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Author Topic: Modern digital field recorders vs. old school pro cassette recorders  (Read 5039 times)

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Offline drewski1972

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Hi, I was wondering how modern digital recorders(,in the $300 range,)[like tascam dr70, or zoom F3] compair to good cassette recorders used in the 1980s ? I have heard some very good recordings of concerts done with cassettes and I was wondering if the semi cheap ($300) digital recorders could make a  comparable recording, using decent microphones.
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Offline fotoralf.be

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Re: Modern digital field recorders vs. old school pro cassette recorders
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2023, 03:32:57 PM »
Modern digital recorders run circles even around professional open-reel tape recorders formerly used in broadcasting and recording studios.

My MOTU traveler audio interface hooked up to my Mac computer has more and better functions and much higher audio quality than the big outside broadcast van I used to work in in the late 1970s.

Ralf
« Last Edit: March 02, 2023, 03:36:46 PM by fotoralf.be »
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Modern digital field recorders vs. old school pro cassette recorders
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2023, 05:12:25 PM »
What Ralf said.  For the most part, in terms of sound quality, a modern digital recorder will faithfully reproduce whatever you feed into it.  It's all about the stuff you feed into it that really counts.
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<< (note: This is a 1st draft, now several years old and in need of revision!  Stay tuned)

Offline fireonshakedwnstreet

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Re: Modern digital field recorders vs. old school pro cassette recorders
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2023, 06:15:40 PM »
There are tape machine plugins and preamp plugins that you can use on your digital recordings if you are looking for some of that analog vibe.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Modern digital field recorders vs. old school pro cassette recorders
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2023, 08:09:19 PM »
Or, if really enamored by analog cassette mystique, record the show with far less hassle to a digital recorder, then once home, dub the output from it to cassette.  Instant hipster retro!

Extra credit for recording the cassette output back to the same digital recorder again, transferring both files to the computer, aligning, playing back both mixed together with polarity flipped on one of them and level adjusted so as to achieve as deep a cancellation between the two as possible.. and grooving out to the difference signal, which will be the distilled essence of what the cassette tape is doing to the sound.
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<< (note: This is a 1st draft, now several years old and in need of revision!  Stay tuned)

Offline voltronic

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Re: Modern digital field recorders vs. old school pro cassette recorders
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2023, 08:11:22 PM »
Extra credit for recording the cassette output back to the same digital recorder again, transferring both files to the computer, aligning, playing back both mixed together with polarity flipped on one of them and level adjusted so as to achieve as deep a cancellation between the two as possible.. and grooving out to the difference signal, which will be the distilled essence of what the cassette tape is doing to the sound.

Reminds me of this:
https://www.theghostinthemp3.com/theghostinthemp3.html
I am hitting my head against the walls, but the walls are giving way.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Modern digital field recorders vs. old school pro cassette recorders
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2023, 08:33:46 PM »
Art from mp3 garbage!  Thanks for that.

Pretty sad how the mp3 monster escaped from its intended pen and took over the world by being essentially first to market.  If only the world had waited a bit longer for something better to fill that role, or better.. a few years longer still for cheap enough storage and bandwidth for lossless.
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<< (note: This is a 1st draft, now several years old and in need of revision!  Stay tuned)

Offline daspyknows

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Re: Modern digital field recorders vs. old school pro cassette recorders
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2023, 10:00:20 PM »
But isn't so much easier to carry around a Nak 550 or a portable Nagra R2R for the field recordings?

Offline voltronic

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Re: Modern digital field recorders vs. old school pro cassette recorders
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2023, 05:42:54 AM »
Art from mp3 garbage!  Thanks for that.

Pretty sad how the mp3 monster escaped from its intended pen and took over the world by being essentially first to market.  If only the world had waited a bit longer for something better to fill that role, or better.. a few years longer still for cheap enough storage and bandwidth for lossless.

Definitely. Or even wait for better mp3 codecs, because some of the early ones (and AAC for that matter) sounded really harsh. When I used to share mp3 CD rips with people, they always commented on my files sounding better than iTunes, etc. That's probably because I used LAME from its early days.
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Offline morst

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Re: Modern digital field recorders vs. old school pro cassette recorders
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2023, 06:17:07 AM »
Or, if really enamored by analog cassette mystique, record the show with far less hassle to a digital recorder, then once home, dub the output from it to cassette.  Instant hipster retro!

Extra credit for recording the cassette output back to the same digital recorder again, transferring both files to the computer, aligning, playing back both mixed together with polarity flipped on one of them and level adjusted so as to achieve as deep a cancellation between the two as possible.. and grooving out to the difference signal, which will be the distilled essence of what the cassette tape is doing to the sound.


LOL: Laugh out loud, loudly.


That bout of laughter was a heck of a thing!


Thanks for the idea. I got that hot nak 582 that is set up perfectly to record. Now I FINALLY have a ... "reason" to do so, heh!
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Offline rocksuitcase

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Re: Modern digital field recorders vs. old school pro cassette recorders
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2023, 09:43:54 AM »
But isn't so much easier to carry around a Nak 550 or a portable Nagra R2R for the field recordings?
>:D
Even though I have done both of those things, I can attest the modern digital recorders are much better for pure S/N and ease of use. As has been said, what then matters is the quality of mic and pre-amp signals.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Modern digital field recorders vs. old school pro cassette recorders
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2023, 10:35:22 AM »
[snip]..modern digital recorders are much better for pure S/N.. [snip]

To quantify it, cassettes have a real-world equivalent S/N of about 6bits, no better than 9 in a perfect scenario!

https://youtu.be/cIQ9IXSUzuM?t=650
^That entire video is an excellent primer on how digital audio works.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2023, 10:37:12 AM by Gutbucket »
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<< (note: This is a 1st draft, now several years old and in need of revision!  Stay tuned)

Offline daspyknows

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Re: Modern digital field recorders vs. old school pro cassette recorders
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2023, 11:07:31 PM »
But isn't so much easier to carry around a Nak 550 or a portable Nagra R2R for the field recordings?
>:D
Even though I have done both of those things, I can attest the modern digital recorders are much better for pure S/N and ease of use. As has been said, what then matters is the quality of mic and pre-amp signals.

Absolutely agree.  Not sure we would be doing much non open taping with current security and old technology recording devices as well.

Offline drewski1972

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Re: Modern digital field recorders vs. old school pro cassette recorders
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2023, 10:53:39 AM »
Thanks to everyone for the excellent replies. So it seems even a digital recorder in the cheap rang [with good external mics] is comparable to a cassette recorder. I'll be recording nature [rain, thunder, forest, ocean waves, ect.]. I also play guitar and percussion, so I'll be recording them too. I'm considering buying the Tascam Dr 70 or the Tascam dp 03 SD both are the same price.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2023, 04:56:36 AM by drewski1972 »
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Offline voltronic

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Re: Modern digital field recorders vs. old school pro cassette recorders
« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2023, 11:37:13 AM »
Thanks to everyone for the excellent replies. So it seems even a digital recorder in the cheap rang [with good external mics] is compatible to a cassette recorder. I'll be recording nature [rain, thunder, forest, ocean waves, ect.]. I also play guitar and percussion, so I'll be recording them too. I'm considering buying the Tascam Dr 70 or the Tascam dp 03 SD both are the same price.

As a former DR-70D owner, I wouldn't recommend it anymore, especially for nature recordings as the mic preamps are noisy at higher gain.

Get a Zoom F3 if you only need two channels. It has so many advantages that I won't get into here, but see the thread about it here:
https://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=198715.0
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