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I'm a bit of a noob when it comes to recording, but I got a Yamaha MT120S Four-Track for Christmas, and was getting used to how to record onto it (which was working very well!) up until when I tried to play it back elsewhere.

When I play the tape back in the four-track, it sounds perfectly normal, but when i put the tape in a stereo or radio, it coems out a lot lower (Im presuming half speed).

I noticed the 4-track had 2 speed settings (4.8 and 9.5), so i then tried recording on the other setting and when i played it back in the 4-track, obviously it was fine...but when i played it back on a stereo it was even slower than before!

Please help!


anonymous Wed, 02/15/2006 - 13:25

Standard cassette tape speed is 1 7/8 ips (inches per second). Your 4-track records at higher tape speeds in hopes of getting better audio quality--the faster the tape travels across the record head, the more physical space the audio information has to to be stored, resulting in greater audio detail.

Also, you have to remember that when you're recording your songs across 4 tracks, your recorder is using the tape differently than normal stereo playback. Let's say you record a guitar on track 1, vocals on track 2, bass on track 3, and drums on track 4. If you play that same cassette back in a normal stereo cassette player, you should hear guitar in the left speaker and vocals in the right speaker on side A. Side B will be bass in the left speaker and drums in the right speaker, playing backwards (and slowed down, of course).

Get your manual out and read about how to mix down. You're going to have to make mixes of your 4-track recordings into another device. You'll have to record your mix into another device, like a regular tape deck or a computer with another stereo recording program like soundforge.

kwill Wed, 02/15/2006 - 16:14

Wow thats quite weird....I'll see if i can get another tape deck from somewhere and give my manual a read...
On the other hand, I adjusted the pitch setting down all the way, and it now plays at normal speed! Though I'm only using tracks 1 and 2 and according to what you said, i presume if i use 3 and 4 they will be recorded onto side weird is that?/
Ill keep using the pitchometer until I get this deck

anonymous Thu, 02/16/2006 - 08:19

Some pictures might make it easier to understand. This is all I can find online with a quick look. Go to this page:

...and scroll down to the illustrations of tape direction, just a little way down the page. A regular stereo tape player is designed to play information that's stored as shown in the "quarter track stereo" illustration. Your 4-track is using those same 4 tracks all in the same direction, as shown just below that first illustration in the "multitrack" picture.

It doesn't have anything to do with brand--all 4-track cassette recorders will work about the same way.

But again, your manual should explain exactly how you'll mix your 4-track recordings down to stereo. I remember when I got my first four track, probably 15 years or so ago, and no one explained any of this to me at the time, either. I figured it out in the manual, and fortunately I had a little stereo that would let me record my mixes. Otherwise, I'm sure my parents would've been irritated that I already needed more gear, and who knows--that might have been the end of my recording career!

Boy, I sure did a lot of 4-track recordings back then--I should've bought stock in Maxell!