Is recording on 4-track cassette still viable?

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accordion squeezist
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Post by accordion squeezist » Wed Dec 11, 2013 5:14 pm

I'm not going to judge you and I know you won't judge me.
Just a story. Back in the day, just like everyone else, I did a 4tk album for a guy on a machine that was already about 10 years old. Tk 1 was striped with SMPTE code to sync midi devices to the tape via sequencer, sending midi to various Emu modules, samplers. Vocal harmonies were recorded, as well as hammered dulcimer hits, hand and kit drum hits, to be played back through the multi-output sampler. That left just 3 tape tracks of audio.
The whole razzle-dazzle mess went thru a mixer to dat which was sent to a duplicating house to produce...shitty cassettes. That was 1991.
But that's not the story... this is. Four cd albums later, the guy is out of 1991 cassette albums, digs up the original dat, gets mastered for CD, and is now selling it off the bandwagon as a CD. And nobody gives a shit because it was recorded on cassette.

honkyjonk
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Post by honkyjonk » Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:54 am

Yeah, concerning that 799 studio master, it's like $4.00 a tape or something. I heard someone say that someone else said that the Chrome Plus 771 is almost as good. So, whatever that mean, but who knows, it's like a quarter of the price.

quote:
"If I wanted some Tascam 424 mkII mojo, one option after I'd built a Hamptone and acquired some outboard toys was using external gain staging and coming in through the sub inputs to bypass all the deck electronics, and then using the 4 direct outs to the computer. Nice hybrid setup. "

Wait, explain this a little more, you're not talking about the line inputs? I'm already using an external preamp. Are you talking about aux return inputs or something, as they're cleaner?

(okay, I obviously should go dig out the manual.)
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shedshrine
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Post by shedshrine » Thu Dec 12, 2013 12:55 pm

honkyjonk wrote: quote:
" using external gain staging and coming in through the sub inputs to bypass all the deck electronics, and then using the 4 direct outs to the computer. Nice hybrid setup. "

Wait, explain this a little more, you're not talking about the line inputs? I'm already using an external preamp. Are you talking about aux return inputs or something, as they're cleaner?

(okay, I obviously should go dig out the manual.)

Tascam 424mkII manual

This is what I went by..the master fader is still in the path. I think I read somewhere (not in manual) that the R jack, the one that is used for sync, is the cleanest of all, but I can't verify. Regardless, coming in through these was noticeably better sounding than the channel inputs.
Pg. 11
"SUB INPUT L + R: Provide a direct route to the master fader. An outboard mixer may be connected here. The SUB-IN R jack is also used to record sync tones on track 4."

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magritte
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Post by magritte » Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:57 pm

red cross wrote:A cool 4 trk cassette recording someone posted on the dreaded purple site:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EC2HjKm3 ... e=youtu.be
Here's the entire album. It sounds fantastic.
http://pegamonstro.bandcamp.com/
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magritte
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Post by magritte » Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:57 pm

shedshrine wrote:I think I read somewhere (not in manual) that the R jack, the one that is used for sync, is the cleanest of all, but I can't verify. Regardless, coming in through these was noticeably better sounding than the channel inputs.
Pg. 11
"SUB INPUT L + R: Provide a direct route to the master fader. An outboard mixer may be connected here. The SUB-IN R jack is also used to record sync tones on track 4."
Is this true of all Tascam portastudios or just that model?
Thank you, Mario, but our princess is in another castle.

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shedshrine
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Post by shedshrine » Thu Dec 12, 2013 2:18 pm

Don't know the answer to that short of checking out the manuals per model to check the wiring + I/O options. Maybe someone else will chime on that question.
Homerecording.com's Analog only forum has some serious cassette multitrack lovers as well.

