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soapfoot

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Feb 21 17 11:25 AM

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Someone mentioning a wire recorder misadventure on another thread got me thinking of my own early forays. And curious to hear about some others.

I was about 13 years old (1994?) when I got a Digitech RP-1 floor multi-effects unit for guitar. It had an 1/8" TRS mini jack for a headphone output.
I also had a boombox with two cassette decks and an 1/8" (TS?) mini jack for a mic input, as well as a built-in electret condenser.

It occurred to me rather quickly that if I could just find some way to get hold of an 1/8" male-to-male cable, I might be able to record my guitar directly onto cassette tape!

My older sisters had Walkmans (walkmen?) and regularly went through dollar-store headphones. I found two broken pairs, cut the cables off, and went out to the garage. My dad had a soldering "gun" and some acid-core solder. I knew nothing about soldering, but "how hard can it be" so I managed to somehow stick the two cables together (with globby, dull gray cold solder joints), taped them up with electrical tape (each conductor separately!) and... lo and behold... it worked.

So I'd record one layer of guitar direct-in, and play that back out of a second cheap tape player (mono, with one speaker), then "solo" over my rhythm track through my Crate practice amp... then record both of those (getting the balance by ear and trial-and-error) back into the boombox using the onboard electret microphone.

Eventually I got a relatively early version of Cakewalk (I think I must've been about 16) from "Electronics Boutique" at the mall for $29.95 (I think?), intending to use it as a music notation program (I was in the jazz band in high school and wanted to write charts for the band to play). Instead, I mostly made MIDI songs using a secondhand Ensoniq ESQ-1 (already horribly outdated) that I bought for $200 with yard-mowing money, and a rigged-up MIDI-to-Dsub into the soundcard of my mom's Compaq Presario. The Ensoniq was just used as a controller, and the hilarious thing is that I didn't know anything about MIDI editing or sequencing or a "grid." I would simply lay down the 'drums' first (playing a complete take with fingers on the keyboard), then the 'bass,' etc etc. I never did figure out how to get audio from my guitar into that soundcard, so these tracks were "MIDI only." If I messed up, I simply started over until I had a full pass that was acceptable (or I gave up and just lived with the results, whichever came first)

I'm sure everyone here probably has a similar story!

 

brad allen williams

Last Edited By: soapfoot Feb 21 17 11:29 AM. Edited 2 times

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spiritwalker

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Feb 21 17 11:39 AM

Similar story here but a decade earlier. You could still find great stereo component pieces around so I had pretty good quality decks.

I had two cassette decks and a Biamp 8 channel mixer (I still have it) with a reverb tank in it!.

I would bounce tracks back and forth until the hiss killed the desire. Right around this time I clued into putting a tone on the tape for tuning and purchased a couple DBX encoder/decoder boxes for the cassette decks.
Things got better and worse at the same time.

The big steps were to a Yamaha 4 track cassette deck and then to 16 track Fostex 1/2 inch tape (I still have it), the E16 model paired with a 24/4/2 channel Biamp "Live" board.
From there I took a step back to the first 8 channel 16 bit Protools systems.

Now on HD3 system

OK it's cold here

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extrememixing

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Feb 21 17 11:46 AM

When I was 13, I bought a TEAC 2340. It had symul sync. I used y cables to hear all of the outputs play, then I bought a TEAC mixer, which was just a small box with with 4 inputs and switches for left and right for each channel. I still have lots of those tapes, but haven't heard them in years. I need to get a round tuit.

Steve

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jzombie

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Posts: 542 Member Since:07/02/2011

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Feb 21 17 11:55 AM

TEAC 3340 here, was a little bit older than you Steve... late teens. I had a Radio Shack box that sounds similar to your TEAC mixer. Had one 57 and would scrounge other mics. Going direct into the TEAC sounded surprisingly not bad at the time... I also have the tapes in a closet or storage somewhere, still have the machine too but it hasn't been powered on in many years...

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jaykadis

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Feb 21 17 12:22 PM

My first real recorder was my dad's Sony TC-355 with sound-on-sound that's still sitting in my office. Got a 3340 in the early '70s and an 80-8 with DX-8 and M-35 mixer in the early '80s. Still have that in the garage - don't tell my wife. I've also got one of those Biamp 683 mixers we used as a PA and occasionally for recording (with a pair of EV S15-3 and Yamaha P2100). I need to clean house. First got into MIDI with an Amiga 2000 and Bars and Pipes - probably with the Roland JX-3P and later a LinnDrum.

