TASCAM 38 8-track Reel to Reel

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TASCAM 38 8-track Reel to Reel

Postby skeletron on Fri Jan 23, 2009 8:22 pm

So I scored (borrowing indefinitely) a TASCAM 38 8-track Reel-to-Reel machine. The guy gave me the machine, a Soundcraft mixing board, a few mics, and 8 10" reels of 1/2" tape. My bad is looking to record a short demo or EP using all this equipment. I know it would be far easier and quicker to scratch some tracks on a Mac and be done with it, but I have a feeling this will be a rewarding process in itself.

Has anybody worked with a reel-to-reel machine like this? And advice for starters?
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Re: TASCAM 38 8-track Reel to Reel

Postby Mr. Arkadin on Sat Jan 24, 2009 2:00 am

Get some good noise reduction. I have a Tascam 58 and a 3M79 2" 16 track. The key to getting these things sounding good is having quality NR. Short of that, run at the fastest speed and use a high signal to noise ratio when recording.
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Re: TASCAM 38 8-track Reel to Reel

Postby skeletron on Sat Jan 24, 2009 9:15 pm

The machine came with two Tascam noise reduction devices (look like "rack style" units) to reduce noise on the 8 tracks.

A friend of mine was telling me to try to hit the tape hard, a little in the red is okay with tape because of the natural tape compression/overdrive.

Any advice on threading the unit? Is this tricky, or should I be able to figure this out? I haven't set it up at the rehearsal space...that's tomorrow's job.
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Re: TASCAM 38 8-track Reel to Reel

Postby Mr. Arkadin on Sun Jan 25, 2009 3:52 am

Yes, hit the tape hard. The hotter the signal, the less noise. As for threading, you should be able to pull the heads back or feed it through. I've never owned a 38, but they were very popular machines, so I'm sure there are old timers here who can help you with that.
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Re: TASCAM 38 8-track Reel to Reel

Postby skeletron on Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:15 pm

I am confused about preamps. Do I need to run mic preamps between the mic and the mixing board? Doesn't the board act as a preamp in some ways? I have heard running a tube pre-amp for the kick drum mic gives it a nice fat and warm sound. That is why I am wondering if I have to use one on all 8 tracks.


I think our plan is to do digital scratch tracks (for quick internet demos), troubleshoot them, and then record to tape. When we do record to tape, we will only have 7 of the 8 tracks available to us (#6 is dead). For live off the floor we were thinking:

1-Guitar
2-Guitar
3-Bass
4-Kick
5-Snare
6-n/a
7-Overhead drum mic
8-Room mic

Then bounce the tracks and overdub vocals, organ, and small guitar parts.
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Re: TASCAM 38 8-track Reel to Reel

Postby Clanger on Tue Jan 27, 2009 7:32 pm

Your soundcraft board will pre-amp your mikes fine, However fancy outboard pre-amps mikes are available which may well sound better. However which channel you use it on is a question if you only have one and are going to be tracking 7 tracks live..

Be aware that if your board has 8 subgroup outs then you can use as many mics as there are input channels, and then sub-group for the recording. And/or wise subgrouping at live tracking can remove the need for a bounce later on - which would lose you quality. I also avoid NR/Dolby at recording too - fix it in the mix.

The best thing about analogue is 'the sound' - engineers spent years tweaking stuff to not just be faitfhull to the input, but to actually 'sound nice'. Then the digital boffins came along and only did the first part of the job, only later did they realise how much work had gone into making it sound nice, so now cubase has truetape and yadda yadda on other systems.

All that knowledge is captured in sound by your recording (more so in a vintage studer I guess), so once thats done, - If you have digital system as well, I'd be tempted to edit and mix and master in the digital domain.

Regarding input levels you can push the bassier elements more into the red than the treble. So be careful with cymbals and so on when you're riding the gain.
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