Category Archives: The 4-Track

Vestax MR44 recording #2 – now with DBX

IMG_6429I just couldn’t keep offa the damn thing.  Here’s another similar compostion made on the Vestax MR44 – only diff is that I used the DBX this time.  I also played a whole lotta really hi-endy stuff (sleigh bells, tibetan bowls, tambo, shaker) on the 2nd set of passes in order to see how the DBX handles the high end.   I’m impressed with the sound!  Def some tape hiss there, and some weird low-freq bump going on, but it sounds presentable. This piece is 7 tracks – i played the wha gtr into the bounce of the nylon gtr/bass/low percs so that’s 4 into one plus the next 3 (hi percs, Hohner Pianet, and Recorder are first-gen). Oh yea and the reverb this time is that cheapy lil boss pedal rather than the Eventide.  Again, this is all live, played into and mixed exclusively on the MR44.

Vestax MR44 4-track tape machine

IMG_6428I can’t stop buying these oddball ‘hi-end’ cassette 4-track machines.  At this point, I’m up to 5 of them.  This Vestax 44 was about $100 on ebay; it needed a power supply (which entailed adding a conventional p/s jack, since the Vestax one is super weird), but other than that it worked right away. Strange set of features, but it has zero return, DBX, and high speed, and the best part is the form factor: it’s ideally suited for my ‘desktop’ style composing station, with its shallow rackmount chassis and all i/o on the front.

I had a chance to really try it out today and make a track using it exclusively.  For this first experiment I used no DBX, and type II Maxell tape.  This is a 6-voice piece. I started with a metronome on 1, and then bounced Ac Gtr, bass, and handdrums over to 1, adding some eventide reverb; track 2 was Organelle doing a mellotron kinda thing with a lil sample of my voice, 3 is my Moeck Alto recorder thru the yamaha E1010, and 4 is my old les paul with a wha wha.

I figured what with the inevitable tape hiss I should try something old school – went for a 70s euro-horror feel.  “It was the goat all along….”

When I have a sec I’ll try another onna these with DBX and using a compressor on the instruments on the way in –  see how much diff it makes in terms of fidelity.  Pretty happy w this tho.

Click here for my earlier demo of the Yamaha MT44 4-track machine. 

Ultimate Home Recording Machines of the 80’s

AKAI_MG1212Today: just a few of the ‘Uber’ home-recording machines available to musicians in the 1980s.  To this list I would also add the Audio Technica RMX64 and the AMR System 1, both which we have already covered recently at PS dot Com.  If anyone is using these things to make music nowadays, drop us a line and tell us about it!

Akai_MG1212_1984Above: the Akai MG1212 integrated 12-track recorder/mixer; all analog with automated punch in/out and VCA mute.  I have a coupla memories of these things.  When I was a kid East Coast Music mall had a used one that they were trying to sell for years.  It sat at the front of the shop and it looked to me like a fkkn NASA computer.   Years later, my college band The Cam Neely was invited to Boston to work with some Berklee students who needed to record some bands for… I have no idea frankly.  And oh shit I have the ‘CD’ right here: the engineer’s name was Skip Hoefsmit.  He recorded us on one of these machines, and I have to say, the recording sounds good considering i think we did two songs in about 6 hours and the only ‘production’ was that dude doubletracked our vocals.  Hey Skip, still hustlin’?  Drop us a line…

Sansui_6_track_1990Above: the Sansui WS-X1 of 1990.  OK so this thing is fkkn nuts.  You get six discrete tracks on a cassette tape, built in digital reverb unit, and stereo mixdown deck, all in one unit.  Some dude has a wordpress site solely devoted to this thing, and goddamn I want one of these! 

Tascam_234_1984Ah Tascam 234.  Someday you will be mine.  I actually found one of these at a tag sale in Norwalk last year, $60 I think??? but it was totally dead.  Despite all claims made by the seller.  Luckily I keep a cassette tape and a pair of headphones in my car at all times (WOW that is so embarrassing) for these sorta occasions, so i was able to scope it and didn’t get snookered.  Fkkn asshole DID manage to sell me some dead 10″ guitar speakers for $5 each though.  Alright here’s an idea guys: when yr shit breaks, either fix it, have it fixed, or take it to the town recycling center.  DON’T STORE IT IN THE BASEMENT AND THEN STICK SOMEONE ELSE WITH IT 5 YRS LATERFor fukks sake, why do people keep broken crap around?  We’re inundated with enough WORKING crap.  Jesus. 

The AMR “System 1” 4-track cassette recorder of 1986

AMR_four_Track_1986Goddamn!  Would you look at that thing!  Peavey built and sold a small number of these US-made uber-4-tracks in the late 80s.  They were referred to alternately as the MCR-4 or the System 1.  I have personally never seen one, but I love that tape-machine-overbridge layout…  makes me wanna buy a Tascam 234 and a little rack-mount 80s mixer and cart it up like that…  I know I poke fun at Peavey quite a bit, but my hat is off to them for this thing.  To build something like this in the US in the 1980s must have taken incredible effort.  To learn more, check out this thread at Tape Op.


Fostex “Creative Sound Systems” 1981 full catalog

Fostex_250Download the complete 12pp Fostex “Creative Sound Systems” 1981 (???) catalog:

DOWNLOAD: Fostex_1981_Catalog

Models covered in great detail include: Fostex A-8, A-4, A-2 1/4″ tape machines; Fostex 250 cassette four-track; and the Fostex 350 8x4x2 mixer.

Fostex_350_MixerInteresting feature on the 350 – and something that’s not at all obvious from the top surface – it has 2 stereo RIAA phono preamps which are patchable on the rear of the unit, presumably to whichever inputs or external gear you like.

I’ve uploaded a ton of information on these machines before (see here, here, and here), so dig back if you want more commentary…  otherwise i’ll let the catalog speak for itself…

Fostex_A4Fostx_A8 Fostex_A2

Home Recording Is Killing Low-End Pro Studios (1989)

4tracks_1989“Home Studios are one of the fastest-growing segments of the music equipment industry.  The availability of (fill in the blank) is killing the low-end professional studio scene.  After all, why should musicians pay $1,000 to record on someone else’s four-or-eight track system when they can purchase their own system for the same price?”

Download a 2-pp article from CIRCUS magazine, 1989, on the subject of Home Studio Recorders. Author is one R. J. Grula.  (via The More Things Change ETC dept.)

DOWNLOAD: Circus_4trk_1989_0001

Yamaha_MT100 Tascam_Porta2 AKAI_MG1214

Tascam 144 4-Track c.1979: Original Catalog

Tascam_144_4_trackDownload the original 6pp brochure/catalog for the Tascam 144, the first ‘4-track’ ‘porta-studio’:

DOWNLOAD: Tascam_144_Catalog

I’m a little embarrassed to admit/realize that this is the third post we’ve done on the 144.  First was this article regarding 4-track aesthetics, followed by this post containing the 144 product-launch advertising.  I just recently came across this original promo item, and it seems that no one else had bothered to put it online, so what the hell.  I’ve already said enough about this crucial, paradigm-shifting object, so I won’t repeat myself here…  check the old posts if you care.

144_tascam_2tascam_manShit, how did they know what kinda glasses I wear? Oh wait I’m stuck in 1979.  Riiiiiiiiiight.

Tascam_ME_120The catalog also contains info on a number of ‘accessories’ that Tascam offered in conjunction with this machine; above, their top-end mic the “ME-120” which came with interchangeable omni and cardiod capsules.  Pretty fancy Tascam.    I have somehow ended up with just the box and omni capsule for one of these things.  WTF?