Thirty years ago, I played drums, percussions & sax but we didn't record,
just play. I didn't have enough money to buy a CD player or even to buy all
the music I wanted to have. So I went every week in a public media library
to take vinyl & CDs and record them on my music system on magnetic tapes.
This allowed me to discovered so many music : I didn't like what there was
on the radio ! So I'm really happy to live at the time where the technique
allows that and mainly to MAKE music at home like Mike Oldfield did by
himself... But a numerical studio is not the same price as the Mike Oldfield
Analogics one ! Viva el computers!
My first studio used a Tascam 80-8 1/2" reel to reel. I bought the
deck with a Tascam model 1(I believe) mixer. later I upgraded to a model 15 full-frame
mixer and a Tascam 30-8. eventually, I moved to a 2" 24track highly modified
Scully and a SoundCraft 1600, modified for 24track use. the tape decks
sounded great, but, especially the Scully, they needed to be maintained
constantly and only about 15 minutes could be recorded to a 10" reel. tape
was expensive. the last reel I bought for the Scully was about $140. that
was before Ampex went out of business. I also recorded my first "band's"
album at home on a rented Otari 1/2" 8 track. when I first for Scope some
15-18 years ago, it was quite a revelation. it sounded darn near as nice as
the Scully and was much easier to work with and a lot less expensive to
operate. I haven't looked back. I still use the Soundcraft 1600 for
microphone pres and for it's monitor section and the TT patch bays in it's
frame are still used for outboard.
At first I had a Sony 2 track 1/4 inch which I used basically live for my
analog equipment. (Rhodes 73, Mini Moog, ARP Odyssey, Solina Strings and
Alpha Syntauri in an Apple II-e). I recorded myself live with Drum-Drops on
vinyl. The band sessions were done live with two Sony Electret condenser
microphones. No compressor, equaliser, only whatever came out of the amps.
Gains were set via sound checks. Those tapes sounded pretty good for what
they were and I still have most which were done on good tape. One of my
never gotten around to projects was to master them in my computer. I have no
idea if they would play today even though I picked up a nice TEAC 2 track
for the task. There are some great artists on those tapes who later went on
to do amazing things, Reuben Hoch and Leslie Ming on Drums, Rick Howard,
Dave Lavender and Ira Siegel on guitars, Kashif on keyboards and vocals and
(not so great me) on piano, Rhodes and synth pads, leads and bass. No
overdubs and since we knew that the takes were really good as I remember.
Many originals that I would love to redo one day.
When MIDI happened, about a minute later I also had a Tascam 4 track Portastudio. I used 2 tracks for audio, skipping one track away from a track
which was used for MIDI sync back and forth from my PC which was running
Texture (or Sequencer Plus). Kept the sync track away from the audio because
of the crosstalk with a suitably gained sync-signal. The sync went through
an OP- 4001 MIDI card and JL Cooper PPS-1. The tape transport was controlled
from Texture and everything was MIDI through outboard gear (JX-3P, Casio
CZ-101, CZ-1, Yamaha FB-01, Korg Drum Box - no sequencer, just sounds, Korg
M1, Korg DSM 1 and EMU racks all controlled by a Roland MKB-300. I forgot
the mixer I had but I think it was a Peavey 8 channel through which I
patched various Alesis Micro thingies. Reverb, Compressors and a Digitech
DSP-128 with an upgraded ROM. These effects also had some MIDI controlled
The MIDI was handled by the PC and did most of the mixing (with hand-made
automation!). Occasionally I would bounce on the Portastudio and
send the "master" to a rack-mount TASCAM cassette machine. I also want
to one day re-master those tracks. MIDI was freedom to compose, master other
instruments in their playing techniques and registers. Before sampling,
spending hours to perfect strings, horns and whatever, coming up with new
sounds. MIDI opened up composition and harmony, orchestration and arranging
for me like nothing could. It added afterburners to traverse the entire
musical universe at will.
Then I got a SCOPE. Luna II. Blown away, I quickly added a Pulsar II and
then a Pro. My outboard gear became mostly Roland XV's, A Korg Triton and
Yamaha Motif. Sonar and Cubase were the DAWs but everything else was SCOPE
for synth, mixing and mastering. The DAW hosted very few VST synths and
effects with a Yamaha OV-1 with ADAT basically as motorized faders for SCOPE
mixers and a 16 track ADAT interface and some good mikes. A Radikal SAC 2k
controlled the DAW (still does) and the Motif and Triton also had ADAT. So
here I am, still traversing, with SCOPE still the core and center of my
MIDI/studio world, pretty much replacing everything. Measured in years,
SCOPE has outlasted everything else by a long-shot. Now with more powerful
computers and better VSTs I have some awesome synths (like Diva and PianoTeq
and some others from NI, etc.) and convenient effects although SCOPE handles
95% of that without breaking a sweat, especially the reverb, equalizers and
mastering. Pretty good VST's have come out like the Korg M-1, CZ-1 and EMU
racks, which can load my whatever old patches I still have, along with the
Texture and SQ+ MIDI files I still have on that old homebrew 286 Turbo-Tower
(8MHz!!!!!) which still boots into DOS and can MIDI in and out and sync both
ways with the OP-4001. The original SCOPE Dell Pentium machine lasted over
10 rock-solid years, with 2 CPU - 2.5 and then 3.0 - and RAM - 2 MB and then
4 MB upgrades (for the DAWs) until the boot drive crashed. That machine went
from SCOPE 3.1 to 5.0 32 bit. Course now I fondly look back but besides the
Roland XV-5050, Motif Rack (and for nostalgic reasons, an EMU-B3, and a Korg
DSM-1 which is waiting for the upgrade from JHulk!. I have no outboard gear. No effects either. SCOPE 5.1 does it all on a humble HP XW-4600, Win7 64
2.53 GHz, 16MB RAM with Sonar on top. The OV-1 is also gone (replaced by a
BCF2000 for faders) and the SAC 2k still sits on Sonar. The SCOPE cards and
SAC 2k are going into their 16th year. The Portastudio went for almost 20
with maintenance but as far as the sound is concerned, there's no
comparison. SCOPE can sound like a quarter million dollar studio, but the
Portastudio will always sound like, well a cassette - a great cassette with
the right tape but still a cassette! If I want, I can
make SCOPE sound exactly like a Portastudio but never the other way around.
(Don't get me started on Dolby!).
The absolutely hilarious thing about tape is that a VERY small percentage
of the audio production population has heard a tape played on an actual tape
machine in the past 10 years, so emulations and comparisons arenít based on
anyoneís real experience, just long term memory.
Since the early 90ís (I was 16 years old at that time) I own a Kenwood
KX-7030 cassette deck (which uses a 3 head system), a Memorex SCT-407
cassette deck and an Akai 4000 DS MK II reel to reel tape recorder which I
got for free.
I think itís from the 70ís, you can still buy new tapes for it. It also uses
a 3 head system so you can use it as a tape echo. I have recorded a lot of
(about 200) cassette tapes from the Dutch radio in the 90ís. There was this
radio show which played electronic music like the Warp stuff. I digitized
most of them I which was a lot of work. In the mid 90ís I recorded my early
projects to the Kenwood cassette deck because my computer could not play
back MIDI and record audio at the same time.