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Tape or digital TASCAM recorder.

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by barnbustud, Oct 5, 2006.

  1. barnbustud

    barnbustud Tele-Holic

    May 23, 2005
    After hearing that John Frusciante recordered " Niandra Lades and Usually a t shirt " on a 4 tracker , i feel inspired to do some recordings too. I don't really like the idea of plugging into the computer , i want something i can sit around with in the night , and a recorder seems to be the best.

    Now , should i get a tape

    or a digital recorder.

    i am not sure what are the pros and cons of each .

    other suggestions are welcomed

    1) something simple
    2)something i can lug around to different places in my country
    3)dont need any effects , only one i need is reverb actually
    5)all i need at most is a 5 track.
  2. popthree

    popthree Poster Extraordinaire

    personally, i'd stick with digital. the recording quality will probably be alot cleaner. i've got alot of old 4 track stuff laying around and while its not bad quality, i remember going to great pains to get it as clean as we did. nowadays, its so easy to make a clean recording, and i think its mainly due to digital technology. course i don't know, maybe the newer analog 4 tracks are better. i haven't used a 4 track since the days of the old fostex x-14

    coincidentally, i keep going back to the idea of buying one of those little tascam digital units like the one you are looking at there. reasonably priced unit. i have not heard much, if any, negative about them.
  3. Rizo

    Rizo Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 28, 2005
    Athens, OH
    I've got the best of both worlds, a digital 4 track that works like the old tape models. Mine is a Fostex I happened to pick up pretty cheap. Give it a try.
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  5. J-man

    J-man Super Moderator Staff Member

    Apr 25, 2004
    North Wales
    Admin Post
    You'll get infinitely better recordings on a digital recording device than one of those little cassette 4-tracks, some will disagree but I think cassettes were the worst recording medium ever invented, terrible sound quality, they wear out after a handful of plays, they're incredibly hard to edit and virtually obsolete nowadays.

    Don't get me wrong I love analogue recording, but cassettes suck.
  6. raisindot

    raisindot Tele-Meister

    Aug 18, 2004
    Generally absolutely true--with the one ironic exception that Keith Richard's guitar parts for "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Street Fighting Man" were originally recorded on one of those late 60's/early 70's Radio Shack, one-track portable cassette models we all used to have--the ones where you'd plug a deck of cards-shaped mike into the tinny mike jack.

    Jeff in Boston
  7. Heather Anne Peel

    Heather Anne Peel Friend of Leo's

    Aug 29, 2005
    Tascam DP-01, DP-01FX or DP-01FX/CD.
  8. J-man

    J-man Super Moderator Staff Member

    Apr 25, 2004
    North Wales
    Admin Post
    I'm sure, and know from experience you CAN get decent recordings on cassette, but my point is you can much more easily get better recordings on a different medium.

    Anyway, home recording gear is so affordable now it isn't even really justifiable to get cassette based machines for cost cutting.
  9. trag-o-caster

    trag-o-caster R.I.P.

    Mar 16, 2003
    Flushing, Michigan


    I have the DP-01 without effects, or CD burner, since I already have effects and two stand alone burners.

    They're actually easier to use than my old TASCAM 414 four track cassette (which I still have, buried somewhere).
  10. jazztele

    jazztele Poster Extraordinaire

    Sep 19, 2006
    fostex's MR 8 is cheap, sounds pretty good, and is idiot proof. the only tape machines that sound any good cost thousands...unless of course, you're keith richards.
  11. telel6s

    telel6s Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 25, 2003
    Northern Virginia
    And Springsteen recorded Nebraska on a 4-track cassette.

    And there are probably millions and millions of bad quality cassettes sitting around in drawers that aren't even worth converting to digital simply because the quality is so bad even if the playing is good (I've got a a few of them....minus the good playing).

    If you can get a 4-track tape for free, cool. If you're spending money, go digital.
  12. Skully

    Skully Doctor of Teleocity

    Jun 12, 2003
    Glamorous NoHo
    The tape recorder Richards used on "Street Fighting Man" was a crappy one without a limiter on the microphone I believe he only used it on the acoustic guitar and maybe the drums. It sounded great because it overloaded and distorted beautifully on those one or two tracks.
  13. Heather Anne Peel

    Heather Anne Peel Friend of Leo's

    Aug 29, 2005
    I should also point out here that I still have my cassette Tascam Portas: a '92 424 and a '90 688. In the early '90s, the 688 ruled, it's the best cassette multi-tracker ever made. 16 years later, mine is still going strong! I also have my '96 Tascam 564 MiniDisc multi-track recorder, which I plan on using tonight with my band. My latest machine is my new Tascam DP-01FX/CD, it's a great machine, and true to the spirit of my original Tascam Portastudio, the Porta One, which I had from '88-'92.
  14. trag-o-caster

    trag-o-caster R.I.P.

