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Capture of Q8 tapes for conversions to 4.0 files using a stereo only player

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quicksrt

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OK, now that we've moved on from disc based playback for the most part. And everyone else has just about converted everything good that there is to do. I figured I'd try my hand at doing a few tracks in quad 8-track tape anyway

Here is my issue, I don't have a quad playback deck that sounds as great as my stereo 8-Track player. I just did a Pink Floyd transfer of the Pigs on the Wing 8-track version with Snowy White guitar solo. I was struck by how smooth and low hiss my transfer came out. It blows away the other transfers out there on youtube no doubt. I just got perfect speed and very low wow / flutter which surprised me.

So.., this is what I am going to try. Since the deck seems to be exceptionally stable speed wise, I am going to capture to 24/96kHz the front channels in one sweep, and then another pass grab rear channels for a sync-up after capture. The speed should stay stable and I should be able to get them in-sync I would think, as least for a single song or two, no? decks don't play one set of channels at one speed and then another set at a different speed, it's either all wrong or all right or all something in-between..

Has anyone here ever done this method before? I'm going to do the syncing up in Sony Vegas. I want to do the BTO II album tracks "Takin' Care of Business" and "Let it Ride" for starters.

I like this deck, and think it has the nicest sound I've ever heard from 8-track carts. It's a Craig 3302 player / recorder. Heavy as a ton of bricks, and that might be a reason speed is rock solid on it.
 
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Soundfield

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The speed should stay stable and I should be able to get them in-sync I would think, as least for a single song or two, no? decks don't play one set of channels at one speed and then another set at a different speed, it's either all wrong or all right or all something in-between..
As far as I know most 8 track decks used simple AC synchronous motors. So speed stability (or the lack of it) is entirely dependent on the frequency stability of your mains supply, the deck has no control over speed whatsoever. I don't know how good the frequency stability of the mains supply is in your part of the US but generally, instantaneous frequency changes are usually quite small but longer term drifts can be significant and unpredictable (but tend to be associated with times of high demand when the power grid has to dynamically share load between power stations). With such random variations of speed on both of the recordings you propose I think you would need some very, very sophisticated software to re-synchronise them.
 
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winopener

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No way you can sample separately front and back channels and put them fully in sync again in the digital domain. Save the pain and frustration and get a quad player.
 

LuvMyQuad

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No way you can sample separately front and back channels and put them fully in sync again in the digital domain. Save the pain and frustration and get a quad player.
Why not? He could certainly sample 2 channels per pass separately, digitize them, and then combine them using something like Audacity. The hard part will be getting the two timings to line up. Is that last part what you are referring to as not being possible?
 

JediJoker

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Why not? He could certainly sample 2 channels per pass separately, digitize them, and then combine them using something like Audacity. The hard part will be getting the two timings to line up. Is that last part what you are referring to as not being possible?
That's the rub, yes. Without something like Plangent, it would be very difficult to sync the two captures properly.
 

JonUrban

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It's a nightmare. Try it on ONE TRACK first and see how it works out. What you will probably find is that it will start out great, then start to drift. The problem is that the drift will not be constant, as there will be fluctuations along the entire length of the tape that will not be able to be sync'd.

You can give it a whirl, but when I have tried similar things I got really frustrated, as you can get SO FREAKING CLOSE but not spot on enough for it not to be noticed.

Good Luck, and keep some QQ Beer close by! :)
 

jimfisheye

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I have a LOT of experience sync'ing audio. I've done restoration projects with re-sync'ing elements of audio that were from multiple analog copies of originally the same recording that had been run independently on un-sync'd machines. We DO have some amazing tools now to accomplish that with genuinely no degradation to the audio. Reaper DAW (with the integrated Elastique Pro) and iZotopeRX are requirements if you go down this path!

Ahem. Only go down this path if the masters have truly been lost! It's still VERY much a labor of love. You will save a staggering amount of time and money by purchasing a 4 track capable deck to transfer these recordings in one pass in one piece! (And even the most careful work after 200 - 300 hours of re-sync work will be a compromise vs a proper transfer.) I've done this work. I do this work. I'll do more of this work. Buy a proper deck!

My 2c
 

quicksrt

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I dont understand why that there would be much drift being the same tape with the same tracks recorded at the same time and each being played back on the same deck 5 minutes later. This deck deserves more credit than that.

I do appreciate the helpful comments and now I really want to give it a go. Syncing two sets of wav files is easier visually than by ear.

I have a Technics by Panasonic quad player and remain unimpressed with the sound quality compared to the prograde Graig deck.

It’s up to the sound of that Mercury Q8. I gotta go take care of that biz and let it ride into 24/96kHz.

