MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index
 FAQ & Terms of UseFAQ & Terms Of Use   Wiggler RadioMW Radio   Muff Wiggler TwitterTwitter   Support the site @ PatreonPatreon 
 SearchSearch   RegisterSign up   Log inLog in 
WIGGLING 'LITE' IN GUEST MODE

Why no new 4-track cassette recorders..?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> General Gear Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next [all]
Author Why no new 4-track cassette recorders..?
Northward
Ok, general hipstery aside and speaking from purely hands-on approach to getting down a multitracked demo: WHY doesn't any of the former makers of cassette-recorders do a remake...? CLEARLY the marked is there, with silly prices on old worn out units. There is so much love (nostalgia) for tape sound. It may sound like a stupid question in this day and age, and an industry "dead format", but I've been scoping this marked of hardware multitrackers and it is truly depressing.

Tascam do make digital Portastudios with alot of features, but are utterly clunky to use and have shit EQ and preamps. Much worse than their 80s units. They are cheap. plasticy things that no one really love.

Both Roland and Tascam seem to leave this marked, as there have been no new devices for years now. Yamaha nothing, Fostex - nada, Marantz etc...there are very few hardware scetchpas units around that creates enthusiasm.

I don't care if there are hundreds of apps to iPad etc... these are annoying stuff to use for laying down some tracks and load up to shit-cloud somewhere! It's not more hands on than 80s style 4-track recording! It's just more sidetracking BS involved when you just wanna capture your ideas and finish a demo.

There is something good and focused with a dedicated unit. No youtube or Facebook to be checked, just you and your music. I really wish this marked gets a second wind cause I'm really starting to detest all these apps claming this and that and proving to be mostly just good looks and fiddly sub-menus...

Old man brittle bones!!! hihi

Now listen to this made on a 4-track Vesta Fire in the 80s, and tell me this doesn't sound great...
https://youtu.be/yfdPfsYlgck

I really doubt you'd get that sheen from a Boss Br.
Bath House
Because people who want and use them are still an infinitesimally tiny portion of the global market. Even a humble Tascam or Teac 4-track is an incredibly complicated piece of machinery with many parts like pinch rollers, motors, capstans, etc. that would need to be re-engineered and made once more.
Spivkurl
I feel your pain. My Tascam is my biggest regret as far as gear sales go, and it is by no means the highest value. I buy any unique tape gear I find now... trauma, right?
CF3
I'm with you on this one but.......

Realistically how many are they gonna sell? They'd be ridiculously overpriced if they did reissue them.

4 Track reel to reel units can be had for a song on Craigslist. Same with cassette multitracks. These units weren't rare (especially the Tascam/Teac ones). They produced 1000's upon 1000's of them. Enough to keep tape enthusiasts going for a very long time. If I had the space (and a hand truck to move it) I'd love to pick up another Tascam 388. Been eyeing a Tascam 688 too, but them I smack myself and say "wtf are you gonna do with that damn thing!" d'oh! lol
Knights Who Say Neve
Startup costs, I'm guessing. No one makes cassette machines anymore, so getting an actual production line going for a niche product would be too expensive. I wish this wasn't the case; I'd love to see an updated version of the Tascam 388, but that's even less likely than a new cassette multitrack.

What is practical - can someone make a new digital portastudio thing that isn't clunky and fragile? Skip the shitty effects, built in drum machines etc. and just deliver decent preamps and eq, maybe built in HW input limiting, and a mixer with some hardware sends and returns, that records to standard wav files on cheap removable media and doesn't require menu diving to operate.

Anyways, tape machines are still easy to find and pretty cheap for what you get, particularly if you don't insist on something top of the line. Try Craigslist. It's the cost and risk of shipping that runs up the prices, I think.
MrTurboparrot
I have a Yamaha MT4X in mint condition - fantastic piece of gear.

However, supply and demand has cooked the market. I would like to try other tape machines to compare, but it's getting to an expensive hobby. waah waah

The natural cassette compression is really handy.

I also recently had a 'listen and compare' session with my Metallica Black albums (CD and tape)... guess which won?
Northward
Knights Who Say Neve wrote:
Startup costs, I'm guessing. No one makes cassette machines anymore, so getting an actual production line going for a niche product would be too expensive. I wish this wasn't the case; I'd love to see an updated version of the Tascam 388, but that's even less likely than a new cassette multitrack.

What is practical - can someone make a new digital portastudio thing that isn't clunky and fragile? Skip the shitty effects, built in drum machines etc. and just deliver decent preamps and eq, maybe built in HW input limiting, and a mixer with some hardware sends and returns, that records to standard wav files on cheap removable media and doesn't require menu diving to operate.

Anyways, tape machines are still easy to find and pretty cheap for what you get, particularly if you don't insist on something top of the line. Try Craigslist. It's the cost and risk of shipping that runs up the prices, I think.


