Tape Gear!


#1

Tapes! Cassette tapes, reel-to-reel tapes, tape delays, scotch tape… any kind of tape!

Interested in tape recorder models, new and old tape gear, recording/playback techniques, interesting mods, tape loops, restoration resources, really anything tape-related for music-making.

Personally don’t do much in tape land right now, but it’ll be my next venture when some music money finds its way to my heart, and I noticed there wasn’t really an all-encompassing tape stuff thread so I thought I’d start one up, especially since I’ve been seeing a lot of people going this way recently. Whaddya think mods?


#2

I have a really terrible micro cassette dictaphone, really really noisy, very warbly, motor speed is super inconsistent etc, but those are the things which make it such a great contrast to the high fidelity computer/ modular stuff. Small movements get the speed moving, a firm shake will get it almost stopping, it’s very expressive in that way. The noise of empty tape is itself really nice, sometimes I pump that into modular via an input module. I keep expecting it to die but it keeps on going. I love it.


#3

I keep fighting between a desire to eventually make multi-take, multi-tracked, and more easily edited modular recordings, and a desire to buy a reel-to-reel recorder and record long takes straight to tape and only using the DAW for arranging compositions using the “fade in, fade out, cross fade” approach of Éliane Radigue. The latter is likely where I’ll go once I’ve got the space and equipment to do so.


#4

Ran into a similar thing in my old setup once, got used to using a daw to do everything but wanted more warmth, so I ditched the computer and started using a loop pedal and a four-track instead. I personally ended up really struggling with the limitations (I have a friend in Chicago who makes amazing stuff the same way though). Right now I’m working towards more of a combination setup, running stuff between my laptop and tape loops but still mixing in the box (though idiot me sold the four-track). For a lot of people having a daw amount of choices is just too much though, so tape as a recording medium makes sense.


#5

Great idea for a thread. I’ll follow it with interest as I’d like to start using tape in some capacity eventually, too.

Nagra reel to reel machines are pretty popular and seem nice for their compactness/portability. But they are on the expensive side.

On the cheaper end I have seen a lot of people using marantz pmd and tascam porta studio machines.

Amulets makes some great stuff if you want to check them out on YouTube. Hainbach too. And Marcus Fischer.

As far as techniques, you might want to look up Frippertronics.


#6

Currently I use my 4 track recorder (Yamaha MT4X) with Maxell XL-II cassettes and I love it.
It’ s far far less noisy than I remember. I use it to resample, pitch down, stretch the sound, resample again and to record the final song. The result is a sort of lovely granular sound.

for more information and comments related to this gear:

have fun with analog tape, you won’t regret it.


#7

Another happy MT4X user here! Got it for cheap on ebay, from an old man who didn’t use it anymore. He had used it very little, so the heads are still in great shape, something in the mechanics broke 2 weeks after buying it, but fortunately I found a very competent person who serviced it for me. Not it’w working like a charm.
It’s a bit big, but pretty full-featured. Also I like the fact that you also get the direct outputs from the 4 tracks and 2 AUX sends!
I would love to use it as a way to do the final recording, right now I only struggle a bit with the fact that – if you work in stereo, which is something I’d really not give up doing – you basically just have two tracks, and that makes it all a bit hard to squeeze things into.


#8

I’ve always been a big fan of lofi-recordings and using cheap walkman’s in my song making process. I just took down my old beloved Yamaha MT120 from the attic. I haven’t used this one since this cassette got released back in 2010:

The recorder is really noisey and channel 1 is out of function, just like it was back when I used it the last time. I’ll try to find some nice textures with it together with the eurorack setup that I’ve not been capable creating with the walkman’s.


#9

I have a fostex x28h four track which I love, snagged it for £20 as an ‘I don’t know if it works’ listing and it did! A good clean and de-mag and it’s actually quite a clean recorder for synths. Great for not having to deal with computers while recording. It has 4 outs for the separate tracks so I transfer to computer afterwards for light mixing/editing if necessary.
I also use an Olympus sr-11 stereo microcassette recorder with a crappy little mixer to make lofi music. Reverb heavy stuff recorded to that thing warbles and bends in such a beautiful way, and the tone is so mid heavy, subs compress the hell out of the recordings. I love it!


#10

That’s a lovely track @bjarlstedt


#11

received an otari mx-5050 from my partner’s mom and I absolutely love it. been using it primarily as the final piece in my 2-bus chain when mixing, and finding that sweet spot by slowly raising the gain makeup on the bus compressor into the tape is SO SATISFYING. also fantastic to just print any piece of a mix and run it back into the rest of the session, instant vibe. really does wonders on a reverb send.


#12

Thank you! All those instruments (guitar, amps and synths) that I used back then are sold to fund my small eurorack setup, so I hope I can create songs with my current setup that I (and other people) like. Maybe that multitrack recorder can solve this for me? :wink:


#13

I use a Akai 2 track reel to reel for loops and arty stuff which I want to experiment with covering the erase heads more.
I also use a little microcadsette dictaphone for quickly storing ideas for lyrics and melodies. I have a 4 track portastudio on the way so the plan is it quickly store ideas on the microcassette then sit down with it, guitar, mic, synth and the portastudio for songwriting. When I eventually start modular I’ll combine them all with loops and things for use with that too.
I really hate using computers with a passion!


#14

I’ve been modding one of my 4tracks to add an extreme speed control, this is what I’ve got so far

I didn’t realise the transistor would be quite so large, so I’m not sure how it’ll fit inside the 4track once I get it onto a circuit board


#15

That’s interesting. I tried this with tape walkmans a few times. All of them had a trim resistor for controlling the tape speed. So I exchanged the trimmer with a pot…

Your solution looks a bit mor professional. Maybe you can write a few notes what you did. Thank you!!


#16

I have a variety of functioning/semi functioning tape players. I was basically buying any tape machine under $20 for a few years and have kept the really interesting ones.

I can’t recommend these tape loops enough. Super reliable and very fun, especially with a multi track recorder.

For a while I using a Fostex 4 track with tape loops to trigger things on my modular with an A-119, got some very cool rhythms going that way.


#17

I just picked up a Sanyo RD 4025 at a flea market for about 3$ on my way to work! The mechanism seemed to work OK and I got some really lofi sounds out of it. Looking forward to experiment with it in my setup. Any users of this particular unit/model?

Those endless tape loops looks awesome @rarestorms !


#18

There is a trim pot in this, but it only goes so slow, I wanted this to be able to go to hardly moving at all. :slight_smile:

Basically it’s a pulse width modulator that pulses the motor at full power very briefly, and allows it to move slower without stalling


#19

Ok cool. Thanks for the info or for the idea!! Have to try this!!


#20

Thanks to Amulets or schooling me on making tape loops. They make up the backbone of many of my live sets now.