there are the tape returns, which are separate from the mic inputs. You can on many consoles switch channels from mic to tape. For tracking you'd put the channels on mic and listen to the tape return (which often is just a fader and pan) then for mixing you'd send the tape return to the channel and have the EQ, inserts etc. Depending on the console you will have different features and options. My console is an "in-line" design. On each channel I have an additional input for tape return. It has a small fader know and panning. I can however tie my Aux sends to the tape return or to the main fader, but my EQ is only connected to the main fader. On some consoles you can assign the EQ to either fader. There are tons of variations...
Regular Guy wrote:How do you assign channels on a board to tracks on a tape machine? Or a digital audio interface for that matter?
There should be buttons with numbers and an L/R button as well. On most recording consoles they are at the top of the channel (not on all though) On many live boards that are near the fader. You press (and often pan so they can have one button for two busses) where you want the signal to go after the fader.
Regular Guy wrote:To what are monitor speakers connected? The board? The tape machine? Is there something that allows the user to switch from hearing the already tracked sounds to hearing whatever sounds are going through the board?
The monitors are connected to the console outputs. Recording consoles usually have specific monitor outputs and monitor assignment, as well as options for multiple sets of monitors. Again a live board might need work arounds.
Regular Guy wrote:If you want to use your board with a digital setup and with a tape machine, do you have to unplug everything from one and into the other, or is there some way this process can be skipped? Or does this process need to happen? And do the controls on the board effect the digital audio in the same way they would anything recorded to tape? Do the mixers in digital audio software recognize changes made on a board plugged through an interface in any way? Or does an engineer recording with an analog board plugged into a digital audio interface simply ignore their software mixers and leave their leveling to the board sitting in front of them?
You either have to repatch for the digital or analog recorder or use a spliter snake of some sort. My analog recorder is attached through multi-pin connectors, but my digital recorder has snakes that go right to the patchbay. That makes it easy if I need to go from one to the other.

The mixer in an audio program will not recognize changes made on the analog board when the digital source is in playback mode. You are not effecting what the computer is doing, you are altering the sound after it has left the computer. If the digital system is recording a source that is running through the analog board, the sound will reflect the changes and then you will hear those changes on playback.

Using an analog console with a digital program, many people set the levels at zero on the software mixer and mix on the console. You can also mix with the software and set the analog console at zero but get "improved summing" from the analog domain, as well as ease of use for outboard gear, and/or the console EQ. This is a whole other can of worms BTW...
Regular Guy wrote:Do you have to re-route audio signals in order to mix down (tracking: board -> tape machine, mixing: tape machine -> board -> second tape machine (1/4in or whatever...just for example). If so, is there a way around this process or does this process simply not exist and I am inventing/imagining something way more complicated than the real world solution?
This is where a recording specific console makes life much easier. As I mentioned above a recording console has previcions for the ifferent scenarios of a recording sutdio. You can simple hit some buttons and re-assign things to go from tracking to mixing. You switch you channels from mic to tape, and your 2-track is connected and being fed from the master fader at all times anyway. You can assign the monitors to listen to the 2-track deck/burner or whatever and mix away. If you're using a live board, you'll probably have to patch some stuff around.This is where a recording specific console makes life much easier. As I mentioned above a recording console has previsions for the different scenarios of a recording studio. You can simple hit some buttons and re-assign things to go from tracking to mixing. You switch you channels from mic to tape, and your 2-track is connected and being fed from the master fader at all times anyway. You can assign the monitors to listen to the 2-track deck/burner or whatever and mix away. If you're using a live board, you'll probably have to patch some stuff around.
Regular Guy wrote:If your faders aren't somehow automated, how do you make multiple adjustments to them when mixing down? Is there some solution to this that doesn't involve growing extra hands?
Before I had automation I would enlist the hands of band members. We would rehearse the moves and print to DAT when we all felt comfortable. If something got screwed up we did it again (much like tracking). On analog tape many people will mix in sections and splice the sections together so that they can make the moves that need to be made. Like if all of the drum faders need to be brought up at the chorus. First you'd mix the level of the verses, then roll back the multitrack, adjust the faders and record a pass with the louder drums. Then cut the tape so the verses have the softer drums and the choruses have the louder drums.
Regular Guy wrote:If you've got an analog board with 24 channels plugged into a digital audio interface setup to record a project with 48 channels of audio, how do you use the board to control more channels than physically exist? Or can you at all?
You would need to combine certain things to the same outputs of the interface that is plugged into the mixer. You might submix all of your rhythm guitars to a stereo pair from the computer. So you might have six parts, that you have adjusted the level and pan in the computer and they are sent out to two channels of the interface to two channels of the board.

