How To: Replace an 8-Track R2R with a Laptop

Recording Techniques, People Skills, Gear, Recording Spaces, Computers, and DIY

Moderators: drumsound, tomb

joey_p77
audio school
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:28 pm

How To: Replace an 8-Track R2R with a Laptop

Post by joey_p77 » Thu May 10, 2018 5:38 pm

I have a basic analog setup with a Tascam 38 8-track reel-to-reel and a Tascam M-308 mixer.

What gear would I need to effectively replace an 8-track tape machine with a laptop in this scenario? (i.e. leaving the analog board and outboard gear for all the recording/mixing, essentially just using the laptop/DAW as a recorder?).

I know it would be easy to send a stereo mix to to the laptop, but I want to have the same experience that I get with my 8-track analog setup where each of the 8 tracks would be separately sent from/received by the mixer (and I wouldn't have to look at a screen).

User avatar
Snarl 12/8
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3357
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:01 pm
Location: Right Cheer
Contact:

Re: How To: Replace an 8-Track R2R with a Laptop

Post by Snarl 12/8 » Thu May 10, 2018 6:57 pm

joey_p77 wrote:
Thu May 10, 2018 5:38 pm
(and I wouldn't have to look at a screen).
I don't know how you achieve that part.
Carl Keil

Almost forgot: Please steal my drum tracks. and more.

User avatar
joninc
deaf.
Posts: 1900
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2003 5:02 pm
Location: canada
Contact:

Re: How To: Replace an 8-Track R2R with a Laptop

Post by joninc » Thu May 10, 2018 7:42 pm

you want to record through the board into the computer? basically replace the tape machine with the computer?

If you don't want to look at the screen and don't intend to do any editing or use any of the digital effects etc you might want to consider a used hard disk recorder like an Alesis HD24 etc... they can be had dirt cheap now ($500-$800) and the ones labelled XR have even better converters. It's a 24 bit /24track recorder and can do 24 tracks at 48k or 12 tracks at 96k.

if you want the laptop for some other reason then you'll need some sort of 8 channel converter - don't bother with mic pres if you are happy with what you have on the board - and some software to use to record and play back the audio. there are some cheap and even free options (REAPER, HARRISON MIX BUSS) and the more common ones (PRO TOOLS, LOGIC, CUBASE etc..)
the new rules : there are no rules

kslight
moves faders with mind
Posts: 2617
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2009 7:40 pm

Re: How To: Replace an 8-Track R2R with a Laptop

Post by kslight » Thu May 10, 2018 7:45 pm

It’s probably simpler to use a standalone recorder than to try to dumb down a computer.

standup
re-cappin' neve
Posts: 609
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2004 7:04 pm
Location: Baltimore
Contact:

Re: How To: Replace an 8-Track R2R with a Laptop

Post by standup » Fri May 11, 2018 7:56 am

That's kind of a fun question.

Besides the 24-track Alesis decks there were also lots of 8- and 16-track hard disk recorders. You could maybe find an Akai DR-8 for nearly nothing. But backing those up was a pain, compared to the reel to reel deck where you just put a new reel on.

For the laptop approach, maybe get a transport control with the play/record/track arm functions? But you'd still need to reference the computer screen for setting levels and finding where you are in the song. Transport control probably has locations, though. I'm sure several companies are making things like that.

User avatar
Gregg Juke
cryogenically thawing
Posts: 3509
Joined: Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:35 pm
Location: Buffalo, NY, USA
Contact:

Re: How To: Replace an 8-Track R2R with a Laptop

Post by Gregg Juke » Sat May 12, 2018 10:39 am

I remember BITD, a colleague had a stand-alone, screen-less Vestax HD recorder. Worked great, but what a pain to cue and edit with a jog-wheel and a few LEDs (no other visual).

I would either go all-in digital (or at least have some visual reference, like on my Korg D3200), or stay analog.

GJ
Gregg Juke
Nocturnal Productions Music Group
Drum! Magazine Contributor
http://MightyNoStars.com

"He's about to learn the most important lesson in the music business-- 'Never trust people in the music business.' "

User avatar
Nick Sevilla
speech impediment
Posts: 4880
Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:34 pm
Location: Los Angeles California USA
Contact:

Re: How To: Replace an 8-Track R2R with a Laptop

Post by Nick Sevilla » Sat May 12, 2018 10:10 pm

joey_p77 wrote:
Thu May 10, 2018 5:38 pm
I have a basic analog setup with a Tascam 38 8-track reel-to-reel and a Tascam M-308 mixer.

What gear would I need to effectively replace an 8-track tape machine with a laptop in this scenario? (i.e. leaving the analog board and outboard gear for all the recording/mixing, essentially just using the laptop/DAW as a recorder?).

