Old 4-Track Recordings

October 10, 2017

I was doing a cleaning of my basement recently, and found some of my old 4-track cassettes of accordion music that I recorded back in the 80’s!  Fortunately, I still have my Yamaha MT44D 4-track recorder with the RM602 mixer, and to be honest, it still is in “like new” condition (I really try to take care of all my equipment).

In all, there are five 4-track tapes and three 2-track tapes that I found (where the rest are, I don’t know, they were not in the same box, and I doubt I will ever find the other 10-15 tapes that I made… with so many times moving, even to different countries, sadly I fear that they are forever lost).  I listened to a few of them and the memories all came back of the days when I made these songs.

Well, right after listening to the 2nd song, I got the idea that these needed to be saved to digital format.  Tape does not age well, and even in the songs that I heard, the tape degradation was already pretty evident.  Right then, I decided to port them over to the computer.

Here is where having some lovely equipment makes this job a breeze.  I simply took the 4 outputs from the tape deck and connected them to 4 inputs on the Mackie 1640i mixer.  I could have made some quick mix downs and saved everything to some lossless WAV format.  Along the way, I also got the idea that I could possibly clean up and re-master a few of them.  The technology today is FAR more advanced than it was almost 40 years ago, at time where if there was tape hiss, there was nothing you could do about it.

And so I just forwarded those 4 tracks from the tape deck to the Mackie mixer and I had the mixer send each track to 4 separate tracks to my DAW.  Since they were now going to be saved in a lossless digital file format and in separate un-edited tracks, I would be able to try to do some cleaning up and remix at a later date.

I know the quality won’t be as good as I could do now, if started from an all digital format, but these are cherished memories of a time now long passed, and they do deserve the respect of being saved and restored.

Recently, I’ve totally wiped out the hard drive of my Dell PC (which was previously my DAW and other things) and upgraded to dual 4TB drives and a clean install of Windows 10 and my music capturing software of choice.  I know have LOTS of room for all these kinds of projects now!

If you recall, I was mostly an Adobe Audition user, but this is the perfect time to finally move on to something a little better… I am going to move exclusively to Reaper.  I don’t know it all that well right now and initially, the learning process is going to slow me down, but in the end, I will benefit and it is the better DAW in that it also supports MIDI, which Audition did not.  Just in case some are curious, yes, I am going to register Reaper in the near future (within a month).

As of today, I have already saved 1 whole tape (about 12 songs) and spent a couple hours on one song just to play with it and see how it goes.  To get the files to computer is no problem, but to do more within Reaper means that I do a lot of research.  How to modify single tracks, how to crop, select, how to eliminate background noise or track hiss, all pretty much things that I knew how to do easily in Audition, all caused me to stop and research it online before doing it in Reaper.  It caused me to take a lot of time (several hours) to do a simple single song and output it to MP3 format, but I learned and enjoyed the process.  The more I learn, the more I use Reaper, the faster I will be at using it and the better I will get at mixing down a nice song.  I like the results.  I ended up doing a good amount of playing with the equalization, reverb, compression and other options, so a good amount of relearning/remembering was required.

In the end, after I complete this project, I hope to add at least some of the MP3’s to this blog, so keep an eye out in the music section for any new song releases coming soon!

October 19, 2017

I have only a couple more tapes to convert, and to be honest, I could not resist mastering a couple of the songs, and the differences are dramatic!  No, they will never be as good if I had at least saved them to digital format years ago and re-mastered today, the cassette tapes have degraded audibly in many places, but I get a smile spending the hour or two on each song trying to get it to sound as good as I can, and likely because of my age and experience now, the mixes (if not the audio tracks), sound better, more professional than the day I mixed it originally in the 80’s on my 4-track Yamaha MY44D recorder and matching Yamaha RM602 mixer and patch bay.

Once completed, I will add at least some here for sentimental value for my own listening pleasure.  As mentioned… more to come in a week or so!

Note: November 11, 2017

I completed the task of mastering most of them and made a page where I placed the songs.