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  1. #1

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    Talk about old school!
    Anyone else ever use one of these?
    Tascam Porta03 Ministudio-tascam-porta-o3-w-box-adapter-jpg

    I upgraded to a 424 in a year or so but this was my first home-recording equipment. Hissy as hell but you have to start somewhere.
    (The pic is from Reverb; my unit is long gone.) Analog, of course.
    You could only input two things at a time. (Guitar and a drum machine, guitar and voice.) Then you would have to bounce them together to open up another track. If the first bounce was not-so-good, well, you would have to live with that mistake all the way down the line. Ah, those were the days....

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Talk about old school!
    Anyone else ever use one of these?
    Tascam Porta03 Ministudio-tascam-porta-o3-w-box-adapter-jpg

    I upgraded to a 424 in a year or so but this was my first home-recording equipment. Hissy as hell but you have to start somewhere.
    (The pic is from Reverb; my unit is long gone.) Analog, of course.
    You could only input two things at a time. (Guitar and a drum machine, guitar and voice.) Then you would have to bounce them together to open up another track. If the first bounce was not-so-good, well, you would have to live with that mistake all the way down the line. Ah, those were the days....
    I had one. Did a few songs where I played all the instruments. I found it much harder than I expected to get the results I wanted.

    It got to the point where I felt more like an electrician than a musician and I gave up on it.

    This year, I've been able to use Musescore and Reaper to accomplish even more -- and while the technical abyss repeatedly beckons, thus far, I've been able to feel like a musician while I work on the recording projects.

  4. #3

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    I had this bad boy. It was fully integrated with my Atari ST computer through SMPTE synchronization using a Steinberg hardware interface that sent midi signals to a keyboard and drum machine. The SMPTE sync used one of the tracks for time code, so I had seven tracks available for audio. I had an outboard stereo effects processor and a compressor-limiter for tracking acoustic guitars and vocals. What an amazing system!
    Tascam Porta03 Ministudio-5c734c83-36b7-46c2-a5d6-87ec70b07362-jpeg
    I was so satisfied with my home recording rig when I finally put this all together. It took me years to save up and finally make the investment. My first rig that allowed me to overdub was a Panasonic RQ-J6 stereo cassette recorder with a built-in stereo microphone and overdubbing capability.
    Tascam Porta03 Ministudio-a70cbe9b-9081-456f-b03f-5c8f40da9d88-jpeg
    That was all I could afford through my college and early working years, before I finally had the means to migrate to a real multitrack deck. But man I got my money’s worth out of that Panasonic. I did quite a lot of recordings with the 688 until digital multitracking became accessible to the masses. I had a Roland hard drive based 8-track system after the 688 but it was too damn complicated and I replaced it with a Tascam DP-02. Much more straightforward, with a recording process that was closer to the old cassette-based systems but with onboard effects. I still own it, even though I have fully transitioned to iPad and laptop-based multitrack recording.

    If I look back at the money I have spent on recording gear, the best investments were my microphones. I have a very nice stereo matched pair of small diaphragm condensers, one really nice large diaphragm condenser, a killer vocal mic and an SM-57 and -58. The only thing I would like to get someday is a nice ribbon mic. Recording platforms will continue to evolve. Good microphones never lose their utility.

    This is a great article about the evolution of the Portastudio.

  5. #4

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    Never had the 03, but started with a 424. I had a lot of fun with it and grew as a musician with it in the 90’s.

    My Tascam DP03SD is easier to use, but things sure were simpler in my 424 days.

  6. #5

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    My high school garage band recorded our first demo on that Tascam.

    I still have a Fostex digital 8 track that I like a lot better than trying to record directly to a computer...i need to join the rest of the world in the 20th century eventually.

  7. #6

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    I had a 424. A lot of good times trying to record the next big hit on that thing. That was back when I had dreams.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    My high school garage band recorded our first demo on that Tascam.

