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Greenhorn guide to recording?

Discussion in 'Cassettes' started by Command8, Feb 13, 2017.

  1. Command8

    Command8 Member

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    Before I try shipping my Aiwa hs-PC202mii and WM-D6C I want to make 2-3 mix tapes and record an album on my tapes: a sony Chrome class UX 60, a BASF Chrome Maxima II 60, a TDK Type II Sa-X, and a type IV Sony Metal XR.
    The Input will be from my computer playing lossless files. I'm currently working on a list for the songs, I'm trying to follow Hugo's article for excellent recordings, but I am confused with a lot of the steps and am not sure how to calibrate for recording on the D6C.
    Your collective opinions and tips would be greatly appreciated, also if you have any suggestions for the mixtapes feel free to drop a song. One mix tape will focus on "rock" (it's open to any rock, from psychedelic...to heavy metal), another mixtape will focus on a 70's vibe (feel free to drop any hidden gems), and I haven't decided what album to record yet.
    Im hoping that afterwards the D6C/202mii is serviced I'll play the mixtapes again to see if a difference can be heard.
    IMG_20170205_173501.jpg
    Also do you guys record with or without Dolby NR? What do you recommend and why?
    Thanks :)
     
  2. walkman archive

    walkman archive Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi Command. I'm glad you followed my guide.

    The D6C cannot be calibrated because it doesn't have any bias knob. That's something only a technician can do inside by tunning it. Dr Walkman tuned mine for TDK SA, XLII and other similar tapes, but once done, it always work for just those tapes.
    I do not know what bias has natively the D6C nor which tapes are most appropiate for it, but I can do some tests to figure it out, though @Doctor Walkman can surely explain better...
    For rock music I'd clearly differentiate from modern ones ('95 and later) and earlier ones. The former have very compressed dynamic range (so the meters barely move). In this case, be sure to not record over Dolby mark. I often record 2dB under, to avoid saturation at such high levels all the time.
    With earlier rock (and greater dynamic range), you can record a bit hot. With such tapes you can go up to 3dB over Dolby mark in the highest peaks...
     
  3. Boodokhan

    Boodokhan Well-Known Member S2G Supporter

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    Which high end walkman (DC2, DD9, Boodokhan...) can be calibrated??
     
  4. walkman archive

    walkman archive Administrator Staff Member

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    Not any of those as no one actually can record...
    The only one portable recorder with calibrating features is the Marantz PMD-430
     
  5. walkman archive

    walkman archive Administrator Staff Member

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    Calibrating is something that affects the recording and allows for a very good recording quality. Once recorded, the quality is printed on the magnetic tape and can be enjoyed everywhere without other that adjusting the azimuth.
    No calibration is made on a player. The main calibration is done with the bias, and fine-tuned with rec cal and EQ.
    A bad recorder can play good but usually the opposite is false.
    So I'd say 70% of the perceived quality while playing a cassette is in the recording. Playing it good is more or less "easy". But to make an excellent recording is quite difficult.
     
  6. Boodokhan

    Boodokhan Well-Known Member S2G Supporter

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    Thanks Hugo
    Is there any step by step guide/ link to calibration or how to calibrate a player?
     
  7. walkman archive

    walkman archive Administrator Staff Member

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    Well, as I just said in the very text you quoted me: "No calibration is made on a player." "Calibrating is something that affects the recording" ;)
     
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  8. Command8

    Command8 Member

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    Since you are a more experienced user of the D6C, what should i do to get the best recording quality on the D6C? I've seen the record levels and Dolby, but have no idea how to use them, I know i wont be using Dolby NR since i find it troublesome and unreliable at best on my walkmans.
     
  9. walkman archive

    walkman archive Administrator Staff Member

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    The D6C is a great performer, but the level meters have pretty low resolution. They don't give you a lot of information, like many deck's does. There is only one LED for -5, 0 and +3 which is not enough for precise adjustment.
    However, if you get used to them you can "read between lines" and adjust them finely enough. As a rough guide, with good chrome tapes you must keep peaks under +3 and with ferric preferably over zero but not higher.

    I mean the highest peaks in the whole song. What counts are really the peaks, not the average level.

    Did you see my video about setting the levels? I think you can get the idea about the importance of the dynamic range and the peaks.
    What is important is to understand that each level has its own saturation level, and you must always keep under it; otherwise you'll cause distortion in the sound. So the highest peak in the music should reach the highest possible recording level for that tape, which approximately is about +1 with ferric, +3 with good chrome and +5 with good metals.
     
