Teac 80-8

Discussion in 'Mixing' started by frosty55, Jul 20, 2013.

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  1. frosty55

    frosty55 Active Member

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    I have a Teac 80-8 and would like to know if theres a way to make the sound of it a bit cleaner. As owners of the said recorder will already know, theres a definite 1970s sound to it, almost "muddy". Could I try boosting a certain set of frequencies on mixdown, or something similar?
     
  2. natural

    natural Active Member

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    If you can get the noise reduction unit for it, it would help quite a bit. It seems to do more than just reduce noise. The bass tightens up a tad, and there seems to be a little more head room. The other thing is to maybe use plus9 tape.
    And most old analog users will probably tell you that they used to hype the hi end while recording, and if need be turn it back down on playback. Turning the hi end down oh playback also helped to reduce the hi end hiss a little further.
    Those were the days eh?
     
  3. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    cleaning the mechanisms and calibrating the thing might help, dunno if you have already. i'm not an expert (i own a tascam 34), but i've been told that biasing like to +3 at whatever frequency, (biasing in general) and recording technique can help clean things up. like on a snare, i've been told you really want that at like -10 or so, cuz you want to preserve the transients on that instrument. bass, maybe not so much. hi hat yes. so things that have alot of transients, will relate cleaner w/ more headroom according to some of the the convo's i've had w/ this guy phil greene, who like has had hits, and knows tape and machines. he talks way over my head, but those are some of the things i remember. the overall though being that on transients, you don't want that 'tape compresion' for a clean sound, which makes sense, as your leaving room for each electrical point to no be overed. i love the grunge of these personally, and if i wanted clean, i'd get a more refined machine.

    as far as hyping the highs during tracking, my tascam 4trk cassette machine manual states, that you may actually want to lower the treble during tracking to reduce any mic/room hiss, and then boost it during mixing. it must have to do w/ headroom.

    overall, i personally like the old teac/tascam stuff for their grit, and any cleanliness, is probably not going to be anything but subtle. fun machines!!!!!!
     
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

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    Well, the first thing you need to accept is that while the 80 was a nice home recording tape deck, it's not ever gonna give you the results that you'd get from a pro 1" or 2". It is what it is. That being said, your "muddiness" could be a result of various issues; it could be that the heads need re lapped or re aligned. If you run a finger nail up and down the face of the head, and feel grooves or bumps, you probably need to have the head(s) re lapped.

    Also, if you can find a service center that could put it on an oscilloscope, you could have the heads checked for proper alignment - azimuth, zenith, height, etc., - to make sure that they are set in such a way that the tape moves across the heads as it's supposed to.

    Checking your bias will also help. You will need a lab alignment tape for your particular tape type and how you want it biased.

    Noise Reduction, especially the cheaper kinds that came with those decks ( dolby B, C, dbx, etc) were pretty good at getting rid of tape hiss, and while I don't think that these NR types necessarily made things "muddy" per se, - it's not as if NR "altered" the low end in an altogether bad way - it's just that these types of NR were notorious for killing the "air" and "silk" on the top end.

    This may help... here's a link to a service manual. Pages 6-11 show specific settings for various bias and alignment:

    http://www.tascamvintage.com/teac80-8.pdf

    Welcome to the world of analog! This was simply just a part of what was involved and what we all needed to do back in those days, LOL)

    If your plan is to continue to work with tape, you should get used to what it really involves. ;)


    fwiw
    -d.
     
  5. frosty55

    frosty55 Active Member

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    Well I recently had the Teac serviced by a tech and he done several things to it, such as polishing the heads etc..
    If I bought a different brand of tape, might that do the trick?
     
  6. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

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    tape will make a difference, i doubt that the difference would be as drastic as taking away a 'muddy' sound and making it, um, un-muddy. i think i know what your talking about cuz i have a similar machine, basically the next revision of the teac, became the tascam, then they added 'B' to the next revision.

    they tend to be perhaps a bit dull, or dark. there's definately that effect. i didn't use NR on my 34, and i didn't find it noisey at all. except when it cam to mastering and the collective noise of the tracks and all the compression, and the mastering compression really had an effect, i just had to reset the mastering compressor for this particular track, and it was fine.

    I think your machine, especially if it's been serviced to spec/taste, probably isn't going to sound drastically different. it's just how it sounds. they are not transparent in any way. i'm thinking maybe adjusting your eq/miking on the source would be a far better solution to getting rid of mud. knowing that your not using any sort of hi-fi type machine, i wouldn't expect pristine, or even huge sound, more just well rounded, and pleasing (not harsh).
     
  7. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

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    As I said in my post and K pointed out as well, it is what it is.. it was a nice machine for home studio use in that it allowed you to get your ideas down in a pre production manner - with the assumption that eventually you'd end up at a real studio using a pro deck/console for a final release. That's not to say you couldn't do final production on this deck, you certainly can, but your results will not be what you've probably grown to expect in terms of fidelity.

    For what it was built for, it was a fine machine. But as a final production deck, well, most of the huge albums/bands you heard during that time were doing work on MCI's, Studers, and other pro spec machines with wide formats, and were being tracked and mixed through consoles like Neve, SSL, Trident, Mitsubishi, Harrison, Sony MCI, etc., not to mention the inboard and outboard pre's, compressors, etc.

