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Author Topic: My rave review of the Monstercab  (Read 355 times)

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DesolationBlvd

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My rave review of the Monstercab
« on: Time Format »

I cannot praise the Monstercab enough - the A/DA Depot mod for the Microcab that adds a dummy load and makes a Microcab 1 able to handle amp level signals.

Of course, it's my practice/recording solution as I do not have a pair of cabinets and microphones. It completes my MP-1 / Quadraverb / Fifty/Fifty setup, complementing the MP-1's sound. For fun, I tried some other amps with the Monstercab. Sounds great with the Marshall SV20H and my modded EHX MIG-50, and I use the MIG-50 for bass. The "Vintage 4x12" setting is my favorite, as I already usually use Greenbacks with the Marshall head. Normally I use my Two Notes Torpedo CAB M and a standalone dummy load for recording the heads, but I'm planning an analog project. All analog sound sources and processing, even using a Portastudio and mastering on cassette. The Torpedo is a digital device, but the Monstercab is analog and therefore usable for my self-imposed challenge. 
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Dante

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Re: My rave review of the Monstercab
« Reply #1 on: Time Format »

Pretty cool  :thumb-up:

rnolan

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Re: My rave review of the Monstercab
« Reply #2 on: Time Format »

Great news  :thumb-up: .  All analogue (except the Quadverb but it's mixed into the all analogue chain) is also my fav.  What the cassette (portastudio) lacks in dynamic range, it gives back in warmth.  Although sampling a cassette recently reminded me of the pain/time of having to fast forward/rewind etc. 

Have fun  :headbanger:
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Harley Hexxe

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Re: My rave review of the Monstercab
« Reply #3 on: Time Format »

That's an interesting self-imposed challenge. It might be a little more satisfying with an 8-track reel to reel.
I never tried a Portastudio, but I did try a Fostex 4-track cassette recorder many decades ago. I thought they were a bit disappointing though.
I digress. Best of luck with this adventure :thumb-up:
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Dante

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Re: My rave review of the Monstercab
« Reply #4 on: Time Format »

In a funny twist of coincidence....I just purchased a tiny Tascam 4 track with the sole intention of retrieving some old material I've long forgotten

rnolan

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Re: My rave review of the Monstercab
« Reply #5 on: Time Format »

I used a Tascam (688) 8 track cassette, basically a fairly well appointed mixer with an 8 track cassette built in, I think it ran at double speed to improve the response and we used metal cassette tapes.  It worked quite well (for what it was).  One track got used up for SIMPTE to sync it to the Atari (running creator/noteator) which midi sequenced the keys (Korg MOne) and drum machine (Atari). So we then used the other 7 tracks for guitar, bass (sometimes) and vox.  4 Track is more challenging, albeit good practice in sub mixing.  This is the era where QBase started life, running on Atari's for sequencing, they later added digital recording capability.  Whereas ProTools (which came later) was for digital recording and they added the midi sequencing to that. 

We also futz around with a Fostex 4 track, the Tascam was a bit better.  The best format of the day was 16 Track 2" running 30 IPS, then 24 Track 2" 30 IPS was the go, not quite as good quality (less tape real estate per track) but 8 more tracks..... Anyone remember print through? and having to store tapes head out instead of tail out?
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Harley Hexxe

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Re: My rave review of the Monstercab
« Reply #6 on: Time Format »

I still own a TEAC 80-8 1/2" reel to reel that also runs at 30 IPS. I would then master those tracks onto a Tascam 3300 which I also still have.
Sometimes, I feel like printing was simpler than trying to scratch my head over which software to use for the next step in the process. I digress, the old way involved a LOT of outboard gear that costs about the same as rich man's yacht.
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DesolationBlvd

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Re: My rave review of the Monstercab
« Reply #7 on: Time Format »

That's an interesting self-imposed challenge. It might be a little more satisfying with an 8-track reel to reel.
I never tried a Portastudio, but I did try a Fostex 4-track cassette recorder many decades ago. I thought they were a bit disappointing though.
I digress. Best of luck with this adventure :thumb-up:
I now have a Yamaha MT4X. It has better specs than the Tascam 424 and was available for cheaper.

The biggest limitation with my all-analog challenge is the drum sounds. I'm in an apartment and can't just mic up real drums, and sample-based drums (like the Oberheim DMX I normally use for more rock-oriented sounds) are by definition digital. The options I have at home are the Elektron Analog Rytm (808-ish to modern EDM drums) and the Simmons SDSV (that doof-doof sound of the Eighties with the iconic hexagonal pads).

The Quadraverb is obviously out, but I have a Eurorack synth setup based around a pair of Roland System-500 sets. The Roland System-500 consists of an oscillator, filter, amplifier, envelope/LFO, and delay, each system has a pair of oscillators/filters/amps/envelopes, and the delay is very short and intended for use as a chorus or flanger. Since I have a pair of them, this can approach the Roland Juno chorus or Dimension D. I have also added an extra case, which has input and spring reverb modules. My Moog Matriarch I normally use with the system also features an analog delay which is much longer. My FX needs are covered.

