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Tascam M16?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by free318, Jul 27, 2006.

  1. free318

    free318 Guest

    I have a chance to get a Tascam M16 (24 trk configuration) for about $500, but the power supply doesn't work. Does anyone have experience with this board? Could the repair cost more than the board itself and would it be worth it? From what I've read, these boards have a nice warm sound, and that's definately what i'm looking for. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    I think you're slightly confused as the Tascam M16, is a 16 track recorder and not a console. Plus it says 16 and so it is not 24 track. I think you need more information before you purchase this?

    And if you're looking for a nice warm sound, it's definitely not going to come from anything made by TEAC/TASCAM. I've never liked the sound of their microphone preamplifiers. They are marginal at best. I would rather have a Mackie for a front end, if you're on a limited budget. Their equalizers are even worse than their microphone preamplifiers and I've always hated their equalization as it is so bad, when I have to work on one of their consoles, I try not to even touch their equalizers. Things sound so much better when you don't use them. Now I'm not saying that the Mackie equalizers are much better but they are better and so is their microphone preamplifiers. So I would not be in a rush to buy their consoles. Now if somebody wants to give you a free one, I would say great! Otherwise if you're going to spend $500, I look for something else. Their recorders are acceptable but for a novice, I would never recommend the Tascam M16, as you are talking about an analog machine that needs proper maintenance and tweaking. And since you have indicated the power supply doesn't work, I wouldn't touch it. That's not a bargain.

    Check out eBay please
    Ms. Remy Ann David
     
  3. free318

    free318 Guest

    Thanks Remy. I know it's confusing, but Tascam did issue an M16 (or Model 16) mixer as well as their recorder. And what's worse, even the 24 channel models are called the 16.

    FYI from Tascam's site under history (1983):

    The TASCAM M-16 was a mixer with 16 inputs, 8 outputs, and a 16-channel monitor section. This board was made in either a 16 input or 24 input configuration, a real flexible mixer that you could buy it with 16 inputs and then add modules later to increase the inputs to 24.-

    I want something with alittle more colorization than a Mackie (I've had one). Good pre's aren't so much of an issue, as I go with outboard gear for that. I just want a good old board to pass my signal through to/from my DAW.
     
  4. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    NO Tascam board is "good old". I used to HAVE to use Tascams, before Greg Mackie took the wind out of their sales. There simply weren't many options back in the "good old"(NOT!) days. Tascams were harsh-sounding, NO headroom, the EQ sucked the life outta everything passed through it, and about as "warm" as a cadaver. I was finally able to upgrade to a RAMSA !! Now THAT was a great-sounding board. When we replaced the Tascam with the Ramsa, it was like somebody removed a veil from the speakers! Clean, extended top end clarity, headroom out the ying-yang. You can find various Ramsa's on the internet at bargain prices,too. Don't be fooled by cheap imitations!
     
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Oh please! Soundcraft, Panasonic Ramsa, Allen & Heath, Soundtracs,Op-Amp Labs, anything but TA-SCAM console. Not that kind of flavor that anybody with any knowledge and any experience here recommends! Those consoles are fine for schools, churches and people that want to learn, not people that want to produce a quality product. Their recorders aren't horrible but their microphone three amplifiers and equalizers are just the worst and you don't want to feed your signal and that. Why are you asking questions from 35-year professionals and not taking our advice? Aren't you here for some educated advice? Especially since it has a blown up power supply. Power supplies are not cheap, especially supplies that most likely provide, bipolar 15 volts, +48 volts, +5 volts, such as that console probably requires. That's not something you can purchase at Radio Shaft and generally most people charge about $80 per hour for service work and it will take them a couple of hours to repair that power supply if that's the problem!

    Keep your Mackie! Buy more microphones. Read more books and trade publications. Improve your recording and mixing techniques. You are talking about something that you think doesn't sound right that we all know is more than perfectly right, its operator error you are talking about and inexperience. Listen to the experienced people who are giving you free advice, here at Recording.org.

    It's not a bargain, it's a tumor. (With Austrian accent)!
    Ms. Remy Ann David

    Now be a good boy and listen to your mother.
     
