So I Bought An Old Tape Deck And I'm Going To Run My Stuff Through It

Want to talk about music hardware or software that doesn't include Reason?
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hurricane
Posts: 370
Joined: 14 Oct 2017

10 Aug 2018

No, not a R2R, but an old Sony cassette deck from the 70s.

It should arrive any moment now. Going to use it to give my tracks some lo-fi mojo, not necessarily to impart any "warmth". I basically want it to sound like an old cassette recording. I'm really curious to see how this is going to compare to software plugins. So I plan to take an unmastered track, run it through the tape deck, put it back into the computer, and finish it off like usual. I also plan on recording each individual instrument track to cassette just for shits and giggles.

I have a feeling though, that I'm going to be disappointed and realize that the effect is not going to be that obvious, and therefore the whole process will not be worth the hassle and so I'll keep on using software. :puf_smile:

Oh well, here's to experimentation. :thumbs_up:

sony.png
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motuscott
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Location: the new york

10 Aug 2018

I agree with your drive to experiment and your prediction of the result.
But hey, everybody's got to be doing something right?

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Loque
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Joined: 28 Dec 2015

10 Aug 2018

Why not...have fun...:-)
:reason: 10, Win10 64Bit.

MrFigg
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Joined: 20 Apr 2018

10 Aug 2018

I dug out my old Sony cassette deck and my old Yamaha 4-track and the rubber rollers in both were totally dried out :(. Managed to get the 4-track going long enough to play some 25 year old demos into Reason and then it gave up.

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hurricane
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10 Aug 2018

Well holy Jesus - the difference is not as subtle as I thought it would be. I might post an A/B so you can hear yourself. My conclusion so far is that I like the way this sounds!

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aeox
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10 Aug 2018

hurricane wrote:
10 Aug 2018
Well holy Jesus - the difference is not as subtle as I thought it would be. I might post an A/B so you can hear yourself. My conclusion so far is that I like the way this sounds!
You really thought it would be subtle? xD

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hurricane
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Joined: 14 Oct 2017

10 Aug 2018

Yeah, I did - based on stuff I was reading before I even bought the tap deck. It's def not hi-fi and it isn't a "Omg it sounds AMAZING!" type of thing, but for the kind of music I do, I think it's going to be good.

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aeox
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Location: Oregon

10 Aug 2018

hurricane wrote:
10 Aug 2018
Yeah, I did - based on stuff I was reading before I even bought the tap deck. It's def not hi-fi and it isn't a "Omg it sounds AMAZING!" type of thing, but for the kind of music I do, I think it's going to be good.
Looking forward to hearing that!

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TheGodOfRainbows
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10 Aug 2018

Hurricane, I like your music and style. Looking forward to hearing some recordings with your new tape deck.

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hurricane
Posts: 370
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10 Aug 2018

Thanks! The next one I have coming will be all hardware synths and the tape deck!

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motuscott
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Location: the new york

10 Aug 2018

This plus the Reason Sound...

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Micha1973
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11 Aug 2018

u dont hve to this. get the free izotope vinyl! u will like it!

see here:

Music Is My Life
&
Reason 10 sounds better :essentials:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsW3Wr ... gA05XklBng

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platzangst
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11 Aug 2018

I can't at the moment remember who it was, but it was an electronic musician that does a lot of retrowave-flavored stuff, and they described a process where they would record drums onto cassette at a slightly higher BPM than they needed, then record the cassette into their DAW, and then slow that recording down enough to get to the BPM they wanted, which of course pitch-shifted the drums down a bit, too. Apparently flavored things to their liking.

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amcjen
Posts: 158
Joined: 14 Apr 2017

11 Aug 2018

Boards of Canada does this sort of thing a lot and it’s awesome and vintage and often described as a soundtrack for a 1970s Scandinavian nature public television show.

Also, though you don’t have a portastudio, you can do some fun things with those too:

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Karim
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11 Aug 2018

If I were you I would use it in parallel to dose the sound
and get that vaporwave effect

But when it comes to tape heat, it is almost always meant
8-inch tapes (of the revox type to be clear)
but....
having fun is the first rule! :puf_wink:
Karim Le Mec : Dj / Producer / Video Editor / Label Owner /Reason User since 2000 ( R10)
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hurricane
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11 Aug 2018

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) the tape deck I bought is in surprising mint condition for a tape deck built in the freaking 70s- the belts are tight, it's impeccably clean on the inside, everything works. There's no noticeable wobble, or any lo-fi tape artifacts (which is what I wanted!). However, I'm getting a very solid signal out of it, and the way it's transforming sound is really interesting.Also worth a mention is the noise...it's different than what I get from a plugin...I don't know how to describe it other than it sounds more 3D, lol. So smooth too. And seeing real VMU meters in action is pretty cool. I can imagine some of you older guys rolling your eyes cuz you've been there before lol and think this is nothing special lol. I was too young to understand tape recording, and unfortunately grew up in the CD age. So this is pretty mind blowing to me. Something particularly mind blowing, and probably the most noticeable thing I hear is tape's effect on transients. So this is what you tape guys have been talking about, huh lol? I get it now! Flipping back and forth between my Reason track in Reason vs the same Reason track on tape - I can't believe how HARSH my stuff sounds! And this isn't due to the high frequency roll-off I'm hearing - it's the transients! They're less hard and waaaay more smooth. And I just want to be clear - I'm not hearing a bright, hard, punchy, glossy, hi-fi sound out of this particular tape deck, it's more of a.....pleasant niceness. I really don't wanna say it's "warmth", but it's warmth (I think) !

