RADAR - Worth learning/ using?

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James B
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RADAR - Worth learning/ using?

Post by James B » Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:03 am

I've recently started a MSc Audio Engineering course, as you'd expect it's all pretty Pro Tools/ Logic/ Cubase focussed. But they're also quite keen on these RADAR systems, are there any advantages of using these when there's a decent Pro Tools set up in the room? It seems a bit like taking the worst of digital with the inconveinience/ non-visual nature of tape to me...

Most of the studios are Audient desks or C24s into Pro Tools, but there is one studio known as the Gus Dudgeon suite that only uses RADAR. This studio features an old MCI desk that belonged to Dudgeon himself and was donated after his death. As you can imagine, I'm keen to have a go on it. But yeah, RADAR only when it seems criminal not to have a nice reel to reel in there.

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Post by kslight » Fri Oct 05, 2012 5:08 am

I disagree, I think its nice to have hands on experience with most potential platforms...whether or not you use it after school...who knows. But it is conceivable that saying you know Radar on your resume might come in handy.

It does seem like it would have been of more practical educational value to have a 2" machine, that consequently the students have to learn to calibrate, etc....but they didn't ask me.

I graduated from a recording school 7 years ago and I've never worked out of a studio that uses Radar (but I use an HD24XR for remotes, which is sort of the poor man's Radar) but I record to tape at least half the time when I'm in a studio.

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Post by James B » Fri Oct 05, 2012 7:05 am

Irritatingly there is a tape machine in there, but it's not working and there are no plans to fix it as "it's outdated and no one is interested in it". Despite insisting that I would be interested in it I couldn't get anyone interested in fixing it up. I thought about offering to have a go at it myself if all it needs is basic maintenance done to it, but there's so much red tape at institutions like this that I very much doubt they'd let me. To be fair, I have no idea what to do with it having only used digital systems before.

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Post by GooberNumber9 » Fri Oct 05, 2012 9:51 am

Sometimes it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission, especially when there's lots of red tape. Often the "punshiment" for fixing something gets caught up in the same red tape and you get away with it. If you have a favorite professor in the program, see if you can real casually-like mention it and see what they say. Then, avail yourself of the DIY section here on TapeOp. You'll probably learn more while failing to fix that darn tape machine than most EEs learn in four years of school.

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Post by kslight » Fri Oct 05, 2012 4:02 pm

there is a tape machine in there, but it's not working and there are no plans to fix it as "it's outdated and no one is interested in it".
Wow, seriously? That's a big bummer. I don't know what you're paying for school, but I bet you spend enough on tuition that it is a fair expectation for the tape machine to be functioning (or for them to at least RENT one or rent a studio that does for a few classes). There were several multitrack and 2 track tape machines at the school I went to....even ADATs, and this was only 7 years ago...and I'm pretty sure they still have all that except maybe not ADATs. And we learned them all, including calibration and basic maintenance.

I definitely question the value and practicality of learning 4 DAWs and no tape machines in an engineering program. Yes, Pro Tools makes sense, but I'd be inclined to believe that there are more pro studios still using tape machines in at least the tracking process than there are using Cubase/Logic/Radar combined (as a primary system). I realize that some professionals probably use Cubase/Logic/Nuendo...but I'd like to think that if you know what you are doing in Pro Tools you could fudge around in either for a few minutes and figure it out enough to get it going, no sense in paying for that kind of training IMHO.

While Radar doesn't seem like the most functional solution in terms of modern DAW capability, the advantage that this kind of training would give you is some degree of "out of the box" learning, which I do think is pretty useful to have, to really understand the signal flow of a DAW in concept of how its used in a real studio. Obviously a different program might give you this training on multitrack tape machines, your school has opted apparently for the Radar (probably looking to cut costs on maintenance/tape).

Like I said, tape is still not dead. I'm no big time engineer but I do a lot of projects to tape, I'm certain I'm not the only one.

If you are not happy with the level of training you are to receive in the audio engineering course, then maybe you need to evaluate some other options. It makes no sense to spend serious cash on something half-assed. On the other hand, one of the best skills to have in a studio environment is an open mind...so even if a particular course focuses on something you have little interest in, learning to embrace it can be helpful. While I think I learned in a lot in school, I have learned a lot more in real-world scenarios, things that never came up in the ideal college environment.

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Post by honkyjonk » Sat Oct 06, 2012 10:49 am

You can basically teach yourself how to use the Radar in an hour or so. Advantages of using it are it sounds rad for digital, and it forces people to make better albums by correcting problems before recording them, like tape. Also, punch-ins are the easiest thing in the world. If you do need to do some easy edits, like splice two mixes together, it can be done very quickly. I'd rather use Radar than any computer program, but then again, I'm not trying to broaden my resume or anything. Just trying to make albums efficiently.

I went to a school as well that was a bit of a joke, but I didn't really pay for it (thanks Pell Grant!) It was mostly just a way to get a diploma and hang out with other recording geeks.

Retrospectively, the things I'm learning on my own that I think would have been enormously valuable to touch on more (or at all) would have been

-the purpose of eq (dialing out nasty shit/making things fit) I think that a really long devotion to the art of eqing would make the learning of everything else much easier/more apparent. Often times when I think something needs compression, I find that eqing it first actually can alleviate what I though to be a need for compression.