I used a Tascam (688) 8 track cassette, basically a fairly well appointed mixer with an 8 track cassette built in, I think it ran at double speed to improve the response and we used metal cassette tapes.  It worked quite well (for what it was).  One track got used up for SIMPTE to sync it to the Atari (running creator/noteator) which midi sequenced the keys (Korg MOne) and drum machine (Atari). So we then used the other 7 tracks for guitar, bass (sometimes) and vox.  4 Track is more challenging, albeit good practice in sub mixing.  This is the era where QBase started life, running on Atari's for sequencing, they later added digital recording capability.  Whereas ProTools (which came later) was for digital recording and they added the midi sequencing to that.
Funny that Cubase was a sequencer first then a recorder, and Pro Tools was the opposite. I use Cubase, but I've only used the sequencer once, when my hardware sequencers were all in the other room. I prefer to work with hardware sequencers when working with synths, I don't have to fire up the computer just to jam and save my ideas. But unfortunately, guitars can't remember musical data like sequencers and drum machines can, and digital storage is now far cheaper than tape, so Cubase is effectively my audio sketchpad.

Yes, with four tracks, I'll be in mono if I need to record a sync track. I saw the eight-track version of the MT4X, the MT8X, but the example I was looking at was untested, and the 4 has a half speed setting while the 8 doesn't - I'd like to try some tape speed tricks. Alternatively, I could record a stereo backing track (either on my Yamaha SY99 or my Eurorack synth setup) and then I'll have one live instrument and one vocal track.

Upgrading to a reel-to-reel and mixing desk will have to wait until I have a house proper.
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Dante

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Re: My rave review of the Monstercab
« Reply #8 on: Time Format »

I like where this is going, can't wait to see (hear) what you come up with

Harley Hexxe

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Re: My rave review of the Monstercab
« Reply #9 on: Time Format »

I like where this is going, can't wait to see (hear) what you come up with

Ditto. I'm getting curious about this myself
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rnolan

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Re: My rave review of the Monstercab
« Reply #10 on: Time Format »

Ideally with cassette you want double speed not half as there is already such a small amount of tape real estate to store the signal as cassettes run at 1 7/8 IPS and the tracks are ~1/32" wide.  That said, when Fostex or Pioneer or some other cassette player manufacturer came out with a double speed stereo cassette recorder to get better quality, Nakamichi came out with a half speed unit that had better specs (go figure).
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MarshallJMP

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Re: My rave review of the Monstercab
« Reply #11 on: Time Format »

I like where this is going, can't wait to see (hear) what you come up with

Ditto. I'm getting curious about this myself

Me too
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DesolationBlvd

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Re: My rave review of the Monstercab
« Reply #12 on: Time Format »

Ideally with cassette you want double speed not half as there is already such a small amount of tape real estate to store the signal as cassettes run at 1 7/8 IPS and the tracks are ~1/32" wide.  That said, when Fostex or Pioneer or some other cassette player manufacturer came out with a double speed stereo cassette recorder to get better quality, Nakamichi came out with a half speed unit that had better specs (go figure).
Oops, when I said "half speed", I meant normal speed. The Yamaha MT4X, like most of the nicer four-track cassette machines, defaults to double speed, and the eight-track cassette machines are only double speed.

This isn't my all-analog project, just something I made to learn the MT4X, bouncing down: https://soundcloud.com/user-324468408/last-embrace-mt4x-demo - The drums and distorted rhythm guitar were recorded at double speed and then everything else was recorded at normal speed.

I also have a Tascam 122 on the way for mastering to tape. It's the original, so it has the double speed switch that was lost on the later revisions. I figured it'd be easier to store (both the machine and the tapes) than a reel-to-reel for mastering.

As for the upcoming all-analog project, the analog drum machines will dictate the genre. I'm aiming for something between synthpop and darkwave, and not every track will have guitar or bass.
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rnolan

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Re: My rave review of the Monstercab
« Reply #13 on: Time Format »

Sounds pretty good  :thumb-up:   Tape sounds very warm compared to digital.  The MTX4 looks like a fun unit, not to complicated but reasonably well appointed. 

A couple of things you may enjoy experimenting with ?: 

If you can, add a little 10k/12k/18k to the mix to give it a little "sparkle" 

Record with the DBX NR off, and turn it on for playback.  DBX work by compressing the signal 2:1 on record and expand by 1:2 on playback, so you can keep the compressed signal as far above the tapes noise floor as possible, the re expand it on playback.  But if you record with it off and then turn it on for playback, it will expand the signal 1:2 and give it more dynamics.  Down side may be that expanding 1:2 is too extreme  :dunno: , give it a try and hear what it sounds like, it should make the drums sound a bit less "boxy".  I've used this idea before but for a different reason.  So recoded a Marshall but it had a bunch of noise in the signal, humm/buzz.  So I fed it through a DBX (studio version) on expand which made the noise softer (comparatively), but I had to eq the guitar quite a bit to make it sound ok.  Obviously the guitarist needed to sort out his gear better but unfortunately, that wasn't an option in the middle of a studio session.
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