An analog question for those who record

I am going to buy either a reel to reel or a VHS recorder to record my vinyl onto for repeated playbacks. Is recording vinyl possible by simply hooking my preamp up to a VCR hitting record and dropping the needle. This would be ideal as it has a long run time via the VCR tapes. I have heard VCRS have good analog sound. Should I just go with a reel to reel? Cassettes arent really an option but I have heard some recordings from vinyl onto cassette that sound great. I also am aware of digital recording using audacity and have used it hundreds of times. However I like analog and if I want digital I will just pop in a cd. Do you think there would be a huge difference in the quality one way or another.
Let me get this straight: You want to record your vinyl onto one of two essentially dead analog mediums because you want to preserve it for repeated playbacks?

I think you're best off investing in a really good analog to digital converter and record it in a high-resolution digital format. You mention that you already know how to do this and have done it before. What was the problem? If it's repeated playbacks you're after, digital is the appropriate medium because it does not degrade with use or time. And the convenience and portability is a nice side-effect.

Instead of a reel to reel or something, put your money into a good A/D converter and a smooth, more "analog-sounding" DAC.

My 2 cents, anyway.


Reel to reel is very expensive. The tapes are very expensive, the machines are expensive, and the maintenance is expensive.

VCR is dying if not dead and the analog side while superior to cassette is inferior to most other possibilities.

The only practical option is recording to digital. With a high quality pro-audio interface you can record 24/192 and smoke the alternatives. Look at Pure Vinyl software coupled with a high quality interface.

I understand your desire to stay pure analog but that ship has sailed.

I am also interested in doing hi-rez transfer of vinyl to digital. I won't abandon vinyl. It would just be nice to have it in a hi-rez format. I think 24 bit 196 would be good.

Where can I find an analog to digital converter at 24/196 and what does it cost?

Are there alternitives to the excellent, but pricey, Pure Vinyl set-up?

Everything about this hobby is costly!!I should have been clearer in the title. I don't really care about preserving my stuff onto vhs or reel to reel. Just making mixtapes of my favorite vinyl selections for personal listening while playing pool. A VPI scout will be used to play vinyl when I want -I don't like repeated playings of costly albums unless I have time to properly enjoy and I want the benefit of not flipping on a different vinyl every other song during a game of 8 ball. I just basically have in mind making mixtapes.I have lots of cds but they do not match the all analog I am after. I already have everything I like on cd but I want analog I just want to have Analog recordings to play on demand.
I will do some homework about what you said about the DACS Herman. This would require rebuying a computer as I no longer have the one I recorded and used Audacity on.
I would think the best way is to just use a cassette tape deck for your mixes. It is the defacto standard for copying for many years. Used good decks are still available, and tapes can be purchased online pretty cheap.
The sound would certainly be good enough for the use. And a Nak reversing deck would be ideal. (or any deck that could continue play.
I do exactly what you want to do, and I use finely tuned and aligned Nakamichi 682ZX cassette deck with reference metal tapes. It sounds good with better type II tapes too.
Good reel to reel will sound better but will be most likely more expensive as others said.
Revox cassette decks could be an alternative to Nakamichi.
I never tried to use high end VCR for this purpose.
How close to the sound of vinyl do you want your recording to be?
Way back in the 80's I owned a Sony superbeta vcr. I was having a party so I recorded quite a few songs off of cds onto a beta tape so I wouldn't be bothered with constantly changing cds during the party (I wanted to be free to concentrate my attention on the liquor and ladies).
As I recall, you could record at regular tape speed and have 6 hrs worth or at the higher tape speed for 4 hrs capacity. I used the higher tape speed for the best fidelity. I'm not sure why but the recorded cds sounded better than the cds themselves.
The recording sounded smoother and more analog without sacrificing details. I paid about $1,000 new for the vcr but I bet you could get a used one dirt cheap now. I know its obsolete technology but for your purposes I think it would be great (beta was superior in both sound and picture to vhs according to the experts at the time). But I don't know about blank tape availability but would think someone still sells them for beta video cameras which were nice because they were smaller than vhs cameras.
Since you like vinyl, I think the superbeta would be a good fit and you'll save a ton of money compared to a reel to reel deck. And it's much easier to load. Just something to consider.
Forget reel to reel, for all the reasons previously stated. I have a few reel to reel machines and they are all used for playback of pre recorded tapes. Go with a Nakamichi Dragon, the best cassette tape machine ever made. Tons of features. Also, look into the 'D-VHS' decks which tape the VHS format to the highest level. I have such a machine and have made a few recordings that do sound better then the Dragon. Tapes are expensive and getting service would be impossible.
Like Noble100, back in the 80's I used to record to a hi-fi VHS machine specifically for the long play time, and also found the sound to be more to my liking than playing the CD direct. I seem to recall though, that my VHS deck was somewhat unique in that it would record audio without a video signal present. I believe that a video signal had to be present for hi-fi VHS and it would internally produce some sort of signal for the audio to ride on. It's been a while though! I'm not sure about Beta, but believe it was an entirely different audio process.
If sound quality is your top priority, a 1/2 track reel to reel which plays 15 ips is your best option. Aside from sound quality, its a very impractical way to archive as you'll need to store these huge and somehwat costly tapes, hunting for a track is time consuming, and you'll need to align and de-mag the heads on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, you'll lose some of the vinyl magic if you convert to digital no matter how good your chain. Trust me I've tried for years with my very high end recording studio (Manley, Weiss, Cranesong etc, etc,).

