DAW-style Workflow Using Tape Signal Off Repro Head

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DAW-style Workflow Using Tape Signal Off Repro Head

Post by Shybird »

Wow this forum brings back memories. Haven't been on here since designing a Nashville based studio that unfortunately never got built. :cry:

HOWEVER, I have continued writing, recording, and playing music all this time. I have a pretty sweet setup in my home with old hardwood floors and 12' ceilings...we get some pretty crazy drum sounds let me tell ya!

Anyways, I have just recently made the leap into a more analog signal flow. I'm going to use.. wait for it...... TAPE.. :shock: :? :lol:

For me this could be just what I'm looking for sound wise. I know it comes with a lot of headaches and whatnot but I'm ready to give this a shot.

The tape deck I will be using is a Tascam 48 1/2 inch 8 Track Reel to Reel. The mixer/interface is an Allen & Heath ZED R16.

My goal is to have the Tascam 48 in repro mode so the signal is getting sent to the DAW post tape. I would then have a plugin set up (I've seen some around) that would be automatically fixing the latency created by monitoring off the repro head. This essentially would allow me to edit and record as usual within the DAW but while also getting the tape sound along the way. I like this the most because I wouldn't have to bother with recording to tape then rewinding and playing from the tape just to record into the DAW. Too much of a hassle. Too difficult to do tape overdubs and limited to 8 tracks. With this "repro" way of doing things I can have unlimited tape tracks because the playback/editing/overdubbing is done within the DAW and not on the tape deck. The Tascam is just another part of the chain that all my audio passes through before arriving at the DAW.

That being said here is my problem...

I need to be able to monitor up to 16 tracks in real time without the latency from the Tascam on the 8 tracks I am passing through it. My band currently rehearses live with an A&H QU-16 which we also use to record demos/jams etc. Its great because we can change individual cues using iphones/ipads etc. Pretty rad. However that mixer has very little analog routing options which is why I bought the ZED R16 to hopefully replace the QU. I also like the OTB mixing potential of the ZED and the preamps/analog EQ. Seems like a nice addition to the new tape style workflow.

Here's the kicker though...I think I need a splitter snake of some sort as well as either keep the QU16 or replace it with a QU-SB. Whichever, it would serve as the monitoring mixer and the ZED would serve as the recording interface. This seems way overkill but I cannot see how I could record with the Tascam 48 using the ZED WITHOUT creating latency in the headphone monitors (auxes) while at the same time sending the repro head signal to the DAW (with latency that gets corrected ITB).

So here would be the signal path as far as I can see it with one example mic signal:

Microphone 1>splitter snake>ZED>insert>UA Pre>Tascam>back to ZED>DAW (Signal has Latency)
Microphone 1>splitter snake>Qu-SB>cue outs>headphone amp>musicians (Signal in Real Time)

BUT this assumes plugging the mic directly into the splitter snake... I had heard you should not plug the mic into a splitter snake directly and that it should hit a preamp first. Is this true? I have a few UA pres (6176, 4-710, LA-610) that would be somewhere in this chain as well to hit before tape.

Here are my questions:

1. Am I overlooking some feature on the ZED that would make this possible without a splitter? Would a patch bay maybe be the answer?

2. Would a splitter snake degrade the signal?

3. Where in the chain would be best for the splitter snake?

4. Would a couple ART S8s be good enough or should I consider something like the Radial OX8-r?

Thanks a TON for the help in advance. Really appreciate any thoughts or advice on what I'm trying to do.