  6. elektro80

    elektro80 Guest

    No matter what kind of colorization I can imagine you would ever want, the TASCAM M-16 will not get you there. You will simply be sending your signal through a rather dull and outdated console.
     
  7. DanGtr

    DanGtr Active Member

    Tascam M16 and M15 mixers

    A friend just bought one of these and I'm helping him get it installed into his studio. I've kept a journal of every studio project I've ever worked on. I went back and pulled out my notes from when I regularly worked on one of these consoles. I hope this info helps any of you who own one.

    Wow, Looks like we pretty much hate the Tascam consoles here. During my 30 years as an engineer, producer and studio musician I've worked on everything from these early eighties Tascam beasts to multi-million dollar Solid State Logic consoles and a lot of everything between. In general the Tascam large format analog desks do not sound like the high end Neves and SSLs but at the same time they're a tenth of the price. I've mixed label projects on Tascam consoles and never had one A&R rep object to the sound or reject the mixdown (one of my last projects mixed on a Tascam desk was submitted for a Grammy nomination).

    It's really not about the gear you use, it's how you use it. I've used some of the cheapest gear on recordings and I've used some extremely expensive gear on recordings. The result is always the same - either people like it or they don't, no one ever asks about what gear was used to record it. Tom Petty said it best "Nobody cares what you used to record an album, they care if they like the music or not". Don't let gear get in the way of creating and recording your music.....no piece of gear will ever make your song better.

    The Tascam M15 and M16 consoles are pretty much the same mixer with very parallel feature sets. There are only a couple of small differences - the M16 has sweepable EQs and a Phase invert switch - between the two mixers. The biggest downfalls of this particular mixer are its operation level (-10dBv), the fact that it does not have built-in phantom power and the unbalanced input/outputs on RCA connectors. This console was designed during the period of time when an engineer would routinely re-configure the mixer for whatever task was going on in the studio (ie. recording, mixing or overdubs). If you look for a one-connection-fits-all scheme with this mixer you'll be less than satisfied with it's performance. To get the best performance out of this mixer you're going to want to use the direct-outs from the channel strips as often as possible and during mixdown patch the recorder's outputs to the channel line inputs. This bypasses the parallel feeds to the monitor section of the mixer and really boosts the clarity. My way of working this console was to take as direct a route for the signal whenever possible. This meant using insert sends to feed tape machines, using direct outs and patching tape outputs directly into the insert returns.

    Interfacing one of these consoles into a DAW working environment presents its own set of challenges. The first thing I'd do is invest in a bunch of patchbays and several sets of balancing boxes or transformers. In this way you'll be able to feed microphones through the mixer's channel strip and only use the sections you need or want. The balancing boxes are used to create balanced line inputs and output to help keep the noise levels down over long cable runs. At the same time you can use the balancing boxes to convert the mixer's signal levels from -10dB to +4dB levels. Is it worth the money just because it's old? - probably not.

    Another investment you're going to have to make is buying (or making) a bunch of phantom power supplies to run your large condensor mics. In my notes I had written in the margins that the studio had modified their console and installed phantom power. Sorry, I don't have a schematic for the mod. I'll post one if we make that mod to the console I'm installing now.

    Signal cables are going to be a considerable expense for installing one of these consoles. Your best way to get it wired into your system is to build your own cables. Not only will you save some cash but you can create the specialized connections needed to get the board connected to your balancing boxes, recorder or digital converters. Most installers will use a hook-up wire that's 100% shielded. These are small in size but have a good sound quality. Belden 292 or West Penn 454 are common models of wire used for installs. For connectors, most people will use the Neutrik (Rean if you're on a budget) or Switchcraft connectors.

    The biggest.....biggest thing to consider when installing a console this size is the availability of clean AC power. You can't just plug one of these things into the power strip with your computer and expect the mixer to function properly. Large format consoles, like the M15 and M16, need to be supplied with a large amount of available power to run all those lights and amplifier circuits. Without enough current, these mixers don't operate at their peak capabilities, are noisy and sound bad. Mixers of this age run on many transistors - they are much more power hungry than the integrated circuits found in contemporary mixers. Professional installations commmonly dedicate a single power circuit (one line running directly to the breaker box) for the console - at the very least a single circuit for the control room gear. If you want to plug your mixer into the same circuit your whole bedroom is running on I'd suggest a semi-pro mixer that has the power cord connected to the back.