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  10. walkman archive

    walkman archive Administrator Staff Member

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    When I mean numeric values like +3, I mean +3 over the real zero mark. The problem is that the vast majority of decks, except Nakamichis don't have a zero which is real zero (which is the Dolby mark, not the zero in the deck's own scale). There were different standards for the zero mark of the scale that caused lots of misunderstanding.
    Here are the three different scales. The D6C seems to have the DIN, with Dolby mark over -1dB, so in practice there's not big difference, even less considering how low is the resolution of its meters.

    escalas-meter-01.png
     
  11. Command8

    Command8 Member

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    Ive Been working on the 1rst tape, the Chrome Maxima II 60. I think I have my songs but im not sure which songs fit better in terms of composition:
     
  12. Command8

    Command8 Member

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    Ive Been working on the 1st tape, the Chrome Maxima II 60. I think I have my songs lined up but i'm not sure which and where each songs fit better in terms of composition and type.
    Anyone care to take a look, and give some input? Thanks!
     

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  13. walkman archive

    walkman archive Administrator Staff Member

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    Well, that's a matter of taste. Looks like a good bunch of 80s songs
     
  14. bub

    bub Member

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    Different years of D6C have different stock biasing points. My 1st generation D6C had a very low bias point for example. Adjusting it to match a tape isn't difficult except that it is done in steps via a series of capacitors.
     
  15. Command8

    Command8 Member

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    I have no idea how to mess with the guts of the machine. I'm assuming i can get the year based of the serial number?
    IMG_20170313_143402[1].jpg
    Also on an unrelated note, I was walking downtown and saw a rare sight.
    IMG_20170312_154345[1].jpg
     
  16. Command8

    Command8 Member

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    Alright, I finished recording Side A!

    Side A

    Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody

    3:48

    Queen - Dont Stop Me Now

    3:30

    David Bowie – Life on Mars

    5:57

    Queen - Spread Your Wings

    4:30

    Lynyrd Skynyrd - Free Bird

    9:10

    David Bowie - Space Oddity

    4:32

    Got to work on Side B now, I think ill need to choose new song for side B since the ones i have at the moment dont harmonize to well with Side A, they are too Pop.
     
  17. walkman archive

    walkman archive Administrator Staff Member

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    I have no idea on how to perform such change. Mine was modified by Dr Walkman, to match TDK SA and XL-II. But it's a very interesting mod to do, as it allows to use really good tapes.

    I think you should leave him a note in the car glass with your number. Who knows... :biggrin:
     
  18. bub

    bub Member

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    I'll write a tutorial on D6C biasing when I have the time- but the basics are: There are 5 tiny caps (per channel) connected to solder lands on the board that you short to adjust bias. The caps are in the values of 2.2, 15, 18, 22, 27.
    Adding them to a larger number adds more bias. The stock biasing points on my D6Cs are: Rev1: 29.2, 35.2. Rev2: 40, 40, Rev4: 33,33. I believe they match to Sony tape stock of each year.

    You then try to get a flat frequency curve on your favorite tape by adding and subtracting the values, the 2.2 being the fine tune. I too set my D6Cs for most XLIIs, but the biasing point is off for the years of SA I have.

    It's technically not a mod (its a service item) unless you modify it to have a separate bias control for each tape type or perhaps with a variable pot. At the very simplest, cut a hole on the back of the D6C and put tiny switches on the bias solder lands, and remember the weird bias math.
    Again, the bias point is shard for all 3 tape types, so if you use a lots of variety you'd have to compromise. Or stick to 1 model of tape.
    I find that the stock Biasing points are somewhat random and really suck for most tapes, therefore this adjustment is essential to good recording performance. Rev1 had too little bias, Rev4 had too much, Rev2 was ok.

    Your 32258 is an early Rev1. Congratulations! You've got the better head. However, biasing on my example was way off and sounded bright as hell. But it's a relatively easy adjustment.
    One more problem: the D6C's REC LEVEL pot is awful and rarely tracks linearly across both channels for the entire range (mine are up to 1.5 db off at the extremes). Find a spot where both levels match perfectly and mark it with a mechanical pencil.
    Set it up right, don't saturate too much and you'll have recordings that are very respectable and sound great even on a Nak (except total frequency response and wow/flutter).
     
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