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Tascam Portastudio 488 8-track cassette recorder
Old 22nd November 2020
  #1
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Tascam Portastudio 488 8-track cassette recorder

Has anyone used a Tascam 488 8-track cassette recorder? What is your experience with this machine? Does it work essentially the same as a 4-track portastudio, but with 8 tracks? In other words is it really easy to use?

I saw that the 488 uses high-speed recording, 3-3/4 ips, twice the normal speed of a standard audio cassette. Does this impact playback?

I don't see a lot of info online about these but there are some up for sale which I am eyeing and am just trying to do some research first. Thanks for any input

Last edited by MKErecorder; 22nd November 2020 at 02:29 PM.. Reason: question
Old 24th November 2020
  #2
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RetroFunk's Avatar
 

Just a quick comment. I've recently had a 688 in my hands, beware the capstan motor does wear out and die. That's the motor that drives the flywheel and sets the speed. It needs new and not one taken from another unit. The motor uses some fancy brushes and they just wear and burn. Also the drive belt will likely need replacing, they turn into sticky oily goop. There's no way of knowing the state of the motor until the end.
Old 24th November 2020
  #3
Old 24th November 2020 | Show parent
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RetroFunk View Post
Just a quick comment. I've recently had a 688 in my hands, beware the capstan motor does wear out and die. That's the motor that drives the flywheel and sets the speed. It needs new and not one taken from another unit. The motor uses some fancy brushes and they just wear and burn. Also the drive belt will likely need replacing, they turn into sticky oily goop. There's no way of knowing the state of the motor until the end.
I got a free 688 a couple years back. Spent about $40 getting a new belt ($15 from Tascam) and motor ($25 NOS on ebay) and 15 min with a soldering iron to repair these two issues. It was a bit beat up and has other issues I need to work on but it works fine for recording and playing back etc.
Old 24th November 2020 | Show parent
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NawSon View Post
I got a free 688 a couple years back. Spent about $40 getting a new belt ($15 from Tascam) and motor ($25 NOS on ebay) and 15 min with a soldering iron to repair these two issues. It was a bit beat up and has other issues I need to work on but it works fine for recording and playing back etc.
I'll give ya a Benjamin for it.

Profit!!
Old 24th November 2020 | Show parent
  #6
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Lucer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by NawSon View Post
I got a free 688 a couple years back. Spent about $40 getting a new belt ($15 from Tascam) and motor ($25 NOS on ebay) and 15 min with a soldering iron to repair these two issues. It was a bit beat up and has other issues I need to work on but it works fine for recording and playing back etc.
You make it sound like it is easy..
Old 24th November 2020
  #7
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Man Parrish recorded Boogie Down Bronx on a tascam 8-track and it still sounds awesome today.
Old 24th November 2020
  #8
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adamstan's Avatar
Squeezing 8 tracks onto cassete is approaching the physical limits of the medium I suppose it might get quite noisy easily, and be very susceptible to developing drop-outs.
Old 24th November 2020 | Show parent
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucer View Post
You make it sound like it is easy..
The belt and the motor truly are easy if those are the issues.
Old 24th November 2020 | Show parent
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cane creek View Post
Man Parrish recorded Boogie Down Bronx on a tascam 8-track and it still sounds awesome today.
That was probably a 38 since he says it was a 1/2” 8 track tascam.
Old 24th November 2020
  #11
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I have used almost all of the narrow format 8-16 track Tascam machines (388, 688, 238, 38, ms16). The 688 is similar to the 488. The biggest shock may be that when a well serviced machine is used “correctly” it doesn’t sound all that bad really. They were made for the home studio so fairly intuitive. The 388 is the easiest IMHO, but a whole different machine... I sold all of the machines except the 388.

My only advice would be to find one in the best condition possible, test it thoroughly, and don’t overpay..because if you have to pay for service on any of these it isn’t usually cheap and it is getting hard to find someone and some parts are simply not available.
Old 26th November 2020
  #12
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Yeh I tried to get a belt, mr tas_nija wasn't that easy to deal with with regard that particular item. I measured the required belt length, gave details, but anyway.
I did see a motor on ebay China and the when I came to buy... poof they had all vanished. tas-nija looked in stock and had a used one at £55 just not worth the risk, could last a week or years. The motor does have a finite life. I had the 688 in pieces all ready for a motor/belt but had to re-assemble and abort mission. All gone now.
Old 26th November 2020 | Show parent
  #13
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NawSon's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RetroFunk View Post
Yeh I tried to get a belt, mr tas_nija wasn't that easy to deal with with regard that particular item. I measured the required belt length, gave details, but anyway.
I did see a motor on ebay China and the when I came to buy... poof they had all vanished. tas-nija looked in stock and had a used one at £55 just not worth the risk, could last a week or years. The motor does have a finite life. I had the 688 in pieces all ready for a motor/belt but had to re-assemble and abort mission. All gone now.
I got my belt from tascam directly just two years ago. They still have them afaik.

Motor is easy to find, there is an easily and cheaply available version that slots right in. I forget the part number.

This **** really isn’t rocket surgery I swear.
Old 26th November 2020 | Show parent
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by adamstan View Post
Squeezing 8 tracks onto cassete is approaching the physical limits of the medium I suppose it might get quite noisy easily, and be very susceptible to developing drop-outs.
Godflesh did three of their best records on a 688 in their basement. Granted the bass is pretty lacking compared to what they really sound like, but those records blew them up to their legendary status in the early 90s.
Old 26th November 2020
  #15


I used to have the 488, was pretty good ... eq was not as useful as my 244 i previously owned which had dual parametric eq. but i liked the 488 way more than what i had before that which was the fostex 8 track reel to reel...

recording were pretty cool given the limited eq, used chrome tapes regular head cleaning and degausing.. no issues.

portastudios were cool

right now i do my audio recording on my MPC One
Old 26th November 2020 | Show parent
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by cresshead View Post

I used to have the 488, was pretty good ... eq was not as useful as my 244 i previously owned which had dual parametric eq. but i liked the 488 way more than what i had before that which was the fostex 8 track reel to reel...

recording were pretty cool given the limited eq, used chrome tapes regular head cleaning and degausing.. no issues.

portastudios were cool

right now i do my audio recording on my MPC One
The next gen MK2 models were a nice step up both the 424 and 488, parametric mids finally. I still have my 424mk2, my old studio mate buddy still has his 488mk2 (he actually still uses it although its getting to be a pain to get serviced now). An old roommate had a 424 around the time I got the 'new' mk2, and the extra features were pretty handy.

(If Akai would let us choose between stereo/mono tracks Id probably use my MPC Live for recording more too hah)
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