TASCAM TSR-8 analogue reel recorder with Ampex 456 tape, TASCAM M-208 and Mackie 1202 mixers, PC running Audacity, DigiTech JamMan, Lexicon Alex, Roland GR-09 and GR-20, Parker PM20Pro guitar, Cerwin Vega 05 speakers and “cheap-ass Radio Shack speakers”.
Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Recording: Kirk tells us that he has a whole series of these jam-type ditties that usually start out as a loop on his DigiTech JamMan and then progress from there. This particular one was tracked on a TASCAM TSR-8 analog machine using 1/2” Ampex 456 tape and then mixed into his computer.
How's it sound? Well, kinda dark and muffled to our ears. While Kirk readily admits that he wished for better drum sounds than the ones generated from his Roland GR-20, it seems as if somewhere along the line something went amiss that added some extra mud to their sound. Something in the transfer or a converter issue perhaps?
The keyboard-generated bass holds up only somewhat better in the tone department, still muddy and ill defined. On the good news front, Kirk has laid down some mighty fine guitar licks complete with a thick, meaty tone that showcases his considerable chops.
Suggestions: Since completing this track, Kirk has moved on to a computer-based system running Steinberg Cubase LE; nevertheless, the principles remain the same, so let’s see what can be done to improve this particular piece. Since we are extremely familiar with not only the TSR-8 but the whole series of TASCAM analog recorders, we can safely say that the line was capable of producing some pretty fair recordings in its day. That being said, all machines of this nature required maintenance, and while we don't know the status of Kirk's machine, issues such as head wear could certainly result in a sound that is less that crystal clear.
More to the point, however, there may have been problems with the room acoustics at Kirk's monitoring position that fooled him into believing that his mix contained more high-frequency information than was truly present. As we often do in this type of guessing game, we would suggest that Kirk A/B his mix against several commercial releases through his monitors. If they sound even remotely similar in terms of high-frequency clarity, then something in his chain is off and needs to be immediately addressed. If he has access to a room analyzer, this may also be helpful.
Lastly, we would encourage Kirk to search out some real live musicians to contribute to his jams. They are a lot more fun and, well—you know—jammy!
Summary: Best of luck with the Cubase.
Contact: Kirk Lynch, firstname.lastname@example.org.