-maintenance, which could include tracking down problems with a multi meter, building kits, and tape machine maintenance and calibration.

-studio acoustics. crash course in physics

But hey, I did learn pro tools a little bit at my school. But I think I've forgotten it now.

Seems like there is a tendency in a lot of programs to focus more heavily on the manufacturing of a pop hit by way of the latest software advances, over timeless practices that will continue to be useful decades later.
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Post by cgarges » Sun Oct 07, 2012 9:29 am

honkyjonk wrote:You can basically teach yourself how to use the Radar in an hour or so. Advantages of using it are it sounds rad for digital, and it forces people to make better albums by correcting problems before recording them, like tape. Also, punch-ins are the easiest thing in the world. If you do need to do some easy edits, like splice two mixes together, it can be done very quickly. I'd rather use Radar than any computer program, but then again, I'm not trying to broaden my resume or anything. Just trying to make albums efficiently.
I agree with all this. The first time I used a RADAR, I had someone show me how to get it to sync with a digital console and how to open a new project. From then on, it was three years before I ever opened the manual. If you can't figure out how to use a RADAR, you probably shouldn't be recording people.

That said, although there are a bunch of RADAR users out there, it's not a totally common format. If you do learn your way around it (and most of the "limitations" stigma that I've heard has been based on versions of the machine from like 20 years ago), then you'll be better-prepared if you do have the opportunity to use one. Most people I know who've done freelance work at my place have been able to figure it out except for doing edits. If you learn how to do edits on it, then you're pretty much set. (By the way, any machine that's earlier than using software version 3.35 is pretty much archaic.)

Hope this helps.

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Post by Bill Williams » Sun Oct 07, 2012 9:54 am

Accidentally fix the tape machine then wade into red tape getting them to pay you for it...

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Post by James B » Sun Oct 07, 2012 11:33 am

If I felt I had the ability to do it I'd probably have a crack at fixing the tape machine but my previous record of gear repairs isn't the best. It's definitely something I should work on, but I doubt this is the best practice project.

As for RADAR, I think I'm going to book a session on my own to get to grips with it. From what you guys have said and a quick flick through the manual it doesn't appear to be tricky. Recording without software as a visual aid is something I've largely avoided but it should be an interesting variation/ challenge. Initially I'll just be dong live tracking with no editing (as mentioned in another thread), so that should simplify the process even more.

There have been a couple of interesting points made about courses like mine and similar. I realise that almost no one got a job in this field just because they had the right degree, but I definitely think I can make good use of the studio access/ equipment to learn through extra-curricular projects which could be of more value in the end. It's a bit more digital/ modern focussed than I might like but it's a new campus and I reckon they'd struggle to get the funding for equipment that isn't seen to be "state of the art" or "cutting edge" or whatever. Not perfect but it's nice to be meeting/ collaborating with people interested in recording and thanks to fortunate geography and a bit of luck I'm not losing too much cash over it. Sure, I'd rather be working but that's hardly been on the cards lately.

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Post by cgarges » Sun Oct 07, 2012 4:22 pm

Twice now you mentioned the lack of a visual aid. Does this RADAR not have a monitor? Unless it's an EXTREMELY old machine, it should interface with a monitor where you can watch WAV files go by all day long.

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Post by James B » Mon Oct 08, 2012 8:31 am

Sorry for repeating myself, it's more a lack of attention when posting rather than it being a really huge concern.

I've only had the briefest of glimpses at the RADAR system itself but this is essentially what I saw:

Image

Just a keypad and the rackmount part. But there was a monitor nearby that I assumed was connected to a PC for teaching purposes, so that may well be it. I'll be in the studio on Thursday so I'll know more then. I'd be very surprised if the RADAR system wasn't purchased new at some point since 2007 which presumably isn't what you mean by extremely old.

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Post by Spark » Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:28 pm

RADAR has a VGA out on the backside. The screen should be treated as an option though, not a total necessity.

I miss using RADAR!

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Post by drumsound » Mon Oct 08, 2012 10:14 pm

RADARs are super simple to use and sound great. I think if i ever did put a DAW into my room, I'd still track basics to the RADAR, and only get into the computer if I needed more tracks, a lot of editing, or "instant recall" mixing.

I had a guy freelancing in my room, with his PT rig a couple years back. He did a few sessions and then asked me if he could do a session on the RADAR. I told him to go for it. He texted me about 3 times that day, all with different things that were making him happy about using the RADAR.

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Post by Harry » Tue Oct 09, 2012 6:35 am

I just read a great article in the September issue of premier guitar. You can read it on line. It's the last call(page 184). like the end rant in Tape Op.

It hit the nail on the head as to why I work the way I do. (HD 24 no computer in the studio at all)

Read it.

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Post by cgarges » Tue Oct 09, 2012 12:15 pm

I did a session yesterday on an OLD Otari Radar II. Version 2. something. It was a little different from using the other systems I'm used to, but I was still able to splice between takes, undo an edit or a take, and watch the audio go by as the band was cranking. The differences in that machine and the new ones on a basic tracking session were mostly small, time-saving things that I'd gotten used to on the newer machines, like the location of the "Shift" key on the remote.

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