Now I could probably do all that with my iPhone.

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mcallister

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Feb 21 17 12:53 PM

My brother had a Tascam 234 (?), a 4track cassette deck that operated at a higher speed. Somehow I ended up with it and a Shure 57.

I did a lot of demos, and then I learned how to bounce. The weirder ones were: Track 1: snare, track 2: shaker, track 3: "bass" (my snare with the snares off and the mic running through an octaver). I'd bounce those to one track, then fill up the other three.

I can't claim many things sounded any good, but it was fun and I learned a LOT about planning.

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soapfoot

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Feb 21 17 1:06 PM

How I would've KILLED for a four-track recorder! But all of my yard-mowing money went toward guitars instead. And my parents could certainly not afford to subsidize my endeavors.

brad allen williams

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Mike Rivers

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Feb 21 17 1:29 PM

I think it was in 1956 when my cousin gave me his V-M (Voice of Music) recorder when he got a "real hi fi" system. 1/4", 3-3/4 & 7-1/2 ips, full track mono. It even came with a microphone. I was making spoof radio shows with a school chum.

I think it was 1961 when I got my first Ampex, an A-122. By then I had an EV 654 microphone.



For a good time, call mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com

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d gauss

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Feb 21 17 1:48 PM

basically, two of these type of dandy doodads, circa 1972. (though i think one was a panasonic and the other, my best friend's radio shack).  
record on one through built in mic (yay for crazy auto-level squash/suck on input) .  
playback through crappy built in speaker on 1st deck whilst recording onto 2nd deck and adding new part. repeat. etc.  
if blend wasn't right, moved closer or further and did it over again.

image

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morespaceecho

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Feb 21 17 1:48 PM

probably about 1988ish....i borrowed a friend's biamp 4 track....it was a big clunky box of a thing. i remember looking at it and thinking it all looked terribly complicated. but i managed to record a track of rhythm guitar (//:E5-C5-A5-G5://) and another track of wailing over it. i'll always remember that first listen back to TWO THINGS AT ONCE. incredible! mind-blowing!

soon after that i got a fostex 4 track....a nice one with "high" (3 3/4) speed and sweepable mids(!). great machine. 

used that like crazy for a few years then got an otari mx5050 8 track and a mackie 24x8. that was earlyish 90s during the ADAT craze....i've always been super thankful that i learned to record on analog tape and not those damn ADATs. 

used that until about 2000 when i switched to the computer and here we are. i tried to unload that stupid mackie for years with no luck. i just left it at the loft when we moved. 

i find editing midi the absolute height of tedium so i still do it the way brad did, just playing complete takes. i do a few, save them as audio and edit those if necessary.

www.oldcolonymastering.com

morespaceecho.bandcamp.com

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jimlongo

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Feb 21 17 2:24 PM

Early 70s, the Sony TC-630 was the bomb. Sound on Sound, echo, speakers which doubled as a cover.  Bought it on layaway, remember that?

image

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chance

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Feb 21 17 2:46 PM

Wow. Interesting to read of roots that grew to what we are today. I started with a wire recorder, then a tape recorder and a Presto disc lathe. I used to drag my cheap tape recorder to gigs that my band played in the early 60's. I recorded at 1 7/8 ips to save tape LOL S/N ratio anyone? But they still play. http://the-musicians-workshop.com/The_Musicians_Workshop/MUSICAL_BEGINNING.html
Jump ahead to 1970, my band played in Japan and we did a TV commercial for Teac, and they gave me the first 3340 that entered the USA. Man, I was king. I also got a Tascam model #10 4 bus mixing desk. Again I would drag that 3340 on stage and run trk #1 from a small mixer that I had 4 drum mics, Trk #2 was from a direct out from our PA, Trk #3 was direct out from the guitar, and Trk #4 direct out from my bass
My very FIRST recording I ever made late 50's using wire, tape, and acetate. This is the seed that got me hooked on recording. http://the-musicians-workshop.com/The_Musicians_Workshop/MUSICAL_BEGINNING_files/FIRST%20RECORDING%20PROCESSED%202.mp3
mid 70's with 3340 on stage I'd love to remix these 4 tracks and see what improvements can be achieved
Jump to the 80's when I acquired United Audio, and 2 of my former bandmates from Boston were visiting and I cristened my studio's first recording with them. The yak between songs is priceless

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gold

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Feb 21 17 2:49 PM

Boom box, borowed. My introduction to mic placement. There always seemed to be a cassette four track available although I never owned one. I usually was the operator. Early mid 80's.