This is pretty common.
Regular Guy wrote:If someone is editing tape, how do they know exactly where to cut the tape? What happens if you fuck up, is there any way to recover? How do you splice tape back together? What kinds of tools do you use for such a job?
Usually you manually move the reels slowly (rocking the reels) and fine the 'spots' that you need to cut. Then you use a razor blade and a splicing block for good clean cuts. Then tape the ends together with splicing tape. If it's wrong you put the tape where the cuts are and try again.
Regular Guy wrote:If you have something like an external EQ, where does that fit into the equation in terms of signal path, where do you plug it in? How do you apply it to something that has been tracked?
Usually things like EQ and compression are done through inserts on the console. Alternatively you can put them between the board and recorder for tracking or the recorder and board for mixing.
Regular Guy wrote:Would it make sense to track to tape, import to a digital audio program for editing, and then mixdown to tape? Would it make sense to track to a digital audio program and then mixdown to tape? Or to track to a digital audio program, export to tape, and then mix the tape down to yet another tape? Would there be any discernable benefits (my thinking is that this way, tracks can be perfected in the computer so I don't have to keep taping over the little undesired imperfections, thus degrading the quality of the tape)?
Many projects are tracked to tape then imported to a computer for editing, additional tracks or extensive mix automation. Some people go back to multitrack tape some (most?) don't. Many folks also mix to analog 2-trck from digital sources.

Don't worry about punching in and "beating up the tape" good tape can handle a lot of passes and punches.

Regular Guy wrote:On your average mixing console, how do you pan something to the top right or the bottom left? When mixing down how do you shift the panning of multiple tracks at once?
With lots of hands!
Regular Guy wrote:How do you use an external preamp? Do you simply plug your mic into the preamp and then run the line out of the preamp into the line in on the board?
That will work. You can also plug the out of the preamp to the tape deck. Patchbays make all of this easier.
Regular Guy wrote:What are AUX sends and how do they work? I understand they are used for effects and compressors and things of that sort, but how this works is a total mystery to me. I don't know what the term "Bus" means, and I try to visualize how this whole process works, but in the end it totally mystifies me. Lets say someone has 8 tracks on 8 channels and they want to compress the bass drum at :32 seconds with the one of their 3 compressors. How are these compressors connected to the mixer, how do they make their way through the board and onto tape and at the right times? How do you activate "Compressor A" on track 3 of 8 tracks and then later on use it on tracks 2 and 6 but with a bit of "Compressor B"? Is there plugging and unplugging involved? I essentially have no idea how outboard gear works. I don't know what it means to use something such as a "bus compressor".
A buss is an output. Aux buss, stereo buss, multitrack buss. It all means output to somewhere. Auxiliary sends are an additional output to an auxiliary place with control of the output level. Often time you'd connect effects to the aux send, or mix the headphones through aux sends. That way you can send more of the lead guitar to the reverb or headphones than you might want on the vocal for instance.

Usually on a console compressors are attached to inserts (which insert something to the middle of the channel path). Usually you are going to use that compressor for the whole song. If you only want to compress one little loud spot you set the threshold of the compressor to only react to the signal when it's over that level. If it's just one little loud part you might even just deal with it at the fader during mixdown. If you really needed the same compressor on two different tracks at two different times, you might use the sectional mix technique I mentioned earlier.

A buss compressor is set up through a buss to be used on multiple instrument/tracks at the same time. Often times in instrumental groups I.E. the drum buss.
Regular Guy wrote:To me, my lack of understanding of these things is the most frustrating thing in the world, because I can see the benefits of having such setups but I haven't the faintest idea how to use them, and in some cases I don't even have any idea how to ask about what it is I am trying to do.

