Analog Digital hybrid strategy: tape to protools, and back

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tulipp
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Analog Digital hybrid strategy: tape to protools, and back

Post by tulipp » Sun Sep 08, 2013 12:35 pm

I have been recording my three piece rock'n'roll band. Since I've been running out of tracks lately on my 16 track tape machine, I have been considering this strategy: Recording drums, guitars, vocals onto tape until the tracks are used up. Then, using quality converters, converting all 16 tracks to digital, adding bass, and backup vox in the box. I was also thinking of comping the primary vox in the box. Then converting everything (probably 22-28 tracks by this point) back to analog, so that I can mix analog to 2 track tape. Has anyone been working this way? Or tried it? Constructive advice concerning which instruments to track digitally or best practices for A/D and D/A conversions and analog summing would be much appreciated!!!!
Last edited by tulipp on Sun Sep 08, 2013 1:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

kslight
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Post by kslight » Sun Sep 08, 2013 12:52 pm

Are you talking about a 1" 16 track or 2"?

My personal preference would make recording vocals to tape a low priority.


Are you talking about recording to tape, then converting to digital, then recording the tracks back to tape, then mixing? Or tape, then digital, then mixing to a 2 track tape machine?

What is it that you hope to achieve as a result of said process?


There are no wrongs but when I track to tape I keep it digital after converting, because I am not interested in adding any more noise or dampening any high end, etc....

But your best bet is to try a song the way you want, and see if it gets you where you want to go. Do before and after tests.

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Post by tulipp » Sun Sep 08, 2013 1:15 pm

Hi kslight,

thank you for your thoughtful reply. I have edited my original post to read "mix to 2 track tape."

I have a 16 track 1" machine, and I really like its sound, especially compared to guitars or drums recorded directly into the box. Also it is a blast to roll tape!

I like your idea of just going for it and comparing the sounds.

I must admit that I hate mixing in the box; I like the "cohesive meatiness" of analog summing, compared to my past attempts at mixing in the box (protools, apogee rosetta converter out). But who knows...a different setup, a different song might get me different results. And maybe more DAW skills would help, too. It's just that the analog mix sounds good from the start....

Interesting thought on vox to tape not being so crucial; I'll have to A/B that.

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Post by kslight » Sun Sep 08, 2013 1:36 pm

Well if you just want to go back to 2 track tape, that's not as uncommon a method, in that case.


In depends on what you want out of vocals.

Me personally I like some extended high end on vocals, which I tend to add going in, but if I want to add more high end and/or compression and its already on tape I'm boosting a lot of noise, rather than "air." For some types of music a duller vocal might be desirable, but I am under the thought process that vocals should be "on top" of the other tracks not buried in the mix, and being able to bring out that extended high end helps me get where I want to go.

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Post by tulipp » Sun Sep 08, 2013 3:46 pm

kslight -

thank you for clarifying your thoughts on vocal track quality. Very helpful! :D

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Post by fossiltooth » Sun Sep 08, 2013 4:52 pm

Sure, this is a pretty common thing to do! If anything, I'd be surprised if the majority of tape projects weren't done kind of like this nowadays. Of course, plenty of folks will do just one or the other: Record to tape, but print mixes back in digitally; or record to PT, and then loop through a 2-track machine on mixdown.

I'll also have to second everything that kslight has written here. Pretty spot on.

Although... if you're recording to 16 track... why not own that $h*t?! They record to 8-tracks at Daptone and their records come out a-mazing! Even if what you do has a ton of warts, it might at least be interesting. And isn't that the name of the game?

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Post by tulipp » Sun Sep 08, 2013 6:53 pm

Hi Justin!
Thanks for the encouragement! I love working with the 16 track - I've gotten to know which tracks are best for what, and I like what it adds to the music. I wish I could do everything on tape. But I also love stereo guitar miking, and that eats up tracks....

I guess what I'm most specifically asking is: am I digging a hole for myself by doing the majority of the tracks on tape and then, specifically, adding bass on the DAW? Is bass for any reason the wrong track to be doing digitally, while the others are on tape? I definitely would be open to doing bass on tape and vocals on the DAW instead....

