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Thread: sticky VU meter on 246....suggestions??

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    sticky VU meter on 246....suggestions??

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    recently i lucked into a MINT condition 246. the unit only had 2-3 hours use on it (if that) when i picked it up. it works flawlessly and sounds MUCH better than i ever expected. i am very impressed with the 246. it sounds even better than my 238s recorder. i HAVE noticed, however, that OCCASIONALY the needle on the VU meter for track 4 "hangs" when the input level peaks (if the needle goes hard right it sometimes "sticks"). a tap on the side of the 246 sends it back to its proper spot. it doesn't happen everytime,....but it bugs me just a little. maybe there is a dab of goo or a spec of dust in there. i don't know. is there anything i can do to "clean" the VU meter?? it's certainly not enough of a concern to worry about,...but if there is a simple fix i'll give it a try. let me know. cheers.

  2. #2
    Beck Guest
    Congrats on the 246 find. Iíve had mine since 1986. Best portastudio they ever made Ė right before they had to start cutting corners to compete with Fostex, Vestax, Yamaha, and everyone else who started making cheap cassette 4-tracks.

    Those meters are very delicate and a little tricky to get to. Iím not sure how a sticky substance could get in there, but I guess itís possible. It could be corrosion or a mechanical failure of some kind. In that case Tascam parts may be able to sell you a replacement.

    parts@tascam.com
    (323) 727-4840

    You will have to remove the bottom of the unit to access the meters.

    I am wondering though why you would want to maintain levels that frequently peg the meters. +3 should be absolute max on a cassette format, and even that is really too much. You should keep the strongest signals around 0 and your overdrive LEDs on each meter should just be winking at you from time to time. That may be the easiest way to solve your problem.

    Regards,
    Tim

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    Arrow Ditto what TBeck said.

    The 246 is one of the finest, most highly developed vintage Portastudios out there, and really gives you a lot in the box.

    However, the far right of the meter is +6VU, and that's territory that the needle is best to stay out of. If you're pegging the meter to the far right, something's wrong with that to begin with, and the unit's calibration and tape levels are pretty much saturated at +3VU, anyway. You should try to average 0VU and peak at +3VU, and keep the OL LED to a bare occasional flicker.

    No doubt, the more you hit +6VU and above, and the more you light that little OL LED, the "fatter" your signal sounds, okay, but that's improper gain staging of the 246.

    Also, having read the question yesterday, before TBeck posted, my first thought was, "there's nothing too easy about accessing and working on the VU meters of a 246", and also "maybe with daily workout and warmup of the 246, the sticking may go away".

    Now, I'll add to that, "as TBeck said, your best solution is to not peg the needle". That is really excessive, if you stop and think about it! Of course, it may happen occasionally, in the best of circumstances, but you'd be best to try to peak no higher than +3VU, and that's probably better all around, for the hardware and for the recorded sound quality.

    PS: Dbx won't track properly if your signals way up at +6, either. That's probably another good reason to ease up on the red.

    Oh, & WTG on the 246,... it's the bomb! Wise choice in gear, man!

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    thanks for the responses, Beck and Reel.
    i know i shouldn't be driving the meters that hard. i'm just trying to get familar with gain adjustment on the 246 and it happened by accident (several times). i was worrying more about the signal routing and less about input volume, i guess. like i said,..it doesn't stick all the time and ONLY when it peaks hard right. as i get comfortable on the machine i'm sure that (peaking) we'll be less and less of a concern anyway. i must say that i am THOROUGHLY impressed with the 246. i was worried about the EQ before i bought it but (after a little "get familiar" time) i've found it to be very "sweet" sounding EQ with a broad tonal range. i'm still trying to get used to those "stacked" knobs, though.

    p.s. i am also interested in (possibly) picking up an old Tascam analog mixer with similar EQ and routing to the 246..
    ....but in an 8-channel version (or more). anyone remember which models these might be?? cheers.

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    Arrow Sure, there's the Tascam M-30 and the M-308, withe the M308 being more complex...

    than the M-30. Both of these mixers have 2-SWEEPABLE EQ's and 1-FIXED EQ, plus 8-channel/4-buss routing, with submix [M30] and/or tape cue section [M308], both mixer designs being similar, but different, with overall function being virtually the same.

    Hey, and go check out the Tascam 388. It has all the design features and styling of the 246, but is an 8x8x2 mixer and 8-tracks to 7"-1/4" reel tape! No doubt, it also has 3-BAND SWEEPABLE EQ, which is one more band than the 246! Really, it's true!

    Actually, the 388 and 246 are sister products, out of the same design altogether, and if you like the 246, you'll absolutely love the 388!

  6. #6
    Beck Guest

    M-208

    The M-30 and M-308, which Reel recommended are very good choices. You may also want to look at the M-208 from the same era. I bought an M-216 and later an M-208 as mates for my 246 many years ago. They are sweet mixers and I still use them as my mains with my TSR-8.

    The logic and layout are much like the 246. I like the eq a little better on the 208 because it has a fixed 10 KHz shelving on top as well as a sweepable mid (250-5k). The bass is fixed at 100 Hz, which doesnít really bother me. I can use the inputs on the 246 for things like the kick drum and Bass, so between the 246 and 208 I have plenty of eq options.

    The M-208 is 4-buss and also has 8 tape inputs Ė very handy with the 246. I route vocal tracks from the 246 to the tape inputs of the 208 for mixdown so I have the benefit of the 10k eq.

    The M-208 is smaller and lighter than the M-308, which fits nicely next to the 246. They usually go for $125.00-$175.00 on ebay.

    Some goods pics here (auction ended though)

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...ayphotohosting

    Tim
    Last edited by Beck; 11-01-2003 at 21:36.

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