not overboard on the most useful effects
Eight track reel to reels may be physically different from cassette four-trackers, but the advice still counts. Many of the tips in the previous page hold true for us owners of the occasional 244, 250, Porta-One, X-15 etc.
OUTBOARD — reverb, again the single most essential item with the widest applications. Popular choices are the Accessit, Vesta Fire RV1, Fostex 31-80 and the Yamaha R1000. Compressors and gates come next, Accessit doing well at budget prices in both areas but you'll need a pair of them compared to the Fostex 30-70 stereo compressor which has recently been dropped in price to make it a better bargain against the almost universally acclaimed Drawmer. Another handy, low price gadget is the Fostex MN-15 (£40) with four straight, untreated inputs, plus one with a compressor so you can mix into mono, four backing tracks and your new, compressed track. Porta-One and X-15 owners, most urgent requirement will be a power supply if they haven't already got one. Batteries won't last long enough for a serious bout of home recording.
Can you use your existing foot pedals? In line, yes, though they may be noisier than rack units. Bear in mind that, wonderful though the new portable, Porta Ones and X-15s are, only 244s and 250s allow you to add effects on mix down through the auxiliary send circuitry, and not just as the track's being recorded live.
CLEANING — not just for the big boys. The London Rock Shop reports that more than 50 per cent of returned four trackers — 'channel three keeps coming and going, John' — are down to filthy heads. Cheap tapes can deposit enough grime in one pass to foul up the head — the most expensive single item to replace. There are commercial cleaning kits available (be careful of mechanical devices with a heavy scrubbing action) but not much can beat a Q-tip and a drop of cleaning alcohol, (not the regular stuff which can leave a nasty film behind). You cannot wreck your deck from too much cleaning; you can from not enough.
Neither is demagnetisation restricted to reel to reels. In fact you can buy de-mag cassettes from TDK, for example, but follow the instructions closely as leaving them in for too long can cause problems.
MIKES — here the recommendations of the counter-chieftain and your own overdraft may come into conflict. You should spend as much money as possible he will say, as much as for an eight track, perhaps. There is, for example the Sennheiser MD421 Black Beauty, a great vocal mike at £120. But if budget won't allow, consider the smaller Shures such as the 51/7 (cheap Uni type) and 51/8 (cheap Unisphere type) or the AKG D80 at a very reasonable £29.95. Otherwise, Audio Technica will almost certainly have something that fits your palm and pocket.
EXTRAS — sturdy leads? The price of a Whirlwind may leave you short of breath, but they're guaranteed for five years against all. but the most idiotic abuses (ie, don't leave them with the drummer). A rack housing for those heaps of delay lines? 'Static' comes in simple 4, 12 and 16 unit options, 'Stack' is pricier but has castors and other such luxuries, and can be locked together to your own designs. Power? Safe distribution boards to supply the volts and prevent your 32 way mains adaptor bursting into flames. DI boxes? Sounds weird considering you're already direct injecting 90 per cent of your material, but special FET buffered pre-amps can improve the match between your guitar output and your cassette recorder's input, cleaning and tightening up the recorded sounds.
ALCOHOL — goes without saying.
Bedroom Bouncedown - Home Recording
Feature by Paul Colbert
mu:zines is the result of thousands of hours of effort, and will require many thousands more going forward to reach our goals of getting all this content online.
If you value this resource, you can support this project - it really helps!