This Article Originally Published August 1998


by Andy Cahan

Dear Demo Doctor:

Met you at the TAXI Road Rally Convention. Thanks for your input! My JVC Consumer cassette deck just went belly up. It records both distorted and noisy at the same time! I think it's time to spend some money on a machine that will give me consistent quality and will last a few years. My thoughts are a single cassette machine (I really don't need to dupe cassette to cassette and I'd rather spend the money on one quality deck). I'd be willing to spend a grand (or less) on it if that's what you suggest will do the trick. Any suggestions?

P.S. Any cassette suggestions? TDK, Maxell, Radio Shack Normal Bias?

Peter
New York, NY

Hi Peter,

I personally use the Denon hx pro. It's a work horse, gets the job done and it is very reliable. The price is right too, around $300. I always make my master a DAT, this way all copies won't have a generation loss. It's never a good idea to dupe from cassette to cassette. Any time you do this, you will have one generation loss, consequently losing fidelity. Also, the mechanics and quality of those high speed dupe machines is severely inferior. Just look at the width of a cassette tape and imagine it was divided into four tiny "bands" or "tracks" of signal, thus running the tape at a very high speed. These tiny tracks are the reasons for this loss of fidelity. Finally, I use TDK and Maxell, position II, 60 minute cassette tape. Don't use anything longer than 60 minutes, because the "mil" (thickness) is thinner on 90 minutes and up, and stretches out real easy!

Dear Demo Doctor:

My band is currently recording a demo at my house on ADAT. We used sm57's on the drums and a Rode for an overhead. Although it sounds bright when we run it through my EQ into the speakers the highest frequency barely moves. I believe the Rode has a pretty wide range and when I play CDs through that same EQ the highs show up very well. Why is this?

Thanks for your time.

Mike
Peoria, IL

Hi Mike,

For overheads on the drums, I recommend using an AKG 451 instead of the Rode. The AKG 451 is perfect for the job, and you definitely won't run into any EQ problems, especially if you set the mic in just the right position. Also, it is crucial that you record FLAT! Do all of your EQ during the final mix. The reason for this is simple. If you put EQ on tape when recording, you will be frozen with that setting. Of course you can try to alter the EQ, but you won't have the response range needed for total control. A very good idea for checking out your high end is to play a CD with KILLER drum sounds Then A-B them with yours.

Dear Demo Doctor:

Your Demo Doctor articles with TAXI are very interesting and enjoyable to read. Thanks. I have two microphone questions for you:

1) I am considering buying a Neumann TLM 193, and would like to know how it differs from a U-87.

2) Can you compare the TLM 193 to the AKG 414 for me as a vocal only mic?

I realize that your answers would be in your opinion, but I very much respect your musical experience, as well as your vast experience with mics of many types. Thanks for your help both with my questions, and in your TAXI articles.

Craig,
Flagstaff, AZ

Hi Craig,

Thank you very much for your compliments on my TAXI articles, I appreciate it very much! In answer to your first question, the Neumann TLM 193 is a limited sounding mic. It has a characteristic midrange frequency range and it doesn't come close to the warmness of a Neumann 47. In fact, the Neumann 47 is one of my favorite mics for vocals.

As far as comparing the TLM 193 to the AKG 414 f as only a vocal mic, I would definitely use the AKG 414 over the TLM 193. The AKG is my other favorite! It's a very crisp mic, and should be used to enhance a muddier vocal. A crisper vocal applies for the Neumann 47.

Dear Demo Doctor:

I have always thought my 4 track tunes on my Tascam 424 were very clean, but am convinced that I must invest in more expensive recording equipment (digital perhaps) or go into a studio to make a demo that people will actually listen too. Am I wrong? I do have some.

POWERFUL tunes on 4 track and I don't have a stack of moolah to upgrade. I have the 424, an ART DR-X digital effects unit, a Sansamp, MXR compressor, EV monitors with a receiver as an amp, a Shure SM57, etc. Your opinions and advise are sorely needed and sincerely appreciated.

Thanks!

Steven Van Nostrand,
Columbia, MD.

Hi Steven,

For a nice clean, broadcast quality set up, I strongly recommend you use the ADAT as your multitrack. Once you are in digital domain like that, you can bounce tracks with absolutely no generation loss, and perform your punch in and out's with extreme precision. Also, it comes in real handy if you should ever decide to bump up to a "Professional 24 track studio" I would also invest in a good mike. The Neumann 47 or the AKG 414. It would be ok to buy them used, as long as they've been totally refurbished. The rest of your equipment will do fine. I would use the Shure SM57 for live electric guitar and some vocals depending on the "color" of the individual song.

Thanks for reading my column, and keep those questions coming in! We'll see ya next time! If you have any questions about demo making or recording in general, send them to the Demo Doctor. If you are on the internet,
you can e-mail me at:

andycahan@verizon.net.

My website address is:

http://allentertainment.net.

Or, snail mail me at:

Andy Cahan
PO Box 261969
Encino, CA 91426-1969
Phone: 818/489-4490
Fax: 818/728-9059

Andy Cahan is a 35-year veteran of the music industry. As a recording engineer and record producer, Cahan has worked with such artists as Ringo Starr, Harry Nilsson, Flo & Eddie and Eric Carman.


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