Tascam 246 and 424mkIII

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high five
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Tascam 246 and 424mkIII

Post by high five » Sat Sep 09, 2006 8:23 pm

I'm interested in getting a 4-track machine and I've narrowed my options down to the 246 and the 424mkIII. I've read enough about the 424 to have a good idea what it can do, but I couldn't find any documentation about the 246.

I'm hoping someone can explain the differences between the two. For instance, I noticed the 246 has RCA ins/outs... which means I need 1/4" and XLR to RCA adaptors (yuck). Both appear to have comparable EQ (sweepable mids) and basically seem to have the same feature set. But not having any details on the 246, I can only assume. And apart from their specs, how different do they sound?

I'm leaning toward the 424 because I know more about it, it's smaller, newer (more likely in good condition, when buying used) has XLR & 1/4" ins/outs and about the same price. So, anyone think the 246 is the better choice?

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Post by Mark » Sun Sep 10, 2006 2:35 am

The 246 is an older machine (early mid 80s), but it does have the advantage of a four buss mixer: should you ever need one. Basically all that means is that you can do things like

Track 1: Lead vocal (via buss 1)
Track 2: Lead guitar (via buss 2)
Track 3: Rhythm guitar (via buss 3)
Track 4: Bass and drums (via buss 4).

With a 2 buss mixer with direct recording (like the 424) it'd be more like

Track 1: Lead vocal (direct, panned hard left)
Track 2: Unused for now
Track 3: Rhythm guitar (direct, panned hard left)
Track 4: Bass and drums (via buss R panned hard right)

Which may be fine with you.

The other advantage the 246 has over the 424 is a little thing called channel inserts. These are stereo ?" jack sockets that break into the normal path of the channel (from the input to the channel fader) thus allowing you to patch in effects and processors. Which is handy.

The 424s advantages are:

* It'd be a lot newer
* 3 band eq (fixed bass and treble plus sweep mid), as opposed to the 246's two bands of sweep eq

Of course, if you fancy a crash course in midi you could get a Tascam midistudio 644. Which is basically a four track on steroids :D
WWRHS?

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Post by Mark » Sun Sep 10, 2006 2:36 am

WWRHS?

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Re: Tascam 246 and 424mkIII

Post by creature.of.habit » Sun Sep 10, 2006 7:00 am

kputnam wrote:which means I need 1/4" and XLR to RCA adaptors (yuck).
this aint as messy as you're probably imagining. RCAs are just fine, and getting those cables combined aint hard either, everyone sells them.

ive owned the 246, a 488 and now i got a 244. 246s and 244s are, in my experience, easier to get clean and "healthy", despite being older. if you keep an eye for good ones, they're usually still running strong and in no need of repair anytime soon. this is a stupid generalization but, i would bet that a lot more 424s, 464s, 414s, 488s, etc made their way into smokey garages filled with kids than 244s and 246s. you can still get 244s and 246s from their original owners (folks that bought them for over a grand)

in my experience 244s and 246s have better electronics, weight a ton (back in the day where that meant something) and are great circuits. my latest 244 is absolutely mint, i can hardly even hear any hiss at all without the dbx. in relation to the 424, you have inserts on the 244 for example, and it's also a much better machine sonically, in my opinion.

just trying to give you a middle ground in terms of 424 and 246. the 246 is the best porta ever built of course, and it's, in a way, the closest you can get (sonically) to the 388, which is a basement dream itself.

i've had the 246, and prefer the simplicity of the 244. very easy to use and sounds very very good. im feeding it with 2 12ay7s, and using the built in pres with some old highz mics i have, and for something like backing vocals, messed up electrics, etc, i get incredible sounds. if you can balance the sound of the built in pres with some very decent external pres tracks, you got something really really cool, at least that's what i feel i'm getting. the soundcard is now being used for mixdowns only.

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Post by Mark » Sun Sep 10, 2006 7:04 am

WWRHS?