AMEN!
They just seem to have lost the plot when designing these new ones..
They should be focused and rather do few things very well than be all over the shop with alot of annoying menu-diving crappola!

I get the hardware complexity of all the moving parts and the expensive service with cassette units, but still: there has not been an evolution for the better IMO. The new Portastudios are shit and I wish someone made their makers aware.

Lately I have had lot of ideas about how a new "dream" device would be like. And it could totally be a digital device, just so much better than what I see available today. I do wanna buy something, but I poke my eyes out at the current offers..

Now check out this beauty - with it's nice EQ and Trim, and tell me why Akai's sitting CEO do not have to commit Harakiri...?! hihi



NB. where I live there are very few of the old 4-tracks around I'm afraid.Not anything like the US. Reel to reel machines and top of the line cassette decks from the 80s go for good money. I think a reissue of the best Tascam would sell - even if expensive. I kick myself for selling my old Tascam back when I was focusing on other stuff than music.
Blairio
I think you are missing an important development in the concept of porta-studios: mini-disk based portastudios.

I had and loved Tascam 244 and 246 porta-studios, and even made record quality recordings with them. However, minidisk based systems offered the same look and feel, but higher quality audio. Unfortunately the format is long gone, which is a shame.
Northward
CF3 wrote:
I'm with you on this one but.......

Realistically how many are they gonna sell? They'd be ridiculously overpriced if they did reissue them.

4 Track reel to reel units can be had for a song on Craigslist. Same with cassette multitracks. These units weren't rare (especially the Tascam/Teac ones). They produced 1000's upon 1000's of them. Enough to keep tape enthusiasts going for a very long time. If I had the space (and a hand truck to move it) I'd love to pick up another Tascam 388. Been eyeing a Tascam 688 too, but them I smack myself and say "wtf are you gonna do with that damn thing!" d'oh! lol


Now, if you had a choice of any 4-track, new old-stock... ???
Northward
Blairio wrote:
I think you are missing an important development in the concept of porta-studios: mini-disk based portastudios.

I had and loved Tascam 244 and 246 porta-studios, and even made record quality recordings with them. However, minidisk based systems offered the same look and feel, but higher quality audio. Unfortunately the format is long gone, which is a shame.


No, I'm aware of the Mini disc. I just didn't mention them cause of the obvious lack of allure in sound quality. I still have some MD's knocking about somewhere. Would you recommend any of MD multitrackers then?
Northward
Bath House wrote:
Because people who want and use them are still an infinitesimally tiny portion of the global market. Even a humble Tascam or Teac 4-track is an incredibly complicated piece of machinery with many parts like pinch rollers, motors, capstans, etc. that would need to be re-engineered and made once more.


All the hobbyist music makers of the 80s are grown up now and have money to spend and nostalgia in their hearts... And with the sub-culture Cassette releases we see fully alive and kicking, my impression is that a cassette multitraker could very well prove a commercial success.. But it ain't excactly suit and tie guy thinking... hihi Maybe I'm just too much of a geek.. haha
suboptimal
I would imagine they'd have to hire back retired engineers, because all their current people are digital experts.

The tape units offer a certain something. I like to record pad drones on my little Porta02 unit. The compression and noise add to the atmosphere. I don't miss having boxes of tapes to keep track of, and I like it that my Zoom R-16 records what I put into it, without imposing its own coloration on everything. I completely agree that the lack of send/returns on the HDD recorders is a terrible omission (I think the mid-range Tascam ones have them, though).
Knights Who Say Neve
Northward wrote:
Blairio wrote:
I think you are missing an important development in the concept of porta-studios: mini-disk based portastudios.

I had and loved Tascam 244 and 246 porta-studios, and even made record quality recordings with them. However, minidisk based systems offered the same look and feel, but higher quality audio. Unfortunately the format is long gone, which is a shame.


No, I'm aware of the Mini disc. I just didn't mention them cause of the obvious lack of allure in sound quality. I still have some MD's knocking about somewhere. Would you recommend any of MD multitrackers then?


I have a Yamaha MD8 8 track minidisc. Honestly I wouldn't recommend it because the analog mixer on it is not good quality. It sounds like 90's compressed digital with hiss from the mixer added. (Think Polygon Window era Aphex Twin). The funny thing about it is that the digital editing features of these decks were heavily advertised at the time, but they will drive anyone used to a DAW to slit their wrists because of the lag times. You kind of have to use it like a cassette multi tracker and dump to a computer to edit.
Phil999
I was having the same thought recently, about a new 4-track cassette tape recorder. Maybe even 6- or 8-track. With good preamps, EQ, and integrated sync options (analogue clock, MIDI clock). I think it would sell, but as mentioned before the problem are the mechanical parts. Production and reliable performance would be a high risk.

