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Thread: Tascam 688

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    Tascam 688

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    I just picked up my first piece of recording gear, a good-condition Tascam 688. The guy I bought it from included a set of Roland DM-10 monitors and a couple pairs of monitoring headphones. He also gave me some blank tapes, although they're unlabeled and I'm not sure if they're the right kind. I just need to get some mics and then I can get right down to realizing I'm in over my head.

    Anyone have any recommendations for other things I should get for use with or to take care of the 688? I've been told it's a good idea to get some rubbing alcohol and some q-tips to clean off the heads. Where can I purchase some tapes to use with it (High-bias, type II, according to the manual)?

    Any advice or comments would be appreciated.

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    Around where I live you can get Maxell High Bias Type 2 90 minute tape at Walgreens, and thats about it. Though you may want to look for 60 minute tape.

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    Gooley,

    You want to use Type II high-bias tapes in no more than 60 minute length. You can use the 90's, but Tascam specifies the 60 minute tapes. Can't remember if the tape stock is thinner on the 90's than the 60's, but regardless I know Tascam specs 60 minute tapes. Do not under any circumstances use anything longer than the 90's.

    You can find TDK SM-60 tapes in 10-packs for Musician's Friend for $25...might be able to find them cheaper elsewhere...another favorite is Maxell's XL-II.

    Use a good quality denatured alcohol as a cleaning solution or if you use isopropyl alcohol use at least 91%. 99% is better but harder to find. Make sure it is "anhydrous" (has no water in it...look in the ingredients...if "water" is in the ingredients, don't use it.)

    Get a demagnetizer for the heads. Do not use a demag cassette...get the wand type variety.

    If you use swabs for the heads, get the kind with the wooden stick vs. plastic or paper. The wooden ones have a tighter wound cotton bud. Another great alternative suggested to me some time back by cjacek is to use 100% cotton makeup remover pads. They are cheap, hold more cleaning solution than a cotton swab, and get in the nooks and crannies better than the swabs. You can find them in the makeup section in your local department store. Get the good quality 100% cotton that have a quilted appearance, not fuzzy. I use them on my reel-to-reel machines. Might not be as effective on a cassette-based machine. Maybe pick up both and choose which one works better for you.

    Did you get the manual with it?

    The 688 is the absolute pinnacle of multi-track cassette-based "portastudios". A very cool machine.

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    You can get maxell XL-II type II high-bias tapes at walgreens still, I'm pretty sure. If not they're available online as well. In terms of microphones you should definitely get yourself a shure SM-57- you will be able to use it on everything and you will always have a use for it, no matter how much great equipment you may end up getting. It's a dynamic mic and doesn't require phantom power, so that will be another plus if you're planning to run it directly into the 688.

    I'm not sure what your budget is, but if you can afford it you might want to get a decent mic preamp. The amps in the 688 are not bad, but they are a little on the noisy side, which will make it hard to record quieter sources with a lower output mic. An external preamp would enable you to put a lot more gain on the mic without pulling up your noise floor, and you'd have the added benefit of being able to use condenser microphones that require phantom power. This is all you really need if you are recording yourself one track at a time- if you are recording multiple instruments at once you will obviously need more mics.

    In terms of cheaper equipment that you might find useful- Studio Projects' VTB-1 mic/line preamp sounds remarkably good for how cheap it is- about $100, cheaper used. This was all I had for about a year, and although it's nothing special it certainly won't stop you from making a good recording.

    You can find a decent budget condenser microphone for around 100 dollars, but I'd recommend waiting to buy a slightly better one- a marginal condenser is something you will end up replacing if you keep doing this. Having said that, if you find that one is really necessary, M-Audio's nova is more than usable, and can be picked up used on eBay for about 50 dollars. Jon O'Neil's Naiant studio store (http://naiant.com/studiostore.html) also offers some excellent self-powered small-diaphragm condensors for 30 to 60 dollars- you won't be able to use them for everything, but they make great room mics or stereo overheads, and you'll be able to find a use for them for a long time to come.

    Best of luck with everything- I think you'll find that as long as you take care to understand why you're doing everything your doing and read your manuals it's not nearly as complex as you might think. It's possible to get great sound with marginal equipment.

    Theo

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    Sorry... I got logged out and the post didn't go through until a couple hours after I wrote it... guess some of that is sort of redundant now.

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    my tip: read the manual, read it again, turn it on, try to record some tracks with manual at hand.

    I just got my second 688 and it's a great machine. I even built a studio around it and although some people think I am crazy, my clients all come/came back for more...I like to think my tascam 688 has something to do with that.

    www.myspace.com/casacassette

    Hermann Blaupunkt (Bobby Darko RIP)

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    Thanks for the responses. I've been lurking in the forum for a while and this is my first legitimate question.

    Quote Originally Posted by sweetbeats View Post
    Get a demagnetizer for the heads. Do not use a demag cassette...get the wand type variety.

    If you use swabs for the heads, get the kind with the wooden stick vs. plastic or paper. The wooden ones have a tighter wound cotton bud. Another great alternative suggested to me some time back by cjacek is to use 100% cotton makeup remover pads. They are cheap, hold more cleaning solution than a cotton swab, and get in the nooks and crannies better than the swabs. You can find them in the makeup section in your local department store. Get the good quality 100% cotton that have a quilted appearance, not fuzzy. I use them on my reel-to-reel machines. Might not be as effective on a cassette-based machine. Maybe pick up both and choose which one works better for you.

    Did you get the manual with it?
    I'm guessing swabs would work better than the pads because the cassette heads are considerably smaller than the reel-to-reel heads. But I'll give both a try.

    How often do you recommend I degauss the heads?

    And yeah, I got the original manual and a copy of it. Reading through it right now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Theo K View Post
    You can get maxell XL-II type II high-bias tapes at walgreens still, I'm pretty sure. If not they're available online as well. In terms of microphones you should definitely get yourself a shure SM-57- you will be able to use it on everything and you will always have a use for it, no matter how much great equipment you may end up getting. It's a dynamic mic and doesn't require phantom power, so that will be another plus if you're planning to run it directly into the 688.

    I'm not sure what your budget is, but if you can afford it you might want to get a decent mic preamp. The amps in the 688 are not bad, but they are a little on the noisy side, which will make it hard to record quieter sources with a lower output mic. An external preamp would enable you to put a lot more gain on the mic without pulling up your noise floor, and you'd have the added benefit of being able to use condenser microphones that require phantom power. This is all you really need if you are recording yourself one track at a time- if you are recording multiple instruments at once you will obviously need more mics.
    I was planning on getting a set of 3 of those ES-57s from Orange County Speaker that I've heard talked about here, and then purchasing a decent LDC and either a phantom power box or a preamp. I've read good things about the MXL v67g and the AT2020, but I'll probably look to find a better one.

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    thought someone might need it:

    midistudio 688 manual
    http://dl.getdropbox.com/u/120201/Tascam688.pdf

    a working link. please, pass the file around and mirror it!

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