4 track to Logic via Apogee One

February 17, 2011 7:55 AM

Really obvious question about getting 4 track cassette recordings into a Mac via Apogee One, in stereo...

I've got a bunch of 4 track recordings that I'd like to get into Logic, and I'm trying to decide between getting an Apogee One or the Duet.

Dumb question: I read somewhere that with the One, I wouldn't be able to keep the recordings in stereo, because with the One you can only record with one input at a time. But if I just used the headphone jack of the 4 track machine as an output to the One, wouldn't that preserve the stereo? Or would it just become a single, mono track in Logic?
posted by Beardman (15 comments total)

You don't need an interface to do this. You can take the stereo mix out from the 4-track directly to the audio in of the mac. You don't need a pre-amp as it is already line level.
posted by unSane at 5:01 PM on February 17, 2011

You won't be able to do what you want with the One; from their website, it looks as if the inputs are as follows:

* Internal condenser microphone
* Balanced XLR microphone preamp input with +10 to 63 dB of gain
* Unbalanced 1/4” high impedance instrument input, 0 to 45 dB of gain

So, you'd be taking your stereo output from the four track and plugging it into one of those inputs. Either one is going to be a mono in. (There are also going to be potential impedance and level issues.)

unSane is correct in that you don't specifically need an interface to do this, as your Mac 1/8th inch stereo jack IN should work; the only advantage to having an external interface would be potentially better ADC conversion. If your fourtrack tapes are anything like mine, analog to digital conversion is not the biggest sonic consideration.
posted by dubold at 2:35 AM on February 18, 2011

OK, many thanks. Shows what I know about my own Mac!
posted by Beardman at 5:35 AM on February 18, 2011

Apologies if this is already obvious, but if you want to preserve the individual tracks (I would!), you can:
  1. Pan the tracks hard L and R on the 4-track (1L, 2R, 3L, 4R)
  2. Create 4 tracks in Logic: 2 that record from Input 1, and 2 that record from Input 2.
  3. Mute tracks 3 and 4 on the 4-track.
  4. Arm an Input 1 and an Input 2 track in Logic.
  5. Record in Logic, play on the 4-track.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5, muting tracks 1 and 2 this time, and using the other 2 tracks in Logic.
The two problems being that you'll have manually sync 3 and 4 with 1 and 2 after the fact (since you can't press "play" at precisely the same moment each time), and that the recordings may (depending on the quality of the 4-track recorder) drift out-of-sync.

Still, it's probably a worthwhile exercise if you want to preserve these recordings.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:00 AM on February 18, 2011

I've tried doing that, uncleozzy, and the sync problems were a killer for me. The reason is, I had bounced some tracks to stereo, and I got all sorts of horrible phasing. I suppose if you worked out what the stereo pairs were and recorded them together you could avoid this, but I'm afraid I gave up.
posted by unSane at 6:07 AM on February 18, 2011

uncleozzy: even if OP printed a click or countoff at the top of each track to sync stuff easier, there is pretty much no way a four track cassette is going to play exactly the same way twice.

take it from long, rueful experience. just mix 'em on the four track, take a stereo pass into Logic and call it a day. if there's not timecode or some other way to synch the machine, even "professional" tape machines - whether analog, ADAT/DAT or whatever - won't do what you're asking.
posted by dubold at 8:11 AM on February 18, 2011

Yeah, I figured as much.

But honestly, I'd still have a try at it (after grabbing the 2-track mixdown, of course). Better to have the suspect multitracks that you might want to hack up someday than not.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:24 AM on February 18, 2011

I hear you, but there is merit to just, y'know, committing to it, saying, "here's the mix" and moving on to record more stuff. unlimited levels of undo in digital recording makes decisions harder.

sorry for the derail.
posted by dubold at 8:33 AM on February 18, 2011

Is there a reason you don't want a multi-input audio interface? Does your 4-track have individual track outputs?
posted by mintcake! at 11:34 AM on February 18, 2011

Is there a reason you don't want a multi-input audio interface?

Alas, I'm skint.

Re: the possibility of sending it in track by track and re-syncing, I thought of that too, but just wanted to know if there was an easier way (that wouldn't involve a pricier interface). Minus the possibility of phasing problems, it seems easy when you say it, but I worry that it'd be like the hell of lining up ADR in film editing, when it always seems slightly off...thanks for the discussion, though; I didn't think of it as a derail at all.
posted by Beardman at 4:20 PM on February 18, 2011

You could get a 2-input interface and then route 2 of the 4-track outputs to the interface and 2 to the built-in input.

I like the M-Audio Mobile Pre USB for a versatile, portable interface. It's not that spendy.
posted by unSane at 8:20 PM on February 18, 2011

(But seriously, pulling stuff off cassette always turns out to be disappointing in terms of audio quality. Not just sync, but frequency response, warble, dropouts...)
posted by unSane at 8:21 PM on February 18, 2011

here's the thing with multiple-channel interfaces: they are essential if you are ever recording with more than one or two mics (that aren't summed to a single track). But if you're just laying down one track at a time, then you don't HAVE to have all those lovely extra inputs.

depending on where you're located, why not consider renting a multichannel interface, just for the importing of the fourtrack stuff? It'd be cheaper than buying one; you can see what you do or don't like about that unit, and decide if it's worth saving up to get.
posted by dubold at 3:18 AM on February 19, 2011

but I worry that it'd be like the hell of lining up ADR in film editing,

it'd be exactly like that - "okay, try a frame forward. nope. okay, try a frame backward. nope. try two frames forward?" except without visual cues. and if you have the same instrument on two tracks, there'll be phase as well as timing issues.
posted by dubold at 3:21 AM on February 19, 2011

If you are skint why are you looking at the Apogee One / Duet? which is kinda billed as the Posh AudioPhile Audio Interface?

on Dolphin music : Apogee ONE £ 187.91

whereas you could get a perfectly functional M-Audio Fast Track Pro 4 x 4 Mobile USB Audio/MIDI Interface for £ 168.75

Or wait! 4in x4out ESI MAYA44 USB for £70.

If your 4track has direct channel outs you could record all 4 channels with that. and its still cheaper than the Apogee. and well you are recording from tape apogee sound quality is not really much point.
posted by mary8nne at 8:23 AM on February 25, 2011

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