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Digitising old multitrack tapes

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  1. Slenver
    Slenver
    I've got some old recordings on 4-track from the days before computers (were affordable) and dinosaurs roamed the earth etc.

    I was just thinking last night, that there's at least one track I have that I'd actually be quite interested in getting into a usable format and having a play with. I can't remember exactly what stuff was bounced down with what else, but there might be the odd guitar track that could come in useful - specifically because I've no idea how I actually played it

    Now, I do still have the 4-track somewhere, possibly, god knows where, but it was relatively lo-fi even then and still wouldn't help me getting onto the Mac. Presumably playing through a normal cassette deck would be the better option, and then speed it up to the right speed in software once it's on the computer...

    I'm not quite sure what the question is really, just musing aloud kind of. I don't suppose anybody has a decent tape deck all ready and connected up for this purpose do they?
  2. stoo
    stoo
    If you're gonna use a 4 track tape in a regular tape deck you'd have to record both sides separately, then reverse the B-side and re-synch it up to the A side.

    A bit of hassle I suppose, but not a huge amount of work...


    I made the mistake of lending my 4 track to a mate.... who then promptly disappeared off the face of the earth. Well, probably to Andover, but amounts to the same thing.
  3. TheEnglishman
    TheEnglishman
    what kind of 4 track? The car type that ran on an endless loop tape or a cassette type that ran 4 tracks all going the same way?

    If the latter, then you *could* play it out on a standard cassette player, only you'd get 2 tracks at a time and one would be backwards. But with modern software that wouldn't be difficult to flip and syncronise.

    Or try second hand music shops or e-may for a 4 track recorder/player.

    or someone on here may have one in the loft (i'm just asking a friend who had one if he's still got it)



    It's an interesting little project - let us(me) know how you get on
  4. Slenver
    Slenver
    Quote Originally Posted by stoo View Post
    If you're gonna use a 4 track tape in a regular tape deck you'd have to record both sides separately, then reverse the B-side and re-synch it up to the A side.

    A bit of hassle I suppose, but not a huge amount of work...
    Quote Originally Posted by TheEnglishman View Post
    what kind of 4 track? The car type that ran on an endless loop tape or a cassette type that ran 4 tracks all going the same way?

    If the latter, then you *could* play it out on a standard cassette player, only you'd get 2 tracks at a time and one would be backwards. But with modern software that wouldn't be difficult to flip and syncronise.
    Yep, the cassette type all running the same way. There's be a little jiggery pokery sure, but can't see it being a problem. And it'll be running at half the speed too probably.

    Quote Originally Posted by stoo View Post
    I made the mistake of lending my 4 track to a mate.... who then promptly disappeared off the face of the earth. Well, probably to Andover, but amounts to the same thing.
    Quote Originally Posted by TheEnglishman View Post
    Or try second hand music shops or e-may for a 4 track recorder/player.

    or someone on here may have one in the loft (i'm just asking a friend who had one if he's still got it)
    Oh, I do have the 4-track somewhere. Parent's loft possibly. It's not that I want to play them as such, just rip the individual tracks. I have a CD of the full mixed tracks... these were the days when you had to ring up small studios and pay people to do that for you of course...
  5. TheEnglishman
    TheEnglishman
    But you'll do best to play the tape in the machine that recorded it. Every 4 track I knew of had a left and right 'Master' output. Just plug that into the line in on your PC and hit play/record...
  6. Slenver
    Slenver
    Quote Originally Posted by TheEnglishman View Post
    But you'll do best to play the tape in the machine that recorded it. Every 4 track I knew of had a left and right 'Master' output. Just plug that into the line in on your PC and hit play/record...
    I could do... if I ever get round to looking for it I suppose. A decent tape deck would still provide better quality though I imagine.
  7. TheEnglishman
    TheEnglishman
    Quote Originally Posted by Slenver View Post
    I could do... if I ever get round to looking for it I suppose. A decent tape deck would still provide better quality though I imagine.
    Not necessarily. 4 track tape heads have slightly different spacing to Hi Fi tape heads as there doesn't need to be such a large guard band seperating each side of the tape 'cos all 4 tracks go the same way. Depending on the quality of the recording, playback system used etc etc it may be significantly better (lower noise, more high frequency information and the like) playing back on the 4 track than using a conventional hi-fi cassette player.

    Or you may not notice the difference.
  8. Slenver
    Slenver
    Quote Originally Posted by TheEnglishman View Post
    Not necessarily. 4 track tape heads have slightly different spacing to Hi Fi tape heads as there doesn't need to be such a large guard band seperating each side of the tape 'cos all 4 tracks go the same way. Depending on the quality of the recording, playback system used etc etc it may be significantly better (lower noise, more high frequency information and the like) playing back on the 4 track than using a conventional hi-fi cassette player.

    Or you may not notice the difference.
    Hmm... very interesting, cheers.
  9. Loz
    Loz
  10. Twigman
    Twigman
    My old Fostex 4 track cassette thing could play each track out of a seperate audio out.

    All you need is a soundcard with 4 seperate inputs, connect it up, arm 4 audio tracks in your DAW software each assigned to a seperate input on your soundcard, press play on the 4 track, press record in the DAW and Robert is your father's brother.
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