Contribute to Performer’s Special Analog Tape Issue

akai reel to reel

Howdy Performer faithful!

We are planning a very special, dope-ass issue all about our favorite format: analog tape. That’s right, an entire issue dedicated to that glorious, magnetic bliss.

That’s where YOU come in. We need experts and guest contributors to write about a number of topics. If you or someone you know would like to lend a hand with any of the following, please email [email protected]

  • Glossary of tape-related terms
  • Modern tape plug-ins for recording
  • Multi-track tape machine maintenance
  • The cassette culture and modern tape revival
  • Retro tape machine ads
  • Tips for recording to analog tape in the studio
  • 30 ips vs 15 ips vs 7.5 ips for recording
  • Home stereo cassette deck information/buyer’s guide
  • Tape releasing resources for bands/labels (tape duplicators, J-card insert printing, bulk tapes and cases, etc)
  • Artists talking about their favorite tapes
  • Brief timeline and history of magnetic tape recording and formats
  • Consumer Guide to portable tape players/boomboxes/Walkmen, etc
  • History of home taping and its effect on the industry through modern day
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2 Comments

  1. Jon Finn

    April 2, 2015 at 12:49 am

    I’m 57 years old now. I’ve been a professional musician since the age of 14. This means that I’m old enough to remember when analog tape was the only way to do multitrack recording. For my money, digital is much better on just about every front. Here’s why:

    -15 minutes of music storage (1 reel of Ampex 456 2″ tape) cost about $150 back in 1990. It’s more expensive now. It’s roughly equal to approx. 500mb of data. Today, you can buy a 2TB drive for around 70 bucks that would fit more than 2,000 times that amount of data. Is my math right?

    -There’s a limit as to how many times you can play or record on the same region of tape before the audio quality is degraded. With digital, sound is never degraded. If the data becomes corrupt, it just doesn’t play at all. With checksum digits and error correction, the chances of ALL of the data failing is really really slim!

    -Tape noise. That hissing sound. You think you can handle it and it won’t bother you until you’ve listened to it for 4 hours. Then it’s the only thing you hear. Digital audio storage, by contrast, does not contribute noise.

    -Rewind time. Every time you want to re-record something, or listen to it again, you have to wait for the tape to rewind and allow the machine to re-set. For a 3 minute song, that’s usually around 1 minute. It doesn’t sound like a lot until you want to list to the song a few times. With digital, there is no rewind time.

    -There’s no “undo” button. That by itself is enough reason to stay digital!

    -There’s no copy/paste function. Forget looping. Not gonna happen unless you play it over and over.

    -“Punch in” (replacing a segment of a single track) is at best and adventure that requires nerves of steel. The engineer has to hit the RECORD button at exactly the right moment. The musician has only a limited number of tries before the tape starts to degrade.

    -Today’s digital equipment is smaller, lighter, more reliable, and less expensive and generally produces superior sound quality.

    -The sound quality produced by a studio setup today worth $3,000 would require more than $100,000 in the early 1980’s

    My point? Professional-grade analog tape does sound great. But it is far from infallible. There are reasons why it’s obsolete.

    My two cents!

    Thanks!

    Jon Finn

  2. Nick

    April 6, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Just some counterpoints to John’s post above:

    – Tape Noise: The new ATR Magnetics tape is quiet as a mouse.
    – Rewind time: This helps refresh your ears. It’s a blessing in disguise.
    – No ‘undo’ button: Keeps the riff-raff out.
    – No copy/paste: ^ as above.
    – Punch ins: Engineer has to know what they’re doing.
    – Obsolete? Hardly.

    My two cents!

    Nicolas

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