Tascam 424 Portastudio - Use it or Lose it?

nvilletele

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Some years ago I inherited my brother’s Tascam 424 Portastudio 4 track recorder that he used to record his two-man band, the Village Bilgepump.

As far as I know, it still is in fine working condition. I once loaned it to a friend around 8 or 9 years ago and it worked fine, but otherwise it’s been sitting in a cabinet in my garage over the 16 years since my brother passed.

For my meager recording needs, I have just used a scarlet 4i4 and garage band, and it’s enough for the few recordings I make. So I was thinking maybe I should just get rid of the Tascam, give it away or something, assuming it had no value anymore.

But then I did some searches, and saw these things go for up to $500 on Reverberate , heck I even saw one non-working one just for parts that was listed at $250 plus $50 for shipping. Hmm, I thought, maybe no need to just give it a way, if I could make some decent coin from it.

But then, thinking further, I wondered well, if these units have such value still, maybe I should try using it for my simple recording needs. Maybe there is something special in that analog sound or whatever. And if I did use it, it would be like keeping a part of my brother with me, making music together, in a sense.

So what do you folks think? Is this unit something I should definitely check out (btw, I have lots of good, new old stock, still-in-wrapper, high quality blank cassettes amongst my hoard of things past), or should I not bother with figuring out how to use this antiquated device and just stick with the stuff I am currently using and am already familiar with?

35590D22-3DA5-4D76-B5EF-B3BC73DFD275.jpeg
 

PhoenixBill

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I had one of those, but never got into making home recordings with it. Supposedly a few artists even used those for “real” records. It was fine for its time but of course there’s tape hiss and limits on how many times you can ping-pong tracks before you get audible distortion. I eventually sold mine, didn’t get a premium price but that was 15 yr ago or so. I still have a Tascam 414 sitting around somewhere I think. So yep, I agree, sell it while the market is hot. Note with time the belts are going to degrade and capacitors will need replacement.
 

keithb7

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I'll guess nostalgia might be driving the prices up. Folks in the 1990's who wanted one maybe? Maybe they rented, or had a friend who owned one. Today at 50 they can afford one. Good old memories recording with friends back in their prime. You can't bring back the past, but you may stir up good memories. That'll likely pry wallets open at little wider.
 

2HBStrat

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Some years ago I inherited my brother’s Tascam 424 Portastudio 4 track recorder that he used to record his two-man band, the Village Bilgepump.

As far as I know, it still is in fine working condition. I once loaned it to a friend around 8 or 9 years ago and it worked fine, but otherwise it’s been sitting in a cabinet in my garage over the 16 years since my brother passed.

For my meager recording needs, I have just used a scarlet 4i4 and garage band, and it’s enough for the few recordings I make. So I was thinking maybe I should just get rid of the Tascam, give it away or something, assuming it had no value anymore.

But then I did some searches, and saw these things go for up to $500 on Reverberate , heck I even saw one non-working one just for parts that was listed at $250 plus $50 for shipping. Hmm, I thought, maybe no need to just give it a way, if I could make some decent coin from it.

But then, thinking further, I wondered well, if these units have such value still, maybe I should try using it for my simple recording needs. Maybe there is something special in that analog sound or whatever. And if I did use it, it would be like keeping a part of my brother with me, making music together, in a sense.

So what do you folks think? Is this unit something I should definitely check out (btw, I have lots of good, new old stock, still-in-wrapper, high quality blank cassettes amongst my hoard of things past), or should I not bother with figuring out how to use this antiquated device and just stick with the stuff I am currently using and am already familiar with?

View attachment 986460
I like it and wish I had it.
 

bowman

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You can, of course, make better, cleaner, more complex recordings using anything these days, but I have got say that the most fun I ever had making music was with a Tascam 4 track. A buddy and I spent many many hours writing and recording on one of those back in the day. I learned everything about recording on it. I do admit that I use digital stuff now even though I, too, have a 424 and blank cassettes stashed away. Nostalgia keeps me from selling it. I may use it again if sentimentality affects my brain someday, who knows?
 

aging_rocker

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I remember recording something on one of those, it would have been 1980?

The guy who ran the local music store had one, we got to borrow it a few times. Fun!
 

