greatbear analogue and digital media > audio tape transfer > multitrack tape > ¼ inch 4 track / tascam 388 / fostex R8 / E8 8 track

¼ inch 4 track / tascam 388 / fostex R8 / E8 8 track

4 track

quarter inch 4 / 8 track transfer

We can transfer all variations of quarter inch 4 track and 8 track multitrack audio tape to a range of delivery formats:

  • Broadcast WAV (B-WAV) files on hard drive, usb media or optical media (CDr / DVDr) at 16 bit/44.1 KHz (commonly used for CDs)
  • anything up to 24 bit/96 KHz (the minimum recommended archival standard)

You can then open and remix your old recordings in modern Digital Audio Workstations (DAW’s) such as Ardour, Cubase, Logic or Pro-Tools, etc.

quarter inch multitrack reel to reel machines

Over the years competing manufacturers, mainly Tascam and Fostex, created a range of home or semi-professional multitrack open reel tape recorders. Tascam tended to use 1/4″ tape for 4 track and stereo master recordings. Fostex differentiated their designs by squeezing 8 tracks onto 1/4″ tape using Dolby C noise reduction.

Tascam also created the ‘legendary’ Tascam 388 Studio 8 machine, using 1/4″ tape running at a fixed 7.5ips and dBX noise reduction to record 8 tracks. These recording consoles have become quite collectible now, have a built in mixing section and look like a forerunner to the cassette based Portastudios.

Unfortunately all these variations of 1/4″ multitrack tape formats are incompatible by track format, tape speed, reel size or noise reduction used. As a result every variation of machine must be owned to cater for all types of recording!
Luckily here at Greatbear we do have all these machines and can support the following 1/4″ multitrack tape formats:

Tascam 1/4″ 4 track multitrack recordings at 7.5 and 15 ips using dbx Type I noise reduction on 3″, 5″, 7″ or 10.5″ reels (Tascam 34)

Tascam 1/4″ 8 track multitrack recordings at 7.5 ips using dbx noise reduction on 7″ reels (Tascam 388 Studio 8)

Fostex 1/4″ 8 track multitrack recordings at 15 ips using Dolby C noise reduction on 7″ reels (Fostex R8)

Fostex 1/4″ 8 track multitrack recordings at 15 ips using Dolby C noise reduction on 10.5″ reels (Fostex E8)

quarter inch 4 track problems

Quarter inch magnetic tape faces similar problems to other forms of tape arising from

  • poor storage such as mould growth, uneven wind tension or poor tape pack
  • age and tape chemistry such as as loss of lubricant, ‘sticky shed syndrome‘ or broken, dried out splices
  • poor handling or damage such as twisted, broken, crinkled or stretched tape and sometimes bags of tape unwound!

These types of problems and more must be addressed before a tape can be satisfactorily transferred, and we are equipped to handle these issues.

quarter inch 4 track history

In 1973 TEAC converted their consumer quadraphonic tape recorders for use as home multitrack recorders. The result were the popular TEAC 2340 and 3340 models. Both were four-track machines that used ¼ inch tape. The 2340 ran at either 3¾ or 7½ inches per second and used seven inch reels while the 3340 ran at 7½ or 15 inches per second and used 10½ inch reels. The 2340 was priced at under U.S. $1,000 (£3,337 in today’s money), making it very popular for home use.

The introduction of the multi-track cassette recorder phased out the reel-to-reel ¼ inch tape from the market in the late 1970s.


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