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Thread: Recovering 144 Cassette Tapes

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    Recovering 144 Cassette Tapes

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    I now record on my computer. But from the mid 80s until 2000 I recorded on a Teac 144 Portastudio.
    My portastudio no longer works. I tried to get it repaired, but the expert gave up on it, I've tried to find and buy an old one with no luck. So here's my dilemma.
    How do I get the tracks off my old cassettes, and transferred to my computer. Would any other older machines do the job?
    They are four tracks and recorded at a much faster speed of course.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RogerStevens View Post
    I now record on my computer. But from the mid 80s until 2000 I recorded on a Teac 144 Portastudio.
    My portastudio no longer works. I tried to get it repaired, but the expert gave up on it, I've tried to find and buy an old one with no luck. So here's my dilemma.
    How do I get the tracks off my old cassettes, and transferred to my computer. Would any other older machines do the job?
    They are four tracks and recorded at a much faster speed of course.
    you would need a 4 track cassette for sure. the speed could be fixed in the DAW if necessary.

    is there no other place that could repair your device? what exactly is wrong with it ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr average View Post
    you would need a 4 track cassette for sure. the speed could be fixed in the DAW if necessary.
    Mmm...it won't work changing the speed in the DAW.
    If you used a different deck at a different speed, you would also change the pitch, and then trying to fix that would be a mess...but I think maybe with those decks, there was also more to it than just the speed. There might have been some type of noise-reduction used, which would then be tied to the speed also.

    Anyway...here's 3 Teac 144 Portastudio decks for sale right now...a couple for parts and one looks to be working.

    https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_fro...tudio&_sacat=0

    I also wonder which of Teac's later models would be able to run those tapes...I'm sure there has to be a couple of others besides the 144, but I'm not familiar with the 144 specs to make any comparisons to other Teac models...something the OP should be able to do if he has that info.

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    Quote Originally Posted by miroslav View Post
    Mmm...it won't work changing the speed in the DAW.
    If you used a different deck at a different speed, you would also change the pitch, and then trying to fix that would be a mess...but I think maybe with those decks, there was also more to it than just the speed. There might have been some type of noise-reduction used, which would then be tied to the speed also.

    Anyway...here's 3 Teac 144 Portastudio decks for sale right now:

    https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_fro...tudio&_sacat=0

    well if there were noise reduction then maybe if it were tied to the speed. but that would seem strange if it were. pitch maybe, speed no.

    my DAW can change the time of duration so that you can adjust for any speed differences.
    This is not changing pitch. this is strictly changing duration so that the pitch comes out the same as if the deck were at the right speed.

    if he can buy a working deck he would be better off. transfer the tapes to HD then get rid of the old equipment before he is tempted to use it again with more problems.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr average View Post
    well if there were noise reduction then maybe if it were tied to the speed. but that would seem strange if it were. pitch maybe, speed no.

    my DAW can change the time of duration so that you can adjust for any speed differences.
    This is not changing pitch. this is strictly changing duration so that the pitch comes out the same as if the deck were at the right speed.

    if he can buy a working deck he would be better off. transfer the tapes to HD then get rid of the old equipment before he is tempted to use it again with more problems.
    His problem is not the DAW speed change...but a deck speed change.
    IOW, he needs to transfer...so if some other deck is at a different speed, then the pitch will change before it ever gets to the DAW.

    Also speed change without pitch change in the DAW is not without a price.
    If there is a phrasing that requires 3 seconds...and you now use the DAW to change the speed so that the same phrasing occurs across 5 seconds...it won't be the same.

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    Quote Originally Posted by miroslav View Post
    His problem is not the DAW speed change...but a deck speed change.
    IOW, he needs to transfer...so if some other deck is at a different speed, then the pitch will change before it ever gets to the DAW.