I know it would be easy to send a stereo mix to to the laptop, but I want to have the same experience that I get with my 8-track analog setup where each of the 8 tracks would be separately sent from/received by the mixer (and I wouldn't have to look at a screen).
All you will need is a laptop and the following:

One 8 channel (or more) audio interface, capable of low latency recording and playback. Thunderbolt protocol is a good choice here.

One fast (7200 rpm or faster) hard drive, in its own enclosure, separate and outside the laptop. You do not want to record audio into your system drive, as it will shorten its life significantly.

All the audio cabling to wire that up to your existing set up.

I recommend a PATCHBAY, as it will greatly simplify and enhance the experience.

Cheers
Realizing vibratory excursions from a paper widget.

KennyLusk
dead but not forgotten
Posts: 2037
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2004 10:22 am
Location: Ramah, New Mexico

Re: How To: Replace an 8-Track R2R with a Laptop

Post by KennyLusk » Sun May 13, 2018 7:53 pm

Nick Sevilla wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 10:10 pm
You do not want to record audio into your system drive, as it will shorten its life significantly.

Cheers
What makes you say that?
"The mushroom states its own position very clearly. It says, "I require the nervous system of a mammal. Do you have one handy?" Terrence McKenna

jimjazzdad
gimme a little kick & snare
Posts: 85
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:05 am
Location: Halifax, NS, Canada

Re: How To: Replace an 8-Track R2R with a Laptop

Post by jimjazzdad » Tue May 15, 2018 5:06 am

A Zoom F8 would effectively replace the Tascam 38, has controls like a tape deck, and a tiny screen compared to a laptop. Also comparable in price to a decent laptop. Plus it has excellent mic preamps, should you ever want to ditch the mixer and travel really light to a remote gig.
Jim Legere
Halifax, NS
Canada

User avatar
vvv
zen recordist
Posts: 8751
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 8:08 am
Location: Chi
Contact:

Re: How To: Replace an 8-Track R2R with a Laptop

Post by vvv » Tue May 15, 2018 8:40 am

I would reco, at half the F8 price, the Zoom R16.

8 XLR's in, with FX and pans for monitoring, faders and gain knobs for each channel (you can actually record two sets of 8 tracks per song) to an SD card at 24 bit/44.1. It also has a stereo out which I run to monitors, and a headphone out which goes to a headphone distribution amp (I use a little Rolls for portability - plenty of volume for 4 sets of cans).

What you describe is exactly how I use it, lately with a Roland TD11 drum kit, bass, two guitars and vocals, which I then dump into the DAW for editing and mixing, altho' it's not necessary to do so. Otherwise, I use it to record, say, 7 tracks of drums plus a reference ...

But I am using it like a tape macheen....
bandcamp; vlayman;
THD; Geronimo Cowboys;
blog.
I mix with olive juice.

User avatar
Nick Sevilla
speech impediment
Posts: 4880
Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:34 pm
Location: Los Angeles California USA
Contact:

Re: How To: Replace an 8-Track R2R with a Laptop

Post by Nick Sevilla » Sat May 19, 2018 9:16 am

KennyLusk wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 7:53 pm
Nick Sevilla wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 10:10 pm
You do not want to record audio into your system drive, as it will shorten its life significantly.

Cheers
What makes you say that?
Over 20 years professionally recording onto disc drives.
Reading the manuals for pretty much every single DAW platform that exists.
Witnessing several clients destroy their laptop drives by doing this very thing.

Need anything else?
Realizing vibratory excursions from a paper widget.

KennyLusk
dead but not forgotten
Posts: 2037
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2004 10:22 am
Location: Ramah, New Mexico

Re: How To: Replace an 8-Track R2R with a Laptop

Post by KennyLusk » Sun May 20, 2018 9:50 am

Nick Sevilla wrote:
Sat May 19, 2018 9:16 am
KennyLusk wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 7:53 pm
Nick Sevilla wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 10:10 pm
You do not want to record audio into your system drive, as it will shorten its life significantly.

Cheers
What makes you say that?
Over 20 years professionally recording onto disc drives.
Reading the manuals for pretty much every single DAW platform that exists.
Witnessing several clients destroy their laptop drives by doing this very thing.

Need anything else?
It's just that I've never heard that before. Never even read that before, even in DAW user literature. Of course there has always been the "option" to use an external drive for your audio, but not for reasons of saving your computer from ruin. So what is the technical stuff behind it? Sounds like you have a bit of anecdotal experience, but what are the technical data that support your assertion?
"The mushroom states its own position very clearly. It says, "I require the nervous system of a mammal. Do you have one handy?" Terrence McKenna

User avatar
Nick Sevilla
speech impediment
Posts: 4880
Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:34 pm
Location: Los Angeles California USA
Contact:

Re: How To: Replace an 8-Track R2R with a Laptop

Post by Nick Sevilla » Sun May 20, 2018 10:34 pm

KennyLusk wrote:
Sun May 20, 2018 9:50 am
Nick Sevilla wrote:
Sat May 19, 2018 9:16 am
KennyLusk wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 7:53 pm


What makes you say that?
Over 20 years professionally recording onto disc drives.
Reading the manuals for pretty much every single DAW platform that exists.
Witnessing several clients destroy their laptop drives by doing this very thing.

