That’s a good deal for a TSR-8 in excellent working condition. Make sure the heads are good… not too worn.
The TSR-8 is what I chose many years ago after lots of research and comparison. In fact, it beat out the Otari MX5050/8 MKII by a good margin, which was also on my short list. I was used to working in a pro environment with machines costing many times that back in the day. With that background I set out to fill a costly order with a cost effective “semi-pro” solution for my home studio.
It’s not really narrow track, unless you consider 2” 24-track to be narrow track… some people do, I guess. Because of the way Tascam designed the heads, track width is roughly the same. Depending on the manufacturer 24-tracks have a width between 0.038 and 0.041 inch. The TSR-8 is 0.039 inch per track. That goes for the other Tascam ˝” 8-tracks as well.
What really sets the TSR-8 apart is gentle, consistent tape handling… very low torque; on par with closed-loop systems costing tens of thousands of dollars back then. The transport is microcomputer controlled. It also has the most tightly integrated onboard dbx NR I’ve ever seen (heard). It’s really unreal how they managed to bring this thing to market at such a low price… MSRP only $3499.00 in 1990. Omitting that third head and associated circuitry probably helped quite a bit.
The two-head design is no big deal when multitracking. For mastering with half-track I definitely want to hear what’s coming off the tape in real time, but not so much with multitracking. When you’re the engineer/producer/artist all in one you’re mostly in sync mode anyway.
Back to track width: 24-track on 2-inch doesn’t sound, “Thinner” than 16-track on 2-inch as much as it just sounds noisier… more tape hiss. Dolby Type-A and dbx Type-I noise reduction made 2-inch 24-track more practical. Same with 8-track on half-inch. With dbx on you have 108 dB signal-to-noise ratio (better than most digital systems) and crosstalk of 82 dB… pretty awesome.
So anyway, I knew I was buying a capable machine with the TSR-8, and experience with it over the years has not disappointed. I’m one happy TSR-8 owner.
"If you can’t make a hit record with a Tascam or a Fostex,
then you’re not going to able to do it with a Studer or Otari!" -David Mellor