I remember hearing a story from the people who recorded Deep Space Nine that they'd hung on to quarter-inch for some time because they rather liked the fact that it couldn't hear a fly fart in the next state over. Makes for cleaner overall results, apparently, though I wonder if you could just record and dub in some tape noise to much the same effect!
The clinical audio is still there though, just buried under faked tape noise. You could add noise, but the problems (or should I say "the differences") lie with the capture medium itself. It's just like when people ask about lenses vs camera vs filter vs lighting...it's the whole chain that does it. Tape as a medium (especially 1/4") does round off transients and captures a limited range, although a 2 track is pretty dang fat tape width honestly, and many recording studios still master on 2-track decks. This isn't "that" weird, and I think if you brought your 1/4" reels to any decent recording studio that specialized in actual audio, they would happily convert it for you, and Fotokem could keep their "special machine" in storage. Don't have a clue why that wasn't thought of, but hey. Anyway, tape accentuates certain frequency curves (depending on the machine, etc.) and generally is far less clinical than any sort of typical digital recorder with tip-top state-of-the-art (see "clinical" again) converters. So it's going to sound a lot different. It's analogous to the same problems and comparisons people are always throwing around between "real film" vs the effects of "faking the film look". Do you want to capture hyper-real precisely rendered content and then sit around and "dirty it up"? Or do you want to do it the real way? The real way is a lot easier.
The biggest thing for me is, the point of a nagra, or use of old dynamic mics, is pretty much to get a specific "colored tone", and to NOT RECORD a lot of crap in the background at all in the first place. Dynamic mics need to be held super close to the sound source though, and so you'd likely be using condensers regardless. Which brings up the biggest point of why to use nagras / tape....because the general tonality of the machine and the circuit, coupled with the way the tape handles transients and dynamic information overall (see coloration) is why the choice is made. Honestly, I don't know what people are using out there, but if you seriously can't get clean tones out of 2 tracks on 1/4" tape with a condenser mic into a nagra with it's built-in analog limiter/compressor circuit, I have no f-ing idea what your sound guy/gal is doing, but maybe they are putting your lens caps on the mic diaphragm.
Edited by Matthew B Clark, 27 March 2017 - 04:16 PM.