Tape Flanging - the hard way
A group of recording engineers met up at Rimshot Studios, a lovely recording studio in the UK's Kent countryside, to try out some ideas, share techniques and hang out.
Mike Exeter decided that it would be lovely to try and do a tape flanging demonstration when he saw the studio's classic tube half inch machine. Rather than flange a complete mix as would frequently be the way Mike wanted to show us how he could flange a specific drum fill - this turned out to be way, way more time consuming than we expected however we did manage to make it in the end!
We recorded a section on to the half inch Studer and used Pro Tools as the 'master' machine. The video shows the session highly edited down, it took many attempts. We included an output of the desk so that you can hear the higher quality effect rather than just the 'on camera' mic. After that, Mike explains to Clint Murphy (who was operating the Pro Tools) how he did the effect.
Following on from the video, a couple of people have been in contact to offer some simpler and faster ways of achieving the above Flanging effect.
George Shilling says: "There is an easier method! Feed from multitrack to 2-track tape machine in record, monitoring from repro, and mix in a second feed through a delay which matches the head gap. Then massage the varispeed knob on the 2-track to move it either side of the null point. No need to find the right part of the song then!"
Ian Caple says: "At the risk of sounding like an old fart, here's the method that I was taught back in the 70's: When mixing off the repro head, take a feed of the drums off the sync head - send that to two 2 track machines running at the same speed as the multitrack. Bring their repro outputs up on the desk & slightly change the speed of one of them - either by touching the tape reel or by moving the varispeed slightly. You can also feed the signal back into itself for added weirdness!"
Excellent! Two ways to do what we spent half an afternoon doing - much faster. We will try these out next time and will post an updated feature!