Including Tapes, Mics, Pops, Effects Loop Setup, Effects Loop Mixing, Hum, Panning, EQ, Delay, Vocal Effects, Mixing Down, Making Space, Keeping Notes
Use good tapes ie the recommended ones for your tape machine and if using a cassette for mixing down/mastering then use 'type II's eg TDK SA 90.
Use a good microphone with ahigh output impedance. Eg a C1000S. (The high output is especially useful for home recording mixers and tape machines.) Experiment with different microphones. For instance a good blues harmonica sound can be had from playing into a cheap (£10-£15) crystal mic as available from Tandy or Maplins, and then put this through a small practise amp and then mic that up, using say a Shure S58 mic.Pops
To avoid the 'pops' in vocals (as when singing 'puh' sounds) take an old pair of tights and stretch them over a wire circle made from a coat hanger, then fix this in position (say, to a microphone stand) such that the tights are about 4" from the microphone.
Effects Loop Setup
Use an effects loop with your tape machine or mixer. This is how to do it: put the mic into an inputchannel, and adjust the level so that it's just below peaking. Send that signal out onto the auxiliary bus. If using a mixer, then turn the AUX 1 knob for that input channel up -this puts the signal on the AUX bus- and then send the signal out of the AUX MASTER SEND jack by turning up the AUX MASTER SEND control knob. The effects unit will have a jack into it's input from the AUX MASTER SEND on themixer or tape machine, and the effect unit's output will be connected to ANOTHER input channel on the mixer or tape machine. If using a tape deck like the Fostex 380S in the case above there will be just one knob to twiddle- that is the AUX 1 knob for the input channel. Adjust the AUX out knob(s) and the effects unit input control knob to get a just-below-peaking signal in the effects machine.With the 'dry' channeL turned off, adjust the faders on the 'wet' input channel to get a good level here also. EQ the 'wet' input channel. Turn off the 'wet' channel and EQ the 'dry' signal. With both channels on, then get the best mix you can of the wet and dry channels by adjusting the faders for each channel appropriately. NOTE it's better to come back into the mixer or tape deck on an inputchannel rather than through the AUX RETURN becuase you have more control over volume and EQ on an input channel. Then record on whatever TRACK you choose.
Effects Loop Mixing
If using a digital effects unit (eg Alesis Quadraverb) with a mixer then set up effects programs such that there is always a mix of 0 'direct' signal and 90-99% 'master effects' signal. The dry and wet signals can bemixed on the desk. Also, in order to reduce noise etc it's a good idea to simplify effect programs where possible. Eg, if the EQ for a program is 'flat' (no cut or boost at all) then again set the EQ level in the mix section to 0, or if say a program is set up to have delay as input to the reverb, then set the delay level in the mix section to 0 again since the delay is there in the system and itdoesn't necessarily need to be mixed into the main mix. Also (as long as noise is not a problem crank up the input and output knobs on a digital effects unit since then there is a stronger signal to work with.
To avoid hum, where possible keep mains cabling separate from all equipment and leads. Where possible use screened mains cabling and screened leads. Where mains cabling has tocross leads of any sort then they should cross at right angles, since the least significant magnetic field is apparent that way. 'Mains hum' is recognisable to the trained ear since it generally appears at 50Hz frequency. If you have parametric EQ, then create a very small EQ bandwidth around 50Hz and cut that completely. Also try moving effects units away from other equipment since they can be...