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Thread: Tascam 4-Track 414 MKII & 424 MKII mixers

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    Tascam 4-Track 414 MKII & 424 MKII mixers

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    Hey fellas.

    I've been looking around this forum (and elsewhere) but still can't get clear enough answers to my questions.

    1st one....
    I've had my eye on the 424 MKII for week or so, but since the 414 MKII seems to be a little more on the cheaper side I wanted some thoughts on the quality.
    Are there any REAL quality differences? I'm after a WARM fat sound to my audio. I've read there isn't much difference between the two. I don't care much for the functionality differences as they both have what I need in terms of that.

    Secondly....
    (This goes for both models)
    Would I able to use the Tascam as a straight mixer in my audio chain? I mean without recording to tape. If so, this will be good as I can just replace my current (pooey) one and use this as my hardware EQ.

    Thirdly...
    The mixer/EQ on both the 414/424 - are these known to give a warm quality sounding output? I know this is a vague question, but any thoughts from exp. users would be great.

    And lastly....
    Any recommendations to which tapes to use for a punchy compression-type (saturation)? Or just experiment..?


    Appreciate the feedback in advance.

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    Exclamation ...

    The 424mkII inputs will accommodate 4 Low-Z mics on XLR connectors, and the 414mkII will accept only 2. To get 4 XLR mic connectors into the 414mkII will require 2 adapters, which is not a huge problem, or just use 1/4" connected Hi-Z mics. To me that's not a huge deal, but you can get longer cable runs with less noise using XLR-balanced cables.

    The 424 gives a 5/6 and 7/8 inputs on separate TS 1/4" connectors which can be handy, but to get the 5/6 and 7/8 input pairs in stereo on the 414mkII requires an "insert" cable to put 2 inputs into the 1 TRS stereo jack for each pair. To me that's not a huge issue, either. Just good to know.

    I think the difference in the sound quality you get between the 414mkii and 424mkII is that the 424mkII's EQ is 3-band with the mid band sweepable, which enables you to dial in the EQ sweet spot for each channel/instrument/input.

    The 414mkII is meant to be a bit smaller & compact, while the 424mkII is meant to be more full featured. The size difference is not that dramatic. The 424mkII has a good design and lots of features, while the 414mkII has almost the same feature set in a smaller footprint, but obviously some smaller feature sets on some key items such as XLR inputs, the kind of meter, no Normal speed and only 2 band EQ.

    With that being said, the differences are subtle. They may both be used as a stereo mixer in any signal chain, less the tape drive section. The EQ is a bit better on the 424mkII. The tape recording quality from both on High speed will be very similar. I think they're both good machines. 414mkII's usually go for a lot less than 424mkII's. They both have their proper niche to fill.

    You will get a "tape" analog sound from both. Both require Type II tapes. Brand differences are very subtle. Availability is still acceptable. For the guys who really scrutinize subtle differences between brands of Type II tapes, go visit Tapeheads dot net. To me,... I've gotten a wide variety of quality Type II tapes and they are all basically acceptable.

    Is that a lot of words that ultimately say nothing? Figures!
    Quote Originally Posted by Lt. Bob
    ... subtleties of sound make a difference to those who really listen.

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    Yeah I think the only issue I have with the 414 is that it only have high and low end EQ, and the 424 has the 3 bands.
    I'll have to go with the 424 MKII since I'll be using it as a mixer a lot.

    As for the mixer itself, are they good quality, as in, do they stand a chance in comparison to say, a Mackie 1402VLZ3 Mixer which sits in the same price range?
    I guess I'm just after an idea of the output quality. cheers

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    Exclamation 424mkII vs. 1402-VLZ3?

    I've never used or heard the 1402-VLZ3 mixer, so I can't compare directly, but looking at the features it's more like comparing apples & oranges. The Mackie has more of nearly everything, however the 3-band EQ on the 1402 is still fixed frequency shelving EQ. Not the end of the world, but it is what it is.

    What I think about shelving/fixed EQ vs. sweepable EQ is that a sweepable EQ helps you dial in on the sweet spot of the source sound, where a fixed EQ on many channels, boost or cut, if overused would tend to turn the sound to... looking for the word,... eh,... mush. Just think, if you have 8 channels input into the mixer and you boost 12kHz and 100Hz on every channel,... what do you achieve? You're crowding those selected frequencies. (MO)... I think the word I was looking for was "mud".

    If you're looking for a Tascam Portastudio for 4-track recording onto cassette tape with a premium mixer, I'd look at the 246, however being older might present more maintenance issues to find or get to peak performance. The 246 has a true 4-buss output and 2-band sweepable EQ, and the the Tascam 244 has a 2-buss output and 2-band sweepable EQ. However, the 244/246 have no XLR inputs, at all. XLR to 1/4" adapters would be required for all channels to use XLR balanced mics.

    If you're looking for analog tape operability and essence, and you don't mind going up in weight, size and price class, maybe look at the Tascam 388. You'll get 8-channel inputs, 3-band sweepable EQ, 8-buss outputs, XLR's on each channel and records to 8-tracks on 1/4" tape, that's known today as a "mid-fi" analog sound. Some people recommend against the 388 because heads are no longer available, which is a maintenance concern going forward, but 1/4" tape is more affordable than wider formats.

