Do you NEED it? Probably not. To me however, the question is do you WANT it?
I've got a 42, and it's a very solid 2-trk deck. The 52, a bit more so ... and it's the top of the TASCAM line as far as these things went.
I've always loved the full sound and solid operation of the controls when I fire the 42 up. Occasionally I'll track live to it. Lots of useful headroom, tape saturation for days. Of course, in the world of 24-bit 96+KHz rack mount or hand held digital recorders and DAW's, no one HAS to have such an unwieldy beast of a machine. But then again, why the hell not?
$250 ? How much of a deal this is depends on the physical condition. If it's been maintained in excellent to very good condition, then 250 is a deal. If it's been poorly maintained or has issues, things that are more involved than routine maintenance (i.e.
, worn heads or tape path components) then perhaps not. One thing to factor in is you have to be able to maintain such equipment, if you want the machine to last & perform at it's best. Whether you maintain it yourself or farm it out, the result is it will cost you more than the initial purchase, and probably a lot more. So taking all of that into consideration, is what will determine it's actual cost basis & worth to you. I can tell you that a very quick net search, turned up only a few current prices for the 52 - all of which were significantly higher than 250.
Having said all that : if it's a labor of love thing (and when isn't analog a labor of love today?
) the decision becomes a lot easier.