2-TRACK RECORDING WITH PEAVEY MIXERS
By Aubrey Fulton
Sometimes hooking up cassette recorders to our mixers can seem confusing, especially if we are familiar with home stereo equipment but are just getting into the sound reinforcement or home studio business.
A home stereo receiver has a monitor switch, which allows you to switch between tape recording and tape playback. When this control switches one function ON, it switches the other function OFF. This process disconnects the cassette deck inputs from the outputs and will prevent a feedback loop or "howl" from occurring. (The input signal of a cassette deck also appears at its outputs simultaneously.) When we connect the same cassette deck to a mixer, this scenario can change, depending on the design of the mixer. Some mixers have a tape play/record switch and others don't [see Chart 1].
When an engineer designs a product there are many considerations, such as what type and number of functions the product should have, what markets are applicable, and how much the product should cost. Obviously there are different markets, which use the same product, and varying opinions as to which features are the most desirable and how they should operate.
If the mixer doesn't have a record/play switch, then the tape inputs and outputs may work two different ways. Either the tape input is routed to the tape output or it isn't.
For example, on the XR® 684 (or the XR® 600F), when the single cassette deck output is connected to the XR 684 tape inputs, these inputs also go back out the XR 684 tape outputs, which are connected to the input of the cassette recorder. If the cassette recorder's input/record level is too high, a feedback howl may occur. To prevent the loop, just disconnect the cassette outputs that are connected to the "tape inputs" on the XR 684 while recording. When used with two separate tape decks, this allows your singer to sing along with a separate tape being played through the tape inputs. Both the vocals and the music may be recorded from the XR 684 "tape outputs" onto a separate cassette recorder without the possibility of a feedback howl.
APPLICATION: Vocalist wants to accompany a pre-recorded tape plus other inputs while recording at the same time [see Example 1]. If the tape input didn't go to the tape output, the tape playback music connected to the tape inputs would be heard only through the speaker system, such as on the XR® 600E. On the XR 600E, you may leave the single cassette deck outputs connected to the XR 600E "tape inputs," and a feedback howl won't occur when recording the inputs of channels 1-6 onto the cassette recorder. Again, this occurrence is when one cassette deck is being used and both the inputs and outputs are connected to the XR 600E tape in/out jacks. Therefore, the operator will either be recording or playing a tape, but not both at the same time.
APPLICATION: A live band wants to record their performance during a set and play background music during their break [see Example 2]. However, some people use two separate cassette decks and use one for playback and the other for recording. With the XR 600E, the tape input doesn't route to the tape output. So when there are two separate cassette units being used, the playback unit must be connected to a normal channel input(s) in order for its output to be recorded on the other cassette deck [see Example 3]. But since the XR 600E is designed to be used with one cassette recorder, it isn't necessary for the tape inputs to go back out to the tape outputs, since you can't record and playback on the same cassette player simultaneously.
Some cassette recorders don't have a record level control. In order to get a good "hot" level signal on the tape, it may be necessary to set the input channel gain controls higher. This step can help if the mixer tape outputs are pre-master level control. You can turn the master level down in order to keep the same listening level, while driving the tape outputs harder, since the input gain controls are driving both the master level and tape output level [see Chart 2, pre-master level control]. Of course, you don't want the mixer-input gains set so high that the input signals become distorted. Also, the mixer tape output level may need to be set high.
Please keep in mind that people hook up the same types of equipment differently because they have different objectives. Additionally, two similar products may actually operate differently. For instance, the following differences can apply to both mixers and tape decks:
I hope this article helps you better understand the "ins and outs" of making a two-track recording with Peavey mixers. Let's make some tracks!