Sansui MR6 six-track Cassette Tape Multi Track Machine

img_7181Our ongoing series of cassette multi-track experiments rolls on with the Sansui MR6.

img_7182This ADAT-sized multitrack machine dates from 1990 or thereabouts.  It records 6 tracks on a standard type 2 audio tape at double speed,  with defeatable Dolby C and zero return.  And that’s pretty much it.  No gain trims, no autolocate, nothing.  It really is strictly a tape machine and requires a mixer in order to use it in any sensible way.  I picked it up for about $100 on ebay; a quick clean and demag and that’s it.  Seems to work fine.  High end response seems to trail off around 14k on a first-pass, which is A O K w/me.  Here’s how it sounds, and thank u Jenny Holzer:

As with the earlier tracks in this series: the rules for tracking and bouncing are simple: no midi.  no editing.  Nothing u couldn”t do in the 80s.  The only effects used for tracking are the Yamaha E1010 that you see there, a cheap boss reverb pedal, console EQ, and acoustic sources were tracked with some compression via that Symetrix 528E you see there.  Marimba and shaker/tambo were mic’d with a Neumann KM184; vocals are an EV RE15 for no other reason that it is what I had on the desk at the moment.

Tracking was:

1: Korg volca beats kk/snare pulse sync’d to korg SQ1 driving that repeating 8-note figure on…    2: korg MS20,   3: one-note low pad on Minbrute,   4. Yamaha MR10 toms/CH SN dbl hand-played,   5. elec bass DI’d thru a  cheap gtr preamp

(bounce to track 6)

  1. 8th note shaker/tambo played w foot, 2. Marimba (doubling and/or harmonizing MS20 part, 3. Basic polyphonic sampler of me singing an ‘A’ note ahhh, 4. analog choir synth sound

(bounce to track 5)

1, 2, 4: vocals (hi is doubled),

3: ch synth pad

My goal as with the previous productions was to mix this all on my lil Mackie Onyx 1220 el cheapo mixer into a single pair in Pro Tools, but I couldn’t find a way to route it while still using two FX returns (my patchbay on this lil desktop rig is very limited).  So I played all six final tape tracks into P/T, and once in PT it was hard to resist applying a bit of EQ and compression to each stem.  Also mix FX on vocals were via P/T (Echo Boy and Valhalla Verb).  But that was it – no editing, no tuning, no fixin’.   That weird noise at the head is probably some kinda bias abomination that resulted when I did the first bounce, but it’s really part of the charm, ain’t it.   Whole mix is low passed at about 12K, which really ties it together IMO.

I Went To An Abandoned NSA Spy Station Built on the Ruins of Pre-War Berlin and All I Got Was This Weird Sample Library

IMG_5809It’s a perfect day in summer.  You’re walking along the slope of a beautiful mountain on the wooded outskirts of Berlin; when you look down you see that this is not a mountain at all.  It’s the biggest rubble pile ever created.  Bits of ReBar and concrete stick up through the dirt, the remains of 400,000 buildings leveled in the last weeks of WWII.  And then.  Atop the hill.  An enormous, impossible structure that is built literally and figuratively, on top of decades of conflict, fear, and terror. Teufelsberg.

IMG_5807Click the link if you want the story. It’s too much information for me to relate and it’s been told many times by better tellers.  But.  Suffice to say: I paid the seven Euro bribe to the squatters who de facto control it now and it was well worth the 2-donor-kebab’s worth of weird shit I saw.  And recorded.  And I give those recordings to you now, edited, EQd, and ready to drop into yr timeline.

DOWNLOAD: Devils_Mountain_Hits_2444

I don’t know who the “vocalist” you hear is, so I can’t grant you any rights to that particular sample, but feel free to use the other samples as you like.  Enjoy, and while I can’t recommend that you go dig around in this place, I can tell you that it def ain’t gonna be there much longer, and it’s much harder to find than people in Berlin will tell you.

IMG_5815

Vestax MR44 recording #2 – now with DBX

IMG_6429I just couldn’t keep offa the damn thing.  Here’s another similar compostion made on the Vestax MR44 – only diff is that I used the DBX this time.  I also played a whole lotta really hi-endy stuff (sleigh bells, tibetan bowls, tambo, shaker) on the 2nd set of passes in order to see how the DBX handles the high end.   I’m impressed with the sound!  Def some tape hiss there, and some weird low-freq bump going on, but it sounds presentable. This piece is 7 tracks – i played the wha gtr into the bounce of the nylon gtr/bass/low percs so that’s 4 into one plus the next 3 (hi percs, Hohner Pianet, and Recorder are first-gen). Oh yea and the reverb this time is that cheapy lil boss pedal rather than the Eventide.  Again, this is all live, played into and mixed exclusively on the MR44.

Vestax MR44 4-track tape machine

IMG_6428I can’t stop buying these oddball ‘hi-end’ cassette 4-track machines.  At this point, I’m up to 5 of them.  This Vestax 44 was about $100 on ebay; it needed a power supply (which entailed adding a conventional p/s jack, since the Vestax one is super weird), but other than that it worked right away. Strange set of features, but it has zero return, DBX, and high speed, and the best part is the form factor: it’s ideally suited for my ‘desktop’ style composing station, with its shallow rackmount chassis and all i/o on the front.

I had a chance to really try it out today and make a track using it exclusively.  For this first experiment I used no DBX, and type II Maxell tape.  This is a 6-voice piece. I started with a metronome on 1, and then bounced Ac Gtr, bass, and handdrums over to 1, adding some eventide reverb; track 2 was Organelle doing a mellotron kinda thing with a lil sample of my voice, 3 is my Moeck Alto recorder thru the yamaha E1010, and 4 is my old les paul with a wha wha.

