Anyone have recs on a cassette 4 track?

Get that song on tape! Errr... disk?
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Anyone have recs on a cassette 4 track?

Post by Meme Library » Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:17 am

I wanna get into analog recording but have no experience! Do you guys have any experience recording to cassette?

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Re: Anyone have recs on a cassette 4 track?

Post by Larry Mal » Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:26 am

Sure, we used to use things like this back in the day.

The Tascam Portastudio line or Fostex was an alternative.

Not 100% sure exactly what your goal is, though? The cassette tape was a miserable medium for both playback and recording. When you see people talk about recording analog they aren't referring to cassette but to reel to reel tape, usually the professional standards were 1" or 2" wide and offers a sound and fidelity that still stands up.

But cassettes never did.

That's not to say there's nothing you can't get out of recording to cassette and it could be fun I guess, I'm just curious what you are looking for out of this experience.
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Re: Anyone have recs on a cassette 4 track?

Post by Dok » Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:47 pm

I agree with Larry. There's nothing at all "better" about those cassette 4-tracks, and they are all stupid expensive to buy used, now!

If you already have a digital recording setup, you might want to check out a nice "analog" pre-amp with good converters. Like an API A2D (or hopefully something cheaper).
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Re: Anyone have recs on a cassette 4 track?

Post by Telliot » Sun Oct 21, 2018 7:04 pm

:whistle:

What they said.
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Re: Anyone have recs on a cassette 4 track?

Post by oid » Sun Oct 21, 2018 7:33 pm

I have endless fond memories of recording on various PortaStudios, but I never would have put up with it even the cheapest of modern USB interfaces were available. Noisy headache, fuckers broke down left and right.

If you want an old fashioned style recording setup try the old hard disc recorders from the 90s, same work flow of the fancier cassette recorders but none of the headaches, they are mostly analog. Still can be had cheap but they are going up in price, will not be long before they are the hip new old thing. The Roland VS16xx series are great recorders, Korgs was pretty good as well, forget their model...
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Re: Anyone have recs on a cassette 4 track?

Post by mackerelmint » Sun Oct 21, 2018 7:53 pm

^^^

That's good advice.

I used to enjoy fucking around with 4 tracks, and I find myself reminiscing about the simplicity of it all, but... they cost way too much damn money and they're old and they break, as Dok and Oid mentioned. Somehow, for me personally, it takes a zillion times longer for me to record stuff in a DAW. It's just how it is and always has been and even though I like studio one OK, it's just not really how I like to record

And somehow the idea of getting a digital portastudio never really crossed my mind. And it's such a "duh" kind of answer... :fp:
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Re: Anyone have recs on a cassette 4 track?

Post by Fuzzbuzz » Sun Oct 21, 2018 7:54 pm

Yeah, I have to disagree with the above cassette naysayers. Recording to tape is very rewarding in both sound and experience. And those tape plug-ins are just not the same. Sorry.
I would recommend a tascam Portastudio MKIII or even the slightly cheaper MkII. Couple that with an SM57 and you’re in business. I also love using cheap Art mic Preamps and running an Audio Technica AT4033 which is great for recording anything from drums to vocals.

Is it easier to just get an interface and record digitally, yes. Does it sound better? Subjective. If you have the interest, money and time to jump into tape recording, do it! Totally worth the experience. If lo-fi is your goal, it doesn’t get any better than a cassette portastudio.
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Re: Anyone have recs on a cassette 4 track?

Post by Larry Mal » Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:03 pm

Also, you can't really edit a cassette tape like you can reel to reel tape.

I mean, reel to reel is wonderful. I've had a few reel to reel machines, nothing too serious. Consumer stuff. We had a 1" machine in school and at the end of my time there they got a 2" machine, I barely got to use it, though. They used to make me edit tape and that is fucking hard.

There was also a real plate reverb and there's nothing like those. I have fantasies about putting on in my home studio some day but that's a different story.

Anyway, reel to reel is a better medium than vinyl, better than CD ever was, better than any Mp3 (assuming it's a good machine running at 30ips and such). 24 or 32 bit PCM at 96k or higher I think is a better medium than reel to reel technically, it doesn't offer that "warmth" and compression that tape does, though.

But the cassette was a miserable creation. The signal to noise ratio is terrible, and the usable frequency range is often quite terrible... I seem to recall the Type 1 cassettes capped off at around 15kHz. Dreadful. The later "metal" and "chrome" cassettes were much better, but that was the end of the line.

Basically, tape is an analog, so it literally writes an analog waveform of what it records (vinyl does that also in the grooves). The more "real estate" you give that analog to write to, the better sounding it is (there are exceptions). So if you have a 2" tape recording 4 tracks at 30ips ("inches per second") then you are giving each track 1/2" and a lot of space to write to along the length of the tape.

Back when tape was cheap that would have been a good setup.

A cassette tape, though- I had to look this up- has a speed of 1 7/8" ips (compared to 30 or 15!), and there are four tracks on it. Each of those tracks is .6mm, or 1/32".

