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Recording on a 1970’s Tape Machine



Let’s party like it’s 1976!

Magnetic tape started being used for sound recording in 1930 and was the dominant way audio was recorded for the majority of recording history. In this video we’re exploring what the process was like in the 1970’s with this 2 inch, 16 track, reel to reel tape machine previously owned by country audio star Merle Haggard.

This is the first time I’ve every recorded to tape. Outside of some small cassette recorders I had as a kid. Outside of that and the wax cylinder video we shot earlier this year, I’ve only ever recorded with a digital system.

Going into a studio to track on this machine really puts into perspective how much more prepared audioians had to be at the time. There’s very little editing if any that can be done to your performance and each take eats up precious time and real estate on the medium.

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Featuring Mr. Wibblespoon: ???
Engineered and Mixed Rob Ruccia:
Video edit by Jake Jarvi:

The bass I’m using is Davie504’s signature bass with Chowny.

This video was made possible because of Patreon support from Isaac Briefer, Caelum Lefevers, Christopher Bohinsky, Andrew Johnston, Michael Barry, Hannah Rish, Rob Harper, Thomas Petiprin, Erik Ritter, Diego Perez, Thomas Manegold, Thomas Akin, Quentin Lecourt, Donato Sinicco III, Christopher-Luke Miles, George Marshal, Dirk Wouters, Jaz Maglana, Blayd Malburne, Cody Melcher, Caleb Chalfin, Nicolette Kawata, Quintin Waldner, Hypergnome, Traversing Tyrlengadd, Rahul Parsani, & many other awesome people on my Patreon page:
Thank you so much!

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47 thoughts on “Recording on a 1970’s Tape Machine

  1. Sorry about the reupload everybody. Had some weird technical trouble Monday using the mobile app and had to hit the restart button on this one unfortunately.

    Hope you enjoy the video!

    …especially the Mr. Wibblespoon feature. That man does NOT come cheap. Charges per syllable…

    Ugh…

    Cheers!

  2. I can't believe how ancient this looks. Like it legit looks closer to the wax cylinders than it does to todays technology.
    And yet I lived through part of it.

    Thanks for making me feel old guys.

  3. WOW! It is really entertaining to watch y'all youngins that have never seen what the rest of us grew up on.
    I didn't see/hear you mention tape alignment or tone alignments, tape degaussing or bias which is all stuff y'all needed to deal with before pushing record.
    You have a nice machine there. Make sure you retro your learning curve too so you don't mess up the new toy and so you don't destroy your recordings.

  4. While tape recordings had what were called side 1 and side 2, it's actually on the same side, same surface, of the magnetic tape, just on different physical tracks or parts or bands of the tape. Is that correct? The record head touches the same surface in either "side" of the recording?

  5. Ah kids, I was doing this before you were born! But it's nice you came across such an ancient find. 😎 You are blessed (or perhaps cursed,) with the advent of plugins, with some "extremely " sophisticated algorithms under the hood. So, what do you think of using the real thing? Can you hear a difference?

  6. The beauty of recording to tape is that it is imperfect. You might get something slightly different than what you recorded. There is also the matter of depth and warmth that digital recording cannot replicate.

  7. Wow Mr Wibblespoon, I gotta say as a cat who's obsessed with mustaches (like whiskers for humans except they're somehow not a sense? 😮 ), it's amazing yours can slide off your face into your mouth and reveal ANOTHER mustache under it!!!!! It's so exciting!!! How do you do it!?!?!!?

    Eeeh, it's probably pointless. An AWESOME person like Mr Wibblespoon probably doesn't even read the comments on videos from random peasants like Rob Scallion.

  8. I prefer music cut analog. It's the same argument for vinyl. the cracks and pops give a depth to the sound space instead of sounding like the music was created in a sterile vacuum. Also something about the digital algorithm screwed with the audible frequency range that gets picked up by the medium, whether to CD or MP3. Even "lossless" audio formats like Flaac miss out on certain frequencies. You CAN'T miss those frequencies in analog because it's not interpreted to a digital signal, it's the natural vibrations of the recording and the space in which it was recorded. It's natural sound.

    Not only that, but it requires a player or band to be PROFICIENT at what they do. There's no pro tools easy editing/splicing/overall manipulation. You've got to have the TALENT to nail it. Nowadays a sort of decent guitarist can cut 16 takes in 5 minutes, splice 7 takes together to sound like they know what they're doing, but guess what. the second you put them on a stage and ask them to perform it live, you realize it wasn't exactly what you were hoping for. Tom Petty's Damn the Torpedoes is a GREAT example of a band being forced to take it to a new level. Refugee took like 100 tries to get just right. and they got REALLY pissed along the way. But it's now considered an ICONIC song. If they'd cut that in one day on pro tools and half assed it, it wouldn't stand the test of time.

    And the struggles of having to be that damn spot on in the studio, translated to the stage. That's why up until the day Tom Petty died they were STILL a FREAKING AMAZING LIVE BAND.

    P.S. If you've been in the same room as Bill Clinton, you may wanna get a full STD test done…

  9. This is absolutely amazing! I was always wondering how they recorded, edited, mixed, added effects and mastered the recording before computer era, and this video explained a lot! You can create the next video about recording on vynil like in 20s or 30s.

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