    The last little wrinkle to working with this console from my notes has to do with the microphone inputs. During the time this mixer was built there was not a standard for microphone input wiring. This varied by manufacturer. Today's standard is to have pin2 on the microphone connector as the "hot" connection. Pretty much all contemporary mics and mixers are wired this way. The Tascam mixers of that era are wired with Pin 3 as the "hot" connection. This means that contemporary microphones and direct boxes plugged into this mixer will be coming into the channel strip with their phase reversed. On the M16 all you have to do is operate the "phase" switch opposite of the label. On the M15 you'll have to wire a reverse mic cable extension (where the wire connecting pins 2 and 3 are reversed on one end) or modify the input modules.

    If the power supply on one of these large format consoles is down you'll have to expect more than a power supply repair. There's some reason the power supply failed. There may be problems inside the console or within a single module that caused the power supply to fail. More often than not, when a power supply goes it takes out other things connected to it or visa versa. Most of the power supplies for large format consoles are built in sections. One part of the console will have power while another section will not - part of the console will work and part will not. If one of these large external supplies is completely dead, this console has a lot of problems and will need a lot of work to get it going again. Unless you can do the work yourself and you're really in love with the console, I wouldn't buy one (of any manufacture) in this state. Working, these old Tascam desks sell for around $200-300 - To get it working again will cost way more than that.

    The large Tascam mixers of this era have a sound character which reflects what the Japanese designers wanted to hear during the period of time they were built. This isn't necessarily the same as what the Brittish and American engineers of the seventies, Greg Mackie in the eighties or the Soundcraft engineers of today want to hear. Sound character is subjective and people don't agree on it too often. Some gear I hate the sound of other producers won't record without. It all comes down to what we as musicians, engineers and producers want to hear.

    Just because a piece of gear was built in the late seventies doesn't automatically mean it's going to add some kind of "sonic mojo" to your recordings. My advice, spend less time chasing down the ultimate sound and more time concentrating on your music. Contemporary gear sounds good, is easy to operate and easily connects to each other without needing a degree in electrical engineering. Focus on working to make your current rig sound its best, you can't replace good recording techniques with any piece of gear or plug-in!
     
  8. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Question:
    Why did you dig up a FIVE year old post ? Yes, all of us who come from an analog background know that most Tascam boards were cheaply built and had lousy headroom.
     
  9. DanGtr

    DanGtr Active Member

    Installing one in a friend's personal studio, he's in love with the thing and wants to make it work. This link came up on a standard internet search.

    You're asking me why I'd dig up a five year old post - I don't know, I decided to just go looking for really outdated stuff to look at and this one sounded as good as anything else out there to dig up.

    Look - I found it so anyone else looking at one of these mixers is going to find it too. I figured anything I could offer anyone else who dug this post up might help them to make a good or bad decision.

    In case you haven't noticed - there are very, very few of us who came up through an analog background left alive. Most of the young engineers I'm around in studios only know analog by the un-used tape machine sitting in the corner or the stuff they read in threads and magazines. You and I know about these desks - most of them don't. Just trying to share experience and knowledge.

    Thanks for the attitude!
     
  10. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Sorry to offend. I guess that I have noticed way too many posts here lately that have dug up old subjects. Several of those were pertaining to this exact topic-Tascam boards. Your post seemed to me to be more suited as a blog...maybe something for the younger folks here to reflect upon. Personally, my mentors died a long while ago, but many of my peers are still active in this biz, albeit in a different light. I gave in and gave up analog tape in 2002, never looked back. I gave away (that's right, GAVE AWAY for FREE) my last big board-a RAMSA - earlier this year to an RO member who's reportedly getting the hang of it. When I posted it originally here, I got a whole 2 folks wanting it - Scott (in Atlanta) and some younger dude in Michigan who would have had to have his parents drive him down here to get it (!). That board still kicks butt, and I bought it because 30 years ago I bought one to replace a...Tascam...and thought that I'd give it another try after I sold my Neve Melbourne a couple of years ago. Now I'm the one learning to do it ITB. Go figure.
    Anyway, once again , my apologies...I spend all day scoring customer service calls for Johnson & Johnson, my mood's been cranky today. Peace.
     
