Analog recording, despite being an old way of recording is still sought after by most because of its ability to capture vocals or instruments accurately.
But even with that, there are a lot of disadvantages that come with using tape …one of these is that analog gear itself is expensive.
However, there are still alot of people utilizing recording via analog equipment like tape.
Most newbies to record and sound production usually only have experience using digital recording tools.
While this is is case for most, it is still helpful to understand analog recording a bit better.
With that said, this post will provide some examples of analog recording in order for a beginner to understand this side of recording.
With that said, What is an example of analog recording?
An example of analog recording would be literally anything that was recorded, processed, mixed and mastered using manual analog equipment.
Examples of these would be music or audio on vinyl, cassette tapes and 8 tracks.
Tape machine, Tape players or simply a tape recorder, is a sound recording and reproduction device that is used for purposes of recording and play back of sounds that usually utilzes magnetic tape for storage.
Tape machines record a fluctuating signal by moving the tape across a tape head that then polarizes the magnetic domains in the tape in proportion to the audio signal.
Tape-recording devices include the reel-to-reel tape deck and the cassette deck, which uses a cassette for storage.
There are different types of tape recorders which range from small hand-held devices to large multitrack machines.
A machine that has built-in speakers that uses audio amplification to drive them is usually called a tape recorder.
If the machine has no recording capabilities it is referred to as a tape player,
while one that requires external amplification for playback is usually called a “tape deck” regardless of whether it can record or not.
The phonograph record
A phonograph disc which is commonly known as vinyl or a phonograph record is an analog sound storage medium that is in the form of a flat disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove.
The Compact Cassette sometimes called an audio cassette, or simply tape or cassette, is an analog magnetic tape recording format for audio recording and playback.
Cassettes basically come in two forms, either already containing content as a prerecorded cassette or simply as a blank cassette than can be recorded on. Both forms have two sides and are reversible by the user.
The 8-track tape is often times called an eight-track cartridge, eight-track tape or simply eight-track.
An 8 track is a magnetic-tape sound recording technology that was popular and common from the sixties to the eighties.
This format is pretty much obsolete due to the rise of various newer technologies.
Analog recording utilzes various mechanisms in capturing the vibrations in a microphone which on playback translate to the vibrations in a speaker cone which we perceive as sound.
The recording medium could be the bumps on a groove of a vinyl record or the magnetic variations on a tape.
So a singer basically sings and the air vibrates and causes the diaphragm on a microphone to vibrate a magnet.
The magnet then changes an electrical current in the wire, which gets to the recording medium like tape for instance.
The tape recorder has a magnetic head which is the receiver of the electrical signal, therefore causing the magnet to create a magnetic field which changes with the music.
That would be easily lost, except the magnetic tape passing over the head is changed by the field as it moves past the magnet.
When the tape is passed over a magnetic head is able to induce a similar copy of the original source electrical field.
When this is sent to a speaker it vibrates the magnet at the centre of the speakers cone and this vibration then causes the air to vibrate in similar manner as the original source material.
So its pretty much an analog process because all of those vibrations, i.e. in the air, at the microphone magnets, at the coil magnets of the speaker, at the tape recording head magnets, at the tape playback head magnets or in the electrical signals to and from those components they are all pretty much physical properties.
All of the components have physical, electrical, magnetic and vibrational representations of a sound. They’re not exact, but they ARE infinitely variable.
There are many opportunities in this system for things to not capture the analog vibrations of sound accurately.
The tape needs to play back at the exact speed with which it was recorded.
The obvious downside is that the tape can easily degrade and pick up various magnetic signals in the environment.
Digital recording in a sense just takes the middle part of the process, and instead of relying on physical things like varying magnetism on a tape or electrical signals, you instead turn all that vibration into numbers that the computer can understand.
The computer can then reconstruct the audio signal using these numbers.