My solution is to buy back up copies of my favorite vinyl and leave it at that.

Thanks for the responses
Back in the day I tried recording onto a VHS HiFi deck and though the fidelity was very nice it was not a user friendly format in trying to search for songs if the need arose or time it took to fill out a long VHS tape in recording.

Honestly if you want to preserve your vinyl collection onto another analogue format get yourself a good cassette deck. 3 heads often give you the best choice especially if you go with models older than say 1990 when the manufactures put a lot of time and money into good decks. But also there are some sleeper two head decks from makers such as Nakamichi (though their three headers were generally among the best) and Harmon Kardon among others good made in Japan two head decks.

Finding good new tape stock is hard today but lots of NOS on eBay etc.

Properly recorded vinyl onto a good cassette deck can be quite impressive, give you a lot of that analogue sound vinyl gives and it very user friendly.
I have a good 1/2 track reel, a cassette deck, good VCR that I used for that purpose once upon a time; now I use the PC. I hope that tells you something.
orpheus it tells us you can't tell the difference between digital and analog and you've already stated as much in numerous other posts that you've tried to lead down the same path. The original post is about archiving analog into analog.
Look for a 3 head cassette tape deck that has DBX noise reduction. Luxman made one,I believe it is the KX 103. I have one and it is auto reverse and anything recorded with DBX rivals and kicks ass over the CD medium hands down. So if you use 90 minute cassettes,thats 90 minutes of music,that will get you through a game of eight ball. I know nachamichi made a DBX deck along with Denon with three heads.
Only thing is you can only play a DBX encoded tape on a deck with an encoder or a pre that has an encoder in it.
If you do go VHS, I think some of mine wanted a video signal like mentioned above. Even a menu display from another VCR feeding something for a video source just to make the recordings. I use a Sony RCD-W500C CD recorder for convenience now. The rec out from a preamp to it makes some decent recordings with its built in A/D converter. It needs blank CD-R *music*,not data discs though. About $15 for 50 of them.
I honestly think that if you have more than a few recordings to make and you need to get them done with the least possible fuss and the most consistent fidelity, analog-to-digital recording at 24/88.2 or higher is the way to go. If it were me I would be using an Apogee Rosetta 200 and Wave Editor software.

If what you really want is respectfully to practise the art of recording as it was done in the old days, re-creating the old-time artisan's skill and admiring the machines they used, that's another story.
Why don't you guys stop this digital talk? The man wants to preserve the analog and stated so. Just because you don't do it doesn't mean he shouldn't.
Another option is to purchase a used Alesis Masterlink
ML-9600 Reference Digital Recorder ($700) or the Tascam DVRA 1000 HD ($1,800) new. Both of these recorders will record at 24 bits and 96 - 192 kHz sampling rates, the Tascam unit will do Sony's DSD (1 Bit) recording scheme. Then you can archive your LP's to either CD-R or DVD-R at the Hi Rez signal. The Hi-Fi VCR records the Hi-Fi audio
signal onto the video tracks using the rotating head of the VCR to put the signal to tape. Cheap archiving and playback.
Just dug out the two cassette decks I've had collecting dust in the garage for several years. The better of the two wouldn't run, but the other did, and I fed it a few LP's via a Manley Steelhead using a 30 year old blank cassette.