Need anything else?
It's just that I've never heard that before. Never even read that before, even in DAW user literature. Of course there has always been the "option" to use an external drive for your audio, but not for reasons of saving your computer from ruin. So what is the technical stuff behind it? Sounds like you have a bit of anecdotal experience, but what are the technical data that support your assertion?
Really?

Go read the Pro Tools "requirements":

http://avid.force.com/pkb/articles/en_U ... quirements

"Additional Requirements

Copy Protection: iLok 2, iLok 3, or iLok Cloud (Note: Original iLok 1 not supported)
Audio Drive Requirements: One or more hard disk drives dedicated for audio record and playback.
Audio drives should be formatted HFS+ Journaled for Mac or NTFS for Windows
When daisy-chaining a Thunderbolt drive and expansion chassis, the drive should be placed at the end of the chain
Graphics Card: Dedicated graphics card highly recommended.
Audio File Type & Session Support:
Supported: BWF, AIFF, MXF
Not Supported: SD2 audio files and Pro Tools 4.x sessions and lower
Pro Tools 10.3.6 or higher (Mac) will automatically convert SD2 audio files to compatible audio files
"

You can also read any Logic Pro manual, wherein they also recommend a dedicated audio drive. This, all the way back to version 4... which I still have the manual for LOL.

My "assertion" is based on two things: Manufacturers recommendations, of which you see one above, and yes, personal experience, over 20 years of it PROFESSIONALLY.

If that is not good enough for you, then go ahead and record audio onto your system drive. (When it fails, and it will) what will you do with this "new experience" that you completely ignored?

Look, I could just make up stuff. I could tell you it is o.k. to record onto your system drive. And then you could blame me for telling you a lie. I do not like to lie, especially when finding out this information online is super easy. Except you seem to not want to find this information, and instead are being "not nice" to me, for providing you with this information.

So, do what you like. Ignore my advice. Whatever. Just stop yourself from telling professionals such as myself that we are somehow "wrong". That never ever comes across well.

Cheers
Realizing vibratory excursions from a paper widget.

KennyLusk
dead but not forgotten
Posts: 2037
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2004 10:22 am
Location: Ramah, New Mexico

Re: How To: Replace an 8-Track R2R with a Laptop

Post by KennyLusk » Mon May 21, 2018 6:30 am

Nick Sevilla wrote:
Sun May 20, 2018 10:34 pm

My "assertion" is based on two things: Manufacturers recommendations, of which you see one above, and yes, personal experience, over 20 years of it PROFESSIONALLY.

If that is not good enough for you, then go ahead and record audio onto your system drive. (When it fails, and it will) what will you do with this "new experience" that you completely ignored?

Look, I could just make up stuff. I could tell you it is o.k. to record onto your system drive. And then you could blame me for telling you a lie. I do not like to lie, especially when finding out this information online is super easy. Except you seem to not want to find this information, and instead are being "not nice" to me, for providing you with this information.

So, do what you like. Ignore my advice. Whatever. Just stop yourself from telling professionals such as myself that we are somehow "wrong". That never ever comes across well.

Cheers
Nick, I apologize if my post to you came across as cheeky or disrespectful in any way. That was not my intention, and it was not my intention to imply that you are wrong. I was just asking for some technical info to back up what you are saying, and in the mean-time I have been researching this on my own. I have no intention of ignoring your advice. I am not a professional, but have been "home recording" on computers since the mid 90's and have been lucky (I guess) that all of my machines have lived long and fruitful lives. Obviously I want to make sure that continues to be the case. So thank you for your advice.
"The mushroom states its own position very clearly. It says, "I require the nervous system of a mammal. Do you have one handy?" Terrence McKenna

Mr. Palchepo
audio school
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:30 pm

Re: How To: Replace an 8-Track R2R with a Laptop

Post by Mr. Palchepo » Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:42 pm

Not sure if this helps, but I’m dumping old (wait for it) ADAT demos through a Soundcraft 12 MTK board into a Mac Book Pro. It’s kind of a nice way to learn the interface and DAW without any creativity on the line. I’m just getting in rep after rep of setting up a session, assigning tracks, screwing things up, re-recording. Low key. You might try something similar- practice recording stuff you’ve already recorded. You can’t mess up cause you’ve still got the original. Oh, and most importantly, the Soundcraft MTK boards (and a few others I think) send separate tracks through usb, not just a stereo mix. When I’m comfortable with this, I’ll start throwing up the mics and doing new sessions.
On a serious note, to the guys who were bickering about external hard drives,etc. Is this something I should be worried about? I’m building new work habits and if one of them is ‘save to an external hard drive and keep your machine clean’ I can learn that too.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 19 guests