In the 'golden' times of cassette tape, a walkman device (playback only) could be sold below $100. Today the cheapest tape delay device is over $700 (custom cassette).
mousegarden
Tape machines of any sort here in the UK are almost impossible to find, at a reasonable price. This trend for all things low-fi has pushed prices up, but back in the day we all thought cassette was crap, we couldn't sell them fast enough when digital came in. As we get older the sound of the past becomes more attractive.
It's the same old story yet again, when analogue tape was all we had there was no comparison, or contrast, now it's just become a "character" button on some software emulation.
Blairio
Northward wrote:
Blairio wrote:
I think you are missing an important development in the concept of porta-studios: mini-disk based portastudios.

I had and loved Tascam 244 and 246 porta-studios, and even made record quality recordings with them. However, minidisk based systems offered the same look and feel, but higher quality audio. Unfortunately the format is long gone, which is a shame.


No, I'm aware of the Mini disc. I just didn't mention them cause of the obvious lack of allure in sound quality. I still have some MD's knocking about somewhere. Would you recommend any of MD multitrackers then?


Like mp3, Minidisk employed a 'lossy' compression algorithm (Atrack 4 from memory), but the results were much more musical. Also, if you were recording an individual musical instrument on an individual minidisk 'track', there were non of the lossy compression artefacts evident, such as 'masking' or loss of soundstage.
There weren't many minidisk based portasdudios, and the most popular one was the 8 track Yamaha MD8 mentioned elsewhere in this thread. It did not have the best mixer in the world, but I know people who put out records (well received) in the folk / traditional music genre, where poor sound quality has nowhere to hide.

Years ago, when I had a bit of time on my hands I ran a comparison using a professional recording I had been involved with on DAT (48khz, 24bit), commercial CD, mp3 at 192khz, and minidisk. DAT won, with CD next, then minidisk, with the mp3 a poor last.

The minidisk deck was a sony MDS JE-520 (I still have it). Out of interest I played the minidisk back through the Tascam 820 DAT machine's D to A converters, and the sound quality was significantly improved.

Minidisk wasn't a bad format, it just ran out of road.
Northward
Phil999 wrote:
I was having the same thought recently, about a new 4-track cassette tape recorder. Maybe even 6- or 8-track. With good preamps, EQ, and integrated sync options (analogue clock, MIDI clock). I think it would sell, but as mentioned before the problem are the mechanical parts. Production and reliable performance would be a high risk.

In the 'golden' times of cassette tape, a walkman device (playback only) could be sold below $100. Today the cheapest tape delay device is over $700 (custom cassette).


I also believe it will sell, and to surpricingly young people too looking at the state of affairs in todays music industry. Where beeing on Spotfy doesn't neccesarly mean anything. But sending a copy of home a made cassette recording to your local radio staion/magazine/potential girl/boyfriend could... hihi

And in therms of mecanichs: we musn't forget that huge players like TEAC and Sony have an impressive archive on what worked well on their older unitis, what parts broke down(!). And they know which models worked particularly well. With the old blueprins and these empirical service records, they could put our a real sturdy unit if they wanted to.

But I guess all the above is against all what we know of modern business models, whith their grim planned obsolence thinking. Making garbage fast for us to consume new stuff more frequent..

What is clear however is that this particular thinking has spawned the most clunky and uninspiring plastic crap in this end of the marked. (While we've never been so spoiled with offers in the PC enviroment i must add). And I must say,- dragging out your laptop and audio interface and setting it up for recording in a band enviroment is the LAST thing you wanna do. There is something really off-putting about it.

With the implemention of SD-cards, there shouldn't be a reason not to make sizable standalone immideate units that really worked well and that was affordable. I believe Allan&Heath are close to something great in the near future. At least they seem to understand these needs well enought. While Roland/Tascam just seem to be pissing themself in fright of not making money on their lines. Filling it up with everything but the kitchen sinc but cutting corners and not really getting it right for creative work.
Michael O.
I think the pricepoint would end up surprisingly high. They're complex machines with moving parts, very unlike a digital recorder that is essentially in/out buffers, addac, and a microcontroller with a simple hardware UI. The switching logic in something like a basic Tascam 244 is incredibly complex, but much of that could be handled by a microcontroller.

