[this is from justin waters. it originally appeared on his blog. justin is cool. he like tour manages acid mothers temple when they are in the u.s.a., runs a microcassette label, moves to Austin TX for no good reason & & he does other cool shit & has dwelled in awesome habitations. et cetera...
i think about once-a-year i hit some sort of bedroom tweaker recording snag & i get really frustrated & i turn to justin waters who in turn offers some sort of zen recording advice. or something like this. pratical, not so TapeOp-anal Capitol Records recording advice.]
recording advice for my friend Hanson
record at the fastest speed possible. good tascam four track machines have two recording / playback speeds. try to use 3 3/4 inches per second, IPS for short. Normal tape speed, aka your Prince "sign of the times" tape, is at 1 7/8 IPS. Faster speed means less information per inch of tape. cramming information into small spaces compresses it. sure you save tape and money by having the machine run slowly. but how cheap are you and how serious are you about getting a good recording? a bad recording is useless. so you could have a closet full of bad tapes, but you saved some money. ok enuff, here, buy good tapes too, look for HI bias, not normal, look for chrome / metal tapes. heres a bit from wiki on it: Metal Cassettes (IEC Type IV) also use 70 µs playback equalization, and provide still further improvements in sound quality. The quality is normally reflected in the price; Type I cassettes are generally cheapest, and Type IV usually the most expensive. BASF chrome tape used in commercially pre-recorded cassettes used 120 µs (type I) playback equalization to allow greater high frequency dynamic range for better sound quality. see there?
Longer length tapes are not advisable. use shorter tape length, 60 minute tapes to me are too long, much more vulnerable to stretching and breaking and dragging. seriously, use shorter tapes.
and pay attention to when it might run out while recording.
If you are lucky enough to use a 4 track machine, which doesnt take much luck as they are out of fashion and all over ebay and pawn shops and craigslist for under 100$, even 50$, and you are recording live room sound, like you playing guitar with a keyboard drum machine flowing at the same time and youre using your left big toe to scratch a record on a toy turntable, then by all means record on all four tracks at the same time. this means you need 4 mics. put them in different places. test it out, go back and listen with headphones. raise and lower each tracks volume to see what is what, what mic is good, what mic sucks, where best placement is... if you are using an amp that has an output, you might wanna try hooking that up to the 4 track direct too... direct input and mic input into a recorder will result in big differences. direct in is typically cleaner sounding.
some alternatives for typical microphones are A) perhaps you have a VHS camcorder other camcorder... use whatever wires you need to get the sound flowing into the 4 track... i use to use a vhs camcorder, turn it on, face it to the noise, use RCA (red and white) cables out and into the 4 track, nice recording that way, they typically use condenser microphones which pick up everything. speakers can also be microphones, but only in a non feedback kinda way are they very useful. wire a speaker up and connect it to the input of a recording device, use headphones on the output of recording device, and you eliminate feedback.
one touch recording (pushing play and record and being done with it) is also very awesome. radio shack tape recorders and older boom boxes have built in microphones which are usually condenser mics. great stuff.
Do NOT use EQ when recording. an EQ pedal in your pedal chain is AWESOME by the way, can really change your sounds, but on the 4 track leave all the EQ right in the middle if at all possible. play with the EQ a lot when youre taking that tape and playing it / mixing it into a normal tape deck.
use headphones out of your tape deck. 4 track left and right into input left and right of standard tape deck. use the EQ on 4 track machine. playback a few times, check it out, monitor sounds and play with panning and eq and speed. sometimes 4 track machines have a pitch dial. its kinda awesome.
make it loud. get the red bars to come up here and there. not constant all the way to the top, unless you try that out and like it. but keep it in the yellow and red is what i say. go open up 2 myspace music pages at the same time and let them compete, you can see what i mean. most [mugu] guymen tracks up there are pretty freaking loud for mp3's, i think so anyway. (its been a while since i checked it out)
if you transfer your sounds to a computer then you should first make it into an AIFF or a WAV file. both are good. cd quality. later on for sharing purposes turn them into mp3's, but only for emailing to people and for sharing on myspace. save your WAV files and burn them onto a disc as an audio cd for back up. and save your original tape if you really like it.
keep your master copy tapes away from magnets like TV's and speakers. magnets will destroy the sound that you recorded, over time even a weak small magnet will erase your tapes. keep them dry.
probably missed some good points but uh i just wanted to do this. its the sharing bug. finally bitten by it.