How To Listen: Vintage Gear Edition Episode 1: Tape Machines

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01h 02min


For many years, tape machines have been coveted as the key to many colorful words associated with the sound of analog recording.

In the latest entry to our How To Listen Series, Fab Dupont and Chris Mara (producer, engineer, and owner of the Nashville based recording studio, "Welcome To 1979") sit down with a Mara Machines JH-110 1/4" and 1/2" machine to run multiple mixes through them for the purpose of quantifying the sound of printing mixes to tape.

The examples chosen for the video represent a wide array of musical genres to help identify which format; digital, 1/2" or 1/4" tape; might be best for each piece of music.

In this video, you will:

  • Learn What tape machines do to your music
  • Learn How to align 1/4" and 1/2" tape machines
  • Compare a digital mix to a 1/4" and 1/2" print from tape machines
  • Hear the effects of 1/4" and 1/2" tape machines on a variety of genres of music, and learn how to choose the best format for your music.

Pay attention! There will be a quiz at the end of the video to test your listening skills and see if you can identify the sound of each format on the songs heard in the video.

This is a chance to quantify all of the characteristics you hear about analog tape’s effect on music for yourself as Chris Mara and Fab Dupont print demonstrate, explain, and give you tips on what to listen for to learn the sound of tape.

Equipment & Software


  • Mara Machines JH-110


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Fab Dupont

Fab Dupont is an award-winning NYC based record producer, mixing/mastering engineer and co-founder of

Fab has been playing, writing, producing and mixing music both live and in studios all over the world. He's worked in cities like Paris, Boston, Brussels, Stockholm, London and New York just to name a few.

He has his own studio called FLUX Studios in the East Village of New York City.

Fab has received many accolades around the world, including wins at the Victoires de la Musique, South African Music awards, Pan African Music Awards, US independent music awards. He also has received Latin Grammy nominations and has worked on many Latin Grammy and Grammy-nominated albums.


David Crosby

Queen Latifah

Jennifer Lopez

Mark Ronson

Les Nubians

Toots And The Maytals

What do you have to say?
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2022 Jan 12
Fab this series is awesome I learning so much!!! Said that I am really appreciatee to get the opportunity to compare digital and real top notch tape machine with fine calibration. In the all rnr people have this tape mith with it's truly not a myth only but you need to have top notch macine and know how to use them otherwise is crap. So let's put our feet on the ground and le't's go digital if we can't allow a great tape machine / great calibration Great to know the differences by listen to them in comparison with digital
2021 Feb 03
This is freaking awesome!
2020 Oct 19
I chose them all right, yeah! The 1/4” tone is a little more modern than 1/2’’. I like both. Thanks to Fab and Chris.
2020 Oct 18
No Transcript...
2020 Jan 27
What a Masters! Thanks
2020 Jan 25
Loved this but it’s now begging the question for me about what a 2” 24track and a 2” 16track sound like! Can you comment or embellish on this video? Would the 2” 16track be equivalent in sound to the 1/4” because they share the amount of tape width per track? Would the 24 track have its own sound due to smaller tape track width’s than both the 1/4” and 1/2”? Thx!!
2020 Jan 04
Great! Weirdly enough it was easier to hear the difference on the iPhoneX speakers... The quizz was easy-peasy if you looked for: - transients: digital versions were obviously in your face and detached from the rest - highs: the quarter is darker then comes the half then comes the digital All in all, the tape (especially the quarter) was adding a nice compression and EQ that made all the tracks more cohesive like the famous glue effect we are all looking for. The French song especially... when the vocal seems to blur with the violins was very emotional on the quarter tape version.
2019 Dec 29
10/10 increible video... :) Me encanto
2019 Nov 26
thank you
Jose Malqui
2019 Oct 19
Faltan los subtítulos al españor por favor. Gracias
2019 Oct 15
I missed almost all the quiz answers...
2019 Oct 14
vidéo très interressente mais pourrait on avoir les sous titres français svp difficile de tout comprendre
2019 Oct 14
vidéo très interressente mais pourrait on avoir les sous français svp difficile de tout comprendre
Phantom Studios
2019 Oct 01
Great video, very useful, thank you.
2019 Sep 29
Wow, thanks a lot!
2019 Sep 27
Awesome & very informative, thanks Fab. I'm going to try & see if i can somewhat close with my tape plugins. This was absolutely Awesome...
Jimi Lloyd-Wyatt
2019 Sep 16
Hey Fab, great vid man. Any chance you could do a video showcasing the advantages of each format where they play to their own strengths? Chris eluded to the idea that different results were possible from either machine at a different speeds. I felt like because everything was matched that the 1/2" was left a little wanting and this test suited the 1/4" more especially as the return level of the 1/2" seemed to be a touch lower. It would be great to hear the two machines pushed until they both start to work really hard. Thanks for the education!
2019 Sep 14
This is awesome!
2019 Sep 13
Have worked in this room a couple of times now. SUPER COOL. Tracked fiddle in the room with the LEGIT player piano! :)
2019 Sep 13
I have enjoyed this very much I used those two machines every day for several years to create masters and mixes on. They were very stable and easy to work with. Although editing could get messy if you had dull blades and "undo" was a bit tedious.
2019 Sep 13
Absolutely loved this video! Can't wait for more. Thank you!
2019 Sep 13
Fantastic training! Fantastic concept! Looking forward to episode 2
2019 Sep 13
These episodes are going to be awesome!!
2019 Sep 13
PURE brilliance. Thank you Fab!
2019 Sep 12
Absolutely FABulous! I pretty much missed all the quizz but anyway I learned a lot about tape machines. I'll do some testing with my tape emulation plugins to see if I can improve my listening ability and then use tape emulation plugins more efficiently. Thanks Chris and thanks Fab!