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Recording with two track
25 July 2020
9.37am
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skinnyonion
A Beginning
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I’ve read that The Beatles in the early days recorded with two track machines. I might be wrong, but to me that sounds like they only had two available mic inputs at one time, the only reason for that being that I own a two track audio interface. I know The Beatles weren’t limited to only two inputs at one time since Ringo’s drum mics alone would have taken up the “available” tracks. I guess I’m asking how they did it for those early albums such as Please Please Me , and With The Beatles . I don’t know how the mics would be set up, or what the instruments going into the mixing board would look like and would love some explanation or maybe a diagram. Thank you.

25 July 2020
7.44pm
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The Hole Got Fixed
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I do not know the full answer, however if someone does know the full answer I’m all ears.

What I do know is that Ringo’s drums generally only had 2 mics – one overhead, and a kick mic. (A far cry from the up to 10 mics used nowdays…) They had equipment that could fold multiple inputs down into one signal, meaning that they ended up with 2 inputs for the first 2 albums.

I don’t know what exact equipment was used, but it could have been something like a Y converter – it has 2 female ends and 1 male end, so it folds it down:

BE_ 0.3m XLR Y Splitter Cable 3 Pin 1 Male to 2 Female Convertor ...Image Enlarger

It could also have been some sort of board, as that would allow for balancing of levels before it got folded down into one channel, as a Y converter does not allow for balancing of levels.

 

Hope this makes some sense, and hopefully someone else here might know exactly what happened!

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25 July 2020
8.26pm
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Ron Nasty
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The Beatles instruments would generally be recorded on one track, their vocals onto the second track. It’s why you get those weird instruments one channel, vocals the other channel. And their two track recordings were generally live, only occasional George Martin keyboard overdubs directly onto the instrumental track.

Some of these habits continued into their four-track days, such as making the backing track a single track, which explains some of the problems in remastering the earlier albums.

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27 July 2020
3.22pm
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Vera Chuck and Dave
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I think they had mixers back then, so they would’ve been able to use more than two microphones. That said, all the microphones would have been bounced to one track.

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skinnyonion
13 October 2020
1.43pm
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kajo
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skinnyonion said
I’ve read that The Beatles in the early days recorded with two track machines. I might be wrong, but to me that sounds like they only had two available mic inputs at one time, the only reason for that being that I own a two track audio interface. I know The Beatles weren’t limited to only two inputs at one time since Ringo’s drum mics alone would have taken up the “available” tracks. I guess I’m asking how they did it for those early albums such as Please Please Me , and With The Beatles . I don’t know how the mics would be set up, or what the instruments going into the mixing board would look like and would love some explanation or maybe a diagram. Thank you.

  

Tha´s not too difficult.

First of all they had a mixing desk. That means they could mix about 8 different sources/mics to one or both of the 2 tracks. Besides they had more than one two-track recorder. So they firstly could record the instruments on one machine and then concentrate on vocals using the first two instrumental tracks as the basic tracks, adding the vocals and record both sources on the second two-track recorder. Off course the noise floor is always a problem when doing so called “ping-pong-recordings”. But in this case their two-track recorders were real hi-quality machines, so the noise floor kept pretty low even in the second or third recording-generation.

Another point: In the early years they only released mono records like any other company in the world. Later on they released in stereo and the method I described was the main reason why they panned it so extremely. They just had all the instruments on one track of the master tapes and all of the vocals on the other.

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