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Thread: Problems getting any results out of a fostex R8

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    Problems getting any results out of a fostex R8

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    Hello, I am back with more questions about my fostex R8, around a year ago i posted a few threads about my deck and the problems i was having with it and after a year of ownership i would like to ask a few questions.
    I have only gotten one good recording out of this deck and that was on a old maxell metal master tape. Since then i have bought a few new reels and all i have gotten is tons of shed and noisey muffled recordings with popping static in the noise floor. I have cleaned the heads and guides manically and even demagnetized the deck but 3 hours of recording later and i got the same results. I am running an old tascam M-218 nixer which i understand might not be helping. I even have some problems with that aspect as i dont seem to understand the bussing as after 4 tracks are recorded all further tracks begin to have bleed from the first 4 recorded tracks that correspond with their buss position. Its really frustrating! Not to mention everytime i record a song the machine gets so gunked up that basically all the black paint near the transport is rubbing off from all the cleaning and their is plenty more getting inside the deck and in places i cant get to. I have even had to use dental tools to clean the cracks and crevices! I was very happy with the first recording i got out of the deck but its been over a year and im thinking of just selling it and saving up for a 1/2 inch like a TSR-8 or similar as i get better fidelity out of my Tascam 424mkiii then i do this fostex R8 and it is really demoralizing! so if anyone could clue me in to what is going on i would love it!
    1. Why is new tape shedding so heavy?
    2.why has every recording been so muffled and bad with popping static noise faintly behind the whole mix?
    3. Can i do anything else to make this deck work or is it a lost cause?
    4. Whats the deal with the tascam M-218 mixer? is it part of the problem?
    5. Does anyone have a guide for calibrating this deck?

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    OK, so when you say 'new reels', that's brand new SM911 stock, right? Not 456 off ebay? If so, that would indicate some problem with the tape path.

    If the shed is purely at the edges, that can happen if the machine was run on Ampex/Quantegy for its whole life and then suddenly switched to a different formula, since Ampex and later Quantegy cut their tape slightly narrower than spec, and if there's a groove worn into any of the tape path, it will be slightly too small for more modern formulations (though this should eventually fix itself).
    If not, make sure that every part of the tape path is smooth. If there's some rough or flat edges in the guides or something, it may be scraping the oxide off the tape.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jpmorris View Post
    OK, so when you say 'new reels', that's brand new SM911 stock, right? Not 456 off ebay? If so, that would indicate some problem with the tape path.

    If the shed is purely at the edges, that can happen if the machine was run on Ampex/Quantegy for its whole life and then suddenly switched to a different formula, since Ampex and later Quantegy cut their tape slightly narrower than spec, and if there's a groove worn into any of the tape path, it will be slightly too small for more modern formulations (though this should eventually fix itself).
    If not, make sure that every part of the tape path is smooth. If there's some rough or flat edges in the guides or something, it may be scraping the oxide off the tape.
    Its new tape not NOS, but this still doesnt help with getting fidelity as i am getting all kinds of rubbing popping sounds in the background of channel 1

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    Are you sure the alignment is right? Is there a chance the guides, heads and pinch roller have all been adjusted so the tape chatters, losing contact as it passed through? A sample of the problem would be good and misalignment of this type also grinds the edges of the tape away? Also worth having a listen with your ear really close to the heads. You can hear misalignment.

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    Don't expect high fidelity from channel 1. Put a kick drum or bass guitar on edge tracks.

    Your machine might be in need of electronic and mechanic alignment for the tape you are using. That said, you won't ever get a completely static noise floor from this machine, especially the edge tracks. The noise floor level will always fluctuate a bit and there will be little pops and subtle dropouts here and there.

    I recorded on a Fostex R8 for about 10 years up until 2018.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rob aylestone View Post
    Are you sure the alignment is right? Is there a chance the guides, heads and pinch roller have all been adjusted so the tape chatters, losing contact as it passed through? A sample of the problem would be good and misalignment of this type also grinds the edges of the tape away? Also worth having a listen with your ear really close to the heads. You can hear misalignment.
    Do you think this machine is really worth investing that much time and work into? im thinking of just cutting my losses and grabbing a 1/2 inch in better functional order

    ---------- Update ----------

    Should i open it up and really scub it all out? maybe demag again? any advice on how to to align this machine?

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    Scrub it out - and align seem to be streets apart in the love, care and attention required to keep a reel to reel functioning. In fact - keeping a " machine aligned is not double the work of ", probably much higher, because the tape track pack is pretty much the same, but of course angles need to be more precise as with the extra tape width, thing get more displaced when misaligned.

    The machine you have was pretty decent - but I wonder if you have the kit and skill set to restore it to perfect yourself?

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    If brand new tape is shedding then you should be sending it back to where you bought it.

    JP Morris is right when he says that if you have been using slightly narrower tapes and then try to use a wider tape then the design of the Fostex heads means that the edge tracks will make poor contact with the head. Other manufacturers have a groove at the top and bottom of the head to get over this but Fostex don't.

    I'm just wondering whether it might be helpful if you make a video showing your machine in action and showing the problems that you are having?
    JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration
    http://www.jrpmusic.co.uk

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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesperrett View Post
    If brand new tape is shedding then you should be sending it back to where you bought it.

    JP Morris is right when he says that if you have been using slightly narrower tapes and then try to use a wider tape then the design of the Fostex heads means that the edge tracks will make poor contact with the head. Other manufacturers have a groove at the top and bottom of the head to get over this but Fostex don't.

    I'm just wondering whether it might be helpful if you make a video showing your machine in action and showing the problems that you are having?
    What would you like a video of? the shedding?

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    1/2" machines are generally less prone to dropouts and issues like this (better build quality as well).

    If you have the time and money to find a 1/2" machine in better working order and are happy to pay twice as much for the tape then I would suggest this option.

    Fostex R8 is a capable tape recorder but sounds like your one needs some work. It would probably be cheaper buying a fully working machine than fixing your one. (edit: assuming you are paying a tech to fix it and not fixing it yourself).

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