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Characterizing the Effect on Linear and Harmonic Distortions of AC Bias and Input Levels when Recording to Analog Tape

Analog tape recorders introduce both linear distortions and nonlinear distortions to the audio. While the role of the AC bias and input levels on these distortions are well-understood by recording engineers, the impact on specific audio features, for example SNR, fatness, brightness, roughness, and harmonic count is less well described. In this study we examined with high granularity the impact and interactions of several AC bias and input levels on each of these features. We utilized the exponential swept sine acquisition and deconvolution technique to analyze a Scully 280. The results provide a detailed characterization on the tonal character introduced by the recorder. We conclude with level recommendations that could prove important for primary capture, effects processing, and digital emulation.

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AES - Audio Engineering Society