Folks ask me all the time IF having and using a fully Pro Tape Recorder
in their studio is worthwhile or even a good thing.
Often that is a long conversation about the history of Audio recording,
the development over time of the quality of the Tape Recorders and Audio Tape,
and the skill and knowledge required to actually correctly use Tape Recording.
So here are a few points in FAVOR of using Audio Tape Recorders....
1) Audio tape is ALL ANALOG.
2) Analog Tape 'sounds' great - full, fat and rich - IF USED CORRECTLY.
3) Almost ALL of the 'old-School' recordings you love the sound of
were recorded onto Audio tape.
4) Since you cannot punch-in and correct small musical errors or faults when using Tape Recorders,
it helps make Musicians play their parts well and complete.
No fixing flubbed single notes, off key singing...
There are a ton of small musical 'errors' in most good 'old-school' records - listen to
the Clash's "London Calling" album or CD for interest.... but the overall music is 'live", sounds Great and kicks ass.
Fixing every small error or fault, punching in single notes and so on - as you can easily do in digital -
makes music seem less 'alive'... the same when musicians play their parts separately and not together.
Using audio tape means the musicians MUST play well... and for basics, usually the entire band is playing
in the same room at the same time.... that's a good thing!
5) Using Audio tape also means you have to become a MUCH better recording Engineer !
Audio tape limits you from recording things poorly - incorrect low levels or way too hot levels,
not using compression when needed, bad or no EQ if needed, and so on.
Using Audio Tape is NOT as easy as using digital....
it takes skill and talent to get things sounding right !!
6) Professional Tape Recorders in good condition are selling cheaply these days !!!
You can purchase what was once a $ 90,000 Studer for well under $ 10K. Good Otari 24 track
recorders often sell for $ 1,500 - $2,500.... that's a steal !
7) Having A Tape Recorder and using it will set your studio apart from all the others who have
only digital.... There are hundreds of small 'studios' in bedrooms, and such, all turning out
pretty much junk. But it's hard to convince musicians to spend more and use your studio instead
if you can't offer something really different - and using a professional tape recorder sets up apart
and pretty much says you are a 'real studio'. Of course you still have to have digital....
Some bands will go Digital, others will go Analog. You need to be able to offer both.
8) Once a band starts their project on Audio Tape they are pretty much locked into
completeing the project at your studio...
9) While the cost of Tape Recorders has dropped, the cost of Audio Tape has risen...
But there are easy ways around the high cost of Audio Tape ! Many studios purchase
'One-Pass' or good quality used tape, and then 'Loan' tapes to Bands who want to use
Analog tape - for free or very little. You put restrictions on Loaned tapes of course:
Tapes do not get to leave your studio (unless the band buys them), and you get to erase the tapes
and use them again 30 days after the project is Mixed (unless the band buys the tapes).
Bands DO have to purchase the Final Mix tapes if you mix to Analog of course.... but that's
cheaper 1/4 or 1/2 inch tape.
10) Just the dang 'look' of a fully Professional Tape Recorder is cool !!!
11) Analog Tape does NOT allow you to 'Cheat' - cutting and paste a few 'good' notes or beats
and then spread them throughout the whole song. Or even correct the timing of a
sampled snare. It is much much harder to do the 'cheats' in music as you can do
so easily in Digital. I've seen a well known Musican (with alas Platnum sales)
sloppily beat on a set of drums, then pick out a good snare hit, a good kick drum beat and so on, then
choose a pace for the song, then spread those few chosen notes out throughout the whole song digitally.
Same for the bass lines, sloppy playing but he picked out a few notes, pasted them in.
Same for the Piano chords. A horrible sloppy bad player, but with a computer,
he was able to make it all sound OK. Of course nothing could be actually played on stage
or live.... but he'd hire 'real' musicians when that happened. All vocals were pitch corrected,
or single words redone. But often that is the quality of the people you will be recording.
If that is the case, you shouldn't be using Analog Tape !!!
Analog Tape is the ONLY thing that can be re-enocded at a higher and more detailed digital sample rate
at ANYTIME in the future. Since it is ALL ANALOG, any future advancement in Digital can be taken...
meaning a better final product anytime in the future.
Analog Audio tape is basically future proof.