    Mar 16, 2003
    Flushing, Michigan
    Besides all that, has anyone gone out trying to find good, high position Maxell, or TDK cassette tape lately??? Good luck! It's out there, but you REALLY have to look for it.
  15. crawdad

    crawdad Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 19, 2006
    I used to frequent a home recording site and there was this guy from Scotland who bought one of those Roland or Boss portable digital multitrack machines (BR-8?). He had a couple of mics and his guitar. Traveled all around the world and recorded music on it, often with other people that he met. The album he made was just too cool. Good writer and singer. Nothing fancy on the recordings, but they really had a charm to them and they sounded real good. If I were doing something similar, I'd go with the digital deck for sure.

    In this day and age, tape and home recording don't make a lot of sense to me. If you have a huge budget and can record on 2" 24 track, thats wonderful, but even 16 bit digital in a portastudio blows away any cassette medium, IMO. Unless you are looking for "that" sound. "Nebraska" was a cool document with some good songs, but there is a ton of audible distortion and compression on that album.

    Go with the digital. You will be glad you did. Just research your purchase and find the unit that works best and has the features you need.
  16. david henman

    david henman Tele-Holic

    Aug 2, 2006
    bolton, ontario
    ...i couldn't agree with you more. and yet, i have gone back to using cassettes for just about everything except serious recording, due to the convenience factor.

  17. Frankie

    Frankie Tele-Holic Ad Free + Supporter

    Jul 11, 2003
    Fostoria, Ohio
    I think it depends. I suppose for the home recorder, the digital stuff makes more sense. But when you get into the high end equipment, I’m seeing more and more reference to bands mixing down from digital to a two track tape machines. Trying to capture the warm sound, that is missing from 100% digital.

    I do own a digital desk top recorder. It’s the Zoom MRS 802, and overall works well. The thing I don’t like about it is, there are not any darn knobs on it. It has faders for the volume on the channels, but that is all. The rest is off a menu, and being someone that grew up with good ole knobs, it’s a pain. To adjust EQ, effects, pan, you have to punch into the menu, toggle around to you find what your after, spin a wheel to try and get the sound, etc. So to adjust you highs / lows, you can’t just grab a knob and go. You have to go through the menu chaos back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. :confused:

    Now if someone made a digital desk top workstation with faders, eq knobs, effects send and return knobs. I could of just answered your question by saying “yeah, they work out pretty good”
  18. jjh37854

    jjh37854 Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 23, 2003
    Austin, TX
    I just bought the Fostex MR8HD, $350 from GC, 40 GB HD, 4 tracks simultaneously, XLR ins, built in FX, I am blown away so far.
  19. J-man

    J-man Super Moderator Staff Member

    Apr 25, 2004
    North Wales
    Admin Post
    Yes but there is a huge difference betweena big reel to reel tape machine and a cassette recorder. The size of the tape is directly proprtional to the quality of the sound recorded. bigger tape = better sound.
  20. neocaster

    neocaster Poster Extraordinaire

    Jan 26, 2006
    Chester County, PA
    The Fostex MR8 is so simple, even a caveman could use it... I've gotten some phenomenal recordings out of it, with some amazing sounds. Some things I learned to consider after the fact:

    Compact Flash cards get expensive. I'd get the harddrive unit

    The onboard reverb (plate, hall, or room) can sound okay if you're willing to spend the time to dial in exactly what you're looking for, but none sound as good as a mic'd reverb amp to my ears.

    The onboard mastering effects really do a nice job of finalizing a fairly polished sounding home recording.
  21. Frankie

    Frankie Tele-Holic Ad Free + Supporter

    Jul 11, 2003
    Fostoria, Ohio

    Your absolutely right..

    The further apart you spread the tracks, the faster you run the speed and the cost of the heads along with the transport system, the better the sound was. Digital was somewhat suppose to level that field. I see quite a few major acts going back, and some that never left the “Tape Era”.

    The cassette systems stink, and I’m not sure they were suppose to be anything other then a notebook. Though I’m sure someone has spent time with them and has walked away with good results.
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