The results were purely analog with a slight push in the lower frequencies as tape tends to do. Kick drums and bass retain their pillowy analog flavor and horns sound like horns. This is a $150 Sony consumer deck so a better studio grade player could be just the ticket for making copies for casual listening.
This deck has phono RIAA inputs. Haven't heard it so don't know about sound quality.

Tascam CC 222SLmkII $469.
I really want to go reels but due to many setbacks that can occur with them I decided on a cassette player. Duaneadam I would love to hear your Manley Steelhead. I have the tubed Eastern Electric Minimax Phono and love it but that Manley Gear looks extra nice. I believe I will just go with one of the high end 3 head cassette decks and stock up on some high bias cassettes. I did enjoy the sound of my friends cassette player and a recorded from vinyl Doors album. I once had a Sony RCD-W500C CD but had trouble from it reading discs and making cds so I had to return it.
Understandably, your not that interested in ultimate analog playback but with a reel to reel you could easily get very close. The mix down from a two inch master is the ultimate. Played back on, even a modest, quarter inch reel to reel at 15 ips and possibly some pre recorded R-R media would be the next step down the chain and the potential of consumer analog.

Check out the recent audio shows, many of the manufactures are displaying using Tape Project gear. Vinyl is simply in the ballpark. I owned a Nak Dragon for a very short time, nuff said. On the other hand if cassette playback gets you there than even lesser Nakamichi is the way to go.
I had never heard of Tape Project, that is just sick. I can't imagine a better sounding source other than sitting in the studio listening to the 1st generation multi-track. Even at $300 per album, it's probably worth it.
Dbx noise reduction units can be put between the in of your cassette deck and your pre for tape quality that will blow your mind. The DBX 3 expander is a very good unit that will would give you the analog sound you want and the sound quality of CD's but analog sounding.
MY mistake,what you want is a DBX Model 222 Type II Tape Noise Reduction System.
Davidnboone, if you are doing cassette you will have to find a machine and get it refurbished. Pioneer made some very interesting high-end machines that used Dolby S about 20 years ago- very nice sound, very quiet. Otherwise a Nakamichi is the thing. Nakamichi parts are probably getting a bit tricky as they have been out of business for a while, but you can get belts from Russell Industries. They also can refurbish old idlers and the like. They bought out the old Projector-Recorder Company. Here's the link:
Davidboone your killing me. Never expected to be making analog copies again until this thread. Now I have a cassette player permanently installed in one room, am putting a new belt on my 1/2 track tonight. Life would be so much simpler if I could just be happy with an I-pod.
A Canadian magazine, UHF (Ultra High Fidelity), at one time recorded on VHS tape for playback at audio shows so they could play high quality music without interruption. They have discussed this in several issues of the magazine. You need a VHS machine that has record level controls, which was rare, but I have seen such machines in local thrift stores for $20 or less, as recently as 3 or 4 months ago. I was thinking of using this format, but decided not to add another piece of equipment to my audio rack. I still have a Nakamichi 550 2-head cassette deck that I bought new in the mid 70s. Tapes that I made back then still sound terrific today. IMHO, a 2-head Nakamichi will make better sounding tapes than other manufacturer's 3-head decks.

Somewhere, I have a UHF mag that has good info on recording to VHS - how to do it, why it is better than cassette or reel-to-reel, etc. If you are still interested, send me a private email and I will find the magazine and scan the appropriate pages.
It's not my fault that youse guys can not duplicate the sound of vinyl with your PC.

Duplicate exactly??


But I'm so close I don't care about the difference

Why not just keep and play your records? If you want to preserve them .. just take care of them and buy a quality cleaning machine.

Nothing wrong with a nice clean open reel deck. Plenty of them around, and not hard to take care of them as people say.

What is hard is listening to digital music.. too hard on my ears.

