Tape Gear!


Probably obvious to most folks, but tonight I learned that a 4 track portastudio style deck plays both sides of “normal” two sided cassette tapes at once. This seems to have all kinds of potential for shenanigans.


trying out this analog stuff - just got a handheld recorder (the tcm-200), the motor speed seems fine, but playback is really quiet (usually it can’t be heard on the speaker, usually just comes through headphone input quiet & noisy, sometimes neither?) record erases what’s on the tape but won’t record in (onboard mic or mic in)

it takes 1.5v AA but I’m giving it 1.2v AA. I would think if that mattered playback would be slower, but hey what do I know ! maybe these are the signs of a tape head cleaning needed ? hopefully not completely broken ? really new at this, advice needed !


Yeah clean the heads and rollers with cotton buds + Isopropyl alcohol for a start. Demagnetising tape heads is a thing too but maybe overkill tracking down a demagnetising want for a pocket recorder + i’ve read mixed things about whether it’s really neccessary or not anyway

do you have any pre-recorded albums on cassette to test playback with?

possible the head is misaligned,


yes - for the most part I hear them, pitch is fine but they’re very quiet/noisy


How are everyone’s loops looking?


Nice! lately I have opened the cassettes on the side to allow the tape to travel outside - giving me extended loop-lengths.


this is a rather simple one

I’m very inspired by your cassettes!


Life has been keeping me busy, but the last one I made was a sound-on-sound loop. This was only the 4th or 5th loop I’d ever made and it took a lot of sacrificed tape and trial and error to get the tension just right. At one point it was so tight the tape caused all the scratches on the shell (the guitar industry would call that “relic-ed”).

I actually don’t think I remembered to share this in the latest tracks thread, but I used this loop to capture some guitar, and then processed and “re-looped” it with my modular:


This one is no beauty, but here’s the idea. If I open the lid on my Fostex XR-5 i can have the tape tensioned around another object, such as a candle.

To bypass the erase head I made the tape take a different way inside


It seems this hasn’t been mentioned here. A great tool since I suck at making a long tape loop:


I’m using those for “cleaner” sound, and hand-made ones for “crappy” sound :slight_smile:


most playheads in tape recorders have a screw at one side to adjust the azimuth, on a good Hi-fi deck it’s not the best idea to randomly fiddle with it without knowing exactly what you are doing, but on a cheap walkman or dictaphone you can sometimes tweak it while playing a known-OK-sounding tape and see if the sound improves at all

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You mean good ‘bad’ sound :slight_smile:

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It’s obviously an April fool… but wouldn’t it be wonderful if they actually made this?



Yep, it almost isn’t funny, considering cassette releases on the rise, the love for Op-1 tape mode etc. A Volca 4-track might actually sell, wouldn’t it?

Now, minidisc…

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I’d buy one of those in a heart beat! My four track is too big to lug around


pitch perfect volca self-parody that it wouldn’t even be a 4-track

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Wait - what? You’re managing to bypass the erase head by changing the routing of the tape inside the shell? That’s genius - I never even considered this as a possibility!


Yeh that is genius! Gotta try that myself :slight_smile:



Well, I probably got inspired by someone else, or I didn’t, can’t remember. I tried to cover the erase head with aluminum foil and tape etc, but never got it to work so I just took some chisel or carving knife and started to work on the cassette. I used other cassettes for parts, cutting reels in half and using them to get a smooth path.

My cassettes have always been quite “slippery” with the tape moving unevenly, but I just find the texture it creates makes it more interesting.

Good luck!

(Scrolling back up a bit it seems that ellips_s has bypassed the erase head the same way)

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