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dr funk

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Feb 21 17 3:08 PM

Mine was a Fostex X-15 cassette 4 track with Dolby B! It came with a really crap mic - no idea what it was, but I do know it was red... and plastic.

I think it was 1984 and I was 15 at the time... Multitracking with my accordion (gasp) and a flanger pedal became less and less interesting, so fortunately I discovered synths, and they were far more interesting. A couple of years later I upgraded to a Yamaha MT-44 cassette 4 track... with Dolby C!

By 1988 I had an Amiga 500 running Dr T's KCS, a Roland D-50 and a used Sequential Prophet 2000 sampler, and the rest, as they say, is history...

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gold

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Feb 21 17 4:12 PM

At some point I gradualted to a Sony portable Mini Disc with a companion little Sony mic. I loved that thing. The AGC in the record path worked remarkably well. That was after I had access to real studios and equipment.

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chance

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Feb 21 17 4:22 PM

A couple tape machines that made a big impression on me before I got the 3340, was first the "Roberts" with sound on sound, then a "Crown". I remember after owning it for many years, that heavy Crown falling around 4 feet off a shelf during an earthquake, and it still worked like new. The heads were still in perfect alignment. What quality machines those Crowns were.

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maarvold

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Feb 21 17 7:07 PM

At a pretty early age, I was given a couple of old tape recorders that had HORRIBLE wow & flutter.  But that allowed me to get a bit familiar with the idea of recording, even though the results were unusable.  Then a couple of handheld cassette recorders.  Then, in high school, I got a Sony 1/4" quarter track machine that was reasonably serious; it had an angled front, but I don't remember the model.  I bought and borrowed some commercial analog tapes and listened to them quite a lot for a time there: Mahler's 7th Symphony ("Song of the Night") and Elton John "Tumbleweed Connection".  I also recorded a bit, but not very seriously.  Then it was a Sony semi-portable cassette deck.  But the first real recording setup (set up in a basement) was a Teac 3340 with DBX Pro noise reduction, a Revox A77 to mix to and a 4 bus Tascam (or Teac?) board with a handful of nice mics--a 451EB, RE20, SM53 and maybe 1 or 2 others.  And that was when the bug really bit me.  I was essentially a rock/pop/jazz guitarist in those days; one day a guy booked the room for an evening session; I came home from dinner and there was a room full of around 10 or 12 musicians in there with things like a bassoon and a trumpet and a flute and a violin or two.  I was like, "Holy CRAP--how am I going to capture this?"  Then it aired on (I think) WBUR--a public radio station--as a Halloween special and it really, for the first time, made me think that there might be a much broader world of music out there than I had previously experienced.  It was probably the seed that led to my fascination with orchestral film score.  

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tim halligan

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Feb 21 17 8:14 PM

I can't remember the aequence exactly, but in the mid-70's it was either a cassette deck like the Sony pictured by D Gauss, or it was a well used Uher journalist's 1/4 inch recorder. I certainly ended up with both, and that led to the usual bouncing acoustically shenanigans.

In the mid-80's I bought a Tascam 244.

Cheers,
Tim

An analogue brain in a digital world

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harland

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Feb 21 17 11:15 PM

jimlongo wrote:
Early 70s, the Sony TC-630 was the bomb. Sound on Sound, echo, speakers which doubled as a cover.  Bought it on layaway, remember that?

image

Bingo!!  In 1970 I caught a bank robber and got the equvialent of about 3 months wages in reward money. So I bought the Sony 630D which is just the deck, no speakers iirc, and I also got a real nice Dual turntable built into a tuner/power amp unit and a couple of cabs with 12" EV speakers. That was my first rig, but a little before that my brother had a couple of Phillips recorders and we would bounce stuff back and forth on those. I used the 630 up until about 1978 when I got my first 4 track, which was an Akai, also model 630, strangely enough. 


image


image

What a gorgeous machine that was! After getting a couple of these 4 channel Radio Shack mixers, I was even able to pan as I mixed to two track. 

image

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gtoledo3

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Feb 21 17 11:33 PM

I had a couple of small Realistic tape recorders, one of them with varispeed.

After I was pushing those pretty far, my father got me a Tascam 8 track cassette recorder, a 57, and a 58, I guess when I was around 12 or 13. Very cool gift!

Many different things between then and now.

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