Anyone making NEW analog multitrack recorders?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by 12" 45rpm, Jan 15, 2018.

  1. 12" 45rpm

    12" 45rpm Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York City
    I have done some analog recording with a Tascam portastudio back in the day using cassette tape. I got rid of it for free since one channel broke. Now I am looking into buying one again and am amazed at how much people want for them. Fair conditions ones are listed for $200+ . I think I bought mine new for $250 15 years ago...

    Surely there must be a market for making a new one if used prices are exceeding what they used to cost new? With modern technology it should be possible to make something a lot more reliable as well.
     
  2. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    Not for that kind of money. I'd not even consider it these days as digital units have matured and many sound very good. Nagra might make an analog one if you've got deeper pockets than most.
    -Bill
     
  3. Dubmart

    Dubmart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    I suspect that the high prices are caused by people wanting to transfer old recordings and finding their machines no longer function, if they even still have them, as for making something new the current part selection isn't anywhere near as wide or as high quality as when tape was current and superior digital multi tracks can be had for very low prices.
     
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  4. 12" 45rpm

    12" 45rpm Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York City
  5. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    No, no new machines made. And good machines cost good money. And repairing them costs good money, and spare parts and heads cost good money. The closest you can get to a new multitrack machine in analog would be a Mara Machines hot rodded, rebuilt MCI JH 16 or JH 24. Very, very expensive. And so is the tape to use it with. Gotta pay to play! Every time I make an analog open reel, 1/2 track Stereo recording even at 7 1/2 IPS, it costs me easily $35-$40 a reel.
     
  6. hvbias

    hvbias Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northeast
    Does anyone know if ATR is doing ok after the passing of Mike Spitz?
     
  7. RDriftwood

    RDriftwood Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwestern US
    You might want to keep an eye on this page for a used one... Search Results: tascam - shopgoodwill.com
     
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  8. 12" 45rpm

    12" 45rpm Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York City
    Well I am just looking for a quality 4 or 8-track machine. My goal would be to make recordings of local bands who want to release an AAA vinyl record.. As long as you don't bounce tracks, then 4-tracks can sound very good. I could connect a mixer to each track if I wanted to add more mics.
     
  9. Gretsch6136

    Gretsch6136 Forum Resident

    Use a 4 track open reel.
     
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  10. Higlander

    Higlander Forum Resident

    Location:
    Florida, Central
    Why not just forego the analog thing and get the latest Digital version?

    Honestly going to be hard to find an older analog one in truly great condition, with all the pots and sliders working flawlessly and so on.
    Plus the digital one, just sounds better overall.
    I get you want the analog AAA thing, but not sure in this case it really is beneficial.
     
    KT88 likes this.
  11. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Location:
    Arizona
    I think the problem is why we don't see new pro analog machines is because there are no parts suppliers. I believe the reason we see high refurbish and repair prices is because there are fewer and fewer people around with the skill to fix and maintain the machines. The demand just may not be high enough to entice anyone to start making analog machines again.

    Digital is affordable, doesn't require the storage of tons of bulky tape, and you can record anywhere.
     
    dee likes this.
  12. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    Yes, but digital gear has improved so much over the past few years that it makes tape sound bad by comparison. The trouble used to be that digital had a distinctive sound that was not as smooth as analog, now it is possible with the latest A/D conversion to have the convenience of digital and also have it sound indistinguishable from analog or in the words of others, even better. Basically closer to the actual event. If you want colorations, that can be added in mastering the production.
    -Bill
     
  13. 12" 45rpm

    12" 45rpm Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York City
    I actually already have a digital multitrack, a Tascam Dr-40. It sounds good but definitely has the "digital" sound. I am looking for "analog" sound. I remember the portastudio would make good sounding recordings. I imagine if I move to a 4-track reel to reel deck I can get substantially better sound.
     
  14. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    A quality analog professional class tape machine even in those formats cost a lot of money new in the 1960's and 1970's. A 1/2" 4 track studio machine a la Ampex AG 440 B-4 in console in 1973 brand new was the price of $5284 delivered. The 2 track Ampex AG 440B-2 in console brand new was $3754 new. By comparison in that era, you could buy a new basic standard Chevrolet, Plymouth, or Ford automobile for the same money as the two track price new of the Ampex. This was when these machines were available brand new. The 2 track, 1/4" tape back then averaged around $25 a reel. The 1/2" then was around $60 a reel.
     
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  15. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    I doubt it. Memory of days gone by is a funny thing. Sure the old Portastudio sounded good for what was being used back then by the working class musicians. But if you had it side by side to your new rig, I think that you'd find it lacking. That doesn't make older digital gear or cheap digital gear sound more analog though. Just that a digital upgrade makes more sense and should result in higher performance going forward.
    -Bill
     
  16. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    Now to pile it on, Here's your 1973 brand new price for an Ampex 440B-8 track in console, 1" tape. Drum roll, please. $8500. Tape for this machine per reel was $100 a reel. No optional equipment included on the prices I quote. These machines also require 2 strong men to move. A AG 440-B2 was some 180 pounds to move in console.
     
