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Tips and Tricks for cassette Portastudio

Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:30 am

I just picked up a great condition 424 MKII Portastudio and a 10-pack of Type II tapes. I grew up with a two-track tape deck, making music on my $100 Casio table-hooter keyboard and acoustic guitar, and I wanted to kind of relive that as well as my teenage dream of being Sebadoh/Duster. I've actually got an 18i20 interface and quite a few mics, but its such a hassle to boot up the computer, get the interface and mics all hooked up and a ProTools session created before I can even get around to starting to record, so I'm looking forward to the simplicity.

My recording setup with the Portastudio is going to include: SM58, E609, an audix D6, (I have condenser microphones but no phantom power-supplying preamp), acoustic guitar, simple electric guitar rig (jazzmaster, AC15, SSBS Mini, yellow comp, and OD850 fuzz), full drum kit, a Zoom MS-50G for "outboard", and a Fender P-Bass. I'm not too sketchy on the basics of the Portastudio (recording, bouncing tracks), but I'm really interested in some more "out there" tricks you can do with a tape deck. Hit me with some tips and tricks for cassette recording.

Re: Tips and Tricks for cassette Portastudio

Fri Sep 28, 2018 12:31 pm

I enjoy the 'ol tracks full of pads/noise to swell in and out on top of your other bounced tracks.

Other than that, the only real tip I have is to compress subtly on the way into tape. I use a 4-channel aphex comp in front of whatever 4 tracks I'm using on my 488. Way less bleed, way better noise floor, and most importantly way more punch and clean present high end.
Last edited by Psyre on Sat Oct 27, 2018 12:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Tips and Tricks for cassette Portastudio

Thu Oct 11, 2018 2:49 pm

Man I'd love to have an outboard comp (and EQ, and exciter, and reverb...). Lack of space is an issue right now, I'm stuffed to the gills in my music corner right now. I have used a compressor pedal into the board a few times, but nothing compares to a good rack-mount. Hoping to expand my recording capabilities when i move this summer and will have a dedicated room for it. Of course, I mostly got the Portastudio for recording my band's practice sessions and home ideas so I wouldn't have to haul out my rack interface/pres and computer.

Re: Tips and Tricks for cassette Portastudio

Thu Oct 11, 2018 6:22 pm

u could always slam/redline the tape itself for some of the good ole tape compression

Re: Tips and Tricks for cassette Portastudio

Sat Dec 15, 2018 2:52 am

Dr. Sherman Sticks M.D. wrote:u could always slam/redline the tape itself for some of the good ole tape compression


I did this all day long. It's a lovely thing.

Re: Tips and Tricks for cassette Portastudio

Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:34 am

Your other form of limiting is the DBX noise reduction itself. Firstoff, don't use DBX. It sounds bad and muffled. Cassette is noisy. Embrace it. Once you're in that world, you will find that you can record a track using the DBX and then remove the DBX and you have a trebly, highly limited sound. Turn the treble EQ down and you have a very usable track. I used it for vocals. My bandcamp has lots of old cassette shit from the 90s.

Always use the fast, wasteful tape speed on the 424. It sounds better.

Backwards recording!
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