Need to push preamp outputs to tape, need recomendation

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gradwellhouse
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Need to push preamp outputs to tape, need recomendation

Post by gradwellhouse » Tue Aug 12, 2008 2:49 pm

Hey Everyone,

I am trying to see what my options are for pushing the line-level outputs of my outboard preamps when I goto my Sony APR-24 2 inch deck.

Basically here is the situation:
We run a mostly DAW studio (http://gradwellhouse.com) and have recently aquired a tape machine so that clients that want analog will have it to use. We do not have a mixer, we just run all of our preamps into out apogee AD16 and then to an RME 96HDSP soundcard. To goto the tape machine we just patch the outputs of the preamps to the deck and then outputs of the deck to the apogee, makes a lot of sense and it really works great except for one thing; We get a ton of tape his because we are not hitting the tape hard enough.

Solution: Get some sort of gear that will let us push the preamp outputs up to hit the tape harder. Obviously a mixer would do this but I wanted to know if there is anything that you guys know of that will just basically get us some faders or pots to run in-line so we can get that output hotter.

We are running the machine at 15 ips (I know 30 is quieter but OT for this discussion) +6 on RMG 911 (456 equiv). We have a few preamps that we can push the output gain up on (neve clones) and a pair of distressors that can as well but I want to see what you all do to resolve this.

Thanks,
Steve


p.s. one solution that we already ruled out was to increase the record level on the deck. Unfortunately that isnt possible because its a digitally calibrated machine with no trim pots.

Shane Michael Rose
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Post by Shane Michael Rose » Tue Aug 12, 2008 10:13 pm

well.... what about getting a board?

Shane Michael Rose
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Post by Shane Michael Rose » Tue Aug 12, 2008 10:15 pm

ps- chris ward is such a great dude. i come to every show he plays in boston (or as many as i can)

i actually suggested your studio to the songwriter in my band (totally obsessed with tape) but he wasnt down with the "no board"aspect"

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firesine
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Post by firesine » Thu Aug 14, 2008 11:30 am

Wouldn't just about any compressor/limiter after the pre do this for you?
Mmm, lung butter.

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JohnDavisNYC
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Post by JohnDavisNYC » Thu Aug 14, 2008 2:50 pm

i don't know what to tell you... preamps should be able to send plenty of level to tape... that is what they were designed for... if you can't get good level to your machine (obviously determined by using the VU meters) then either your preamps are broken, your tape machine is broken, or you just aren't very good yet.

most likely you just aren't very good yet. tape takes a lot more experience to make good sounding recordings every time than digital... compressing to tape can certainly help you maintain average levels way above the noise floor, but it should be totally doable with just preamps.

as far as technical things go, i would be totally flabbergasted if you couldn't adjust the recording level... the tape machine may be digitally controlled, but there has to be a way to manually align it... my Studer A810 2track is fully digitally controlled, but i can still customize the alignment if i want to... there may be no trim pots, but there will be annoying buttons and lights that allow you to change the alignment...

briefly, if you are having problems with hisssssss, i would try this: put your MRL or house tones reel up on the machine. then, do a standard repro alignment, BUT, align the high end down a DB or two... then when you are doing the record alignment, you will do it as normal, so that everything is at 0, but this will mean that in reality you will be printing high frequencies slightly hotter, and then turning them down later, and the hiss with it... simple pre-emphasis.

also, experiment with how you bias the machine... first set it up for the reel according to the tape manufacturer's recemmendation, then listen in repro while you adjust the bias ammount on a track... you may be able to find something you like up there... always check what it is doing to program material, because if the bias is too far from 'correct' it might be totally fucking your sound.

but really, +6 on a good machine with new RMGi and a bunch of modern preamps should be fine... more experimentation and experience is the only way to go. i used to make really noisy recordings on my A80 24tk, but now i've got things pretty under control and can make some pretty damn quiet recordings, even at 15ips (which i prefer for aesthetic reasons).

john
i like to make music with music and stuff and things.

http://www.thebunkerstudio.com/

xonlocust
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Re: Need to push preamp outputs to tape, need recomendation

Post by xonlocust » Thu Aug 14, 2008 3:04 pm

gradwellhouse wrote:p.s. one solution that we already ruled out was to increase the record level on the deck. Unfortunately that isnt possible because its a digitally calibrated machine with no trim pots.
really? that seems crazy - granted, i've never used an APR-24, but how do you switch tape formulas? there's no manual override? i'm pretty sure on A820s you can manually goose the signal even though it's done automatically for you. even if it doesn't - that's an interesting side topic. how does the auto calibrate work? does it automatically sense the repro/sync level based on the MRL you play through it, or do you manually enter in a reference level somewhere - to tell it you want 500nWb/m, or 355nWb/m (+9,+6)? if you can tell it the ref level if you cheat it higher, that would effectively do the same thing right?

if it really reads the level based off the cal tape coming in, perhaps you could make a "fake" MRL by first calibrating to a real MRL, then record tones at whatever level higher than you want to do (add an additional few DBs), then recalibrate based off of THOSE new tones.

where's ladewd? that or call blevins, that just seems crazy that you really have no override control. seems like this has to have been addressed back in the day.

xonlocust
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Post by xonlocust » Sat Aug 16, 2008 5:07 pm

i forgot i'm on this list too - they might have some valuable insight as well:

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/sony_apr/

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