  17. 12" 45rpm

    12" 45rpm Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York City
    Out of curiosity, what makes these so expensive? All you need is a motor to turn the reels and tape heads the size of your thumb. Where is most of the cost going ? Are tape heads super expensive?
     
  18. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    "AG 440-B2 was some 180 pounds to move..." There was a wee bit more to it than a motor and a tape head.
    -Bill
     
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  19. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    It's professional grade. massive cast aluminum deckplate. 3 big beefy motors, precision deep gap long life heads. Quiet, reliable electronics and in modular single channels and easy to service and align, and maintain. Able to hold alignment stable. Not built to be a consumer or prosumer toy, made to work 12 hours or more a day with maintenance in a downtime loses it's owner money, high pressure, recording studio environment. Those machines made a lot of hit records in the day or their successor models. For the record, my new in 1988, Otari MX 5050 B II 2 track tape machine cost some $3800 brand new. Which was a common sight in most radio stations which were well equipped. Machines built for heavy duty, failure is no option 8-12 hour or more a day reliable, professional, results were bigger, heavier, and weighed and cost more to purchase than a lightweight, delicate, less demanding or durable home tape recorder. When my Otari was new, the ReVox PR 99-2 2 track cost comparable money new. For the record, my Otari MX 5050 B II weighs right around 80 pounds, one of it's reel motors is a good deal heavier than an entire cassette portastudio by itself.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2018
  20. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    My only serious open reel deck was the ReVox PR-99 Mk2. It made decent recordings but wasn't state of the art by todays standards, nor were the recordings as good as a digital unit costing only a fifth of it's new cost. That was 9 or 10 years ago.
    -Bill
     
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  21. ad180

    ad180 Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    As somebody who works with tape machines constantly, this comment made me laugh. "Sound bad by comparison"? Define "bad."

    Tape sounds DIFFERENT. Especially the rock sessions that I engineer, the tape saturation is glorious. For my taste, Quantegy GP9 on a well-maintained machine is a thing of beauty.

    It's ironic too, because digital software companies are going crazy selling tape and console emulation plugins. People want an analog sound.
     
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  22. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    . Digital also, which he doesn't want. An obsolete format too, tape getting harder to find, unsupported too. And of unknown condition.

    Buy a used tape machine you need to know what you're doing, repairs on them can get expensive really fast. Case in point, a local friend of mine owns a small studio, he bought an Otari MX 5050 B-8 machine which uses 1/2" tape some years ago, and sight unseen. Paid around $900 for it. This machine had a capstan motor with bad bearings, 2 channels of the 8 had head gaps opened up, and the tape guides and the pinch roller were in poor condition. Money pit real fast. I advised him to sell it for parts, to disclose what was bad or worn. He lost around $150 on this.

    He took me to Nashville 6 months later on a tip from a friend of his and we went and looked at a MCI 8 track, and a MCI 2 track. Studio had closed up and had an auction. Those machines had been rebuilt recently by Randy Blevins before the studio closed. He bid $2000 on them after we verified what was done to them, and they looked like low miles machines. We came armed with test tapes and a blank reel of tape for 1/4" and 1" and passed our inspection before bidding on them. They had relapped heads by JRF Magnetics with estimated 90% life. He won the machines. They were documented good and had all the paperwork connected to their restoration and rebuild. I was well paid to do this tape machine inspection. They have been solid performers for him. He bought them right before the vinyl boom hit and prices went sky high.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2018
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  23. 12" 45rpm

    12" 45rpm Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York City
    Since I am only doing home recordings, do I need all that "tank-like" construction? Will a 4-track reel give me good sound ? Or do I have to invest in those really heavy-duty machines to get the sound I want?

    Perhaps my memory of the portastudio is cloudy. I only recorded acoustic guitar and vocals and they sounded good. I suppose it's flaws may be more apparent if I recorded more types of instruments.
     
  24. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    Tape heads are not cheap, especially multitrack heads.
     
  25. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    4 track reel can sound very nice. And you might get by with a 1/4" 4 track machine. But expect that to give you a back ache to move. And the same caveats about condition of the heads, tape guides, tape path, motors, and pinch rollers still applies. And tape in 1/4" is more affordable. If you could find a nice Otari MX 5050 B 4 track in 1/4" in nice condition, you'd have a very nice multitrack analog machine which would be nice sounding, and somewhat cheaper. You still need a machine you can rely on on a smaller scale. There's some good Teac and Tascam options, but make sure your machine is evaluated by someone who knows tape machines. I still recommend digital on a budget, more reliable and cheaper to feed and maintain.
     

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