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konabuzz
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Post by konabuzz » Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:30 am

I used to mix in the box and occasionally still do but now more often mix to tape, either 1/4" or cassette, using Tascam rackmount units. I like the way tape sounds even with its frequency response limitations, and I enjoy the mixing process mixing in real time through a board and then on to the computer for the final stereo recording. My setup is very modest but I like the results ...sound-wise anyway. To make a recording to tape sound less identifiable as being recorded to tape gain structure is important. Record as hot as you can short of distortion (distortion being subjective) and then pass the audio to your mixer as hot as you can. Noise reduction and selective eq'ing also help. Example of 4 track Tascam 34b:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p74WOSzbxgo
"Jigsaw Jazz and the Get Fresh Flow"


http://www.youtube.com/user/simpletech?feature=mhee

Orpheus
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Post by Orpheus » Sat Dec 14, 2013 11:27 am

Man, I *wish* that I could find a 234 or 238 for cheap. I'm using a tascam 38 right now, and I'm finding it difficult to stick to just 8 tracks for what I'm doing. I use 4 tracks for drums, 2 for guitar, bass gets one and that leaves me with one left for vocals and leads. The problem is that what drew me to analog recording is tape flanging and delays and junk. I have an Otari mx5050 I mix to, and can use it for the flanging, but that has to be done in real time and recorded onto a track. I was wanting to find one of these units and set it up to chase the 38 and use those extra tracks for effects. I think I can squeeze out a track for the time code by bouncing the bass guitar to the rhythm guitar tracks.
Does that make sense?

honkyjonk
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Post by honkyjonk » Sat Dec 14, 2013 2:04 pm

The thing to do is, sit in front of the monitors with your singun mic, get compression just right and level just right so it just starts to have some hair on it, record/play back, record/play back. Seriously consider that this is going to be put on the next spaceship headed out to the nether regions, then set up your other three channels however, getting them just rightly hot enough, still seriously considering that you are going to be the next ambassador of the human race.

THEN, don't touch anything and record everthing you can think of for like 2 weeks. Except you may want to switch out a channel here and there for some backwards kazoo. Then go back, and transfer the good ones to digital and use drumagog. Hehe. Just kidding on the drumagog part.
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magritte
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Post by magritte » Sat Dec 14, 2013 2:48 pm

Orpheus wrote:Man, I *wish* that I could find a 234 or 238 for cheap. I'm using a tascam 38 right now, and I'm finding it difficult to stick to just 8 tracks for what I'm doing. I use 4 tracks for drums, 2 for guitar, bass gets one and that leaves me with one left for vocals and leads.
Can't you dump them all into a DAW then record more tracks (i.e. keep the drums on tape to keep time)? Or does this result in sync issues?

Ideally I'd like to record on 4 track, dump the tracks into the DAW, and record more tracks...so no bouncing needed. I don't know if it's possible.
Thank you, Mario, but our princess is in another castle.

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ott0bot
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Post by ott0bot » Sun Dec 15, 2013 1:00 am

magritte wrote:
Orpheus wrote:Man, I *wish* that I could find a 234 or 238 for cheap. I'm using a tascam 38 right now, and I'm finding it difficult to stick to just 8 tracks for what I'm doing. I use 4 tracks for drums, 2 for guitar, bass gets one and that leaves me with one left for vocals and leads.
Can't you dump them all into a DAW then record more tracks (i.e. keep the drums on tape to keep time)? Or does this result in sync issues?

Ideally I'd like to record on 4 track, dump the tracks into the DAW, and record more tracks...so no bouncing needed. I don't know if it's possible.
definately possible, but you will probably have some sync issues here and there. if it's not a super-precise beat it may not cause an issue. plus, keep your hand away from the vari-speed. :). that makes it just a bit harder.

you'll still have to bounce a mono mix back to the 4-track and only be able to use 3 more tracks at a time. I would think recording stuff that you'd like to "benefit" from the 4-track sound, dumping to digital and overdubbing in the DAW, then mixing to cassette would be much easier.

personally I think that eliminates the fun of a 4-track, limiting yourself to a limited #, and taking a risk on bouncing is just how it goes. I don't see much of a sonic benefit to cassette recording...it doesn't really saturate, there is lots of noise, and it's a easily degradable medium. but it's great for projects you are ok keeping lofi and committing to a sound as part of the process.

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