Thumbs up or Down??
Good question, I have a TSR 8 and for me.....
Thumbs up.It doesn't sound like a STUDER...of course not. But it sure Sounds better than a cassette 4 track. For me in my little space its perfect, and for the music I do it sounds better than any ADAT. Warmer, etc. I have done side by side tests with ADATs and the difference was so obvious the ADAT sat there for monthes until I sold it.(blackface btw).
It also sounds better than my 20 bit Layla soundcard. If I have a project that starts out on acoustic guitar, I always start it out on the TSR8 first. Then when I use up all of the tracks I dump all 8 to the computer. I have also been very happy with recording vocals to the TSR8. What I do is record a guide track to the TSR8 and then record several tracks of vocals, up to 7, then dump
to the puter and comp the vocals in there with Wavelab, then paste them into the track.
Vocals Definately sounds better on analog than recording directly to the computer. I hit the levels really very hard on it most of the time, any where from +1 to +5.
I don't use it for everything and as a matter of fact it justs sits there most of the time as I work on the computer.
As for as how much to pay?? Of course pay as little as you can. I got mine 4 or 5 years ago for 500$. Which I thought was a really good deal. I don't think I would pay more than 1000$ for a TSR8, and then it would have to be perfect. If one of these was beat to hell don't even bother as it would cost you more to fix it than it was worth. Don't quote me but I checked prices on record and playback heads a few years ago and it was crazy...like 3 or 4 hundred dollars.
Make sure you test the motors out good. As I understand it these can be problematic and expensive to replace. Put a tape on and FF
and rewind a few times. Then let it play all of the way through. Take it to a good service person right away and have them set it up. I use Quantegy 456 but may switch to GP9.
I'm sure some people would not recommend this deck and compared to higher end machines this is considered a toy...but hey it works for me.
Absolute thumbs up, as far as project-studio gear goes. We bought one brand-new in 1990 for $3000, (a good deal at the time) and used it hard for three years, until we got some ADATS. (Because I just hated bouncing drum tracks down to stereo, I just had to have more tracks.) Since then the Tascam has mostly sat in the closet, except when the ADATS broke down. (Have spent over $1000 on ADAT repairs; the Tascam has never been worked on except for normal alignment.)
It does have a couple of weak points though, mostly related to its project-studio heritage.
The plastic NAB hub locks are $*^t. I've broken 3 or 4 just puting reels on the machine. Don't push them too hard.
Not very good at punching in. (Or is that just me?) The Tascam needs a beat of actual silence on the tape in order to get in and out clean. With the ADATS I can get in and out on the decay of any note.
It was designed for Ampex 456 and won't be happy if you try to set it up hotter than 250 nWb/m. I don't consider this a disadvantage, as I like the sound, and smell, of that tape. And you can nail the levels really hard and it still sounds good. (See Eddie's "Tech Files" in Mix for his recent series on "Narrow Format Analog.")
Got the Tascam out this weekend when my ATR 102 broke down (Damn. Any good techs in Seattle?) And all we wanted to record was some backwards drum tracks...
Anyway, the TSR-8 is a great machine for a project studio, but I really want an Ampex MM-1200 16 track. Looking for that T-Rex tone...well, that was probably a Studer A-80...whatever...