Key: Use an excellently maintained machine! Folks sometimes don't realize that
those good old analog machines
were loaded with high-grade electronic circuits that your favorite DAT
machine or even Masterlink doesn't come with. Typical stereo digital
machines are low-priced because the emphasis is on a semi-pro buyer,
not the ultra-high end recording studio.
tape recording has a "sound shape" almost like a processor. When
you put in a square wave test signal into an analog recorder, the
output looks different - the "hard" edges are smoothed out - they are
less square, which accounts for the silkier sound, the wetter edge and
woodier sound to acoustic instruments. Ideally, record on both analog
and digital mediums, because it's a great way to have more options with
just a bit more involved in the set-up.
Quantegy may or may not still be available, and rumor has
it that Emtec (formerly BASF tape) will be making tape, it's a little
up in the air about whether you can even get analog tape. When several
brands were available, I felt that Quantegy 456 was somewhat cloudy
sounding,. While 499 is better sounding than 456, I would probably go
with GP9, which is an old formulation of 3M tape. The old BASF 469 was
my favorite and 468 was good too. Emtec's 900 series may be the way to
go... check around.
recommend elevating your level above +6dB. Why? Marketing hype
has made the overload capabilities of modern tapes overrated. There's a
lot to consider about the plus' and minus' of tape saturation vs.
signal-to-noise vs. print-through, etc. Take print-through for
instance: Tape machine heads pick up magnetic signal, and the stronger
the signal (louder you've elevated the tape) the easier it is for the
adjacent tracks to pick up what's recorded. Result: more crosstalk,
especially from 500 hz down. That means that all the low end will bleed
slightly from track to track to track. At +9, track 5 "hears" more of
track 4 & 6 than if you elevate to +5. All that low bleed makes for
mush in your mix. You'll have no hiss, but the bottom will be tubby and
Trick: If you don't mind
breaking the rules, align
so that you set 1K at -2 (using an NAB 250 nW/M
alignment tape) and 10K at -3. That way you have to elevate the high
end more. The tape can handle the extra high end level, and it doesn't
mush up the bottom. It's not enough to saturate the highs, and it's not
dangerous enough that if the tape goes to another studio people will
faint. Think of this trick as a broad-range, simple form of noise
reduction (which is the whole goal of tape elevation, anyway!) Now you
get the hiss reduction of a +6 master with the clean bottom of a +5
master! Voila! (Or just use IEC (CCIR) equalization instead of NAB.
It's a standard, and it's reproducible and accomplishes the same noise
Ok, so you
don't want to use analog.... the next best thing is a great
A-D converter like Apogee going into a Masterlink HARD DRIVE
(Masterlink's make jittery CDR file copies) at 96k or 88.2k 24 bit. If
you are bouncing into a computer, make a 24 bit AIFF (WAV is ok too)
file - the higher the sampling rate the better (and remember to stay a
couple dB under clipping). Some listening tests show that recording
your stereo mix looped back into the DAW (via recording) sound better
than an internal bounce. See chart on the rates page
for another look.... and
when you're ready to see how 30
different digital systems stack up sonically next to each other, read
Meanwhile, give yourself some slack at first.
Group "C" may have had a $50,000.00 budget for their mix alone. Mix so
that when you push the CD-player-button, they sound great, and when you
push the stereo buss button, YOU sound great too, in the context of
your music and the tools you have to work with.
"I sent a
song to 6
mastering studios - I
chose John Vestman.
I flew all the way from Jerusalem, Israel. John knows what he's doing.
He masters like a musician plays."
-Ze'ev Macklin - recording artist, expert drummer
everything sounds clearer, bigger and better -
a truly wonderful work."
Buddies - Monterrey, Mexico
Mixing tips for bass
drums - vocals - de-essing,