I’ll report back at which magical sync I was about to achieve or not.
 

jimfisheye

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I dont understand why that there would be much drift being the same tape with the same tracks recorded at the same time and each being played back on the same deck 5 minutes later. This deck deserves more credit than that.
It's maybe not immediately intuitive. Because it's not the spec on the drift that's the problem. We introduce a very new issue with TWO passes with the same variable (within the deck's genuinely great spec) drift. The random drift between passes does not line up! You wouldn't perceive any speed troubles with the drift spec as is. But you SURE perceive the effect the two passes constantly drifting back and forth vs each other when you try to play them together after. Any content present in two channels from separate passes (like a phantom center or side center or something in motion) will comb filter. This sounds like a guitar flanger effect! It's quite insidious in that ANY drift between channels that were supposed to be in sync is audible. This kind of thing even still rears it's head with digital program that took separate sync paths. It's glaring with analog program.

It's no slight on the equipment. The workflow of separate passes introduces the requirement for 100% perfect speed even beyond what digital systems can do.
That's why so much effort was put into creating systems to sync devices together.
 

quicksrt

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Ok, here's what I found. There is drift of course and after syncing the beginning of a track it starts to go noticeably off after a bout 1 min. In Sony Vegas 13 there is a time-stretch feature that is simple to use. CTL and drag wav (shorter or longer) until it matches the one above it on the beats. I prefer to shrink a length rather then expand. So after matching both the beginning and ending exact, there is a little section in the center of the song out of sync like it was stated would happen.

The best way to do this which I am going to try next is to do micro ripple cuts. That is going in every 20-30 seconds and snipping out a tiny section of the song on one set of channels to pull it into sync. As an experiment I want to try this. Keep in mind I am using a video editor as an audio editing platform.

it's just fun playing around with a couple of songs. BTO Rocks man!!!
 

JonUrban

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It is fun. Go gettem'! It's even more satisfying when it comes out great.

PS - Vegas is a good tool and I use it myself at times (although I did not pay for the last upgrade. They do it too often and like you I use it for audio, not really for video)
 

jimfisheye

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Ok, here's what I found. There is drift of course and after syncing the beginning of a track it starts to go noticeably off after a bout 1 min. In Sony Vegas 13 there is a time-stretch feature that is simple to use. CTL and drag wav (shorter or longer) until it matches the one above it on the beats. I prefer to shrink a length rather then expand. So after matching both the beginning and ending exact, there is a little section in the center of the song out of sync like it was stated would happen.

The best way to do this which I am going to try next is to do micro ripple cuts. That is going in every 20-30 seconds and snipping out a tiny section of the song on one set of channels to pull it into sync. As an experiment I want to try this. Keep in mind I am using a video editor as an audio editing platform.

it's just fun playing around with a couple of songs. BTO Rocks man!!!
You would need to do linked pitch/time (classic) veri-speed corrections on each section you sliced out. You need to go along and slice every time one source changes direct of the drift (vs the other source). It's a lot of labor of love even with lossless speed correction tools like Elastique Pro. Leaving the speed wrong and cutting time instead would leave you with a mangled mess that sounded like digital distortion once finished. You'd spend fewer hours (and time is money, right?) hunting down a tape deck that eliminated the whole scenario and then have a shot at actually transferring and preserving the program.

Not trying to be a downer here! I'm really not. Just trying to redirect the energy towards a solution that will be magnitudes more successful. :)
 

quicksrt

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You would need to do linked pitch/time (classic) veri-speed corrections on each section you sliced out. You need to go along and slice every time one source changes direct of the drift (vs the other source). It's a lot of labor of love even with lossless speed correction tools like Elastique Pro. Leaving the speed wrong and cutting time instead would leave you with a mangled mess that sounded like digital distortion once finished. You'd spend fewer hours (and time is money, right?) hunting down a tape deck that eliminated the whole scenario and then have a shot at actually transferring and preserving the program.

Not trying to be a downer here! I'm really not. Just trying to redirect the energy towards a solution that will be magnitudes more successful. :)
What digital distortion are you speaking of. My time stretch worked beautifully at beginning and end areas of about (only) 40 seconds tops.

A classic "Ripple Edit" does not create digital distortion. And I'm working in 24/96 which is about the best one can do in the Q8 format. And if the tracks are never combined and remain discreet, then phaseiness if a non-issue as well. It is only the out-of-sync echo effect that needs to be watched for.
 

Jim the Oldbie

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...And if the tracks are never combined and remain discreet, then phaseiness if a non-issue as well. It is only the out-of-sync echo effect that needs to be watched for.
Also not wanting to be Debbie Downer here - I do understand the attraction of this type of project.

But: [butt emoji] Unfortunately even small amounts of time delay between channels can be audible, even if they are summed acoustically and not electrically. Here's a report from my own experience with that, for what it's worth (the delay "sound" is mostly discussed in the 6th paragraph).
 
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