Having said that, I use my 244 a couple times a week to get away from the monotony of multitrack studio work. I can't rave enough about the workflow, sound quality, and generally creatively conducive nature of the thing, but I got it for $60, and couldn't imagine spending nearer the $500+ a new one would likely cost. And at that price it might still be a bargain...
Northward
Michael O. wrote:
I use my 244 a couple times a week to get away from the monotony of multitrack studio work. I can't rave enough about the workflow, sound quality, and generally creatively conducive nature of the thing


I think this sums up really well why these old machines still are so loved(!) and alive and kicking around the world. Still creating music uploaded to Soundcloud and Youtube..., and still creating enthusiasm for that tape compressed sound.. And a 5year old computer is considered hard to sell and another OS update detested... Yey future..!
Northward
Many of you have extensive experience of working with these types of devices through decades and generations of them. Just for a fun experiment and the possibilty for a imaginary new kickstarter venture, creating a spanking new hardware multitrack recorder Please share your wishlist for such a device. I'll sum up in the end and put it on Santas list ;-)

I'll start up and adding mine and what's allready mentioned in this thread:

1. Size! it shouln't exceed a nice portable size that travels fairly light. I'd say a fair desktop size like a laptop+ that you'd want to bring on travels when creativity strikes.

2. Preamps, a level of quality that did not stop anyone to record decent "releasable" sound with good headroom. Like a good quality field recorder.

3. A real good EQ!, with mid sweep and inputs for expernal hardware sends and returns effect channels. A trim function for recording!

4. Midi/DIN ins and outs/ world clock.

5. Recording wav-files to SD-cards.

6. A buildt in effects wheel like on the Analog Heat with less distortion and more studio tape compression/mixing engeneers recording tricks...

7. Monitor controller built in.

I'd be happy with 2-channel simultanious recording if there where tape involved. But a digital unit could offer way more.

I believe SPL and Allen&Heath could both make a great digital unit soon (not skimping on BIT-rate...) But Akai, Marantz or TEAC could really go to town with their long history with great tape recorders.

Now what would really cream my pants was if Strymon went on a fishing trip with some retired Revox engeneer.. hihi
Blairio
The 244 ran at double normal cassette speed, and even at that did not achieve the bandwidth of current consumer digital technologies. It is this restricted bandwidth plus some tape saturation which gave the portastudio its sound.

High quality metal cassettes helped the sound quality, but significantly shortened the life of the tape head. (Too tip: when checking out a 2nd hand portastudio, make sure the recording head is not worn out).

I think an AD card based 4 or 8 track portable recorder would work fine, perhaps with an option to select a circuit to deliver 'virtualised analog' performance of its cassette based predecesors.
Kent
Why no buggy whips?
Blairio
Northward wrote:


Now what would really cream my pants was if Strymon went on a fishing trip with some retired Revox engeneer.. hihi


If Strymon did, they would come back a circuit design for an acoustically modelled trout.

Here's a thought: why not record onto whatever format you want, and then simply master onto cassette? You could then generate mp3's or whatever from the cassette 'master'.

You probably wouldn't want a very good cassette deck either, since the big payers like Awia and Nackamichi devoted themselves in their high end models to rising above the constraints of the format - making music sound like it was not captured by, or played back on, a cassette.

Some studios still have 1/2 inch & 1/4 reel to reel machines around, simply as 'fx' units. It gives them the tape saturation for e.g. drums, but the take still ends up on some DAW format or other for mixing.
dubonaire
Northward wrote:
Many of you have extensive experience of working with these types of devices through decades and generations of them.


Which is why I have no desire to use the cassette medium ever again.
MindMachine
SewerBadger wrote:
Why no buggy whips?


Booooo!

dubonaire wrote:
Northward wrote:
Many of you have extensive experience of working with these types of devices through decades and generations of them.


Which is why I have no desire to use the cassette medium ever again.


hihi

As far the OP goes... just for ballpark sakes. This is an interesting exercise.

Say the unit you want to make is fairly small, say 4 track. If you think you can sell 25,000 units in this day and age, use that as a number. The unit is made of plastic and has a three part chassis. Those three molds would likely cost 125,000 - 175,000 USD made in China. Design, prototype and changes might cost another 50,000 to 150,000 along the way. Likely does not include graphics: paying for artwork, trying different processes, making changes, etc. Your already adding $10.00 to each unit. Then you mold (I'd guess around $28.00 per three piece set), finish (if any second operations are needed), inspect, ship, receive and inventory somewhere. Depending on shipping, overhead and carry costs at your warehouse say $35.00 per three piece chassis. So that is $45.00 per plastic chassis at a minimum.

So if you decide to form it from steel. No expensive tooling, but materials, shipping, secondary processing, etc. are more expensive, but maybe not in a small qty. like 25,000. But you have to amortize the cost of figuring that out into whichever way you decide to go.

And that is just for the housing/chassis. There would likely quite a few custom designed molded/machined parts.

That does not include molding the function buttons.

Do you use stock knobs from an existing manufacturer?

Metric or US standard? What kind of power supply?

Any design legalities to worry about?

Or maybe Yamaha just fires up their old tooling and drawings and makes it easy on us. Mr. Green
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> General Gear Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next [all]
Page 1 of 3
Powered by phpBB © phpBB Group