    Really, if you want analog mojo and more premium mixer, a great place to start might be a Tascam 38 and M30 mixer. The M30 is compact & heavy, nice features, 3-band EQ with 2-sweepable and 1-fixed, 6-XLR inputs & 2-1/4" inputs, 4-buss output, separate Monitor & submix sections, generous hardwired effects patch points on every channel and buss, even a phono preamp onboard. You can use it to interface to the hifi 1/2" tape drive, 38, or any other sound depot such as a DAW, audio interface, etc., and it will do quite nicely with little or no compromises. 1/2" 8-track tape is considered a hifi entry level format. Of course, with this system you get a bigger price bump for entry and ongoing use.

    I'm just tossing out those ideas, as this post has gone astray of the original topic.
    Last edited by A Reel Person; 10-12-2014 at 09:49.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lt. Bob
    ... subtleties of sound make a difference to those who really listen.

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    You my man, need the "Best response and information in a forum" award haha. Thanks for all the info.

    I knew it would be hard to compare the 1402-VLZ3 mixer to the Tascam 424 since they are both different devices. I suppose the reason I was originally enquiring (inquiring? damn American spelling haha) about the Tascam is because it has both a mixer and recording functionality. Since I was just looking for a good tape recorder I learned about the Tascam's and having the mixer is a huge bonus since I can just turf my old mixer (which is a piece of shit) and have 2 machines in one. So I guess it's an upgrade as well as something new for me.

    Having the 3 EQ band would also be more beneficial to me than the 2 (high and low) if I were to keep the Tascam for my primary mixing console - so that I have more control.

    I've read up on the 1/2" inch tape decks such as the Tascam 38, I'd love one but they are pretty exxy in price.

    I'm still pretty set on getting the Tascam 424 MKII since it's not too pricey and has everything I need including a good mixer, tape, and overall robust solid piece of hardware (as I've read).

    Now off to eBay to bite the bullet.


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    TASCAM M414 mkII

    Hi, I recently bought a 414mkII taskam recorder and I'm very happy with its sound and functionality but I have a problem that when I try to play a tape it plays with a speed that is not theirs, pitch and pitch acceleration and I do not know what it is Because, does anyone know what may be due and what possible solution could it have?

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    Quote Originally Posted by diocuro View Post
    Hi, I recently bought a 414mkII taskam recorder and I'm very happy with its sound and functionality but I have a problem that when I try to play a tape it plays with a speed that is not theirs, pitch and pitch acceleration and I do not know what it is Because, does anyone know what may be due and what possible solution could it have?
    Hi... was the tape recorded on another machine? The 414 only plays and records at a higher speed than standard decks-- I can't remember the ips off the top of my head.

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    Hey, following online instructions, I've hooked my Tascam 414 up to an external reverb/delay unit (a very nifty Copicat unit from the 60s). I'm going:
    Tascam Effect Send 1 --> Input 1 on Copicat. Copicat Line out --> Stereo Inputs 5/6 on Tascam.
    I've got a condenser mic going through a Steinberg pre-amp (so i can record digitally at the same time) and out to the Tascam (into Mic Input 2).
    When I monitor through the headphones from the Tascam, i'm hearing the Copicat effects beautifully-- it sounds awesome. So I hit record and play a tune. Then i rewind the tape, switch the Copicat off and play back what i just recorded-- it's dry. No effects recorded. I can't seem to solve this.

    One workaround I tried is having the Copicat line out go into Mic Input 1 on the Tascam-- then I simultaneously record Track 1 (Copicat), Track 2 (condenser) onto Track 3. That does get me the effect recorded on tape, but the quality loss is massive and not really worth it.

    I just want to record that sweet sound I'm hearing in the monitor when the Copicat is coming through those Stereo Inputs. Any suggestions? I should also mention i'm brand new to all of this and don't have much of a tech head, so if i'm missing something embarrassingly obvious, that's why.
    Thanks!

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    I just wrote a very detailed reply and deleted it. More words just confuse the issue. There are so many contingencies and things to describe, sight unseen.

    I think it boils down to this:

    Inputs 5/6 assign to the Stereo L/R buss, internal to the 414, and have no dedicated "track" to assign to, such as Tracks 1-4.

    The Rec Fuction switches are on the channel strip, but actually function to route mixer traffic to the tape tracks.

    If you put any Rec Function switch UP, to [1-4], then that #'d tape track will record only from it's same-numbered mixer input, while ignoring all other inputs and also ignoring the L/R stereo buss.

    If you put any Rec Function switch DOWN [L or R, repsectively], then that #'d tape track will record the entire mixed signal it "hears" on the L/R stereo buss.

    What you're listening to in the headphones is a L/R Stereo buss mix. When the Rec Function switch is in the UP position, that tape track is only "listening" to it's same numbered input channel.

    UP would be considered "Direct Mode" and DOWN would be considered "Buss Mode" recording. They are different! You would be best to learn how each works within the Portastudio, or any other analog studio. It's a little different than basic digital recording concepts. If you understand larger mixers, you're way ahead.

    Sight unseen, what it seems is you're using Direct mode instead of Buss mode. I believe you would use Buss mode recording to capture the sound you desire onto tape with your described setup.

    There are a lot of scenarios, some assumption and a lot of complexity that's hard to describe briefly in Portastudios or any large format mixer & analog recording. Think it over a minute and give things a try. Your problem and solution are very simple. Trying to debug or describe it further at a certain point becomes word-vomit.
    Last edited by A Reel Person; 06-25-2019 at 16:04.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lt. Bob
    ... subtleties of sound make a difference to those who really listen.

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