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Thread: Newbie needs gear selection help

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    Newbie needs gear selection help

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    I'm brand new at this, and technologically challenged, so to speak.

    I need a 4-track analogue recorder, capable of recording 3 or 4 voices, and doing some basic dubbing/mixing. I'm not looking for sophistication, but would like a good quality tape when finished. We have to capture some harmonies. Used or new is OK. It can be as small as a toaster or big as a smallish suitcase.
    Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
    Reilley

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    Arrow Well, that's a pretty narrow definition.

    For new equipment, you're pretty much looking at the Tascam 424mkIII, for best overall features and sound quality. May be found new at www.musiciansfriend.com for $329, also at most Guitar Centers/same.

    There's also the NEW Tascam 414mkII Portastudio, which is a capable recorder, and a little smaller and lower-tech than the 424mkIII, but for about $249/new.

    For used equipment, I'd say try to find:
    -the mint Tascam 246, for best overall feature package and hifi in a vintage format analog Portastudio, full-mixer/4-track recorder, 2x-speed hifi recording.

    -Second choice, a mint Tascam 244 Portastudio, full-mixer/4-track recorder, 2x-speed hifi recording.

    -Third choice, a mint Tascam 234 Syncaset, can accept 4-Mic inputs directly & records 4-simultaneously, with limited onboard stereo mixdown capability, only. 2x-speed hifi recording. [No full mixer like a Portastudio]. This option leaves the choice open in the future to integrate it with a more capable outboard mixer, f/i the Tascam M30.

    -Fourth choice, a mint Tascam Porta One, especially good for remote field recording, with battery op and strap buttons, but is a less complex & smaller unit, with 1x-single speed recording only, [more lofi than 2x-speed recording].

    Remember, to search out one of these used units ABOVE to be in mint condition, as they are 15-20 year old machines, but still may be found as mint used equipment, if you shop hard enough.

    I JUST REMEMBERED ANOTHER WINNER!

    GO FIND the barely used, almost new, a couple years old...

    -TASCAM 424mkII Portastudio, which as USED is less $ than the new 424mkIII, AND yet, you're dealing with a fairly new & capable 4-track Portastudio full-mixer/4-track recorder, w/2x-speed hifi recording. Issued and sold as new until 1997, and therefore, you're not up against some of the possible maintenance issues of 20-year old gear.

    EDIT: Make the 424mkII my FIRST choice recommendation of USED gear, and the others [246/244/234/PortOne] after that.

    Okay?

    Which of the above 4-track recorders do I have and use?

    All of them!
    Last edited by A Reel Person; 09-19-2003 at 20:58.

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    Which of the above 4-track recorders do I have and use? All of them!

    What a showoff!

    Hey, ARP, I've been looking at the 424mkii for my brother as he wants to bust in to recording and I started with the original 424 and loved it.

    Why do you think the other models you listed would be better in a mint condition compared to the 424? I'm just curious. Thanks.

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    Arrow Sure. Maybe I wasn't clear. The 424mkII was an afterthought,...

    but I'd place it at the top of the USED gear list, specifically because of features, price, and the fact that it's just a few-year-old machine, and therefore is easier to find as mint, and will just be newer overall.

    I can't say enough of the 424mkII, as it's one of my favorite machines. I especially like the topmouned XLR and patch connectors, flatter no-nonsense design, excellent & bright LED/flourescent meter. Love especially the flat grey color! Plus, it's a truly self-contained Portastudio unit, where the new 424mkIII and 414mkII have external power supplies, technically making them 2-piece units. I know, that's picking!

    Anyway, I like the 424mkII especially as much as the others I've mentioned, and would place it on the top of the USED gear list. I'd assume most people would be more comfortable with bidding on used gear that was 5 years old, more than they'd be with 20 year old gear, but it's all relative.

    The 246, 244 and 234, IMO, are superior units, that should not be overlooked simply because they're 15-20 years old. Design aspect of the 246, alone, dwarfs any 4-track Portastudio it's compared to, even the 424mkII/III. But, it's a 15-20 year old machine, that's a little harder to find as mint.

    1) 424mkII
    2) 246
    3) 244
    4) 234

    Used units worth having. The 424mkII hits the top of the list, simply because it's newest. The 246 surely kicks it's butt, feature for feature, but is an older machine. There's a relative choice there, eh?

    Thanx for asking.
    Last edited by A Reel Person; 09-19-2003 at 22:06.

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    Arrow PS: I actually don't have or use the 414mkII,...

    but I'd consider getting one just for fun, if the price was right.

    I have all the others I mentioned, though, FWIW.

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    Lightbulb

    Hey!

    How about the TASCAM 22-4?

    That was/is a compact 4 track reel to reel that ran at 15 ips on 1/4" tape and had the same fidelity as the 34 only smaller and more compact! It could only fit 7.5 inch reels, which made it smaller.

    That would be about the size of a small suitcase and offer professional level fidelity over the Portastudio cassette stuff which I would term as home stereo fidelity at best.

    Team it up with a TASCAM M106 Mixer and you've got some serious recording quality there as long as your microphones don't require phantom power. The M106 was a very clean and compact mixer and had great sound clarity and quality to the build construction. I know. I used to own one when I had my A3340S back in the 80's.

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    Arrow -AHEM- That's two suitcases!

    I mean, no offense, of course, but I thought of that. The 22-4 is indeed small, 4-track and hifi, but requires an external mixer,... a second small suitcase.

    The question seemed to be about a single, small, self contained unit, that was no larger than to fit in a small suitcase, so the above references are my answer, all single, self-contained units, incl. the 234 which funtions with or without a mixer/optional.

    If you're looking at lugging more gear, then the door is wide open. F/I, the 22-4/M106, the 34B, the 34/M30, etc. The 388 is a super-nice 8-track Portastudio-like unit, but is best if carried by two people, or in a flight case with rolling casters would be ideal.

    Anyway, for however much gear you want to lug & carry, there's gear for you!

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    Ahem II

    Ok!

    Scrap the M106 and get a Soundcraft Notepad mixer. It's just as clean as the M106 and is 1/4 the size and weight.

    Put the the 22-4 into the suitcase and strap the mixer to your chest like a bomb and walk into a crowded room for fun to see how many people freak out and run screaming that the next Uni-bomber has arrived on scene.

    Cheers!

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    Arrow Now that you've mentioned it,... I want to get a 22-4.

    I had even scored one at a super-low $130, that appeared mint, but due to some other irregularities on the auction, I bailed on the bid, post auction.

    Yeah, the mint 22-4 has been on my radar for a while now! I like it a lot, like GFM said, because it's 15ips/4-track on a smaller 7" reel format, smaller, highly capable unit.

    I can't wait to land one, AAMOF!

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    Arrow FWIW, I've actually travelled with a 424mkII in a small backpack, [daypack/bookbag].

    It travels really well. I carried the 4-track, mics and accessories very easily in a small backpack, [daypack, not the huge hiking/camping backpack!]

    Beyond that, I used to travel with my 244 in a padded flight case, back in the day.

    I even took my 38 & M30 mixer out for site-field recording, in two large padded flight cases,... but those were some suitcases to lug! You know it!

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