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Tascam 38-8 overview for home recording

hey, I have been recording off and on for years with my Tascam 246, and am used to all the built-in features, and it still works great after 20 years!

I am looking to get an 8-track deck, and have the opportunity to buy a good used Tascam 38-8 for a decent price. I like working with tapes, which is fine for my purposes.

Questions I am hoping to get some help with:
1. does anyone know where I can get some overview info on the 38-8 (channel inputs/outputs, general capabilities)? I can't find anything on the net after extensive searching... Tascam doesn't help either...

2. how limiting is the head arrangement of the 38-8 versus the 80-8?

3. what type of NR equipment is used (or required) with these decks? I am used to the built-in dbx of the 246, but that doesn't seem to be on the 38-8's (?)

My goal (for now) is to create a simple 8-track setup for recording tracks with my boys, who are all becoming talented musicians (drummer, sax, piano) to add to my guitar/bass. We could "go digital", but I am still "old school" :D

Thanks for any help/suggestions!


bent Fri, 11/16/2007 - 13:56
OOps, I realized that as soon as I walked away.

All I've found on the 38-8 are forum posts, nothing in the way of a manual, etc.
I'm sure, given time, that someone here has working knowledge of that machine!

Oh, and I found quite a few adware sites, go figure. :roll:

Time to run CrapCleaner!

moonbaby Fri, 11/16/2007 - 14:18
I believe that the unit was called the Tascam 38...period. If you research that, you'll get some info. I worked in a studio back then that would get tapes from clients who used that machine at home to cut demoes, then they would want me to overdub and mix them. It was a nightmare, because the 38, like you said, had no NR built-in. And although there was a 4-channel dbx unit offered (and recommended) for it, many were too cheap to pop for it. Big mistake. It was a noisey recorder, even for those days. I had an 80-8 at the time, and the 38 was no 80-8. People these days refer to ITB recording studios as being "CD quality". The 38 was barely "cassette quality". Anyway, there are usually some of those dbx outboard 4-channel boxes on e-Bay. If you go through with this, you'll want a couple of them.
There were a lot of issues with the 38 besides the sound quality. I think that the reliability and alignability of that unit were constantly in question.
If you are so hellbent on not buying a nice digital unit (and there are plenty to choose from), you might look at an Otari MX5050 1/2" 8-track. Or a TSR-8. Something that won't fight you so much. And that has replacement parts available. Good luck!

moonbaby Fri, 11/16/2007 - 14:33
Sorry, I do tend to rant some. I have had my good share of analog recorders, and only the best from that era are worth keeping around these days. I hate to see people invest in the cheap stuff from the past and have it never work. Anyway, there are good bargains on e-Bay for the better Tascams, Otari's, and dbx units, if you really want to go analog.
You're right about the weather, but you'll never convince Cucco from RO. He was down here in AUGUST when it was in the upper 90s, 95% humidity. Not happy! These days if you want to hear a decent live band, you go to... church :(

Davedog Fri, 11/16/2007 - 16:47
I sold my 38 about two years ago. It worked flawlessly until one day a couple of years before that....and then it required dinner and a movie before it would %&*king work. I had the dbx units with mine. The sync cards were constantly going out....or so I thought. So I racked it up with the bottom plate off of it so I could manually manipulate the cards and make em work. It was a decent sounding deck....contrary to some of my friends thoughts on this (YER NOT ALONE MOON!!!) I had the good fortune to be able to use it as a vocals and guitars only recorder syncing it up to sequencers and keys for everything else. Then I got my digital machine and I used it for drums every now and then...still not bad but a nightmare to fix. It must have had a zillion hours on it and the heads were still at 90%..........

However. If you are simply wanting the analog tape sound and you dont mind spending $85 bucks for less than thirty minutes of record time...(thats two reels for a short record....) by all means find an Otari 5050. One of the finest transport systems on earth....easy to amps were really really could drive em just like the big machines and they simply got that smokey sound NOT distortion.... I wish I had NEVER sold my 5050. I even had a two track that went with it......


Pro Audio Guest Fri, 11/16/2007 - 18:12
Thanks guys... lots of "reality" to be had, which is good... I was looking on some big box music sites and see that I can go digital and get a 2488mkII for $800, or an AW1600 for $1K... may not be a bad direction to go.

Maybe they need to make digital equipment with simulated reels that turn... plugging a mixer into a PC doesn't seem the same as watching 10.5" reels go around while playing, or watching VU's bounce... is that "old school" or what??

But, everything we do ends up digital anyway, so I guess I need to move on.


moonbaby Fri, 11/16/2007 - 21:00
Try to go with the Yamaha. Tascam has, over the years, developed a rep for poor customer service and several of their products seem to get dissed on this forum. My experience with a pair of DM24 digital mixers was less than ideal, but I still use them (when I have to). On the other hand, Yamaha seems to have the inside track on digital audio, and the people I know who use their studio-in-the-lap boxes are quite content with them.
Dave: You must be REAL nice to your gear if that 38 lasted that long !
Kudos to you!!!