    I still have a Fostex digital 8 track that I like a lot better than trying to record directly to a computer...i need to join the rest of the world in the 20th century eventually.
    A dedicated device such as a Tascam or Fostex is so much easier than a DAW. Windows updates always blew out my ASIO and I would waste recording time reconfiguring the DAW getting it to work again. Turn on the Portastudio and it works every time.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    My high school garage band recorded our first demo on that Tascam.

    I still have a Fostex digital 8 track that I like a lot better than trying to record directly to a computer...i need to join the rest of the world in the 20th century eventually.
    Or even the 21st century....

  10. #9

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    I think I had the exact one.. has it been 30 years already? Or maybe I had a slightly bigger 4 track version, not sure. But I had fun with it, recorded a lot of music. Amazing what we can do with a laptop and a small soundcard today. Out even just with a multi effects unit or looper. (Even with a smartphone..)

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alder Statesman
    Never had the 03, but started with a 424. I had a lot of fun with it and grew as a musician with it in the 90’s.

    My Tascam DP03SD is easier to use, but things sure were simpler in my 424 days.
    I went from this to a 424. 424 was much easier to work with. (For starters, you didn't have to bounce so much. Less hiss---but still hiss--and still not a lot of bottom but a little more bottom.)

  12. #11

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    Here's a song I did on a Porta 03 long, long ago. (The picture is NOT of the unit I had---it's long gone---but that's what it looked like and that's how simple it was.)
    May be the oldest demo I have.
    Simple blues. No bass. Much hiss. I think some of the guitar lines still sound good.
    Alesis SR16 drum machine. Not sure of the mic. (Doesn't sound like the Audio Technia AP901 I know I used later and still have.) My old Yamaha Strat. (Got it cheap while my older brother was stationed in Japan and the dollar was strong against the yen. Less than $200.)


  13. #12

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    The prices of these old four track cassette recorders are going up . Hipsters like the lo-fi analogue sound of them , espesh for ambient or electronic music .

    In the digital world , ' character ' or ' distinctiveness ' are highly prized commodities .

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    I went from this to a 424. 424 was much easier to work with. (For starters, you didn't have to bounce so much. Less hiss---but still hiss--and still not a lot of bottom but a little more bottom.)
    Hiss would, and still does with tube amps, drive me to distraction.

    I use to mix down to what I remember was a Tascam 103 deck that had a couple Dolby and a non-Dolby noise reductions that help, but they always had more hiss than commercial recordings.

  15. #14

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    This is the one I cut my teeth on, I loved that puppy. Found one today on Ebay, asking price $1,100. What!
    Attached Images Attached Images Tascam Porta03 Ministudio-f6q5jj0avkao18rvrcvn-jpg 

  16. #15

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    Before my first one, I used to bounce from tape to tape. First btw two cassette decks, then Cassette deck and VCR (VHS), where I used Graphic EQ in bounces. All that before mid 1991when I got this baby:

    Tascam Porta03 Ministudio-multitracker_x_26_2296381-jpg


    I got Fostex Tape synced with HR16, via simple PSK (or was it FSK?Just tempo info, actually), so I had 3 channels for instruments + synced drums.
    in 1993 I got ATARI into scheme, MIDI + tape sync ... plus portable DAT, so I continued bouncing. DAT had limiter on input, for more sonic joys. Mix to DAT, bounce back ...


    After a short period of messing with larger frame mixer, ADAT machine ....

    Later I got Fostex VF16 HD multitrack, which I still use for recording whole band at rehearsal.
    I do bounce to PC for mix, though (8 tracks at once, via ADAT interface).
    Tascam Porta03 Ministudio-fostex-vf16-1486-jpg
    Last edited by Vladan; 08-09-2020 at 02:37 PM.

  17. #16

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    Wow, what memories! I had a Tascam 4 track in the 80s. It might have been the 424 that many of you had. As I recall, the tape recording speed was faster and uni-directional. I may still have some of the tapes, although the unit is long gone. I should see how they sound on regular 2-track! That unit, with a DX-7 and a Strat, brought many hours of music making, demos and mini-score cues. I found it straight forward to use and intuitive, and like some of you easier to work with than a DAW.