I don't appreciate paying $9 on the internets for a goddamn Maxell XLII-S cassette though. :shock:

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amcjen
Posts: 158
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11 Aug 2018

This is so wonderful to hear you talk about! It’s so hard to describe but once you A/B it it’s unmistakeable.

Time to start showing us some A/Bs of your tape explorations!

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MarkTarlton
Posts: 286
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Location: Santa Rosa, CA

11 Aug 2018

if you can find a 3 head tape deck you can have even more fun :)

jimmyklane
Posts: 733
Joined: 16 Apr 2018

11 Aug 2018

hurricane wrote:
10 Aug 2018
No, not a R2R, but an old Sony cassette deck from the 70s.

It should arrive any moment now. Going to use it to give my tracks some lo-fi mojo, not necessarily to impart any "warmth". I basically want it to sound like an old cassette recording. I'm really curious to see how this is going to compare to software plugins. So I plan to take an unmastered track, run it through the tape deck, put it back into the computer, and finish it off like usual. I also plan on recording each individual instrument track to cassette just for shits and giggles.

I have a feeling though, that I'm going to be disappointed and realize that the effect is not going to be that obvious, and therefore the whole process will not be worth the hassle and so I'll keep on using software. :puf_smile:

Oh well, here's to experimentation. :thumbs_up:


sony.png
Oh no, the effect will be VERY obvious. Cassettes give distinct coloration and the only tapes you can find today are the low-fi IronOxide types....of you could get your hands on a Metal (Type IV) cassette played through a machine designed for it you’d find that they can sound as good as CDs if not better due to the more gradual transition from linear playback to gross distortion through a saturation phase.

Something you WILL have to contend with, especially if you intend to run individual tracks through the machine and line them back up in the DAW is that most machines are getting pretty old and the stability of their transport mechanisms has suffered accordingly. When I run my deck at normal speed (1 7/8” per second) I find that the tracks have to be chopped up and reassembled or else they drift.....Thus I’ve ended up running completed tracks into the unit with a little pre-processing applied. I use an analog peak limiter to avoid anything over about +3VU touching the tape, and this is because....at least on both of my decks....I get tracking errors from the NR circuitry if I run the tape too low or to hot.

I say, have some fun experimenting with it but don’t necessarily expect it to stay in time with your track or even with itself!

Let us know how everything goes...I use cassette in just about all of my tracks and would love to hear another report from another user of the medium!

One last trick: try using it to sample with. I will often take a synth bass, sample it to something cleaner like the Emu, run that into the cassette deck and then play that back out into something with a little more character like the S950 or EPS 16+.
DAW: Reason 10,

SAMPLERS: Akai MPC 2000, E-mu SP1200, E-Mu e5000Ultra, Ensoniq EPS 16+, Akai S950, Maschine

SYNTHS: Mostly classic Polysynths and more modern Monosynths. All are mostly food for my samplers!

www.soundcloud.com/jimmyklane

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Data_Shrine
Posts: 391
Joined: 23 Jan 2015

11 Aug 2018

You can find a lot of different type of tapes here : www.duplication.ca
It's where I buy mine.

I have a Yamaha MT4-X and definitely love the way it affects the sound. It works only with Type 2 Chrome tapes (well you can use Type 1 or whatever but it won't sound any good) So check the specs of your machine (If possible !!) before buying tape for it. I wouldn't be shy to use Dolby if your deck has a Dolby mode. I always use the DBX on my machine.

I've been doing the same as you, recording the final mix to tape, and then doing the mastering from there. Great fun and it sounds fabulous !

I get what you mean when you say it sounds "3D". I have another Yamaha tape deck (Hi-Fi) for playback, and it just sounds fantastic on huge speakers through an amp. It's extremely clear (the noise floor is very, very low, very gentle) and the music sounds "alive" and well.. yes, 3D.

Sounds like you scored a good one ! Don't forget to clean it from time to time (water + dishwater soap and a q-tip for rubber parts, 90% rubbing alcohol is okay on the metal head). I also demagnetize mine but most people say it doesn't do jack, however I did notice a difference (on all of my cassette players, including my walkman).

Anyway glad you love your tape deck !!

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aeox
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Location: Oregon

11 Aug 2018

Still no audio examples?

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raymondh
Posts: 1015
Joined: 15 Jan 2015

11 Aug 2018

Very cool!

I can't remember who it was who used to rattle on about SoundCloud making every track sound the same, but if that's true, you can always use SC to restore your recording if you're not happy with your tape results :)

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hurricane
Posts: 370
Joined: 14 Oct 2017

12 Aug 2018

aeox wrote:
11 Aug 2018
Still no audio examples?
It's not exactly a priority this weekend. 😬 But soon.

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hurricane
Posts: 370
Joined: 14 Oct 2017

12 Aug 2018

So I just spent ALL MORNING messing with this tape deck, trying to figure out why the left channel was playing back a few DBs lower than the right channel. I thought I broke it because I accidentally created a few nasty feedback loops while experimenting. So I checked EVERYTHING - each setting on the deck, my cables, my audio interface, the cassettes, I really thought it might be my audio interface, so I bypassed my Mac and recorded my hardware synths directly into the tape machine and STILL had the issue. I even opened up the damn thing to see if anything was off.

Turns out my tape head was dirty and I fixed it in 4 seconds with a q-tip and cleaner. :|

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motuscott
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Location: the new york

12 Aug 2018

The more you know,

the more you don't know

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