Tascam 424 Portastudio - Use it or Lose it?

Audiowonderland

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I got the 8 track version used. It was my gateway drug to recording.. I used it a lot. Learned all the tricks to reduce noise etc. I would not want to go back. Especially today when tape would be much harder to find and more expensive just for starters... I will stick with my DAW
 

Jim_in_PA

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I happen to still own a rack mount Tascam 4 track cassette unit and yes, it's surprising at what some folks will pay for those still in existence. I haven't used it in decades and it's just sitting in storage, so I have to think about what I want to do about that. These units do have their own sound and I suspect that's what buyers seek.
 

Spox

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My band has been on pause for a few years, possibly permanently. My bandmate has never owned a computer, never had an email address or any kind of online presence and no desire to, same as the other friend I mentioned a few months ago. The bandmate still uses one of these to record in the rehearsal space. As he has no computer I was sourcing blank tapes for him online and offered to get them in bulk but he became snarky and I told him to get his own tapes from now on. When I last visited I noticed a tape of Islamic sermons, I think he's going into local shops which sell these and buying them to tape over with rehearsals as his supply of blanks dries up. I still have some unopened packs of TDK and Sony chromes and some unopened packs of Maxell normal from twenty years or so ago, I'm keeping these to document the end times when slug pox arrives.
 

Dismalhead

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I had something very similar. While it's very cool, as far as getting a good finished product cassettes are a pretty crappy recording medium. As I remember you couldn't re-record a track without having some bleed-through of your original track; you basically get one shot. I guess you could use it to make rough demos for fun. It's kinda like using an old 35mm camera instead of digital.
 
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vgallagher

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I had and it was great. I learned a lot about multi-tracking and it made understanding my DAW a lot easier.

I got into bouncing tracks and all kinds of stuff. Only problem was you had to play clean, there weren't any ways to edit a track as far as I can remember. Also the noise level would build up track to track so you had to be careful when bouncing. Many years ago when I wanted to get rid of it I couldn't give it away. Now I'm seeing that they are worth some $$$. Figures, I chucked mine into the dumpster.
 

bottlenecker

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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

These aren't valued because it's a simple way to record. People use them to either play/mix old 4 track masters, or as a special effect, to get a tape sound.

I know how to optimize 4 track cassette for the best sound quality you can get out of them, and it's a hassle, lots of maintenance, lots of tapes running high speed, and it takes really good cassettes, and even then it's just ok.
The good cassettes don't seem to be available any more. In fact, I only see "normal bias" tapes for sale new, which are terrible for music. All the high bias tapes are old stock.

Sell it to someone who already knows they want it, and why.
 

Jazzcaster21

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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
That is a pretty cool unit and anything that is retro, analog, etc, is going to fetch some money on the used market nowadays for people who want a more "authentic" sound. I personally would not use it and would either donate it to Goodwill or give it to one of my musician friends who would get some use out of it. However in your case, since it was your brother's, I would hold on it to it seeing as it has some sentimental value. If you got rid of it I have a feeling that you would regret it later on.
 

teleforumnoob

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Ive got a 464. I drug it out last yr, the belt had frozen but I managed to free it up and got it working.
Thats as far as it went. A DAW is so much easier and flexible. I used it a lot back in the 90s, mostly recoding acoustic material.
I was gonna experiment with 4 tracks of tape loops like that Heinbach guy on YouTube but I never got around to it.
 

Chud

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The only reason I would buy one now is to transfer a few boxes of tapes that have been sitting since the mid to late 90's, hoping there's a hidden gem or two among the turds that I've forgotten about. I've been saying I'm going to do that now for at least a decade and still haven't because they're just stupidly expensive, even if it's just a temporary expense until I sell it back to someone.
 

Junkyard Dog

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I bought a 424 in the 90s. Sold it 10 or 15 years later. It was fine for what it was at the time, but I don’t miss it.

@Chud if you have old 4-track cassettes you can play them on a regular old 2-track cassette deck (assuming you can find one of those) into a PC sound card and record them (digitally) in stereo (i.e. 2 of the 4 tracks). Do that for each side of the cassette. One side (2 tracks) of the cassette will come out reversed, but you can easily unreverse it in a DAW and then remix the tracks, delete tracks, add new tracks, or simply play them back for nostalgic listening pleasure.
 
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cincyguitarplay

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I have my old Tascam 4track still in its box....may have to break it out soon...I wonder if there are HQ cassettes still available?
 

Skully

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Four track cassette recorders were revolutionary for amateur recorders back in the day. I loved mine. But it's a new day. Sell it.
 

Kandinskyesque

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I'm sure some lo-fi hipster would bite your hand off for it at a decent price.
I've still got my Yamaha 4 track boxed in storage, it's been decades since I used it. At least I don't have to switch off notifications before recording, just unplug the landline.

I've been wondering whether learning to record on these machines would make a better musician/engineer out of someone in the longer term.
Having to record a whole part in a single take (punching in and out was always too noticeable) and learning how to get decent levels/EQ and mic positions, is an underrated skill in itself.
 

Chud

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I bought a 424 in the 90s. Sold it 10 or 15 years later. It was fine for what it was at the time, but I don’t miss it.

@Chud if you have old 4-track cassettes you can play them on a regular old 2-track cassette deck (assuming you can find one of those) into a PC sound card and record them (digitally) in stereo (i.e. 2 of the 4 tracks). Do that for each side of the cassette. One side (2 tracks) of the cassette will come out reversed, but you can easily unreverse it in a DAW and then remix the tracks, delete tracks, add new tracks, or simply play them back for nostalgic listening pleasure.

Yeah, I've considered doing that, but that would mean buying a plain old cassette player that I'd then need to sell that would probably be harder to sell. Likely a lot cheaper, but, well there you go. :lol:

I have some old 8 track cassettes mixed in there as well that a 4 track would hopefully be able to give me stereo tracks without too much bleed that I could split.
 

radiocaster

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Definitely use it. Tascam stuff from the later period sounds pretty good but is poorly built. If you send it to someone it'll probably break.
 

schmee

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Garbage.
I still have some cassettes here from mine. But you cant play them on a normal cassette player. The tracks are all wrong.
 

mindlobster

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Keep it, try it, it's a different vibe from using software, and could spark some new music or techniques. If after giving it a fair go, you don't like it, then so be it. But there are a lot of people using these, and not just for nostalgia purposes.
 




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