Analog Recording?

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mattvdh
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Analog Recording?

Post by mattvdh » Tue Mar 17, 2009 10:47 pm

Everybody in audio engineering says that analog is the way to go to achieve a deep natural sound, but in reality 99% of engineers use digital. Why don't engineers just have a basic recorder for rehearsing takes and then once they are ready they use all analog based audio interfaces/amps/mixers? have musicians gotten crappier than ever or have 'engineers' been dumbed down to point and click? I don't understand this popular belief of analog being the best way to capture and play sound, but in reality its rarely applied! are we becoming cheaper (not in cost but in quality) and lazier at producing music lately?

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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Tue Mar 17, 2009 11:21 pm

Are you a troll?

Are you sure?

Have you looked in the mirror lately?
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Post by mattvdh » Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:16 am

lol no, I'm not a troll... just really curious about this subject.

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Post by mscottweber » Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:51 am

Well, I have only been involved in recording for about 5 or 6 years now, starting when I was in high school (im in college now). Since I have never owned nor had any type of reel to reel recorder at my disposal, analog recording has been out of the question (cassette being a possible exception). I would try analog recording, but it is simply too expensive for a broke student like myself to take up.

To the best of my knowledge, that is part of why a lot of pros are digital too: it is cost effective. Not to mention the editing flexibility a digital recorder brings to the table.

If you spend enough time browsing these forums and reading about how different people are recording, you will find that many many many engineers are still doing things the analog way, to various degrees. The reasons they still use analog are because they like the sound and/or the workflow. However, many people really truly like the way digital works and sounds, and there have been some great recordings done digitally.

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Post by mattvdh » Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:04 am

I have been trying out various software now on PC for about 10 around 10 years now, and I've recently realized that the recordings I've done on PC sound too light and 'airy'. When I use to record on my tascam 4 track the guitars and bass sounded amazing...it was thick and loud and full of great tones. I'm just wondering what would would be considered to be a really good machine to buy for analog recordings? do companies still produce modern reel-to-reel units or do you have to buy them used at 'vintage' prices?

I'm glad I have learned how to use protools and cubase because they are great for song writing and laying down ideas, but IMO music should be perfected in the rehearsal room so it can be played in one shot, preferably to a metronome. No punch-ins or 'studio magic', just quality music recorded in a good mixing room. I think if you can successfully record it about 5 times in a row on your PC, then you can move on and do the take on tape.

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Post by decocco » Wed Mar 18, 2009 1:13 pm

To the best of my knowledge, that is part of why a lot of pros are digital too: it is cost effective. Not to mention the editing flexibility a digital recorder brings to the table.
+1

I can comp takes in a DAW in seconds. I can comp takes with tape but....... it takes soooooooooo much longer (time is money), I have to cut up the tape, and tape is way more expensive than hard drive space.

I usually compromise. I record basics to tape, dump everything to Pro Tools, then edit and continue the project in the digital realm. Digital editing is awesome.

Some music I record needs to be chopped into little bits and entirely rearranged. Some music requires only 2 mics, no editing, and minimal processing. I choose analog when I need analog. I choose digital when I need digital. They sound different. Both are capable of stunning results.
IMO music should be perfected in the rehearsal room so it can be played in one shot
I agree. Studio time is not rehearsal time. When I record a band, digital or analog, I expect them to be well rehearsed. No amount of editing in a DAW can make a shit performance into something great. It can help you go from "shit" to "tolerable", but that's not great! But give me 3 awesome performances and I'll comp together a freakin' awesome super take in a few seconds. No rocking reels back and forth, no grease pencil, no razor blades. Just a few clicks of the mouse. Yea!

As far a getting an analog deck... How many tracks do you need? What is your budget? Maintaining a tape machine can be very expensive, but it may be worth it to you.
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Post by Judas Jetski » Fri Mar 20, 2009 3:46 pm

mattvdh wrote: do companies still produce modern reel-to-reel units or do you have to buy them used at 'vintage' prices?
From what I've been seeing here, on eBay and elsewhere, it seems like a motivated individual should have no problem getting top-shelf analog gear for pennies on the dollar (as compared to new).

Maintenance, on the other hand, might be another matter entirely. It hasn't been much of a problem for me, but profit is not a motive for me either.
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Post by jesse_baccus » Sat Mar 21, 2009 2:21 pm

digital is cheap.
digital is portable.
digital is flexible.
digital can sound like whatever you want it to sound like, if you are aware of how it, and everything in conjunction, are working.
digital storage is more reliable.
technically speaking, you can achieve a purer-to-original sound with digital.

i think the real question, is why analog?
...

..
analog sounds better.
so whats up with that?
the human organism is a natural thing, the propagation of air pressure is a natural thing, it is drawn to other natural things, things the brain understands instinctively. electricity (e.i. analog sound reproduction and storage), is also a natural thing. it moves to the law of physics, just as you do, so it is perceived as more pleasant. The changes you can make within the laws of physics in an analog realm, are a natural metamorphose. in digital it is recalculations, and everything depends on something else, and its all very fragile.

its about balance, let each do what it is good at, and let them co-exist in a manner that works for YOU.

you can easily get a used tape machine, and recently tape has been good too. the machine will likely not work when you get it, and will need a thorough calibration.

I personally, use analog gear for all its deep and fuzzy feelings, and then capture it as accurately as possible in the digital domain. digital processing for precision, analog for colour.
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Post by masonpitzel » Sat Mar 21, 2009 5:23 pm

jesse_baccus wrote:digital storage is more reliable.
O rly?

