Studio Setup, page 2...
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Connection Scheme 2:
In Figure 2 below, we add an audio mixer and a 4-channel tape deck. I show them as two separate units in the diagram; however, they could be "combined" into one unit as is the case with most cassette multitrack recorders. The mixer controls the relative volume of each audio channel and also the left/right stereo placement in a stereo mix. Here is some advice: if you are going to buy a cassette multitracker that has a built-in mixer, spring for a unit that allows you to mix at least 2 inputs together at the same time and record to at least two tracks simultaneously. This opens up many more sonic possibilities and technical flexibility than a unit that only has one audio input and can only record to one track at a time. Also, any mixer you buy always seems to quickly run out of channels as you add more equipment to your home studio, therefore, buy the mixer with the greatest number of channels that you can afford.
Figure 2 shows the mixer with a pair of outputs and the 4-channel recorder with a pair of inputs. Some mixers might have master and submaster outputs, giving you a total of 4 outputs. Some 4-channel multitrackers might also have 4 separate inputs, some might have 2 inputs, and some might just have 1 input. If your mixer has an owner manual (and you know where it is!), refer to it for more connection options. In all of these diagrams, you could (and should if you can afford it) substitute an 8-channel or 16-channel recorder for the 4-channel recorder that is shown.
The big improvement over Connection Scheme 1 is that Connection Scheme 2 allows overdubbing and what is known as track bouncing. The bouncing of tracks allows one to combine several previously recorded tracks onto an open, unused track, thereby opening up the previously recorded tracks for new audio recordings. For example, audio recorded previously on tracks 1,2 and 3 on the 4-channel recorder can be sent to the mixer, combined with a live, real time performance from the synthesizer (or guitar or whatever) and then recorded onto open track 4 on the 4-track recorder. Tracks 1, 2 and 3 can then be erased and new material can be recorded onto them. This is how you can build up more than 4 tracks of audio on a 4-track recorder. When the 4-track is filled up, you can then mix the 4 tracks down onto the 2-channel recorder for a master recording. If you want to add more tracks to that recording, you can record the audio from the 2-track master recording on the 2-channel recorder back to 2 tracks of the 4-channel recorder. This will allow you to effectively start a new song on the 4-channel recorder and you can add two more tracks of overdubs (for example a lead guitar riff and some synthesizer stabs) before you do the final master mix back over to the 2-channel recorder. See pages 251 through 255 in the book for more details on bouncing and overdubbing.
Of course, there are some limitations with this approach. Every time you bounce tracks, you add to the noise floor of the recording. This is especially problematic on cassette multitrackers. Another problem that can show up on analog recorders is that the bass frequencies tend to become over-emphasized during multiple track bounces. You can try to fight these problems with noise reduction processors, equalizers and exciters.
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