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I was considering to go for a 1/2" 16 track recorder next year, since I could get on dirt cheap and thought that it would be an interesting alternative to my Fostex D-90 and Pro Tools/Digi 001 Setup.
Now my question. How does it sound? I don't think it can actually compare to 2" 24 track machine but is it anywhere near to it, sonically?
I thought about either Fostex E 16 or B 16 or a Tascam MSR 16.

I am looking forward to your opinions.

Best regards,



audiowkstation Sun, 09/02/2001 - 06:12

Maintenance is the key..

Familar formats in analog are...

1/4" 1 track, 2 track , 4 track
1/2" 2 track, 4 track, 8 track
1" 8 track, 12 track, 16 track
2" 24 tk (saw a 32 track)

16 tracks on a 1/2 tape is very tight. 32th of an inch total track width....closer than that because
you have to have a space between tracks...ever so small. Azimuth would be a bitch...but once one track is tight, all the rest has to be...or else.

(in digital, the big machine uses 48 tracks on 1/2 inch) DASH (Digital audio stantionary head)

as in the PCM3348 Sony..

I tell you...16 on 1/2 analog is tricky...confirm performance and KNOW how to will need to adjust it for others tapes I am afraid...Very close..

...Cassettes use 4 tracks on 1/8th inch...same situation as 1/2" 16tk

anonymous Sun, 09/02/2001 - 07:48

Fletcher, Bill,

thanks for the replies. A relief to hear that they can sound good...
Just one thing made me wondering:

"...Cassettes use 4 tracks on 1/8th inch...same situation as 1/2" 16tk"

As far as I know track width has to do with both crosstalk and audio quality, so does this mean that a 1/2" 16 track wouldn't sound much better than a Porta 4 track??



audiowkstation Sun, 09/02/2001 - 08:36

No dude....

The electronics that drives the heads in a portatrack 4 is crappy, compared to the 16 track. The heads on the 16 track are on a whole different level. The electronics is superior on the 16 track, pre-amps to heads, post-amps to line out, quality construction...etc..

The "format of tape space /width" is the same as the portatrak.

The frequency balance and calibration of cassettes vary with the plastics of the shell and the calibration of the bias and noise reduction. If the plastic shells are not "correct" the cassette shell may force a the shell is counter to the tape guides. In open reel, their is no shell...the guides are in control.

Plus the tape are not running 1" 7/8 on the 1/2" 16. It is much better than the tascam 4...but it is still "tight" and must be accuratly calibrated to the tape, and such.

7.5 ips, and 15 ips is so much better (since the travel/amount of tape/sec. is exposed.

Faster speeds give less flux varibles to the recording/playback. More tape, more quality signal.

30IPS can suffer from being so fast that the guides of the tape may bounce or vibrate...causing another set of problems with head contact...Unless you have a really highly calibrated Studer...or a dash running at 70+ips

How much did it cost you...or will cost you???

anonymous Sun, 09/02/2001 - 14:37


This 16 track Fostex machine can sound very good. I still have an old B16 which I seldom use.

You must find out what the condition of the head is because it can be difficult to find a new one and quite expensive too. I guess spare parts are becoming rare.

The Tascam MSR is a very good machine although IMO the Fostex sounds a little better due to the Dolby C/S noise reduction (most Tascams have DBX NR)

I have a Tascam MSR24S (Dolby S) which I use sync with a two inch machine for 48 track recording. I bought it new in 1992 and it never let me down, not for one minute. Great machine with great sound, almost as good as two inch.


anonymous Mon, 09/03/2001 - 02:15


ok, fine. To conclude this:
Would you guys think it is worthwhile to buy one for recording drums, edit them (if neccassary) in Pro Tools and then get it back on the 16 track. Would my drumtracks considerably sound better (I am recording Rock and Metal)and punchier? I know, YMMV, and while I am rather satisfied with how most of my drumtracks sound I still think they could well need some beefing up by analog tape saturation...



Rog Mon, 09/03/2001 - 04:14

I have an old E 16 I use at home for demos. It's not bad though it has seen a lot of use - if you can get the heads checked before you buy, so much the better.

Also, buy the best tape you can get your hands on. For the price, they're worth every penny though the I/O is on phono connectors, which is the only negative thing I can think of! Look out for one with the remote option.

I tend to double tracks and use as an 8 track; the sound is surprisingly good. The next step is to get the heads looked at, I've spoken to the people at:

Who were very helpful although they are located in the States. If anyone knows of a place in the UK where I can get heads relapped I'd appreciate it!

Logan Mon, 09/03/2001 - 06:43

I use an E16 all the time for drums and fly the tracks to the DAW, the tape compression is worth the extra work. I don't even sync them any more just mult the snare track to the DAW when tracking and slide the tape tracks to match up after I send them over. I also agree about the dual tracking I mostly record each drum to two tracks and in effect use it as an 8 trk. I don't use the noise reduction at all although it's OK, maybe I just need a little hiss LOL. $500 seems like a great price if the heads are OK, guys here in Canada are still asking for a grand for the 8 trk Tascams. I was still able to get parts as little as a year ago, although I haven't needed anything since then. Take care Logan