Tape Gear!


It was dead when I found it! The motor spins, that’s all it will do.


If you’re inclined to I strongly recommend to have it repaired by a good technician.
It’s a lovely device and a masterpiece of miniaturization, the inside of the unit is incredible.

By the way, nice technique! :wink:


I did a ton of recording yesterday + have had tape stuff on my mind, so this is a v good thread! I use analog tape both as a recording medium and as an instrument I guess you could say.

on the recording end of things, I have an Akai 4000DS Mk2 (that I found at a flea market in perfect condition!) as my main 1/4" machine. needs some adjusting, but I’ve been using some ATR mastering tape and it sounds amazing. I generally make 2 track stereo masters for every finished mixdown - with my production I try to find a good balance between “perfect” and “noisy and shitty” and tracking down to 1/4 on the Akai does exactly that. It’s also a great archival tool, having physical copies of everything you’ve recorded.

for multitracking, if I’ve got a lot of tracks or I want the stereo image to be preserved well, I’ll just use Audition. if I don’t really care, if I want it to sound more interesting, or if I’m actively coming up with a song, I’ll use my Tascam Portastudio 2. it’s only got 4 tracks and thus you can’t run a lot of stereo things into it, but as a compositional tool I’ve found it to be really inspiring, layering things over one another and mixing them live. I use high-bias tapes (the majority of them from thrift stores) and generally get good results save for a bit more hiss.

aside from that I’ve got a 2-tray Marantz cassette deck with USB that I use for dubbing tapes for my label, and a bunch of handheld cassette and microcassette recorders. microcassettes work fantastic for field recordings especially - one area I like to focus on is transforming incidental or natural sounds via tape distortion, etc. I’ve also used handheld recorders during live performances in lieu of a sampler or laptop, with the microcassette recorder oftentimes grabbing stuff off the air and slowing it down, speeding it up, and shaking it for weird warbly noises. I’ve used 1/4" tape loops a lot in the past also (one time using two reel to reels with two loops for a live performance, which was really fun), but not so much now.


I’ve disconnected the erase head on my deck for recording loops an that’s all fine but when I try to layer sounds by recording over what was already on the tape it never seems to work and is always a mostly pristine copy of the most recent thing. I left a 10 second loop recording over and over for twenty minutes the other night and still all I got was a copy of the last 10 seconds.

Is there a trick to this technique or is that just what it sounds like?


Hmm - I would expect a drop in volume/presence of the previous pass as your recording goes on (that’s just the nature of tape, even with the erase head covered), but not so much a complete and sudden erasure of the previous pass…have you tried physically covering the erase head?

Not a tape expert by and means - I’m sure someone can clarify better than I!


I’m not sure I want to completely disconnect my erase head. I was thinking about putting some electrical or gaffer tape over it. Can I ruin my machine this way? Does it even work?


I’ve physically removed the erase head.

I was expecting a more cacophonous sound than a really good copy of the most recent thing with maybe some muffled sounds at the quiet bits. Maybe my expectations of what it should sound like are just wrong


It does work yeah, and you won’t ruin your deck. You might get some sticky residue on the head when you remove the tape that you’ll need to remove with some isopropyl alcohol


This tip was amazing but I can’t figure out how to output a third (or fourth) track independently from my stereo line outs 1&2. I have a Portastudio 414 mkii and I thought I could do it with the effects sends but the click track always ends up coming out of the Line Out outputs too. To be more clear… I’m recording my effects to tracks one and two and a click to track three. When recording back in I can’t figure out how to send just the click track out independently of my effects tracks. Any ideas?


just put a single click before the audio starts, like two measures before the song itself starts, right on the same track. a modular cv trigger (in audio form) is perfect, since it’s just a single straight line up. then once you’re done the bounce, just drag the tape trigger back to line up with the dry trigger. “should” work perfectly. does that make sense? kinda hard to explain without screenshots.


Thanks @madeofoak … I get that. I misunderstood your initial tip then. I thought you were saying to have a click track recorded the entire time so that if there is any drift throughout the song you can realign the effects using the click as a guide. My problem was that the sync throughout the entire song would be off because of tape speed fluctuations. So a single click at the beginning is great for syncing the start point but doesn’t help maintain sync throughout. I think that makes sense?


I don’t know how else to describe it, but if you put a click at the beginning, then print (in your daw) the play head as you’re sending to the record head of the tape, the wobble won’t affect the sync very much, since whatever wobble exists will be simultaneously affecting the recording and playback heads. once you’re done tracking it, the printed tape track should be a half second or so delayed, and then you just drag it back in time until the initial clicks line up.


Yeah. I use this method all the time and it works great.
the crucial bit is that your tape machine needs to have to ability to monitor the playhead as it’s recording and not just the input source. if you don’t have that then you can’t use this method.


i’m on the 3 tapeheads marantz pmd-222 and did the mod to have pitch control even when recording. i love his sound and getting good stuff even with built-in mic and speaker :slight_smile: the limiter is nice too.
they are somehow costy on the 2nd hand market but i waited until i found a great deal on ebay from a guy from ukraine. 70 euros! with scratches and all but <3

i’m also using it as a crude tape delay, on a mixer aux send and controlling feedback with the same aux send.


Recent tape experiment:


Liked it on IG, like it here!




The master and his work! :pray:


If I was looking for a reel to reel for making big loops is there anything I should look for that would be useful?


I’m looking for a recommendation for a cheapish cassette player with variable speed?

I remember seeing a few examples of modded cheap players with a speed knob attached but can’t seem to find the link.