FOSTEX G16 by WarmJetGuitar
It may seem funny to write a review of a 20 years old piece of recording gear but since this beast is a vital part of our setup and only very few tape recorders have been introduced on the market since then I still find it relevant.
I picked up this machine since I'm an analog purist and the guys in my band digs the sound of tape too.
The G16 was introduced in the early 90's and runs 16 tracks on 1/2" tape which makes the tracks pretty narrow compared to the industry standard of 24 tracks on 2" but it also makes recording to tape affordable to way more people.
Sound wise this is amazing especially considering we only payed 370 dollars for it. Before the G16 I've been used to recording on 4 or 8 track machines from Fostex, a Revox A77 and of course some digital stuff.
As with any other decent tape machine the sound really comes alive - the bottom end is nice and fat and the highs seems to smoothen out slightly while still being present.
While using the +6 tapes it's made for like BASF/RMGI/EMTEC SM911 or Quantegy 456 I get a pretty transparent sound using modest levels and a nicely compressed sound while slamming them. However it doesn't like +9 tapes and can't run 3M 996 properly but it's not that important to me as I like to saturate the tape slightly for drums and vocals.
It doesn't have a lot of hiss while running relatively hot levels - our G16 haven't been calibrated yet so we just left the Dolby C noise reduction off and also I had a strong dislike for NR since I was a kid and messing around with cassettes.
Sonically this is the best recorder I have yet had the pleasure of using while of course a Studer, Otari or MCI might be superior to it but at 10 times the price not to mention tape expenses.
Even the edge tracks is reliable - I've used it intensly for more than a year and have yet to encounter a dropoff despite sometimes using second hand tape.
For ease of use; well, it's a reel-to-reel and if you're only been using DAW's then there's a few things about maintainence you'd have to learn if you're not gonna ruin the recorder and get decent recordings. However once learned this isn't so hard and the G16 is definitely one of the easier machines to use. Though it does have some bells-and-whistles functions that can seem a bit confusing at first but the manual gets around these quite well.
The remote is a great advantage if you're like me and want to be alone when tracking vocals. Just sit down and relax with the remote right by your side.
When it comes to reliability this is quite relative as it'll always depend on how well the individual machine has been taken care of. Apart from one major breakdown our G16 have served us really well and it didn't take the tech long to get it up and running again.
Our G16 has a few flaws but they're easy getting used to.
For a 20 years old piece of equipment that wasn't top of the line when it came out this is a very reliable piece of gear. The transport is pretty heavy and I'm sure it's gonna serve us well for the next ten years with very few repairs.
This is the perfect machine if you're a band or a small studio that got fed up with boring digital sound.