In many ways, listening to analog tape playback is much more like listening to the output of your console than the output of a CD. Like riding in a Rolls Royce! In spite of the tape noise, wow & flutter and analog tape's nonlinearities, there isn't any detrimental filtering. It's that lower sample rate of 44.1kHz and 20kHz brick wall filter that makes digital sound like digital and not like analog. But starting with that analog sound, you get to capture THAT flavor before the horrific brick wall filtering. So analog, transferred to digital, sounds more like analog than a pure digital production. Just listen to all of those hits from the 1970s and eighties, which were later transferred to CDs. You still get that analog glow.
In the land of digital recording, you will approach a more acceptable analog like quality by recording at the higher sample rates of 88.2, 96 and 192kHz. That's because with every incremental advance, the brick wall filter can be moved to a higher frequency. Rendering its adverse effects less audible in the perceptible bandpass. But you get shoved right back to go again when down sampling for CD, MP3, i-pods and pod casts at 44.1kHz sampling rate. Thankfully, you still retain that nonlinear saturated analog sound, along with the horrible brick wall filter.
What I recommend to everybody is if you want that analog sound, don't record analog, rewind and playback. But actually monitor playback while recording and transfer to digital in real time. This will cut your wow & flutter by half. While also preventing "print through".
Now, you didn't mention whether you purchased this machine new or used? Nor, did you indicate what type of tape you set the machine to record with? Analog machines are not like digital machines. And analog machine needs to be properly set up to the type of tape that you are recording upon. This is determined by both the tape manufacturer and the machine manufacturer, depending on bias frequency, head the gap and other factors. Plus, one needs to know whether they like the sound of peak bias or over bias. Both methods present different textures to the sound. One never really wants to under bias. And, if your bass guitar sounds like you recorded it while pouring gravel in the backyard, your bias settings are not optimized for lowest modulation noise. That's the trickiest adjustment of the record bias.
And before one sets the record up, playback needs to be properly calibrated with the use of highly specialized reference calibration tapes and appropriate test gear. I've never recorded on an analog machine out-of-the-box. Aligning an analog machine is an art of science and compromise. Thankfully, you'll not have to align the 24 track analog machine for each session coming in and going out the door for each and every client. Those were the good old days. Or was that the gold ole days? And just remember, if you happen to get one of the playback alignment tapes, DO NOT ALIGN THE LOW-FREQUENCY PLAYBACK EQUALIZER'S TO THE PLAYBACK REFERENCE TEST TAPE. Those are to be aligned only when doing the recording to playback response. To align playback response, you only use the frequencies from 500 to 20,000. The low frequencies are only used in a mono, full track situation due to "fringing effect" on anything with more than a single channel, i.e. 2 or more. Otherwise, you will never be happy with the low frequency response on record to playback. A mistake I've seen way too many times by some actually very fine and educated engineers. A little-known information factoid that frequently had to be handed down from somebody who knows. Even to my engineering manager and chief engineer at NBC radio in Washington DC. Go figure? Thankfully, I'm a fossil.
Ms. Remy Ann David