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Post by jesse_baccus » Sat Mar 21, 2009 5:33 pm

masonpitzel wrote:
jesse_baccus wrote:digital storage is more reliable.
O rly?
yes, really.
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Post by Justin Foley » Sat Mar 21, 2009 8:58 pm

Digital storage is not more reliable.

Others have said is in better detail and with more elegance, but there is no digital storage medium that is as simple and robust as an analog tape. I posit that the 8 track 1" tracking masters and 2 track 1/2" mixdown masters that I'm recording our current record on will be more readily playable in 20 years than anything digital you've got to throw at them. If you disagree, please be specific about what's going to beat them. Make sure to include software versions, operating systems requirements, physical storage media (with brand names and track record) and any peripherals needed.

Complain if you like that this has been covered to death (it has). But the comparative permanence of a professional analog recording to anything digital is the main (and in my opinion ultimate) advantage that analog recording has over digital.

= Justin

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Post by cgarges » Sat Mar 21, 2009 10:10 pm

jesse_baccus wrote:digital storage is more reliable.
Sorry, but as an absolute that is just wrong.

I don't know one single studio that has lost an entire tape project through no fault of their own, just sitting around between projects. I can think of seven, yes SEVEN different incidents that happened to people I know personally where stuff was GONE, just COMPLETELY GONE, because of a hard drive crash. Was it entirely negligent on the part of the studio to have not had backups of sessions from paying clients? Hell yeah, it was, but I don't know of one single incident where this has ever happened with a project on tape.

Still don't buy it? Okay, since we're talking absolutes, DAT is a digital storage medium, right? Do you know how many DAT tapes I have in my closet at home that are ten years old or so and won't play back? Of course you don't, so I'll tell you: About ten. Take a guess at how many 20-25 year-old cassettes I have that won't play back at all. None.

Ever handled a reel of tape that's 40 years old? I have. With a little careful cleaning, they played back just fine. Find me some digital storage device from 30 years ago that can play back.

The reliability issue seems pretty obvious to me.

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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Sat Mar 21, 2009 11:33 pm

Even if the zeros and ones are all in proper order on a digital storage medium 40 years down the road [and they probably aren't], you'll have to go to a landfill or a museum to find something that can interpret them.

I have files on CD's that I can't even check to see if they're intact because I don't have a computer old enough to run the old software that they were recorded with.
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Post by jesse_baccus » Sat Mar 21, 2009 11:50 pm

cgarges wrote:
jesse_baccus wrote:digital storage is more reliable.
Sorry, but as an absolute that is just wrong.

I don't know one single studio that has lost an entire tape project through no fault of their own, just sitting around between projects. I can think of seven, yes SEVEN different incidents that happened to people I know personally where stuff was GONE, just COMPLETELY GONE, because of a hard drive crash. Was it entirely negligent on the part of the studio to have not had backups of sessions from paying clients? Hell yeah, it was, but I don't know of one single incident where this has ever happened with a project on tape.

Still don't buy it? Okay, since we're talking absolutes, DAT is a digital storage medium, right? Do you know how many DAT tapes I have in my closet at home that are ten years old or so and won't play back? Of course you don't, so I'll tell you: About ten. Take a guess at how many 20-25 year-old cassettes I have that won't play back at all. None.

Ever handled a reel of tape that's 40 years old? I have. With a little careful cleaning, they played back just fine. Find me some digital storage device from 30 years ago that can play back.

The reliability issue seems pretty obvious to me.

Chris Garges
Charlotte, NC
tapes degrade, even after incubation, they are not true to what they were. i've done thousands of hours of tape restoration and transfer from all eras, and it doesn't always work, and if a tape was neglected, its not going to be useable. ones and zeros don't change through time.

The reason hard drives fail is because of misuse, if you are using harddrives correctly they have an extremely low error rate, and even when drives crash the information is not "completely gone." and can be recovered, unless a drive has been reformatted.

When people loose information it is always of fault of their own, whether or not they are willing to except it. Taxing a system while working off a hard drive, or not letting drives spin down, or any of the plethora of ways people misuse hard drives, is just as much their fault as if they put a tape on a speaker, or stored it in a basement.

There are more degradation problems with analog storage, and just as many things to be mindful of. Sure most open reels will restore with some accuracy, but there are a lot that wont. There is a lot of room for error in both mediums, but how long do you actually think there will be a knowledgeable generation to take care of all the problems that can arise with open reel tapes and tape machines? 100 years?

Binary code is here to stay, and if you don't f**k around with it, it won't f**k around with you. I have been using digital storage as a primary backup for the last 7 years solely, have never had a hard drive crash, and have never lost any information. You can't attribute operator error as a flaw in a medium,

and yes DAT's suck, sorry I wasn't specific in saying "hard disk digital storage." and DATs get f**ked up for the same reason analog tape isn't reliable, except more so because there's no correction for dropped packets, so instead of playing back sounding like s**t, it will opt to not play at all.

but you don't see labels backing their important data up to 2" do you? Even pharmaceutical companies don't back up their data to analog tape anymore. As a storage medium, digital disk has come to be more reliable.

argue all you want, but your "absolute" stance on it is a dream, and if people are losing so much on their hard drives, maybe they need to figure out what they're doing wrong.

I look forward to your rebuttal,,
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Post by JGriffin » Sun Mar 22, 2009 1:08 am

As my old pappy used to say, there are two types of people in the world: those who have lost important data to a catastrophic hard drive crash, and those who are going to.
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