Analog Audio Tape Recorder Basic Theory and Alignment

Become part of the analog audio resurgence! Learn how these machines work with step- by-step alignment instructions.
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Instructed by Bradshaw Leigh Music / Production
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  • Lectures 14
  • Length 1.5 hours
  • Skill Level Intermediate Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 10/2013 English

Course Description

Analog recording is making a resurgence in the music business thanks to the warmth and clarity of analog recordings in comparison to digital recordings. Starting with basic magnetic theory – which is key to understanding concepts like dynamic range and signal-to-noise ratio – this course will use clear animations to simplify complex technical concepts including test tapes, bias, azimuth, and audio tape recorder modes and controls. The course includes step-by-step tape machine alignment instructions that can be applied to many brands and kinds of machines.

What are the requirements?

  • Basic understanding of audio equipment, and signal flow

What am I going to get from this course?

  • After completing this course, the student will be able to operate and align a professional multitrack audio tape recorder.

Who is the target audience?

  • Musicians
  • Recording Engineers
  • Music Producers
  • Studio Owners

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: How Magnetism relates to Audio Recording

Introduction to basic magnetic theory and how it applies to an analog audio tape recorder. This chapter covers, magnetism, electromagnetism, noise, saturation, and dynamic range. Understanding these basic principals will enable the student to understand why test tapes or calibration tones are used to adjust analog tape machines.

Please be sure to set your udemy player to 720 or HD for clearest video.


In the last lecture we covered why we need a test tape. This lecture discusses different types of test tapes, equalization curves, and advantages and disadvantages of Test tapes.

Be sure to set your player to 720p HD!

4 questions

This quiz tests you understanding of test tapes and alignment levels

Section 2: Tape Recorder and Alignment Overview

This lecture covers tape machine modes and controls. It explains Repro, Sync, Input, and Record mode. As well drop in delay, auto mute and auto input.


Alignment overview explains the steps and sequence of aligning a professional audio tape recorder


Lecture 5 is an overview of the different type of head adjustments. This chapter explains, Wrap, Height,Zenith, and Azimuth. Detailed alignment instructions are covered in the Record and Reproduce Alignment Chapters.

Section 3: Before Aligning

Before using your tape recorder it needs to be cleaned and demagnetized. This chapter takes you through the process step by step.


Lecture 7 takes you through the input output calibration. This matches you recorder level to your console or hard disc recorder.

Section 4: Step by Step Alignment procedure

Reproduce alignment shows you step by step how to calibrate the reproduce alignment of your tape recorder.

The chapter covers Reproduce level, Reproduce high frequency, and reproduce azimuth. Azimuth is shown using both the Oscilloscope and summing method.


Record alignment shows you step by step how to calibrate the Record circuitry of your machine. The chapter covers, Record Level, Record Bias, Record High Frequency, and Record Azimuth


This last chapter covers Sync Playback for multitrack machines. When all chapters are completed your recorder is ready for a session!

Section 5: Course Review

Overview and review notes which can be downloaded and printed

Section 6: Using Your Analog Machine In Session

Part one of three parts. Lecture on using your stereo machine, for mixing, overdubbing, and live to 2 Trk recording. Chapter ends with lesson on razor blade editing.


Recording engineers and producers need to approach analog multitrack recording with a different mindset then when working with digital. This is often due to the limitations of analog recording. These limitations can be an advantage.

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Instructor Biography

Bradshaw Leigh, Chief Engineer, MSR Studios NY

Brad Leigh is a recording engineer / technician who has worked in the New York studio scene for over 25 years and currently serves as the Chief Engineer at the prestigious MSR Studios NY (formerly Right Track Recording).

He began his career as an engineer at Phil Ramone’s legendary A&R Recording Studios at the peak of the music industry. Working with Phil over the course of eight years, they recorded multiple platinum and gold selling albums for artists including Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Frank Sinatra, and Julian Lennon.

As a freelance engineer, Brad continued to work with top-flight producers including Russ Titleman, Marvin Hamlish, Malcolm McClaren, Davitt Sigerson, and Jimmy Iovine. He has also recorded and mixed projects for Tracy Chapman, Joe Jackson, Carly Simon, Chet Baker, Widespread Panic, and Five For Fighting.

In addition to his album work, Brad also has extensive experience mixing for film and television and live music recording including productions for HBO, Showtime, and ABC TV and has worked with composers such as Dave Grusin, Marvin Hamlish, and Rob Mounsley / Carly Simon when recording film scores for Oscar-nominated movies.

As an audio designer, Brad uses his technical background to design and build products that improve the recording experience. He is responsible for designing and building the custom 18' subwoofers in MSR Studios' A and C rooms, he created a high-quality DVD interface for SACD players, as well as the “Procue” personal headphone mixing system. These products have been incorporated into some of the finest studios in NYC such as Sterling Sound NY, Sony Studios, Hit Factory Recording, and MSR Studios NY.

Brad currently serves as Chief Engineer at New York’s prestigious MSR Studios NY (formerly Right Track Recording). Brad is a member of Audio Engineering Society, and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS).

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