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Thread: my 488 mkii sounds like crap?

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    my 488 mkii sounds like crap?

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    I just purchased a used tascam 488 mkii. it sounds awful. I was using a 424 mkiii and i really liked the sound. i didn't want to mess with bouncing tracks so i got the 488.

    the preamps are real rough sounding, there is a warble sound, it has trouble rewinding, i.e., it rewinds real slow.

    I degaused the thing, cleaned the heads and pinch roller, blew it out with duster.

    is there anything else I can do to beef this thing up? could it possibly be the difference in going from 4 track to 8 track that I'm hearing, i.e., less tape width?

    thanks...seth

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    Quote Originally Posted by sterndrup View Post
    I just purchased a used tascam 488 mkii. it sounds awful. I was using a 424 mkiii and i really liked the sound. i didn't want to mess with bouncing tracks so i got the 488.

    the preamps are real rough sounding, there is a warble sound, it has trouble rewinding, i.e., it rewinds real slow.

    I degaused the thing, cleaned the heads and pinch roller, blew it out with duster.

    is there anything else I can do to beef this thing up? could it possibly be the difference in going from 4 track to 8 track that I'm hearing, i.e., less tape width?

    thanks...seth
    I'm just speculating here, but it could be something as simple (relatively) as a belt going bad. I would think that if it was getting sticky/gooey, then it could slow things down a bit. That's just my guess.
    The interface said to use "Windows XP or higher"...

    ... I used tape...

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    Arrow ...

    If it has trouble FF'ing and rewinding, plus a warble in the playback, it would most likely indicate the rubber parts are deteriorated, sticky & going south on you.

    There is a belt which drives the tape in Play motion.
    There is a belt which drives the heads up & down.
    There is the rubber pinchwheel which contacts the tape to the capstan.
    There are 2 "tires" on a clutch assembly that drives FF & RW.

    Any of these rubber parts may eventually wear out, or worse yet go gooey on you, which of course produces noticeable problems.

    Tho' the 424mkIII and 488mkII sound a little different, I'm not sure your difficulty is the different formats, vs. the more obvious point of your description of having potential transport issues. Warble is not characteristic of a well functioning machine. Slow FF/RW is also a bad sign. Without scrolling back up, I didn't catch if you cleaned the head really well.

    I'm not sure if I'd say that the 488mkII sounds categorically "worse" than the 424mkIII, based on track width differences. I'm not sure better or worse is how I hear it,... just different. Track width and number of tracks makes the 488mkII sound different than the 424mkIII. In the specs, I believe that the individual tracks of the 488 & 424 sound markedly different, with the 424 track sounding obviously more robust, but the overall fidelity of both decks with all their tracks summed should be roughly the same.

    I think you made a valid choice in upgrading to the 8-track cassette format, vs. going into a bouncing methodology on the 4-track cassette. I believe the 8-track upgrade to be a sonically better solution than 4-track bouncing, for the most part.

    I'd like to undulge myself & post sound quality examples. Yeah right.

    244 Demo

    246 Demo

    424mkII Demo

    424mkIII Demo

    488mkII Demo1

    488mkII Demo2

    488mkII Demo3

    Got a little carried away there, I guess!
    Attached Images Attached Images 1-tascam-424mkiiz-jpg  1-tascam-424mkiiiz-jpg  1-tascam-488mkiiz-jpg  1-cassette-jpg 
    Last edited by A Reel Person; 04-04-2009 at 16:53.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lt. Bob
    ... subtleties of sound make a difference to those who really listen.

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    wow, thanks for all that information...very useful stuff.

    I compared the two this afternoon. It was just one track with one mic...vocals and acoustic guitar. I used an m-audio dmp3 preamp with a ppa1 ldc. the difference was significant.

    The 424 was full and quite. The 488 was noisy, thin and had a hollow reverb type sound sound. It almost sounds like an old tape answering machine. It really sounds bad.

    Something is obviously wrong with this thing. Do I have any options for fixing it up?

    Oh and yes, I did clean the heads.

    thanks again

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    Hey by the way...those songs are awesome.

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    Arrow Gosh, thanx!

    If the sound quality is unusually bad on the 488mkII, sight unseen I couldn't rule out a blown input or something wrong with the record or playback electronics, but it would be nearly impossible to guess exactly what from online.

    I'd expect minimally a fair fidelity out of the 488mkII. If it was misused or abused, or perhaps suffered some failure from normal use,... the field would be wide open as to what's wrong or what would fix it. You just start at the basics and work your way up the chain. I've read of a few cases of blown internal preamps from overdriving it with an external preamp, as an example of a common failure (maybe what you're dealing with). F/I, if you're using an external preamp, it would be most correct to use the "Line" input sections of the mixer.

    You can hear my Portastudio demos & use that as a yardstick to measure relative fidelity.

    Thanx again. Good luck!
    Quote Originally Posted by Lt. Bob
    ... subtleties of sound make a difference to those who really listen.

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    are any of these fixes I can do myself? I have no experience with electronics but I'm sure I could open it up and clean some rubber.

    do you suggest I open it up?

    I recorded a song on the 424 then again on the 488 and played back both on each machine. again this is just one track so, I'm sure the differences will be less noticeable when all tracks are summed. the 424 has so much more bass. I can essentially crank the bass knob on the 488 all the way up and it is not altogether unpleasing. when I do the same on the 424 it is an unbearable underwater sound. that was interesting and unexpected.

    has anyone else noticed a difference in the eq characteristics?

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    Arrow

    Quote Originally Posted by sterndrup View Post
    are any of these fixes I can do myself? I have no experience with electronics but I'm sure I could open it up and clean some rubber.

    do you suggest I open it up?

    I recorded a song on the 424 then again on the 488 and played back both on each machine. again this is just one track so, I'm sure the differences will be less noticeable when all tracks are summed. the 424 has so much more bass. I can essentially crank the bass knob on the 488 all the way up and it is not altogether unpleasing. when I do the same on the 424 it is an unbearable underwater sound. that was interesting and unexpected.

    has anyone else noticed a difference in the eq characteristics?
    Replacing the belts, tires or pinch roller is a fairly detailed teardown for DIY'ers, but maybe not recommended for the starter. The capstan belt is easiest, but the others are a bit more demanding of tech skills. Nothing too technical, but a lot of small parts, cables & screws!

    The 424's double the track width of the 488. Doubling or halving the track width would equate to "headroom", which roughly translates to "depth of bass". The 424 would have more headroom per individual track than the 488. What you describe fits with my perspective of these machines.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lt. Bob
    ... subtleties of sound make a difference to those who really listen.

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