I figured what with the inevitable tape hiss I should try something old school – went for a 70s euro-horror feel.  “It was the goat all along….”

When I have a sec I’ll try another onna these with DBX and using a compressor on the instruments on the way in –  see how much diff it makes in terms of fidelity.  Pretty happy w this tho.

Click here for my earlier demo of the Yamaha MT44 4-track machine. 

This is a $30 T Shirt ::: aka ::: Please Support This Website

GCR_Shirt On this day, which history will recount as the Day Of Brexit, your humble audio historian/engineer/hoarder (that’s me) greets you with a simple request.  Please buy this $30 T-Shirt.

GCR_ShirtFWIW, neither this site nor our Youtube channel has ever accepted any of the many many offers for advertising and/or ‘branding opportunities’ that have come our way.  We have kept it direct+ unfiltered, catering to no one.  But like your friendly local NPR station, we are not above asking for money.  WallyHeiderShirtWe struggled to find the right kind of $30 T-Shirt to offer, and when we learned about the uber-rare circa 1970 Wally Heider Recording promo shirt (see right), one of which recently went on sale for $1,500 (not a typo), we knew where to go with this. Email Chris@preservationSound.com for paypal payment instructions. $30 Shipped to your USA address.  (ROW higher).

IMG_5995We also have a limited supply of GCR hooded sweatshirts – see above – with the same lovely graphic and colors.  $55 shipped to you in the USA.  ROW higher.

IMG_5953Shirts and sweatshirts are printed in Napa California on soft lightweight 100% cotton tees.  Expect shrinkage. Large image at top is taken in natural light with no processing whatsoever.  Shirts are subtle “Army Green” with mustard yellow ink. For shirts, unshrunken across arm holes (see image at left) are:  Small 17″; Med 20″; XL 23.5″; XXL 25. NOTE:  Size M, L and XL are sold out!   Only S and XXL remaining for the shirts.

Sweatshirts measure across underarm as follows: medium 21″; large 23″; XL 25″ EDIT: Med and L sweatshirts are sold out – we still have XL in stock – act fast if you want one!

 

The Future Of Audio (1962 edition)

IMG_0001In May of 1962 “AUDIO” magazine celebrated its 15th anniversary.  IIRC, AUDIO was the more consumer-facing half of what had initially been AUDIO ENGINEERING magazine; the AES Journal being created sometime in the 50s to carry the more professional articles.  Anyhow, for their 15th, AUDIO asked some of the experts of the time to weigh in on THE FUTURE OF AUDIO.  Harry Olson, certainly one of the greatest inventors of sound equipment who ever lived, had some comments that struck me as being incredibly prescient.  I’ve never seen this reproduced anywhere, so check it out, enjoy it, share it, and take a minute to speculate on where this is all going.

Olson_1962_part1Olson_1962_part2

 

4.2.16: T A B L E S is available NOW to purchase and stream

Tables_GroupPhoto_2016this is my new group

Tables2016this is our debut record

TABLES s/t debut LP is available NOW as 12″ LP and digital download on Safety Meeting Records; you can purchase and/or stream all ten cuts at this link.

If you dig this blog, you will like this record.  But don’t take my word for it.  Check it out.  Also makes a great gift for all the other weirdos in yr life.  LPs are limited to 250 in this pressing.

OUT RUN, New doc film abt LGBT Politics in The Philippines, debuts 4/8

FirefoxScreenSnapz001In the later part of 2015, Nathan Halpern and I wrote and recorded the original score to a new documentary film called OUT RUN.  OUT RUN premieres next Friday April 8 at the Full Frame Doc festival in Durham North Carolina.  Directed by Emmy-nominated filmmakers S. Leo Chiang and  Johnny Symons, OUT RUN tells the story of the Ladlad political party.  In the words of the Full Frame curators,

“Ladlad is the only LGBT political party in the world, and their charismatic transgender leader Bemz Benedito is running for Filipino Congress alongside two other LGBT candidates. Eighty percent of the legislature in the Philippines is elected by geographically defined voter districts; the other 20 percent consists of candidates from issue-oriented parties who campaign nationwide to represent marginalized minorities like farmers, women, and workers. The Philippines is a primarily Catholic country with a complicated relationship to LGBT issues. While Catholicism considers being gay a sin, many villages have drag beauty pageants, and beauty parlors are social hubs for a highly visible LGBT population who are tolerated as long as they don’t cross certain societal boundaries. Ladlad, taking their name from the slang word for “to come out,” tests campaign strategies: Do they defy the conservatives in power by expressing their authentic selves, or do they suppress their flamboyance to win over the most voters?”

FirefoxScreenSnapz002The story is modern and dramatic, the backdrop of Manilla and its surrounding regions is colorful and dynamic, and we tried to reflect these qualities in the percussion-and-guitar based score that we created.  For anyone interested in election politics or LGBT issues, the film is a must-see.

T A B L E S debut LP/digital album AVAILABLE NOW + LIVE DATE

tables_Mar25_Shot_posterThis is my new group.

This is my new album.

It’s available to order now on LP and Digital Download from Safety Meeting Records.

Tables2016If you have been enjoying this site -my general take on sound and music – you will dig this album.  It’s a synth record.  It’s a strange record.  But it’s strange and beautiful, and it comes from a very unique process + a very unique place.  Please check it out, and consider ordering a copy.  Vinyl is limited to 250 units and will sell out fast.

If you are in the CT/NYC area, we will be having a record-release show Friday March 25 at the Bijou Theatre in Bridgeport CT.  It will be a unique performance.

information and ideas about audio history