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Hands On - Portastudios and Multitrackers (part 6)

The bounce is the most important part of cassette multitrack recording. Once you have finished your first three tracks, you are ready to mix them and record them onto the fourth track...

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The Bounce

The bounce is the most important part of cassette multitrack recording. Once you have finished your first three tracks, you are ready to mix them and record them onto the fourth track. You can then erase tracks 1 to 3 and record more parts.

On the Tascam 464 you can mix tracks by setting the channel switches to ’Tape’. This is common, but other recorders switch automatically according to whether jacks are inserted into the inputs. Route channels 1 to 3 to track 4 by setting track 4 in record ready and panning channels 1 to 3 all the way to the right. You’ll need to have a few runs through so that you can get the balance correct. Unfortunately, this is an all-or-nothing stage. Get it wrong now and it’s wrong forever. A useful alternative, if you are lucky enough to have a DAT machine, is to mix onto one channel of the DAT and then transfer this back to track 4 on a different section of the tape. If at a later stage you find that you wish you had mixed the basic tracks differently, you still have them so you don’t have to go all the way back to square one. You can try this trick with a ordinary cassette machine if you wish but the sound quality won’t be anywhere near as good. (Notice that this trick gives you the option of adding an extra instrument at this stage. The manuals often say you can add an extra instrument live while you bounce but it really is too much to do all at one time and get right).

When you have successfully completed your bounce, take a bold step and erase the other three tracks completely. If you don’t erase them now and continue with clean tracks, it’s easy to get confused. Now it’s the turn of the guide vocal, or keyboard playing the vocal line if you prefer, on track 3. Next, the vocal harmonies on tracks 1 and 2 which you will bounce onto track 3, erasing the guide vocal, and then the main vocal and lastly your keyboard embellishments. Don’t expect to do all this in a couple of hours. Recording and mixing the whole song will take at least a day if you are giving it the correct amount of care and attention (I take between three and five days, I’m such a slow worker).

By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004
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