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Thread: Tascam 388 Distorted and Low record on tracks 1 and 7

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    Tascam 388 Distorted and Low record on tracks 1 and 7

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    Hello,

    This is my first post here. I have dug around quite a lot to source some info for this issue but have not found a definitive answer.

    My 388 has an issue with tracks 1 and 7. Both tracks play back freshly recorded audio distorted, crackly and at low volume. The machine will play back recordings already made before the issue arose with perfect clarity. The issue is only with new recordings. I am able to monitor a powerful signal and send it to all tracks but only get the issue on 1 and 7. I have swapped the cards including the DBX cards. This makes no difference.

    I initially had this issue with 7 only but track 1 has followed suite. I am now attempting to sell the machine and track 1 went bad. The heads have been cleaned. The new buyer suspects the heads are bad. Can the heads go bad in such quick fashion when they were working perfectly. Or is it more likely to be a bad cap or solder?

    I would really appreciate some help. It feels as if the machine is trying to avoid being sold!

    Many thanks,
    Stephen

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    Greetings!

    Heads CAN go bad fairly rapidly as the tip depth reaches minimum and gap opens up, but this usually manifests as, initially, a decrease in HF performance, and then a rapid drop in signal to tape performance to the end of no signal to tape. When I get a chance I’ll take a look at the schematics to see what the possible culprit might be. You’ve done some good initial troubleshooting steps and given some clear information. That’s helpful.

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    Hi,

    Many thanks for your prompt response. Would it help if I attached a link to a recording of the issue? I can easily do so.

    Thanks
    Stephen

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    Hi Sweetbeats,

    I attach a photo of the heads - close up. I know it can be hard to tell about the condition of them but perhaps you can offer some thoughts on their wear state? They look pretty good to my untrained eye when I compare them to other online photos. There is some black staining of some kind on the erase head. I don't know what that could be.

    tascam-388-head-close-up-jpg

    Your input is much appreciated.

    Best,
    Stephen

    Quote Originally Posted by sweetbeats View Post
    Greetings!

    Heads CAN go bad fairly rapidly as the tip depth reaches minimum and gap opens up, but this usually manifests as, initially, a decrease in HF performance, and then a rapid drop in signal to tape performance to the end of no signal to tape. When I get a chance I’ll take a look at the schematics to see what the possible culprit might be. You’ve done some good initial troubleshooting steps and given some clear information. That’s helpful.

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    What happens if you take the tape that was recorded that plays back poorly on tracks 1 & 7, flip the tape and play it backwards? Is the issue still on tracks 1 & 7, or does it migrate to tracks 2 & 8?

    Yes you are right there really isn’t any way to properly assess a headstack from a picture...the picture doesn’t tell you how much tip depth is left, whether or not it has been relapsed before, usually doesn’t show if the wrap angle is correct, etc. But what I can see is it looks like the wear on the lifters is consistent with the head, and is nominal wear, not advanced. It looks good to me. I would not naturally assume your headstack is the problem. The marks on your erase head, I don’t think that is staining. I believe that is just burnishing/polishing of the aluminum base material the head is made from. I think it is fine.

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    Hi Sweetbeats,

    Well would you believe it - I moved the machine up some stairs to my new loft studio space and went to try what you suggested. Now neither track 1 nor track 7 are recording any signal whatsoever. I put the same source into all 8 tracks and there is zero on 1 or 7. I flipped the tape over and there is zero signal on 2 or 8.

    There must be a loose cable/connection or something inside the machine as swapping the cards does nothing at all! I have tried it with DBX on and off. Channel 1 and 7 play back audio fine. The exact same distorted signal that used to be captured by 1 and 7 is now the exact same silence as on 1 and 7.

    Now, what could it be? Any ideas greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Stephen



    Quote Originally Posted by sweetbeats View Post
    What happens if you take the tape that was recorded that plays back poorly on tracks 1 & 7, flip the tape and play it backwards? Is the issue still on tracks 1 & 7, or does it migrate to tracks 2 & 8?

    Yes you are right there really isn’t any way to properly assess a headstack from a picture...the picture doesn’t tell you how much tip depth is left, whether or not it has been relapsed before, usually doesn’t show if the wrap angle is correct, etc. But what I can see is it looks like the wear on the lifters is consistent with the head, and is nominal wear, not advanced. It looks good to me. I would not naturally assume your headstack is the problem. The marks on your erase head, I don’t think that is staining. I believe that is just burnishing/polishing of the aluminum base material the head is made from. I think it is fine.

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