Nogoodnamesleft

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You can, of course, make better, cleaner, more complex recordings using anything these days, but I have got say that the most fun I ever had making music was with a Tascam 4 track. A buddy and I spent many many hours writing and recording on one of those back in the day. I learned everything about recording on it. I do admit that I use digital stuff now even though I, too, have a 424 and blank cassettes stashed away. Nostalgia keeps me from selling it. I may use it again if sentimentality affects my brain someday, who knows?
100%. I have yet to top something I came up with one Sunday morning, early 1990s, a cheap Washburn acoustic that I had a Fishman installed in, an old analog synth, a rented drum machine, and a Tascam 4 track I owned.
 

Esquire Jones

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If I recall, that unit can record 4 tracks simultaneously. Most 4 track cassette recorders can only record 2 at a time.

So, in practical terms you would have some options. Maybe it would be good for recording band practice sessions?
 

Digital Larry

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I had something quite like it to start my questionable recording hobby back in the mid 80s. I wouldn't say there was anything magical about the sound but I did get my feet wet with all that. Would not go back.
 

Ed Driscoll

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In the 1980s, I lived in (on?) my Fostex 250, and did everything possible to get more than four tracks out of it. I would bounce tracks, stripe the first channel so that I could have my Roland TR-707 in stereo at mixdown via a sync pulse, run the 707's snare through a Yamaha SPX-90 for a gated reverb effect*, and use a second SPX-90 for reverb on the instruments and vocals, and use the fourth track for multiple parts (say the lead vocal, the guitar solo, and maybe a different instrument on the intro or outro).

693a270b99927e041f92254184988d66.jpg


The sound was lo-fi, with a fair amount of tape hiss. Considering how good a decent modern audio interface sounds, and what a DAW can do today -- and that Cakewalk is free, Garage Band comes with the iPad, and Reaper is quite affordable, there's no way I would go back.

* It was the 1980s, and this was the law back then.
 
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TomBrokaw

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Give 'em the beans!
But then, thinking further, I wondered well, if these units have such value still, maybe I should try using it for my simple recording needs. Maybe there is something special in that analog sound or whatever.
Nope. Not in my opinion anyway, unless you like wow and flutter. Any inherent noise a cassette four track introduces can be convincingly simulated by plugins, and can also be mixed lower. Around -120db is probably ideal for most mixes.
And if I did use it, it would be like keeping a part of my brother with me, making music together, in a sense.
That's the only reason to keep it IMO. Rubber belts degrade, faders get gritty, but if this is one way you'd like to keep him around, then do it. But if you don't feel the connection when you use it, then sell it.

I have an old 70s or 80s Sears router that my dad gave me. He never used it much, and I didn't even know he had it until he gave it to me 9 or 10 years back. But when I use it I do feel a bit of a connection to him, and for that reason I won't replace it until it breaks, even though it's underpowered and less precise compared to today's tools.
 

Lonn

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I am stunned at what these are selling for these days. I can't imagine recording to a cassette these days but hey, whatever gets you making music right? I'd sell it.
 

'64 Tele

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I used one some back in early 80s.
Pitch control is kind of neat.....
I'd keep and use as a sketch pad for songs to record later on digital.
 

burntfrijoles

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Wow. That brings back a lot of memories. I had a 424. I think I got it around 1994 or so. It was my second Tascam. It was a great unit but limited. It required a lot of bouncing and I had some rack effeats like EQ, compressor and reverb. If I recall, ADAT was all the rage at the time but it was too pricey for me.
Then I took the leap into digital recorders with the first Roland VS880. It was innovative but was crap.
I have no idea why a 424 would command such a price other than nostalgia and someone’s idea about analog would be better. Perhaps there are people who are intimidated by digital technology. Who knows?

Edit. I actually had a 464.
 
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catdaddy

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I started doing home recordings with a Tascam 234 cassette 4-track. It was a great tool for the time, but the inherent limitations of recording to cassette with the noise, wow and flutter, head room limits (even at double the normal speed) and high frequency loss were always audibly obvious. On the positive side it was compact and really straight-forward and easy to operate. I remember being thrilled when I'd saved enough money to upgrade to a Fostex Model 80 reel-to-reel 8 track because of the superior recording quality, and I was finally able to bounce tracks without significant loss of fidelity.

I wouldn't want to go back to cassette recording under any circumstances, and IMO the prices people are asking for these machines with their relatively low sound quality and obsolete technology is crazy, and surely must be driven exclusively by nostalgia. Now, if we're talking reel-to-reel tape decks, chasing their unique high-quality analog tape sound makes a lot more sense to me and that's an entirely different discussion.
 




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