Synchronization - SMPTE Timecode: recording of the signal

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Let's consider the LTC mode, in other words let's record the time code on a reel's track. In this case the main frequencies being used are 1 KHz (for 0 bit) and 2 KHz (for 1 bit). The following are a set of criteria to follow when recording the time code, bearing in mind that time codes are very delicate signals which could be quite easily ruined:

  • The SMPTE shouldn't be recorded at too high a level, normally at -7 Vu.

  • The route the signal takes, starting from the generator to the recorder, ought to be as direct as possible. The best thing would be to pick up the SMPTE generator's signal directly from the patchbay [PatchBay ] and from there, send it (still through the patchbay) to the recorder's track. This way the signal doesn't even pass through the mixer.

  • Never use Noise Reduction systems [Noise reduction ] for recording the time code. This could irredeemably alter its frequency content.

  • The SMPTE's specific frequency content generates crosstalk[25 ] problems. For this reason, by putting it onto the last available track (or even the first, although conventionally the last one is used) we can avoid crosstalking on two tracks and limit it to one. On the track that remains adjacent to the time code, it is advisable to record a signal that has a continuous and extended frequency content (for example a distorted guitar) in order to hide the SMPTE crosstalk.

  • The time code needs to be recorded onto the whole tape. Timing should be activated at least 1 hour beforehand in order to start tracking a little earlier so that the various machines that need to synchronize with the code have time to align themselves.

[25 ] This term indicates the mutual interference between two adjacent tracks on an analogue recorder and on a mixer.


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