    Also speed change without pitch change in the DAW is not without a price.
    If there is a phrasing that requires 3 seconds...and you now use the DAW to change the speed so that the same phrasing occurs across 5 seconds...it won't be the same.
    exactly

    if the deck runs 2x as fast as the regular cassette the pitch will be higher

    but if you slow it down 1/2x the speed will be correct as will be the pitch

    the phrasing works out just fine too.
    as long as the daw fixes it to play at the correct speed it will have the same length pitch phrasing everything
    the only risk might be digital errors do to interpolation or extrapolation so be sure to make the copy at at least 192 and 24 or32 deep

    believe me this does work fine if you dont overthink a lot of irrelevant issues and try to fix them needlessly so as to end up screwing thing up

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    Mmm...again, he needs to find a deck, and it's the deck that will mess up the pitch if it is a different speed.
    So at a different speed/pitch...the formants and timbre will be changed.
    I'm not sure how easy it would be to fix those things in the DAW...and I've messed with them enough to know it's one thing with a single source, never mind with multiple sources.

    AFA the time stretch...there's a point where it doesn't really work. All depends on how much. If you have 4 notes that are exactly 1/4 second apart when played normally, which mean they use up 1 second total...and now you stretch them to play across 2 seconds...it doesn't work, even if their pitch is constant.

    I know you're saying that whatever the changes, they can be "reversed" back to correct in the DAW...but I'm not very optimistic.

    But all this is quesstimation until the OP finds a deck that can play back those tapes...at any speed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by miroslav View Post
    Mmm...again, he needs to find a deck, and it's the deck that will mess up the pitch if it is a different speed.
    So at a different speed/pitch...the formants and timbre will be changed.
    I'm not sure how easy it would be to fix those things in the DAW...and I've messed with them enough to know it's one thing with a single source, never mind with multiple sources.

    AFA the time stretch...there's a point where it doesn't really work. All depends on how much. If you have 4 notes that are exactly 1/4 second apart when played normally, which mean they use up 1 second total...and now you stretch them to play across 2 seconds...it doesn't work, even if their pitch is constant.

    I know you're saying that whatever the changes, they can be "reversed" back to correct in the DAW...but I'm not very optimistic.

    But all this is quesstimation until the OP finds a deck that can play back those tapes...at any speed.



    any 4 head deck even one that messes up the speed will fix the problem of getting the tapes into digital form on a DAW
    hopefully he finds the same deck with the same speed and avoids it completely.

    either i wasted 5 years of my life in graduate school or you can fix the time problem in a DAW without any issues except sample based errors if you have to up/down sample with too few. imho you are drastically overthinking the problem.

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    Yeah I’m not seeing what the issue is with using any 4-track Teac machine even if it is double speed. Assuming the OP has a 4-channel audio interface to get the tracks into the DAW simultaneously (and a multitracker with individual track outs for each track is used), at double speed the pitch will be up an octave. Cut the speed in half using the DAW and the pitch will be back down to normal. Ideally a standard speed machine is found and used...that will offer the best resolution potential, but honestly even if the interface only does 96kHz sample rate, if it was me, if I could only find a double speed multitrack machine I’d transfer at the max sample rate, and then convert the tracks to half that sample rate...done. If the interface is 24-bit, really, even transferring at 88.2kHz and converting to 44.1kHz is no sort of crime.

    I need to look at the 144...I can’t recall if there is onboard n/r and if so what kind. Maybe the OP can share? Because even if there IS onboard n/r there is still the factor of whether or not it was used on the material she/he wishes to transfer. If it is dbx and it was engaged, you should be able to reproduce with any dbx equipped machine assuming the 144 was relatively in spec at the time of tracking and the reproduce machine is relatively in spec. If some other n/r was used (such as Dolby B), that will make it a little harder to find but not at all impossible...jut wasn’t as common on the 4-track cassette machines.

    And outside of ALL the above I too am curious about what the problem was that could not be fixed on the 144. To the OP what is wrong with the 144?

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    Quote Originally Posted by sweetbeats View Post
    at double speed the pitch will be up an octave. Cut the speed in half using the DAW and the pitch will be back down to normal.
    Additionally, recording at double the speed will, as you say, raise the pitch an octave and halving the speed in the DAW will return it to the correct speed, but this will also give you the original formant.

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