Tag Archives: sansui

Sansui MR6 six-track Cassette Tape Multi Track Machine

img_7181Our ongoing series of cassette multi-track experiments rolls on with the Sansui MR6.

img_7182This ADAT-sized multitrack machine dates from 1990 or thereabouts.  It records 6 tracks on a standard type 2 audio tape at double speed,  with defeatable Dolby C and zero return.  And that’s pretty much it.  No gain trims, no autolocate, nothing.  It really is strictly a tape machine and requires a mixer in order to use it in any sensible way.  I picked it up for about $100 on ebay; a quick clean and demag and that’s it.  Seems to work fine.  High end response seems to trail off around 14k on a first-pass, which is A O K w/me.  Here’s how it sounds, and thank u Jenny Holzer:

As with the earlier tracks in this series: the rules for tracking and bouncing are simple: no midi.  no editing.  Nothing u couldn”t do in the 80s.  The only effects used for tracking are the Yamaha E1010 that you see there, a cheap boss reverb pedal, console EQ, and acoustic sources were tracked with some compression via that Symetrix 528E you see there.  Marimba and shaker/tambo were mic’d with a Neumann KM184; vocals are an EV RE15 for no other reason that it is what I had on the desk at the moment.

Tracking was:

1: Korg volca beats kk/snare pulse sync’d to korg SQ1 driving that repeating 8-note figure on…    2: korg MS20,   3: one-note low pad on Minbrute,   4. Yamaha MR10 toms/CH SN dbl hand-played,   5. elec bass DI’d thru a  cheap gtr preamp

(bounce to track 6)

  1. 8th note shaker/tambo played w foot, 2. Marimba (doubling and/or harmonizing MS20 part, 3. Basic polyphonic sampler of me singing an ‘A’ note ahhh, 4. analog choir synth sound

(bounce to track 5)

1, 2, 4: vocals (hi is doubled),

3: ch synth pad

My goal as with the previous productions was to mix this all on my lil Mackie Onyx 1220 el cheapo mixer into a single pair in Pro Tools, but I couldn’t find a way to route it while still using two FX returns (my patchbay on this lil desktop rig is very limited).  So I played all six final tape tracks into P/T, and once in PT it was hard to resist applying a bit of EQ and compression to each stem.  Also mix FX on vocals were via P/T (Echo Boy and Valhalla Verb).  But that was it – no editing, no tuning, no fixin’.   That weird noise at the head is probably some kinda bias abomination that resulted when I did the first bounce, but it’s really part of the charm, ain’t it.   Whole mix is low passed at about 12K, which really ties it together IMO.

Studio Outboard Gear Odds & Ends ’71- ’73

Urei_1176_1970Today: just a few things that caught my eye from ’71 -’73:  the ‘new’ black-cosmetic version of the Urei 1176, plus some odd bits from Soundcraftsmen and Sansui (I had no idea that they had made pro audio products), and another forgotten Quad-Eight rack device (see here for our earlier coverage of their very obscure reverb unit).  Also something called the ‘OP Reverberation’ …. anyone?  ,,,and a few unusual items from Martin.  Wrapping it up is the annoucement ad for the original API 525C, which has become one of my favorite compressors for vocals since we got one at Gold Coast Recorders.  If any of y’all are using the Martin or Quad-Eight kit, let us know!

Soundcraftsmen_RP10-12_1972Above: The Soundcraftsmen RP10-12 equalizer

Sansui_QSE_1_1971Above: The Sansui QSE-1 Quadraphonic Encoder

Quad-Eight_Filter_1972 Quad_Eight_1972Above: The Quad-Eight Variable Filter, Auto-Mix 23B compressor, EQ 312 channel EQ, and RV10 Reverb unitParasound_reverb_1971 Martin_Console_1972 MArtin_1972_2Above: the Martin SLM-1020B mixer, PEQ500 rackmount program EQ, and varispeed 3B tape machine speed controller.  API_525_1972

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 Sansui AX-7 ‘Audio Mixer’ c. 1978

Sansui_AX7Sansui’s late-70’s line of hi-fi equipment is fairly collectible; I’ve had several of them over the years, and they generally sell for good money. My last pair, a tuner and integrated amp, actually went to a prop stylist for a film…  I wish I could remember the name of the picture.  Anyhow, aside from the usual amps, preamps, tuners, and integrated amps, Sansui also made this very unusual device during the ‘first-wave’ of home-music-production: The AX-7 ‘Audio Mixer.’  A four-input HI-Z mixer, the AX-7 was designed to allow the user more easily use multiple stereo tape decks to ping-pong tracks into a layered production.  It also offered global spring reverb!

Sansui_AX7_textThere is a good-looking example on eBay right now for $99 BIN, which is a great value just for the spring reverb!

Super Rad Headphones Circa 1980

Kenwood_KH71 KKoss_ESP6_ESP9 Sansui_SS35Download the original catalogs for the Kenwood KH-71, KH-51, KH-31; the Sansui SS-35; the Pioneer SEQ-4 quad headphone; the Superex Pro-B VI; and the entire Koss line, including the ESP-9, ESP-6, K 2+2, Pro 4AA, KO-747, KO-727B, K-6LC, K-6, SP-3XC.

DOWNLOAD: Headphones

I have not owned any of these other than the Superex (which were fkkn terrible), but damn these things had style…  which is interesting when one considers that this was all pre-walkman, IE., these were not fashion items; no one other than yr S.O. would have seen you wearing them.  Any opinions, L U K…

Pioneer_SEQ404 Superex_Pro_B_VI Koss_Quadraphones_K2plus2

Beyond Four Tracks

Sansui six-track cassette format c. 1989

Otari Compact 8-track 1/2″ format c. 1989.   Also, SECK mixer.

Toa 8-track cassette format

…and you better bet TASCAM made one too.

Above: some short-lived “more-than-four” home-recording formats that were available between the 4-track cassette and ADAT eras.   It’s kind hard to imagine how significant an issue ‘track count’ (IE., the number of available tracks of a particular multi-track recording machine) was just a short while ago.  It’s not unusual at all these days for me to make a production for an artist that has 80 or even 100 tracks.  And I am not talking about some crazy orchestral or prog-rock epic; I am talking about just a well-produced indie pop song.  Modern music means layering.  Lots of it.  When I, and many other folks started doing this, we dreamed of someday having more than 8 tracks to work with.  Well, as it turns out, ‘more’ didn’t mean 16, 24, or even 48: it meant infinite.  “Be careful what you wish for…”

What will be the next technological barrier to fall in the world of audio production?

I wouldn’t mind seeing all those goddamn wires go away, for one…

Any other ideas?