Anyway, blah blah blah, thanks for giving me an excuse to care about tape for a minute.

If you really want a tape "sound", some people record their whole album directly to tape these days. While that's great, you could instead just do your whole song down, get the mix in place, and then record that mix out to reel to reel.

Basically, all tape has a built in compression to it, and a "warmth" that comes from a few factors. But anyway, once you output your stereo mix to the reel to reel, then you can bounce your reel to reel back to digital, and there you have it- you now have the tape sound on your whole song.

If you aren't noticing a theme, it's that reel to reel is fucking cool.

Hope any of this helps.
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Re: Anyone have recs on a cassette 4 track?

Post by Larry Mal » Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:09 pm

mackerelmint wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 7:53 pm

And somehow the idea of getting a digital portastudio never really crossed my mind. And it's such a "duh" kind of answer... :fp:
There was nothing good about the digital Portastudios, either. They still make them... I looked one up. The current models have what they boast of as "CD quality sound", which is probably what the old ones had, too.

The problem with that is, "CD quality" was never good and it's completely obsolete now. Even a rudimentary USB interface will allow 24 bit recording and 48k sampling, and that's a no brainer.

With a Portastudio you are still recording to hard disk, why not use the one in your computer? Your computer is light years better than anything a Portastudio is.

That's not even to mention whatever dreadful preamps and converters are in those things. Fuck that.
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Re: Anyone have recs on a cassette 4 track?

Post by Fuzzbuzz » Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:20 pm


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Re: Anyone have recs on a cassette 4 track?

Post by Larry Mal » Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:23 pm

Aww, I looked it up, though. This was my last Portastudio:

Image

I remember it cost like $350. I had to work so hard to get it. I was doing like 70 hours a week in the restaurant and getting paid shit and it took me years to get the money for my Alvarez acoustic, and my Carvin electric, and my Portastudio. I thought I was going to defeat the world with that shit. I would sit there and get high and play my guitar into that thing for hours.

There wasn't any internet to distract one.

I had an organ that had some programmed beats into it, I'd record that in some way and run my acoustic through my Rat pedal.

I never got tired of that shit.
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Re: Anyone have recs on a cassette 4 track?

Post by Fuzzbuzz » Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:27 pm

Larry Mal wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:23 pm
I thought I was going to defeat the world with that shit. I would sit there and get high and play my guitar into that thing for hours.

There wasn't any internet to distract one.

I had an organ that had some programmed beats into it, I'd record that in some way and run my acoustic through my Rat pedal.

I never got tired of that shit.
Yeah dude! That’s what it’s about! I mean are cassette recorders the best? It really just depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

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Re: Anyone have recs on a cassette 4 track?

Post by oid » Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:54 pm

mackerelmint wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 7:53 pm
And somehow the idea of getting a digital portastudio never really crossed my mind. And it's such a "duh" kind of answer... :fp:
The digital portastudios suck as much as the old cassette ones, same garbage build quality, almost disposable.

I had the Roland series wrong it would be VSx80, came in 8, 16 and 24 track, the Korg was the B8 and B16. They all can be had for next to nothing if you watch, I got my VS1680 for $5 at a rummage sale a few years ago. Love the sound of this era recorder, something about it, best $5 I ever spent.
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Re: Anyone have recs on a cassette 4 track?

Post by andy_tchp » Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:28 pm

Don't.
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Re: Anyone have recs on a cassette 4 track?

Post by mackerelmint » Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:17 pm

Larry Mal wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:09 pm
mackerelmint wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 7:53 pm

And somehow the idea of getting a digital portastudio never really crossed my mind. And it's such a "duh" kind of answer... :fp:
There was nothing good about the digital Portastudios, either. They still make them... I looked one up. The current models have what they boast of as "CD quality sound", which is probably what the old ones had, too.

The problem with that is, "CD quality" was never good and it's completely obsolete now. Even a rudimentary USB interface will allow 24 bit recording and 48k sampling, and that's a no brainer.

With a Portastudio you are still recording to hard disk, why not use the one in your computer? Your computer is light years better than anything a Portastudio is.

That's not even to mention whatever dreadful preamps and converters are in those things. Fuck that.
Well, there's quite a bit of scientific opinion out there that CD quality is about as good as the human ear can realistically distinguish. I never record at 24/96, are you kidding? CD quality is fine. I know a few people who swear by it and their stuff sounds great.

Now the converters are another story and those matter, but the preamps? Yeah, they're awful, but I've always thought it would be kinda cool to take a mangled up old broken tascam and salvage the pres and get authentic trashy sound that way once in a while. I mean, just yank 'em, put 'em in a box of some kind, rig up a power circuit to feed them with a wall wart and put your guitar amp in a bathroom stall and run it through some shitty old tascam PS pres for some legit garage tonez. If I can get that in a digital recorder, then that's fine with me provided I can run other pres in there too.

I wonder how bad the converters actually are.
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