I have not done any recording in a very long time, but I have a stack of recordings made using a Tascam Portastudio 244 made in the 80s and 90s. I would like to upload the 4 tracks into a PC simultaneously and remix them.
What do people suggest I use as #1 an input and #2 an editing program?
Thanks for your help I appreciate that I am 25-30 years out of touch with recording
Hi and welcome!
You will need an audio interface that has at least 4 line inputs that will accept 300mV unbalanced signals, and has two line outputs (for monitoring). I'm assuming you have a PC or Macintosh with a spare USB socket.
You don't give any idea of budget, so it's a bit difficult to give recommendations for specific models. At the bottom end, the Steinberg UR44 or the Tascam US-4x4 would work, but the next level of quality product such as the Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 (2nd Gen) or the Presonus Studio 6 might give you a better result from your tapes.
For Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software, there are several products available at the lower end. It's worth trying Reaper, as it has a fully-functional free evaluation period. It's very well-featured, but takes a bit of learning if you are not used to DAWs.
You will also need audio monitor speakers (not hi-fi speakers). The type with a built-in amplifier are the most convenient for connection to the analogue outputs of an audio interface.
Come back with an idea of budget, and we can help you further.
Thank you so much for these suggestions. I think that even the lower end suggestions will be great for digitizing my tapes. I was thinking of about a £150 for a basic 4 track ADC but up to £250 is ok. At the moment I just want to get a digital copy of my old bands.
I will look at Reaper. I also saw that Protools has a free demo but this might require buying a better PC to run it. It might be worth getting a decent package as it saves having to get up to speed with another package in the future. I used to like Cubase, what do you think of that these days? Has it been replaced by protools?
I am not ready to set up a full studio at the moment as I am still knocking through the walls! I hope you will give me some suggestions to look at in the meantime. Studio budget only up to £5K as it is a hobby and not a profession. I would prefer to have a touch screen monitor to control everything rather than a 19" effects rack and mixing desk (I did warn you I was 1/4 century out of date here). I want the software to include DSP, reverb, noise gate etc, but it really must have an acoustic enhancer to improve the old tape backlog.
I already have a heavy duty desk (no mixer) and a spare decent hifi, so worse case I can compromise and save the cost of an amp and monitors. I still have my Sennheiser studio headphones and a few mikes of various quality. A few Shure Unidynes 419s, remember them? Shall I scrap the lot and buy new? I definitely need a reasonable vocal microphone as I sometimes work as a voice over actor.
Given my budget and existing kit, what would you suggest?
This is greatly appreciated, cheers
Yamaha hs5 or hs8 are a very good low budget monitor. Mackie hr, or krk rokits are reasonable 2nd choice speakers.
Cubase and reaper are both good options. For windows, Samplitude is my choice, and probably the best all in one choice. Its rock solid stable, and has very high quality stock pluggins. It also has the best sounding audio engine of all major daws ive heard. One thing useful for archive work is it supports 384k sample rates, which reaper does too. If your interface supports it, it will keep you future proof for longer.
Protools is much more stable and cleaner sounding than it used to be. I would however only go that route if i had a reason, like prior familiarity, or old protools sessions i needed to run.
If your doing pro voiceover work, id spend a bit more on the audio interface. Something like the focusrite clarett, or ua apollo twin or twin usb (for windows), would be a quality mid level interface. Ua also comes with some good pluggins, which run on DSP chips in the interface, so effects dont bog down your pc.
The shure sm7b is a ubiquitous broadcast mic, and all around great on anything. Ev re20, is also world class, and mic 2nd choice for voice over/all around use. Both are mid priced.
Assumimg your on windows,
Samplitude pro x4 suite
UA apollo USB
A shure sm7b
some rigid fiber glass acoustic panels
Is really all you need and comes in roughly 2,500 USD, half your budget.
Maybe add in Ozone and/or Fabfilter pluggins and a nice comfy ergonomic chair.
I would certainly max out the RAM in your computer. Ram prices are dropping by the day
If your on Mac or need cross compatibility, Reaper or Cubase will get the job done just fine, tho you would want to plan on 3rd party pluggins with those, since their stock stuff isnt as good as Samplitudes.
I really wouldnt skimp on the speakers or acoustic panels. They are the window to your ears. They are arguably the most important peices to a studio.
The acer aspire 885-ur12 is a great entry level PC, for the budget catagory. You can catch it on sale for $400 USD. Its got a 6 core intel i5 processor. Add as Ssd for your operating system, and some ram and youll get alot done for under $600. I would opt for a Samsung 970+ evo, nvme SSD since they are the standard and very fast and affordable. I believe the acer has a free m.2 slot for the drive, but its easy enough to get a $10 pcie card to house your blazing fast drive.
Do you have a Tascam 244 in good working order to playback the tapes? If yours has been in storage for 25+ years (like mine) I wouldn't put my favorite tape in it first. Mine was always well taken care of and never gave me any problems. But like any tape machine, age-hardened pinch rollers and the idler tires that take up the slack would be my concern. If the drive belts slip, or are broken, it's usually not the end of the world. But as you know, the 244 runs at double speed (3 3/4 ips), so if the take-up reel isn't taking up the slack effectively, it wouldn't take long for a 244 to chew up a lot of tape.
I've been considering resuscitating my 244 out of morbid curiousity / nostalgia for some old band recordings. It's on my list of "things to do one day when I've got absolutely nothing else more important to do".
For reference, an older thread on the topic of Tascam 244s. Unfortunately, the link to Tascam parts seems to be a dead link. And coincidentally, a topic on someone else's mind today.
most PC's come loaded with a version of Audacity. if yours doesn't have it you can click on the link and download it at no cost. Audacity is an editing program but i think it should be fine for your application. you will need an interface that has 4 inputs. keep the mics you already have. they really are fine. you would have to spend 300 or 400 dollars to get anything better. use your hi fi to monitor. it's not the best solution but until you decide to get really serious and invest in a room that actually tells you the truth it really would be a waste of funds. done this way your into it for less than 200 bucks.