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Tape deck for creative effects
Old 26th April 2018
  #1
Deleted 09ad95d
Guest
Tape deck for creative effects

Hello gang,

My main setup is my MBP, Logic and an Apogee Element. My main vibe is ambient/drone (but I'm a mostly ex-prog rock guy that still writes and records rock form time to time).

I've been doing a ton of manipulating with the usual suspects -- UVI Falcon, PaulStretch, Ircam, etc. But I would like to add some physical interaction to the process.

Ideally, I'm looking for a tape deck that can slow down playback. Reverse playback would be a bonus, and slowed reverse would be a double bonus.

Found a LOT of decks on eBay and Reverb, and many look like they'd fill the bill, but most of them seem to have maintenance issues. Which isn't a huge deal as long as it's simple (ie, replacing a belt).

I guess where I need some feedback -- can anyone recommend a reliable deck that can accomplish what I'm looking for? The smaller the better as I live in Hawaii and shipping could be an issue (ie, paying $100 shipping due to size/weight on something that may not even cost $100).

Reel to reel, cassette, doesn't matter. I'm looking for something that is reliable (or could be easily repaired) that can slow down playback. Mojo is a bonus (tube) but I'm guessing that solid state might be a better choice for size, portability and maintenance.

Any thoughts? I've been checking my local craigslist but there's nothing in my vicinity...

As an idea, here's two of my tunes:

Spotify Web Player - Light at the Edge of the World - Blindcrake

Spotify Web Player - In the Unlikely Event of an Emergency Water Landing - Blindcrake

Big, stretchy, textured pads. Would like to get some sort of cheap tape into my workflow to start experimenting. Even an old Realistic cassette deck would work as long as it has variable speed!
Old 26th April 2018
  #2
Here for the gear
If you are looking for cheap, I would go with a Tascam Portastudio Cassette 4-Track. I have a bare bones basic Mini 03, but the higher models would have some features you want (Selectable ips, Aux sends. bouncing capability.). I have recently been experimenting with making tape loops with cassettes for drones, and running tape out of the recorder, around a impromptu capstan, and back into the cassette, fun stuff. I also will print a loop to a normal tape, then blend back it in with a session for that noise and saturation.

Good Luck!
Old 26th April 2018 | Show parent
  #3
Deleted 09ad95d
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by LowEndVibrations ➡️
If you are looking for cheap, I would go with a Tascam Portastudio Cassette 4-Track. I have a bare bones basic Mini 03, but the higher models would have some features you want (Selectable ips, Aux sends. bouncing capability.). I have recently been experimenting with making tape loops with cassettes for drones, and running tape out of the recorder, around a impromptu capstan, and back into the cassette, fun stuff. I also will print a loop to a normal tape, then blend back it in with a session for that noise and saturation.

Good Luck!
Hey thanks LowEnd!

So, it looks like the original Portastudio 424 comes with a 3 speed switch and pitch wheel, whereas the MkII and MkIII is only a 2 speed switch wheel.

The interesting thing — it looks like I can stretch via both the selectable speed and the pitch wheel. Very cool.

Do you have any more info on your improvised capstan? I kind of imagine what you’re talking about and the effect it would have.
Old 27th April 2018
  #4
Deleted 09ad95d
Guest
So after lots of eBay/Reverb searches, it seems as though most bottom end tape decks have very limited tape speed/IPS options. The Fostex (I had one 30 years ago!) has none but does have a pitch wheel; the Yamahas seem to have options for 4.75/9.5 IPS.

The Tascam portastudios also seem to mostly have two selectable speeds + a pitch wheel w/ the exception of the 424 MkI, which has three speeds + a pitch wheel.

Looks like I will be bidding on a 424 MkI
Old 27th April 2018
  #5
Lives for gear
 
vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Digital does vari-speed and reversing super well. And with ease. Most tape recorders don't have vari-speed. Thats a tough one.
Old 27th April 2018
  #6
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zvukofor's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
There're not so much mojo in tape for drone/ambient, IME, i work a lot with these genres. Delicate use of a good plugins or HW like Fatso, Colour, Silver Bullet, or just old console on different parts/instruments works better here.