  11. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Moon? Cranky? REaLLY?

    I go way back with Tascam and the associated gear of that age. I know Remy hates the stuff and I agree that the headroom left a lot to be desired especially in those days when you wanted to bang the needles red with every kick drum hit and snare pop. something like an MCI or a Audiotronics would go all day with things in the red with no noticeable distortion whereas the older Tascams would not. And the -10 operating level stuff along with 300 rca jacks and the backwards wired mic jacks (to us anyways)...I think I still have a couple of snakes from my last Tascam board, a 520, floating around here somewhere. I spent a lot of hours on a Model15. It was okay. The 520 sounded better and after working with a studio with an old MCI I traded the Tascam for a Yamaha PM1000....more headaches there but the sound was great! I'm with Moon when it comes to having headroom. Maybe the operators could have been better at the time...I dunno, they are now for sure.

    Thanks for the information. Theres a lot of young guys resurrecting these old consoles and making records on em. You're certainly welcome to post anything like this on installs you would like on these pages. We get a lot of hits and some of this stuff is simply not available due to the fact the old dogs are getting fewer.

    Hey Moon....PM me. I wrecked the Harley.....(sigh)
     
  12. DanGtr

    DanGtr Active Member

    No offense taken - Thanks for the apology. Sometimes it's hard to separate yourself from everything that's gone on during the day. I totally understand - I'm there quite often myself!

    I don't spend a lot of time posting so the difference between a forum post and a blog are kind of a grey area for me. I'll try to figure it out for any future posts I leave.

    Many of my mentors have also passed on - I guess it's up to people like us to pass that knowledge along now.

    C-Ya
     
  13. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Yeah, the mentors have left us, analog tape is a bygone era....proven by a little pro audio store in Davedog's neck of the woods (SuperDigital) trying to sell a 24-track Studer A800MkIII for.......$4995.00 (!) There was a time not so long ago when that machine would have sold used for $50K or more! I seriously thought of driving cross-country to pick it up, but I'd have to pop for an oven to bake the tapes that are like hen's teeth now. Oy, vey...
    Ah, the smell of burning brake shoes in the old MCI, the intermittent farts from the AG440, and the snap-crackle-and-pop from a C452 in a humid room. Those days are long gone. Hey, cool, I can mix that new Latino band from my iPad!!!!!!
     
  14. sshack

    sshack Active Member

    Lovin' the Ramsa.

    Thanks Moon! :)
     
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Ya know that machine is one of the 24's from Bearsville dont cha?? It has several puddles of my very own drool around it but I have no space. Tape is becoming more common as there seems to be a slight return to the medium. Of course if you go with the CLASP you only need the one reel and an alignment reel.
     
  16. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    You wrecked a Harley? That's like wrecking a NEVE or a U67. I still haven't completely wrecked my 1982 Honda GL 500 that I bought new, now with antique tags. Glad you're okay, wow.

    Yeah, the TASCAM's aren't my favorite. But I know how to get head room out of them. Because of their peculiar configuration (in comparison to real consoles) the best way to get a little more head room out of those consoles, since the direct outputs are frequently post fader, is to run your gain trims slightly lower and your faders slightly higher. That way, you actually trade noise for headroom. You can deal with the noise in software. But you can't bring back headroom that ain't there. And remember also that you can tilt some bass or some treble with their EQ's but stay away from the mid-band because they are awful.

    A trippy tip
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  17. BadKarma

    BadKarma Member

    Dan, the M16's have Phantom power on each input strip. There just isn't a switch for it top side, you have to pull the strip out to turn it on. I just found this out going over an M16 now. Traded one boat anchor for another. From a tech standpoint, the M16 isn't badly built for an entry level board. Most of this era & before don't have any kind of channel strip support, it's all on the PCB & its slot. Thanks for the post
     

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