Hi, Tim and Tom,

I was hoping not to have to discuss this format <smile>...but since you 
asked...I honestly do not have enough data to know how interchange works 
among all the various machines. I had a TASCAM 234 and a 238 and both 
suffered from belt-itis and I had not used them often enough to warrant 
repair, so I sold them "as is" to George Blood who does more volume than I.

I do have a DataTape 4-channel machine that needs outboard EQ and 
probably doesn't "sound" as good as a well-maintained TASCAM as it was 
designed for voice logging and instrumentation purposes and does not 
have the audio EQ (easily added in the DAW). The nice thing about these 
machines (I have two) is that they run from 15/32 to 7-1/2 in/s.

I recently did a set of tapes for a major Canadian bank and there was a 
mixture of reels and cassettes. Of course the reels were older than the 
cassettes, but even at 3.75 in/s I was so much happier with the sound of 
the reels than with the cassettes.

The best thing to do is take the tapes and use proper archival practices 
(azimuth, external dbx processor, critical listening, etc) to capture 
the best you can.

The external dbx processor allows easy adjustment of reference levels to 
make things sound "right"...just like the grooved media thread on 
ARSCLIST -- do what you need to do to make it sound right. Yes, I have 
at least four channels of external dbx II. To get this completely right, 
I would probably ingest the raw files, adjust EQ, send them in real time 
to the dbx units and then deliver both sets of files. Time con$uming.

Good luck!



On 2012-10-05 12:02 PM, Timothy Wisniewski wrote:
> Hi, Tom.
> I'm hoping someone more knowledgeable like Richard Hess will weigh in
> on this later, but my experience with playing back these tapes on
> different players is that the track format does appears to be
> standardized, however, just like 2-track decks the azimuth shifts from
> machine to machine.  I can't speak to the dbxII issue, however, as I
> never used it for any of my recordings.  The worst 4 track recorder
> for interchange in my experience was the Tascam Porta02.   Although,
> it could have just been head problems on that specific deck.
> Best,
> Tim
> On Fri, Oct 5, 2012 at 9:08 AM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Harken back to those wonderful days of the 80s ...
>> Does anyone know for a fact if the 4-track cassette format was standardized
>> between the various manufacturers of PortaStudios and similar
>> recorder/mixers (Tascam/Teac, Akai, Yamaha and perhaps others)? Should the
>> dbx II track correctly between different machines? I have some tapes made on
>> a PortaStudio, which I still have, and some made on either a Yamaha or Akai
>> (long-gone, not findable, likely long ago trashed, I can't even remember
>> what brand it was). I'd like to transfer all of the tapes to a DAW in the
>> best quality possible.
>> At 3.75IPS with dbxII, I remember those recorders being surprisingly good
>> with rock and roll music. I'm sure if you attempted a string quartet with
>> that recorder, you'd hear all the flaws, but we were a heavy metal army back
>> then.
>> -- Tom Fine

Richard L. Hess                   email: [log in to unmask]
Aurora, Ontario, Canada           (905) 713 6733     1-877-TAPE-FIX
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.