Varispeed is a good thing, but DSP won here too - you'll lost all HF slowing the tape, and we have musically good sounding digital algorythms for this, even those manipulating independently on speed, pitch and formants of a signal.
Old 28th April 2018
  #7
Gear Addict
I'm not sure "reliable" and "tape machine" belong together in the same sentence regarding used treasures...

If you have the room, a reel machine would likely be more versatile for what you have in mind than a cassette. Easy to do reverse, just thread the tape around the capstan backwards. Good luck & happy travels!
Old 29th April 2018 | Show parent
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philbo King ➡️
I'm not sure "reliable" and "tape machine" belong together in the same sentence regarding used treasures...
Dont be so sure about that. My Fostex G16 have been going 20 to 30 hours a week on average since 2012.

But yeah, any R2R can do reverse. Some of the older Akais got a pitch control function and at the same time got very sturdy heads.
Old 30th April 2018 | Show parent
  #9
Deleted 09ad95d
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by WarmJetGuitar ➡️
Dont be so sure about that. My Fostex G16 have been going 20 to 30 hours a week on average since 2012.

But yeah, any R2R can do reverse. Some of the older Akais got a pitch control function and at the same time got very sturdy heads.
Now that I think about it -- 4 tracks use the entire tape (vs stereo, which is 2 tracks on each side).

So if I flipped the tape in a 4 track deck like a portastudio, would it play in reverse? Or am I fundamentally misunderstanding something?
Old 30th April 2018
  #10
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soundebler's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Yes 4 track can do reverse by flipping the tape but when recorded on track 1 become flipped in reverse playing on track 4 . The control of tape speed is cool to have and it can do nice things but reel to reel can do much more , it is compromise . The 4 track is 2 head machine with 3 head cassette deck using it in real time as effect add extra s .

Real time pitch alteration from Yamaha mt 400

Old 30th April 2018
  #11
Here for the gear
Quote:
Do you have any more info on your improvised capstan? I kind of imagine what you’re talking about and the effect it would have.
Hey OP! This is not my youtube video, but this user's content is very inspiring for getting your hands dirty with ambient tape music, and making loops with cassettes. This guy uses a variety of stuff for improvised capstans, as you can see from the video. I use a large cabasa/afuche/shaker with a smooth wooden handle as a capstan, but it is more advised to use metal.



See also the artist AMULETS



I think for me, it is less the sound of cassettes and more of the tactile sensation of making physical loops that I enjoy.


Old 1st May 2018 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by LowEndVibrations ➡️
This guy uses a variety of stuff for improvised capstans, as you can see from the video. I use a large cabasa/afuche/shaker with a smooth wooden handle as a capstan, but it is more advised to use metal.
Classically, you use a mic stand, but anything round & smooth will work. A glass bottle (if clean) is good, but beware static buildup, which can lead to odd clicks, etc. Course, with cassette tape speeds, you don't need to have a gigantically long loop. A friend of mine did an installation at a party with hidden microphones & a 30 foot long loop at 7 1/2 ips echoing back the room sound. It was well odd. You might be making conversation, wander off and then hear yourself nearly a minute later.
Old 20th May 2018
  #13
Lives for gear
 
baskervils's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by swartzfeger ➡️
Hello gang,

Spotify Web Player - Light at the Edge of the World - Blindcrake

Spotify Web Player - In the Unlikely Event of an Emergency Water Landing - Blindcrake

Big, stretchy, textured pads. Would like to get some sort of cheap tape into my workflow to start experimenting. Even an old Realistic cassette deck would work as long as it has variable speed!
I find the devices below much more useful than old Portastudios... the cassette Mellotron.

The most advanced is the Crudman. For the Crud, you can plug a midi keyboard in and "play" cassettes. Any cassettes. It will not only playback at different speeds based on the pressed key, but also in different keys. You can also use it as a synth.


For less $$$ is the OM-1 Onde Magnétique. Fewer features and you use the silver box to manually pitch the notes.
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