I have been reading about recording and learning about the process on really primitive setups, but I feel as though I really can't move towards using something more advanced until I learn these basic things that everyone seems to know that I have more or less been embarassed to ask.
You are correct in think that you need the basics first. Engineering is a science and an art, and takes a lot of work and lot of commitment to be good and a lifetime to be great...

Regular Guy wrote:I thank all of you in advance, I hope this wasn't too much too soon. I am just very eager to advance my abilities in the field of recording (what few exist).
I hope this helps. Stick around, you will learn a lot here.

:D

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nipsy
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Post by nipsy » Tue Nov 22, 2005 11:44 am

though the efforts of the repliers need to be commended, i feel the poster is quite suspicious...how'd he/she know they would "get eaten alive" for certain question?


call me cynical....


I apologize in advance if you are on the up & up, I've just seen this type of posting before and some of these clowns around here are true gems.....

drumsound
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Post by drumsound » Tue Nov 22, 2005 12:50 pm

nipsy wrote:though the efforts of the repliers need to be commended, i feel the poster is quite suspicious...how'd he/she know they would "get eaten alive" for certain question?
It's not his first using the internet.
nipsy wrote:call me cynical....
OK you're cynical
nipsy wrote:I apologize in advance if you are on the up & up, I've just seen this type of posting before and some of these clowns around here are true gems.....
Even if he's a trol (which I don't think he is) ther'yr are people here who might want oor need the information asked about.

Regular Guy
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Post by Regular Guy » Tue Nov 22, 2005 8:05 pm

No, I'm not a troll. I can't see what anyone would have to gain by writing a fake post with so many long winded questions. And besides I think a real troll would have a few more spelling errors and things haha

Anyway, thank you all for your responses and your advice. I am definitely going to do much more reading before I go out and start investing in gear that I don't know how to use. I hope to continue posting here because this whole universe of recordists really fascinates me. I like that the process is so deep and so involved but only a small/strange (in a good way) sect of people try to take it as far as it can go.

Professor
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Post by Professor » Tue Nov 22, 2005 9:03 pm

Normally I'd be standing at the ropes waiting to tag in on this one, but I'm getting ready to leave, and I'm sure that the line-by-line responses have more than covered those first questions.

What I noticed as an overall concept was that you need to learn a bit about signal flow since that seems to be at the center of a lot of your questions. Some of the old-timers liked to call these the "Gozintas and Comsouttas" because it is the quite literal understanding what 'goes into' something and what 'comes out' of something.
Take any old audio "source" like a microphone, or guitar or CDplayer, and all of these will share the common trait of having an audio output which sends audio (in the form of voltage) out to another place. Other devices such as mixers act in multiple roles and have both inputs, where the receive audio, and outputs where they send audio on to other places. In between a mixer may amplify (turn up), attenuate (turn down), re-route, blend, or otherwise manipulate the audio, but that will be while receiving at the inputs and sending to its outputs. Recorders will similarly take audio IN and store it, then later send it OUT to somewhere else. At the end of the chain is the speaker which is pretty much the only one-way box with only an input (as far as voltage) because at this stage, the audio is transformed from a voltage back into moving air.

Soundcraft has a really great starter booklet that used to be called the "Spirit Guide to mixing" but since they have re-absorbed Spirit into the main company it is now printed as the "Soundcraft Guide to Mixing". Either way, it is available for free online.
You can click here to view the booklet in HTML on-line.
Or you can click here to download the PDF and print it out so you can read it on the can.
And you can check out other goodies at their Learning Zone page.

You'll find other manufacturers like Shure, Audio Technica, Auralex, etc. have similar starter guides and training manuals that you might also find useful.

There's no sense just diving in and hitting the same walls everyone else has hit just to reinvent the wheel over and over. Read the wealth of material out there and you'll put yourself on a good path towards understanding what you're doing beyond just being happily surprised when you plug stuff in and the sound comes out the other end.

-Jeremy

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