Tape Gear!


How’s your hearing after all that? I never see noise artists wearing earplugs live.


i usually do wear them for other people’s sets (noise or music) but usually take them out when I play in order to hear what i’m doing properly… more often than not the volume is not damagingly loud enough anyway, tho a few times (especially when performing in front of the PA) i’ve actually told the sound person to turn it down ! :slight_smile: and never really practiced/recorded at load volumes, just at home thru small amps/hifi/headphones… so not too bad.


Roughly same story for me, although my live shows are probably grossly loud because there are cymbals and a snare drum being battered right near my face. Wouldn’t be too bad but monitors are usually wrecked/different between venues and we’re trying to fit a lot of competing distortions into the palette. I should spring for some middle of the line earplugs again and see how they work for me; it would be neat to hear when I’m old.


I have a Tascam 388 that I bought for cheap at a pawn shop years ago and spent a little more fixing up, but frankly it hasn’t gotten a ton of action. It sounds amazing, but I’ve had a bit of a hard time finding how to best introduce it into my workflow—curious if anyone else out there has one or has had good experiences working with one.


Yeaah drums are where the real damage occurs, however psychologically ‘loud’ electronics can sound :smiley:


this is great :slight_smile: much more frenzied than I expected from the description :slight_smile:

The concept reminds me a bit of this ancient proto-HNW track of mine which was recorded by hanging a slinky spring up in a wardrobe being agitated by a playing empty walkman and going outside for 72 mins https://harshnoisewall.bandcamp.com/track/perverseverence-vol-3


Sounds like a washing machine full of bats and marbles, in a good way. :man_scientist:


I got a 414 mkII yesterday, and it seems like it needs a new belt. The right reel isn’t turning as it should so the pinch roller is just spewing tape out into the machine. Any advice or pointers on finding/choosing a replacement belt these days?

Actually… as I typed the above, I realized the power supply I was given is 9V instead of 12V. Could this be (at least part of) the problem? Maybe it’s under-powered and not getting enough to turn the right reel??

(I’m super new to tape things so these are just my guesses based on little prior knowledge and a few hours of research last night / this morning … any and all guidance is appreciated!)


9V is too little if it says it needs 12V, however if the motor is able to drive the capstan with the pinch roller pressed against it, then I’d expect it to also turn the take up reel. Dig up a service manual, if it’s anything like the Porta 02/03 series, then it’s simple and built to last.


@eesn thanks. I found a 12V psu with sufficient amperage but that didn’t resolve the issue, so I’m going to look for a belt next.


I’m not entirely sure if that would apply in your specific case but you might also want to look at adjusting the pressure of the pinch roller and perhaps the speed of the capstan itself. As mentioned by @eesn, the service manual is your best friend for bringing an aged tape player/recorder back to life. There is also http://www.repairfaq.org/REPAIR/F_audiofaq2.html for further reference and insights into tape player repair/maintenance.


I have one of these, a while since I used it, and now it doesn’t seem to work properly. :frowning:
Can’t seem to record onto tape, no matter how hard I try…

Maybe someone has any experience with this model? It’s a Fostex Multitracker XR-7


I have a Tascam portastudio and the rewind and fast forward just stopped working but only when there’s a tape in there. It moves a little bit but it’s almost as if it doesn’t have enough strength to move the spools. could this be a problem with the belts? Recording and playing seem to be fine.


aside from the amazingness of that link you shared, your post prompted me to open up the 414 more so than I’d already done because I didn’t realize the capstan itself was a moving part with the pinch roller!!

so tonight I opened it up again, and this time unmounted the actual… uh … tape deck and motor part (sorry I don’t know a lot of the correct part names and such yet), and I noticed the capstan is connected to this big wheel underneath, and with a belt directly connected to the motor.

Then as I was handing the deck assembly, i accidentally pressed in on the capstan wheel and it moved! Upon further investigation, I deduced that what’s happening is that the capstan is sliding down when the deck is mounted, and the teeny tiny gear (barely visible in the shadows of the pic below) on the capstan isn’t connecting with gears connecting to the right reel.

Note I pulled this out further than it actually was for the sake of the picture. But certainly it’s not supposed to be like this?

I ordered a service manual on ebay*, but any suggestions on this until it arrives?

*I literally could not find it anywhere else so when I get it I will happily scan it and share it with anyone who needs it


i too had to get a service manual (for porta03) through ebay. maybe a 2 week wait… for a photocopy with missing pages! anyhow, on yours something should hold that capstan in place? it’s supposed to be heavy so i’m not surprised it slides down. wasn’t there a piece attached above it (or below depending on which side you look from)?


I conveniently just had it opened up.

Top view:

Bottom/side view with flash for clarity (that black thing in the middle above the tiny gear is a belt, obviously in the wrong place because I pulled the capstan down)

On top, it just seems like there’s the plastic/rubber/whatever ring where the capstan comes up from below, with what looks like some sort of spring wrapped around as part of the deck’s mechanical structure.

Below the deck it’s just the tiny gear that should be connecting with the rest of the deck, the black wheel where the belt goes, and the base of the capstan.

I inspected it and took many pictures before opening it up and taking it apart, so I’m positive I didn’t lose a tiny piece or something. Perhaps the service manual will have some clues, but I don’t really know how I would fix this, because it seems there’s nothing here like a hex nut or something that screams “hey I’m loose and that’s why this is sliding around so tighten me,” so it would have to be something less obvious to someone like me that doesn’t know much about tape decks.

edit: i found this and this that both describe the problem I’m having (seems like the same user shared the solution in both).


A missing washer makes sense indeed. If (as suggested) you can flip the machine upside down and it works, then find out the part number you’re after. I believe it’s relatively easy to source in the US, even to get the whole thing serviced.

edit: Thanks for sharing these photos. For some reason I always have trouble finding detailed photos like this.


For real, with the resurgence in popularity of these things in the past few years, I’m surprised they aren’t more widely available.

Needless to say, if the service manual I ordered turns out to be legit when it arrives, I’ll happily share that and interior photos to anyone in need reading this post (currently or in the future)


Please do! I hope to never need it, but y’know… Also, I have an extra PMD221/201 manual, if anyone wants one.


Man these parts must all have similar expiration dates. My portastudio 488 mkii just stopped working last week. Transport doesn’t move; I power it on and get a crunching sound and three blinking lights over the transport controls. Will probably give up the ghost on it soon, though I appreciate it’s mixer capabilities.

Any thoughts / advice? I am in NYC.

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