  18. #17

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    i briefly messed with one at some point, well after digital had taken over. a fostex, possibly. the tape speed was a little fast so everything was out of tune. didn't get much done. much happier with what i have going on now.


    this is a great way to bring back some of that vibe, if you must. it's a lot of fun, actually. i enjoy it as a low fi delay and giving keys a little something.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alder Statesman
    A dedicated device such as a Tascam or Fostex is so much easier than a DAW. Windows updates always blew out my ASIO and I would waste recording time reconfiguring the DAW getting it to work again. Turn on the Portastudio and it works every time.
    I haven't worked with a DAW yet but will soon (Reaper). I look forward to that.

    The ministudio (and later, 424) were easy to work with. It was especially easy to get something down in a hurry. At the same time, you couldn't change anything later (-such as tempo or guitar effects, amount of reverb on a vocal, whatever.) I used to plug in a drum machine and my guitar and mic and make up songs on the fly. Most were nonsense but here and there a good riff or catchy line popped out. Or a title. It was a good way to get into a playful mindset and "just see what happens".

    I got better at mixing as I went along but was never really good at it. I never liked how the tape hiss made the cymbals sound splashy. One thing I love about Real Tracks in BIAB (which I'll be using with Reaper) is that the drums have a lot of definition and no hiss or splash.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    I haven't worked with a DAW yet but will soon (Reaper). I look forward to that.

    The ministudio (and later, 424) were easy to work with. It was especially easy to get something down in a hurry. At the same time, you couldn't change anything later (-such as tempo or guitar effects, amount of reverb on a vocal, whatever.) I used to plug in a drum machine and my guitar and mic and make up songs on the fly. Most were nonsense but here and there a good riff or catchy line popped out. Or a title. It was a good way to get into a playful mindset and "just see what happens".

    I got better at mixing as I went along but was never really good at it. I never liked how the tape hiss made the cymbals sound splashy. One thing I love about Real Tracks in BIAB (which I'll be using with Reaper) is that the drums have a lot of definition and no hiss or splash.
    If you happen to be a Mac user, don't discount Garage Band as another resource. The drummers and loops that are available for free from Apple just get better and better.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pycroft
    The prices of these old four track cassette recorders are going up . Hipsters like the lo-fi analogue sound of them , espesh for ambient or electronic music .

    In the digital world , ' character ' or ' distinctiveness ' are highly prized commodities .
    They may have gone up because there are more techs that can service them now than there were 5 or so years ago. I have a 424 that I never got around to using but I'm going to start.
    I started with the Porta One in the 80's. Then a 464 in the 90's. Then the 424 I got about 6-7 years ago.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by lukmanohnz
    If you happen to be a Mac user, don't discount Garage Band as another resource. The drummers and loops that are available for free from Apple just get better and better.
    I've heard great things about Garage Band but I'm a Windows PC guy.

  23. #22

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    I had a Tascam Porta One
    Tascam Porta03 Ministudio-tascam-porta-one-xl-jpg

    It was pretty crude -- it had no aux sends, no XLR inputs, and no ability to sync to anything external. Bass + drum + 2 guitars + vocals meant ping pong, and printing with effects. More parts meant more ping pong. I used a hi-z mic plugged into a Boss reverb pedal for vocals. By the time it got to a 2-mix cassette it was pretty stepped on, but I recorded a ton with it and it taught me to plan and record efficiently.

    After that I had a Korg D8 (8-track digital hard disk recorder). It sounded really good (and had a whopping 1.5 gig hard drive), but also had a somewhat crippled mixer/bus implementation and therefore offered more learning experiences. Nowadays, recording on a computer seems like an embarrassment of riches. But I still like to keep it simple, so GarageBand rather than Logic or Pro-tools for me.

    John