June 17, 2007

Postulatin' on a hypothesis...

by Chris Randall

Okay, here's an interesting challenge. Say you had US$2000 to spend, and you wanted to make an analog recording studio with at least 8 tracks of recording. What gear would you choose? Mixing isn't necessary; only recording. And let's assume you already have monitors, microphones and cables. Just the console (if necessary), deck, pres (if necessary), comps, etc.

T3H VERDICT: Yes, of course it is. You have to get a little lucky with your gear finds, but you shouldn't have any real trouble putting together a console and deck for $2K that will record music fine. That is, assuming your songs don't suck in the first place. If they do, that can't be helped.

It is worth noting that I arrived at this conclusion on my own. If you read this thread, the _actual_ verdict is apparently the old maxim "opinions are like assholes, etc."



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Jun.17.2007 @ 11:02 PM
Studer 169's don't come cheap unless they come from the same guy handing out Trident 24's.

Jun.17.2007 @ 11:11 PM
Chris Randall
Man, they were cheap last year. I just discovered the price increase after reading your post. Did someone figure out how to rack the channels? I imagine some indie rock producer said he used one to track drums in TapeOp or something. Those used to be the best-kept secret of vintage recording equipment.

Well, there's no shortage of them, anyways. Every radio station on the planet used one for live remotes and in-studio band pre-mixing.



Jun.18.2007 @ 12:20 AM
Chris Randall
Okay, I think I've replied to my own posts more than enough for one thread. That said, anyone here have any experience with the Soundworkshop Logex 8? It seems to be an ideal little console for our hypothetical analog recording room. Either that or a TEAC Model 5A, I think. Both are _well_ within the budget, and seem to have everything we need for inline monitoring, etc.



Jun.18.2007 @ 12:50 AM
Well, while not exactly what you are asking... if I had to go back to analog recording, for less than $2000 (much less! :) ), I would go for the TASCAM 688 Midi Studio:

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Jun.18.2007 @ 1:20 AM
Fie on the 688, you need a PhD to understand the mixer section, and it's still cassette.

Jun.18.2007 @ 1:24 AM
I'd pick up a Tascam ATR-60-8 for $500 (one on ebay a week ago went for $355) then add mixer of choice. Everybody wants a 16 track machine so the 8 track ATR-60 goes for less than a MS-16 and a fraction of an ATR-60-16. I'd pick up a D&R Vision or 4000 mkII for a console as it's unlikely you'd find an Orion or Triton in the $1000-1500 price range. There's also a nice looking Soundcraft Delta 200 on ebay that's been modded by Jim Williams for under $1k.

Jun.18.2007 @ 2:32 AM
Chris Randall
Sheeeeeit. Repeat after me: "The cassette is not a viable means of sound reproduction." Not for two tracks, never mind 8.

As for an ATR-60-8, aren't those things a fucking bear for tech? For some reason, that fact is scratching in my brain. I was always given to understand that the 50 series and the 60 only really differed in form factor, and that the 60 was more troublesome. I don't have any experience with either so I'm just going off something I must have read somewhere; almost 100% of my analog tape experience (which is significant) is with either Studer or MCI decks. Every single reader here would bust out laughing if you saw how much 2" tape I have in a storage locker in Chicago. If I had to guess, I'd say roughly 180 reels. I'm the person the word "prolific" was coined to describe.



Jun.18.2007 @ 10:11 AM

If you want to be ahead of the curve on what the 'cool kids' are doing, buy up a bunch of old cassette multitracks for dirt cheap and sell them a year or two from now on ebay.

They are going to be very big with the youngins (the ones who have come of age after the demise of the cassette, so that a cassette is a bit of a novelty), because they are "retro" and "lofi" and "analog", but they also tend to be easy to use and self contained and cassette tapes are easy to find. I have already spied several obnoxiously hip young people using multi-track cassette (in a "cassette is cool" kind of way).


Jun.18.2007 @ 11:35 AM
I don't think you're going to get near the level of quality you want for $2K on 8 tracks.

You can eBay up a bunch of 1/2" 8-track machines from Otari or Tascam. They'll sound OK and cost you around $500, not including shipping, head maintenance, etc. Probably throw in another $100 or $200 to replace parts and get the machines operating.

Go find some tape. Figure it's about $70 a reel now.

Now you have a nice, hissy 8-track. And you're up around a grand for so-so sound. Especially when you toss in the custom snake you'll need/want to connect this thing to your recording desk/patch bay.

You now have a grand to "play around with" for whatever outboard boxes (like compressors, pres, etc.) you need, but I'd save part of that for ongoing maintenance.

This is part of why I think "digital is better".

I'll also second the "cassette 4-tracks FTW" Any day now some kid is going to upload some album he made with [cheapo gear item] and a 4-track, and the press will be all over it.


Jun.18.2007 @ 12:40 PM
"I'll also second the "cassette 4-tracks FTW" Any day now some kid is going to upload some album he made with [cheapo gear item] and a 4-track, and the press will be all over it."

You mean, like Guided by Voices and Iron and Wine from about 10 years ago?

New-in-shrinkwrap Maxell metal blank cassettes are already fetching tall cash on ebay, last I saw. Plus, there's an annual casette-jockey competition in Chicago. It's very much tongue-in-cheek, but it's only a matter of time before someone starts selling battle cassettes.


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