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Analog Recording Equipment


(@nexion)
Honorable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 536
Topic starter  

I'm in the market for some recording gear. I am completely inexperienced in this terrain and would appreciation any advice and recommendations. Here are a few things that I know that I want:

-Analog (I have a love for all things old and real)
-Simple, simple, simple (I'm talking guitar, mic, tape)
-Relatively affordable ($300-ish)

Thanks.

"That’s what takes place when a song is written: You see something that isn’t there. Then you use your instrument to find it."
- John Frusciante


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(@moonrider)
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1309
 

I'm in the market for some recording gear. I am completely inexperienced in this terrain and would appreciation any advice and recommendations. Here are a few things that I know that I want:

-Analog (I have a love for all things old and real)
-Simple, simple, simple (I'm talking guitar, mic, tape)
-Relatively affordable ($300-ish)

Thanks.

You won't get all three if you want an analog solution. Pick two.

16 track tape is great IF you know how to properly maintain the unit and how to bias and align the recording heads. Otherwise, you'll just get stuff that sounds like poo. 4 track cassette units usually aren't simple to use at all. Either way, using tape requires a great deal of planning to make the best use of tracks, and if you blow a take, you've wasted tape, because the only editing you're able to do is with a razor blade and splices.

For a novice trying to get a good grasp of the basics of tracking and mixing, digital is far more forgiving of error and a much better platform to learn on. You just keep doing it over until you get it right. You also have a far better chance of meeting all three of your criteria, once you decide on how many tracks at a time you want to record, and if you want a stand alone unit or computer based.

Don't forget, along with a recorder, you'll need mikes, cables and stands. If you want to do computer based, you'll need an interface for best results.

I'd recommend computer based to start.
My recommendation from products I use for my own recordings:

Lexicon Omega Desktop Recording Studio Bundle - $200

AT2041 mic bundle $170

Two mic stands - low as $30. Two mic cables again, about $30.

Total is a bit more, $430, but gives you a solid entry-level platform.

Playing guitar and never playing for others is like studying medicine and never working in a clinic.

Moondawgs on Reverbnation


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 Crow
(@crow)
Honorable Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 554
 

Digital recording has innumerable advantages, no question about it. Prices for decent digital hard- and software are dropping daily. Digital is a much more forgiving format for beginners.

However --
4 track cassette units usually aren't simple to use at all.

-- I respectfully disagree. My first encounter with a four-track cassette unit was 30 years ago, in the company of three serious acid-heads. Someone brought in a Fostex X-15, and for about 10 minutes we stood around gawking at it. Then we recorded an original song, from scratch. It wasn't radio-ready, certainly not CD-quality, but it got the point across. I immediately bought an X-15, and I would still be using it today if Fostex supported it with replacement parts.

You do need a microphone and cables. Stands are nice to have, but I have multi-tracked a lot of music without them. Guitars played directly into a four-track cassette input are pretty sterile, unless you soup up the signal and print tracks with lots of processing, but you can do it. And you will need something to mix down to -- another cassette deck, or a digital recorder, like the computer upon which you wrote that post.

Analog recording is seductive. Four-track cassette recorders are still available. Digital recording has made enormous strides since the days when Neil Young (and I) denounced its cold, sterile vibe. The digital option is better than you might think it is, practically and (surprisingly) sonically -- but the analog option is viable, if you realize going in that you won't be getting anything close to CD quality. If you blow a take, you record over the bad take with a better one. That's healthy. It builds character, and probably chops. But "old school" analog CAN be a pain in the ass. It's there if you really want it.

"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream." - Frank Zappa


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(@moonrider)
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1309
 

4 track cassette units usually aren't simple to use at all.

-- I respectfully disagree. My first encounter with a four-track cassette unit was 30 years ago, in the company of three serious acid-heads. Someone brought in a Fostex X-15, and for about 10 minutes we stood around gawking at it. Then we recorded an original song, from scratch. It wasn't radio-ready, certainly not CD-quality, but it got the point across. I immediately bought an X-15, and I would still be using it today if Fostex supported it with replacement parts.

That's the same unit I had! I hated it, because it was such a pain for me to get what I heard in my head to tape. NONE of my ideas that I wanted to record would fit on just 4 tracks. The very simplest needed 5 for a mono mix, so I was dealing with bouncing tracks and generational loss from day one. It just didn't work the same way my mind and expectations wanted it to work.

For me, digital was *so* much simpler, and for me, far more productive.

Playing guitar and never playing for others is like studying medicine and never working in a clinic.

Moondawgs on Reverbnation


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