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Post by jgimbel » Sun Sep 08, 2013 8:31 pm

tulipp wrote:I guess what I'm most specifically asking is: am I digging a hole for myself by doing the majority of the tracks on tape and then, specifically, adding bass on the DAW? Is bass for any reason the wrong track to be doing digitally, while the others are on tape? I definitely would be open to doing bass on tape and vocals on the DAW instead....
I don't think so. I did a record about a year ago where we tracked the basics (drums, rhythm guitar, and bass) to tape, live. Then we tracked lead vocals, lead guitar, retracked a lot of the rhythm guitar, and I believe did a little bass all digitally. We gave the amps room to breathe (mics not right up on the grill cloth, similar to how we recorded it to tape), and with a little EQ the tracks fit in just fine. We were actually slightly happier with sound of the digital overdubs than the tape sounds, but this was certainly a tape-sounding record, not something that needed to be really clean and therefore clearly dominated by digital. It wasn't nearly as difficult to get the digital sounds to match to the tape sounds as I expected. There were even a few parts where we punched in on the tape tracks on digital and it fit in fine. It's just a matter of careful listening to what is going on in the spectrum. If you're not even trying to match sounds with the overdubs then I especially wouldn't worry about it, and I think many things are ideal about working that way, picking and choosing what you want the sound of tape for, and what you want the workflow of digital (or even the sound) on. I started the project a little concerned about it and it ended up not being an issue whatsoever.
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Post by blungo2 » Mon Sep 09, 2013 6:09 pm

I do at least part of what you're talking about all the time. The most important tracks are tracked to tape and then brought into the computer. Overdubs, additional layers, direct bass are often done digitally.

Haven't yet put the two buss out to 2 track tape, but we may be doing that in the near future.

I really enjoy initially tracking to tape and then mixing digitally. I think that for some stuff it may offer the most flexibility and options.

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Re: Analog Digital hybrid strategy: tape to protools, and ba

Post by Waltz Mastering » Tue Sep 10, 2013 8:05 pm

tulipp wrote: Has anyone been working this way? Or tried it? Constructive advice concerning which instruments to track digitally or best practices for A/D and D/A conversions and analog summing would be much appreciated!!!!
Best bet might be to get a Lynx sync box and run both ana and digi at the same time.
What are you mixing through or using for a console?

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Post by Nick Sevilla » Wed Sep 11, 2013 2:52 pm

Hi,
In my experience, you will want to keep the high frequency information as much as possible after recording.

I usually record to tape then transfer to a ProTools HD, and finish in ProTools.

Rarely, do I print down to a Stereo tape, but have done so a few times, mostly when the whole mix needs a bit of the sound from one of my two tape decks.

But really, going back and forth between tape>digital>tape again needs to be carefully done if you want a crisp airy sound.

If you want muffled, then go for it.

Cheers
Last edited by Nick Sevilla on Sun Sep 22, 2013 9:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by lawson » Sun Sep 22, 2013 8:38 am

tulipp wrote:Hi Justin!
I've gotten to know which tracks are best for what, and I like what it adds to the music. I wish I could do everything on tape. But I also love stereo guitar miking, and that eats up tracks....
this may all be obvious, but,

my favorite thing now is combining sources before tape... combining 2 guitar mics to one signal, combining 7 drum mics to a L-R drum mix, etc...

With the DAW incorporated, the bussing possibilities are pretty nuts...

you could record 2 guitar mics to 2 tape tracks and 7 drum mics to 7 tape tracks, I mean like a "track-per-mic or source" approach... and then dump that into the DAW and buss things down there, then return to fresh tape with 1 guitar track and a stereo drum track, and then stack up on tape from there.. just an example...

but in my experience I am really enjoying what happens when multiple sources are combined in the analog realm before those sources are recorded onto whatever medium...

using sub groups works well ( i am heartbroken i missed the toft 16 for $1k on craigs in austin a couple weeks ago for it's 8 sug groups) but i find auxes also work well to group things together, although they create routing headaches for me, and recall is utterly impossible...

you could eventually dedicate 2 tracks on the 16 track machine to having a stereo guitar track that has 10 different stereo guitar tracks combined into only 2 tape tracks... hope im not just preaching to the choir here

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