Music should never be a digital experience anywhere along the chain from recording to playback. It's convenient, but if you prefer digital, your ears are simply not trained properly.
I do play my records but when I have friends or family over I like just hitting play. I do plan on keeping them as I have way too much time invested in finding clean copies to even let one go!
An excellent VCR for making audio only, Hi-Fi stereo recordings is the Harman Kardon VCD1000. I purchased one of these new in 1985 for around $700. A few years ago I cleaned out my shed and gave a ton of stuff to a local thrift store including the VCD1000. I later realized what a stupid mistake I had made and with a stroke of luck I was able to obtain another one from Craigs List for $30. After a full service, ie: belts, friction wheels, cleaning and lubrication, etc. the VCD is up and running perfectly. I still have the original owners manual and sales brochure.

This deck was the HK flagship VCR from '85 through '87 and was based on the top of the line Mitsubishi deck with cast aluminum transport, transformer power supply and no expense spared electronics. HK then added an audio section of their own design which allowed for audio only to be laid down on the tape using a built in sync signal without vidio information. This unit is a heavy, rock solid, made in Japan VCR, not to be confused with the flimsy units of recent production.

For analog recording of vinyl to tape from my TD-124 w/ SME3009 and Sure V15 Type IV, I have a Nak CR-3A, Luxman K-105 and Sony TC-K677ES cassette decks and also a Teac X-7R reel to reel.

The VCD1000, in my opinion as well as others that have listened, has the greatest dynamic range, no hiss and most faitful to the vinyl reproduction. All VHS recordings were made using the best Maxell or TDK VHS Hi-Fi tape in SP mode, and Maxell XL tapes were used for the standard recorders.

I highly recommend the VCD1000 for VHS audio only recording. Be sure that the deck is serviced and adjusted properly, set it for audio only recording in SP mode, use high quality Hi-Fi tapes and use the same machine to record and play back the tapes. The service and owners manuals are available on the web, and an early Mitsubishi VCR remote works well with the VCD1000.

If you find one of these decks and set it up properly, you won't be disappointed.
I have heard many good things about the Korg MR-1, MR-1000 which allows you to record in DSD or double DSD resolution. Some have said in that mode, it is very close to the native analog source. You can transfer the files to your PC...arrange a playlist from all your recordings and then transfer back to the Korg for playback in DSD or double DSD mode..Not too expensive either.
Yes, the korg-2000 is really truly excellent (and this is from an analog guy)
But if you want to stay analog, go with reel to reel.
Good tape isn't hard to find , RMGI makes it, and yes it's pricey, but it will last for ages if stored properly.
VHS hi-fi was a kickass medium for straight audio, but useless for searching out tracks and yes, prett well obsolete.
Reel to reel is far from dead, once you've heard a tape project release, or better yet, a 15ips safety master dub, you will be forever ruined.
Until, of course, you get your own!
I use vhs for those moments when I want to avoid flipping the lp. I've been happy with the quality and the ability to play for hours on EP. I'm not sure that I would use it for critical listening. I use an old pioneer cassette deck for setting the levels. The system works pretty good, but I've noticed added bass from the recording (probably from the pioneer).
Years ago (early 90's) I did a bit of hi-fi audio recording on a VHS Hi-Fi vcr. Tapes sounded great. Did not do much of it as I was more likely to record onto cassette for my car audio system. Fast forward to modern times. I from 2008 onwards added some cassette decks to my gear to archive many of my LP's to get a good analogue copy of my LP's and to have fun with such. I added a reel to reel about a year ago and it was a fun medium but very costly to buy good tape stock for. Fidelity was great though.

Most recently I reacquired a VHS HiFi vcr and began to make some tape dubs off my vinyl and IMO the audio fidelity is near impeccable to the original source. One would have to under the highest scrutiny listen to hear much a difference between a Hi-fi vcr tape and the source. Of course VHS is a more cumbersome format for search and for doing any heavy editing, but for archiving LP's or CD's one can get at the fast speed on a T-120 tape 2 hours of audio and at EP speed 6 hours with no loss in fidelity. IMPRESSIVE!

BUT! On must search out older vcrs say from the late 80's to the early 90's as these had better design and most often included manual record level settings. Late 90's to more current 2000's deck were/are just built rather cheap.