Would Dumping from an 8 track repeatedly cause sync issues?

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hithere
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Would Dumping from an 8 track repeatedly cause sync issues?

Post by hithere » Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:01 am

Hello, I am on the verge of buying an Otari MX5050 8 track machine in wonderful condition.

My intention is to throw a mono drum track onto the machine from my DAW, track to those on the machine, and then dump all 8 tracks back to my DAW at once. I imagine this would work fine.

My question is if I rinsed and repeated that process how much of a pain would be lining up another 8 tracks over that.

For instance after my first dump, I would make another “guide mix” in the DAW, delete the previous takes on the tape, and then start this process again.

Ideally this would allow me unlimited tracks using the tape, dumping 8 tracks over and over, while lining them back up in the DAW.

Would there be any major issues doing this?

Thanks!

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Re: Would Dumping from an 8 track repeatedly cause sync issues?

Post by kslight » Mon Jun 10, 2019 7:39 am

Yes. It will be a lot of editing...it’s not like one or two simple timing shifts, we are talking hundreds over the course of a few minutes. It depends on how tolerant you are of looseness though...but the above is my experience. I have done exactly what you suggest, for a song we did about 14 tracks altogether but on a Tascam 388...

However, I wonder how well one of those time correcting applications designed for ADR sync would work for something like this? I’ve not personally tried THAT, but there is a potential solution.

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Re: Would Dumping from an 8 track repeatedly cause sync issues?

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:02 am

As kslight said, you'll have serious timing drift and it'll be a real PITA to cut everything up on the computer to get it back in sync.

One thing you could do is track THROUGH the tape machine to DAW. Have the Otari on 'repro' and just send everything right to the computer. All the tracks will be behind, but they'll be behind a fixed amount of ms/samples, which you can figure out and then just slide them back into sync.

Obviously you'll need some kind of monitoring workaround, as you won't be able to monitor what's coming off the tape, but this'll work. I did a few things like this with a 5050 before abandoning tape altogether.

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Re: Would Dumping from an 8 track repeatedly cause sync issues?

Post by crow » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:14 am

If you were to plan on editing the passes to sync together in the DAW, you could de-PITA-ify that process somewhat by giving up another track to provide an identical click track for each pass. snappy-transient quarter notes would then be very easy to visually or automatically line up in the DAW. You could even add a sine wave low in the mix on the click track, so if you wanted, you could visually compare phase shifts. I would expect that you would only need to do a few edits per song to keep things lined up enough for musical functionality, as long as any tracks that needed to be in phase with each other were on the same tape pass. I imagine that a relatively modern machine like an Otari would have pretty consistent speed, as opposed to a 50's or 60's reel to reel.

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Re: Would Dumping from an 8 track repeatedly cause sync issues?

Post by Nick Sevilla » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:47 am

Short answer: Yes.

Because: Each time you play back the tape machine, it will be at a slightly different speed, and this also will vary constantly over time.

The only real way of doing this sort of overdubs, is with a proper 2" tape machine which can be controlled with something like a Lynx synchronizer, or an Avid Pro TOols HD system with their SYNC IO / SYNC HD synchronizer box.

Say, a Studer. Or any tape machine that has a small enough speed drift so as to allow a DAW to follow it without causing any issues with the sound.

You would have to print SMPTE time code onto one channel (I used channel 24 always for this), and then slave the DAW to this SMPTE time code. This would guarantee perfect synch no matter how many times you did it.

I really have never been able to synch a tape machine smaller than 2" properly. The key here is LARGE MOTORS and a properly configured control hardware, within the tape machine. Otherwise you are really not going to get it near enough to avoid massive amounts of editing.
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kslight
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Re: Would Dumping from an 8 track repeatedly cause sync issues?

Post by kslight » Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:00 am

crow wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:14 am
If you were to plan on editing the passes to sync together in the DAW, you could de-PITA-ify that process somewhat by giving up another track to provide an identical click track for each pass. snappy-transient quarter notes would then be very easy to visually or automatically line up in the DAW. You could even add a sine wave low in the mix on the click track, so if you wanted, you could visually compare phase shifts. I would expect that you would only need to do a few edits per song to keep things lined up enough for musical functionality, as long as any tracks that needed to be in phase with each other were on the same tape pass. I imagine that a relatively modern machine like an Otari would have pretty consistent speed, as opposed to a 50's or 60's reel to reel.
It’ll be a lot of (easily hundreds in a song, multiplied by how many passes of tracks to tape there are) micro shifts to keep in time, not as easy as a couple nudges here and there, as that will create sudden moments of being on time followed by associated drift. If that makes sense.

While I haven’t used the Otari, every reel to reel I’ve transferred from consumer to pro level has experienced a lot of drift...

A click track will make things easier to see but i would be careful about this because of crosstalk. Make sure it’s at an outer track and at a relatively low level.

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Re: Would Dumping from an 8 track repeatedly cause sync issues?

Post by hithere » Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:05 am

Wow!!

Thanks so much everyone for the quick and very informative replies!

:worthy:

I appreciate it very much, and is a major consideration for me purchasing this machine or not.

I am still on the fence about it. Lots to think about.

Thanks again :D

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Re: Would Dumping from an 8 track repeatedly cause sync issues?

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Mon Jun 10, 2019 2:26 pm

kslight wrote:
Mon Jun 10, 2019 10:00 am
It’ll be a lot of (easily hundreds in a song)
Yep. I've done it. It's a serious pain.

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Re: Would Dumping from an 8 track repeatedly cause sync issues?

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Tue Jun 11, 2019 8:31 pm

Synching multiple passes from a tape machine will make you crazy. It's not worth it.
You can however record through the Otari 8 track into the computer. I've done it with two track machines and there's no reason it wouldn't work with an 8 track.
Basically you split your pre-amp sends so that one version goes directly to digital and the other split goes to the tape machine. Set the tape machine to monitor in repro (from the playback head) and record the output of the tape to a second set of tracks in the computer. Hit record on the computer and the tape machine and do your take. Once you've finished a pass you'll have one version of tracks that are straight digital and another set that are from tape. The tape tracks will be slightly delayed compared to the digital versions.
For the next round of 8 tracks, repeat the steps above but play along to the digital tracks from the first pass while monitoring from the digital version of the new overdubs (basically mute all the tape tracks while you're recording). When you're done your pass you'll have two sets of tracks again (digital and tape). The new tape tracks will be slightly delayed from the digital version but they'll be perfectly synched with the first round of tape tracks. Repeat as many time as you'd like.
Once you're ready to mix discard the digital tracks and mix from the tape versions.

As I said, Ive done this quite a bit with 2 track machines and it works like a dream. Provided your tape machine is in reasonable shape tape drift is never an issue.


This record was done through an Otari 2 track using the method described - https://mattfoy.bandcamp.com/album/tte

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Re: Would Dumping from an 8 track repeatedly cause sync issues?

Post by emrr » Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:35 am

It is an awesome way to get the best flanging sound ever though! :mrgreen:
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