Making a "Better" recording with a Tascam 388

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jrdamien
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Making a "Better" recording with a Tascam 388

Post by jrdamien » Sat Apr 13, 2013 11:41 am

As I've been debating what format to record my next album on and have been listening to various formats I maybe could acquire, I'm realizing that I'll likely be using my 388. The difference between it and, say, a 1/2" or 1" machine at 15 ips is only marginally better for what I want to do and doesn't warrant getting into new old gear and tape decks and everything that goes with it.

So as many of you know I recorded this last year: http://www.thecrookedsaws.bandcamp.com (please get a free copy at http://www.crookedsaws.com) using the 388 and 2 mics. The drum mic was a sm57 clone and the guitar was an MXL R144 ribbon.

I want to step it up. Likely 3 mic on the drums, several different amps - still very raw but a 'little' more refined.

Can anyone recommend preamps and comps or work flows they've used that would take it to the next level w/ the 388?

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curtiswyant
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Post by curtiswyant » Sat Apr 13, 2013 12:07 pm

If you can't tell the difference between a 388 and a 1" machine, you won't notice any improvements using a nicer pre with the 388.

Another idea might be to invest in room treatment and better monitors.

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Post by jrdamien » Sat Apr 13, 2013 12:30 pm

curtiswyant wrote:If you can't tell the difference between a 388 and a 1" machine, you won't notice any improvements using a nicer pre with the 388.

Another idea might be to invest in room treatment and better monitors.
It's not that I can't tell the difference or hear a difference. I'm saying that, for the aesthetic I am after and the machines I can get my hands on, the difference isn't enough to justify the investment in that machine. And so I'll just use the 388.

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Post by kslight » Sat Apr 13, 2013 1:56 pm

For different things to try without spending big cash:

1. Try with noise reduction on (or off). When I first bought my 388 I was all about no NR...but I did another record with it on and it didn't sound bad like some people lead to believe. Its a free tone color, if nothing else.

2. Boost highs going in/cut on the way out, for your own pseudo NR/articulation enhancer. I do this all the time to make sure I get sufficient attack.

3. Trying recording with the machine faster, adjust your calibration if you are really into it, may reduce noise slightly/increase high end detail?

4. Give the machine a nice service, if it hasn't had one already.

5. Use new tape.

6. For outboard pres on mics that need phantom power, I used a cheap Behringer mixer on this song... I believe the drum mic setup was a Neumann TLM103 mono overhead, Audix D6 bass drum, Audix i5 snare drum top, Audix D6 snare drum bottom. I like the drum sound anyway... No NR used.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPyVYPaHbF8

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markjazzbassist
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Post by markjazzbassist » Wed Apr 17, 2013 8:39 am

doesn't use DBX and use scotch 207 or maxell 35-90 or 35-90b. the +3 tapes will give you more saturation than lpr35 (+6) and with the dbx off will sound fantastic.

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Post by fossiltooth » Thu Apr 18, 2013 2:17 pm

jrdamien wrote:
curtiswyant wrote:If you can't tell the difference between a 388 and a 1" machine, you won't notice any improvements using a nicer pre with the 388.

Another idea might be to invest in room treatment and better monitors.
It's not that I can't tell the difference or hear a difference. I'm saying that, for the aesthetic I am after and the machines I can get my hands on, the difference isn't enough to justify the investment in that machine. And so I'll just use the 388.
Understood. But Curtis is right to say that the difference preamps make is generally even smaller than that.

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Post by jrdamien » Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:21 pm

markjazzbassist wrote:doesn't use DBX and use scotch 207 or maxell 35-90 or 35-90b. the +3 tapes will give you more saturation than lpr35 (+6) and with the dbx off will sound fantastic.
Very interesting. What tape did you use for EarthTone, assuming you used the 388?

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Post by jrdamien » Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:21 pm

fossiltooth wrote:
jrdamien wrote:
curtiswyant wrote:If you can't tell the difference between a 388 and a 1" machine, you won't notice any improvements using a nicer pre with the 388.

Another idea might be to invest in room treatment and better monitors.
It's not that I can't tell the difference or hear a difference. I'm saying that, for the aesthetic I am after and the machines I can get my hands on, the difference isn't enough to justify the investment in that machine. And so I'll just use the 388.
Understood. But Curtis is right to say that the difference preamps make is generally even smaller than that.
OK. I didn't think that's what he was saying - I thought he meant it as a caveat.

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markjazzbassist
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Post by markjazzbassist » Fri Apr 19, 2013 7:52 am

jrdamien wrote:
markjazzbassist wrote:doesn't use DBX and use scotch 207 or maxell 35-90 or 35-90b. the +3 tapes will give you more saturation than lpr35 (+6) and with the dbx off will sound fantastic.
Very interesting. What tape did you use for EarthTone, assuming you used the 388?
i used lpr35 for that because i was scared off by all the "don't buy old tape" people and that was really my first project on the machine. but now i have a bunch of it and really enjoy it. the 388 was made for maxell 35-90 which is +3 tape, it can be calibrated for +6, but i'm anal retentive about just keeping things stock the way they were made for what they were made for. and go figure it sounds good too. granted you'll hear a little more noise and such, but i think it sounds fantastic.

plus old tape is cheap, i can get scotch 207 for 15 a roll shipped on ebay, maxell is more expensive since the audiohphiles like it, but they're all sealed, unused NOS.

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Post by kslight » Fri Apr 19, 2013 4:00 pm

markjazzbassist wrote: plus old tape is cheap, i can get scotch 207 for 15 a roll shipped on ebay, maxell is more expensive since the audiohphiles like it, but they're all sealed, unused NOS.
I have lots of various old tape floating around, some in better shape than others... I guess @ $15/reel the value is almost lost when for $10 more I get a new reel? Just my thoughts...I know $10 saved is $10 earned...but I've had old tapes fall apart on me...

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Post by markjazzbassist » Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:55 pm

i'm talking about getting a brand new unsealed NOS tape for 15 bucks. so it is new, and it's lower bias which means more saturation. i prefer it over lpr35 and i save 10 bucks a reel.

i have been tempted by the scotch 7" metal reels though, i think they would look sexy in the 388.

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Post by kslight » Sat Apr 20, 2013 5:47 am

markjazzbassist wrote:i'm talking about getting a brand new unsealed NOS tape for 15 bucks
I've had issues with NOS tape also... As always, YMMV..

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Post by jrdamien » Sat Apr 20, 2013 11:05 am

So have you used Ampex 407? Anyone with experience with the 407 in a 388 please chime in.

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