The Best Multi-track Cassette Tape Recorder?

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The Best Multi-track Cassette Tape Recorder?

Post by Pelsmatic » Tue Sep 22, 2015 8:55 am

Hello everybody,

What has been everyone's experience with old multi-track cassette tape recorders? I'm looking for something with 4 or more tracks. EQ and XLR inputs a plus. Thanks for any insight!



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Post by kslight » Tue Sep 22, 2015 9:52 am


I find them to be fun, as long as your expectations are realistic. They don't sound like a 2" machine, don't sound like Pro Tools....sound kind of crappy in their own way but sometimes that is a good thing.

Define best? Best sounding, best features etc?

I have a Tascam 688. I haven't compared it to another model to say it's the best sounding, but I think it has the best features that I'm aware of, sounds cool, and is a lot more portable than my 388s.

With all that said, I think the theory goes that a 4 track unit might sound better than 8 tracks...which I would say is probably true...except on a 4 track you will end up ping ponging tracks more often and the sound quality will obviously degrade when you do that.

I see you're in Lawrence. I'm off in KC, MO...if you think you might want a 688 (with the original box, manual, and about a hundred new tapes and cases), I might consider selling it if the price is right.

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Post by Pelsmatic » Tue Sep 22, 2015 10:24 am

Thank you for the welcome and the reply!

By "best" I pretty much am looking for what you and others recommend. I am trying to get a feel for what people have used and like to use. I am looking to work within a more simplified medium without needing spectacular audio quality. Velvety analog with some tape noise with some teak-ability would be ideal. I would like to make a record with an SM57 and some ingenuity :)

I like the Tascam 688. I will do some more research and get back with you. Thank you!

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Post by honkyjonk » Tue Sep 22, 2015 7:06 pm

I use my tascam 244 all the time. Beware they almost always need a new pinch roller and belts at this point.

It's the shit. It sounds like what you're describing.

The 246 has slightly more features but the same sound.

The 234 is a rackmount number (you'll need an external mixer) that is from a similar era that is awesome as well. Maybe even better.

Apparently there is a 238 8 track as well, dolby version or no dolby I don't freaking care about dolby. I had a 134B, similar, with dolby B and C noise reduction. It doesn't sound that great in my opinion. DBX is totally fine if you want noise reduction. Maybe better even.

You could rock one of these older units after some maintenance. Or get a newer 424 that is maybe still functioning. Don't expect any of the older units I mentioned above to work properly right away. The rubber is VERY VERY VERY likely going to be shot despite what some ebay liar might tell you, so you might as well look for one that is like 60 bucks that "powers up but doesn't seem to play right" and replace the rubber yourself. Tascam still has the parts.

424's are iffy though too these days. They're more cheaply made, and the rubber is probably starting to go bad on many of them except maybe the last generations of MKIII's. Many of them are probably still fine though.

Never tried the Yammy or Fostex thingies. Might be good though.
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Post by floid » Tue Sep 22, 2015 7:21 pm

Had a Yamaha mt8x back in the day, had a lot of fun on it. Upgraded to a 238 and felt like I got way better results... But a lot of other things had changed in my setup. Had a 246 on loan for a while, liked it a lot more than the later makes of 4 tracks I've used.
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Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Wed Sep 23, 2015 6:46 am

I'm using a Yamaha MT44. It's a standalone cassette deck with a separate mixer and patchbay. The mixer is awful but the cassette machine is beautiful when paired with good pre-amps and a nicer mixer. I'm using a Yamaha PM430 and am so damn happy with the results that I'm in the process of making my next record on it.

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Post by creaturesleeper » Wed Sep 23, 2015 10:29 pm

I used forever and still have...a relay just went bad or maybe a belt broke I havent opened it up...A Peavey AMR from 1987 with is solid as hell...But I don't see many of em...its rack mount style and about the size of a large dual cassette deck from the same era mine came with sides that screw to the mixer and hold the deck above it at an angle..I seperated em tho It has Dolby B and C which are fun to play with and speed/pitch control which you can get tricky with as well and a foot remote. Best 4 track i've ever used...I use RTR's mostly now but still like to fire it up for stuff ... 8.jpg.html

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Post by shedshrine » Thu Sep 24, 2015 1:26 pm

I?ve got a Tascam 424 mkII , and two Tascam 238, one w/dbx and one w/Dolby S.

The 238 is standalone rackmount 8 track so you can pick your mixer, or just do an outboard chain straight to tape and mix the 238?s outputs.

With the 238, the Dolby S deck (consumer version of Dolby R) does sound better to my ears than the dbx deck, but its dolby circuit is starting to go.
See the ?the Tascam 238 Rocks? thread to find out more about the capacitors that go on these, and the motors go jet speed when its capacitors go on both models.

With the 424 you can use the sub inputs to bypass the mixer and go straight to the master fader if desired. And the 424 has direct outs.

Multitrack cassette deck thread

Tascam 424 mkII manual

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Post by oneflightup » Mon Sep 28, 2015 7:25 am


I don't have a lot of experience with these, but my studio partner just bought a refurbed AKAI 4 track cassette / mixer w/ XLRs. I was blown away by how remarkably good it is! I'm kinda jealous - I want one for home demos!

But the emphasis here is on the fact that this one was refurbished...... that has a LOT to do with it!



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Post by j.harv » Mon Sep 28, 2015 3:07 pm

I have a Tascam 244, 424mkII and a 246. They're all pretty damn good. But you might want to look into the 424 MkII if you want XLR's.

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Post by norton » Tue Sep 29, 2015 5:59 am

Those sony mtx boxes were awesome! The 8 track is a great deck, super stable transport, cool punch functions and solid sound.

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Post by The Real MC » Fri Oct 09, 2015 6:54 pm

Still have my 246. Great recorder as long as you don't use the internal mixer.

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Post by cgarges » Mon Oct 12, 2015 8:46 pm

I always liked the Yamaha ones. They had a ton of useful features and seemed more "pro" then the Tascam ones. I had MUCH MORE experience with the Tascam Porta-Ones, but working with the Yamahas seemed like a dream come true after that.

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Post by JMarquez » Thu Oct 15, 2015 2:52 pm

happy 246 owner here. i bought one that was listed for parts/repair but found that after changing the belts and idler tires it was ready for action! i mostly use it to record drums and then insert a warm audio 1176 with all buttons in. big crunchy sound with a bit of grime on it. i ended up finding a second one on CL for 10 bucks!

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Post by I'm Painting Again » Sun Oct 25, 2015 9:09 pm

anyone ever try putting like an array of cassette recorders in front of your digital multitrack?

You know just roll all of them and capture the outputs then mix in or out of the box?

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