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Post by creature.of.habit » Sun Sep 10, 2006 7:18 am

Mark wrote:Ooh look! :D
hey Mark,

don't do that to me ;) i can't resist something like that...unless it's 500 bucks for shipping, which usually is lol

but note the description:

"Unit appeared to power up when plugged in."

:wink:

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Post by Mark » Sun Sep 10, 2006 7:21 am

It's a start. :lol:
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Post by creature.of.habit » Sun Sep 10, 2006 9:29 am

Mark wrote:It's a start. :lol:
;)

i cant even start thinking about 388s....

one day...one day..

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Post by Mark » Sun Sep 10, 2006 10:22 am

No I mean it's a start that it appears to power up :lol:
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Post by creature.of.habit » Sun Sep 10, 2006 10:52 am

Mark wrote:No I mean it's a start that it appears to power up :lol:
slow start...

my first 244 didnt stay turned on lol used to tape down the power button..

but at least it didnt "appear" to be on...

;)

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Re: Tascam 246 and 424mkIII

Post by high five » Sun Sep 10, 2006 2:18 pm

Mark and diogo,

Thanks for your very helpful replies! I not sure I understand the buss thing... what's the difference between these and the "effects sends" and the tape outs? Looks like the effect sends are post-fader and post-EQ, the tape outs bypass everything, and the buss outs are basically submixes?

It would be cool to send all four tracks into my DAW with the EQ and effects, as I understand the tape outs bypass the mixer. I could accomplish this using the buss outs, right? Sorry if this is elementary, but what's the difference between the channel insert and the buss input (the RCA jacks labled PGM BUSS IN)? Do the buss assignments have anything to do with recording from the buss?
diogo wrote:this aint as messy as you're probably imagining. RCAs are just fine, and getting those cables combined aint hard either, everyone sells them.
I'm glad you answered that, I was fearing noisy adapter problems. I found some better photos and see the inserts and mic/line-ins are all 1/4", right? Here's what I'm looking at... (above the buss outs are the buss-ins, I'm not sure I can read the label?)

Image
diogo wrote:in my experience 244s and 246s have better electronics, weight a ton (back in the day where that meant something)
Heh, it also means the shipping is more expensive :)! I think you've convinced me the 246 is nicer. Plus, seeing the line-ins are 1/4" is a relief, 'cause using an adapter to record bass/guitar direct sounded irritating.

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Post by Mark » Sun Sep 10, 2006 2:36 pm

Yeah, just remember the inserts are stereo jacks, so you'll stereo to mono splitter cables to patch your processors in.

What are those two rca jacks above inserts 5 and 6?
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Post by The Real MC » Mon Sep 11, 2006 12:10 pm

Mark wrote:Yeah, just remember the inserts are stereo jacks, so you'll stereo to mono splitter cables to patch your processors in.

What are those two rca jacks above inserts 5 and 6?
Those are line A/B inputs. I use them for stereo FX returns. You can also use the buss inputs for stereo returns, except you don't have control over the return level except for the output level on your FX.

Tape outs are direct tape outputs - tracks 1,2,3,4 with zero processing, bypassing the mixer. I use them to route tape outputs to an external mixer. The mixer in the 246 lacks something in the stereo separation - I hear the difference immediately with an external mixer.

Buss outputs are exactly that - outputs for mix busses 1,2,3,4. Busses 1 & 2 are stereo L/R, colored red/white accordingly. Each channel in the 246 mixer can be assigned to one or multiple busses.

FX sends are indeed post fader and post EQ, and FX 2 send has a in/out switch per channel.

If you want to hear the 246 in action, click on http://www.mojoboogieband.com/html/music.html and check out anything under "Feeling Lucky"

I'm an original owner of my 246, great machine!
Last edited by The Real MC on Mon Sep 11, 2006 12:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Mark » Mon Sep 11, 2006 12:21 pm

What on earth is a line a/b input for? :?
Last edited by Mark on Mon Sep 11, 2006 12:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by The Real MC » Mon Sep 11, 2006 12:22 pm

That was a typo, I just edited the post.

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