    Your best bet is to do what K mentioned, which is to add some silk and air through the use of EQ. You might want to consider hi passing everything but kick and bass, or ultra low synth patches, this will also help to brighten things up on the whole and take away some of the "mud".

    What kind of tape are you currently using, and is it brand new?
     
  8. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    the 80-8 was a great machine imo. i think they were the best sounding of all the Tascam Teac 8 tracks because they are the only ones that were all discreet. but any 80-8 would be getting long in the tooth however even if it were left sitting in a closet for thirty years with almost no hours put on it.

    i don't think you can bias it for high output tape. it may not fully erase high output tape as well. i recommend using fresh 456 or a compatible type.

    no doubt it should be completely recapped as it's probable the caps are all out of spec and most likely leaking. the power supply should be rebuilt as well. this will go a long way to tightening up the sound

    but it is what it is. all analog decks exhibit what is called "head bump". this is a slight boost of low's at a specific frequency. this is dependent on tape speed the slower the tape speed the lower frequency the head bump will be. the DBX niose reduction that came with the 80-8 will only exacerbate any head bump as well as doubling any frequency response anomalies.

    most narrow format analog machines will have a frequeny response rated at + or - 3 dB. that's a 6 dB range which is pretty ragged. as Donny mentions larger format machines such as 1" 8 tracks are usually rated to a much tighter response of + or minus 1 dB or in the case of some of the higher end machines (like a Stephens) + 1 / minus 0 dB.
     
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

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    I think Kurt is right... I mean, you could bias for higher output, but you might run into problems with overdubbing and the bias circuit not enabling the machine to fully erase.

    According to the service manual, all tests on the machine, and all specs based on the tests, were done on Ampex 456. I think, if memory serves correct, that Scotch 206 ( was it 206 or 306 Kurt?) is the compatible competitor, although I'm not even sure you can get any tape beyond 456 anymore, and even 456 stock has been sold and resold several times, from Ampex to Quantegy - and I have no idea who manufactures it now.

    If you wanted to save a few bucks, you might be able to buy it in "rarely used" lots on ebay. You'd have to check.

    -d.
     
  10. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    you will need to research at what point used reels of 456 are considered to be safe to use. there is a cut off date where the problems that cause sticky tape syndrome were addressed. tape manufactured past this date are good. tape made before this date are no good.

    here is a thing i found on analog tape. check it out, it's a good read.
     
  11. frosty55

    frosty55 Active Member

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    Oct 24, 2008
    Thanks for the advice chaps. Will consider buying fresh tape I think. The Ampex 456 I have goes back to the nineties, though I have checked with the dates and they weren't bought with the "Sticky Shed" affected ones.
     
  12. frosty55

    frosty55 Active Member

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    Thanks for the info chaps.
     
  13. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

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    Frosty -

    it's been awhile since you posted this topic originally... can you share with us what you ended up doing in relation to what did/didn't work?
     
  14. frosty55

    frosty55 Active Member

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    Oct 24, 2008
    Hi there. Yes its been awhile, but haven bought any new tape yet. I reall thnk some RMGI SM911 is the way to go, but in Pancake form. I have several metal reels from Ampex 456 I threw out.
    Don't know where to get it though.
     
  15. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    i couldn't find it in pancake but here's some links for reels.


    RMGI-North America SM911 34220 1/2" x 2500 ft Recording Tape on 10.5" Metal Reel | Full Compass

    1/2" Open Reel Analog Recording Tape

    EMTEC-RMGI SM911 1-2in X 2500ft 10-5in Reel
     
  16. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

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    There's a very wide range of possibilities as to why you feel you need more top end...

    How long ago was the deck serviced? Tape heads checked, alignment, electronics, bias set for the tape you are using...

    The short answer is that yes, EQ's, both graphic and parametric will allow you to sculpt the tone in many frequencies and frequency ranges.

    The long answer is that if your machine hasn't been maintained, (see above) you can add top end EQ to the mix, but you're gonna also boost a lot of noise, too.

    More details about your setup would help us to help you further...

    Maintenance history on the machine?
    What kind of console are you using to record and mix?
    What kinds of mics are you using?
    Do you have acoustical treatment in the room in which you are mixing?
    What kind of monitors do you have?
    Are you mixing through monitors or through headphones?
    Are you using fresh tape?
    Are you noticing any tape backing peeling or shredding off?
    Are you using any form of encode/decode noise reduction, either on the machine itself or through external Noise Reduction Modules?
    If so, what type of NR are you using? (Dolby B, C, dbx, etc...)
    Do you have a Test Tape reel from which you can do alignment and biasing?
    Do you have a voltmeter and an oscilloscope?

    The problem with attenuated top-end could be as simple as the heads needing a cleaning and degaussing...(don't have your tape in proximity to the deck if you are degaussing!)
    Or, it could be something more serious, like worn heads, or a misaligned head-stack, or bias settings, or noise reduction settings.... there are lots of possible culprits.

    You need to be far more detailed as to what your set up is, and with the history of servicing and maintenance on the deck, because the list of possible problems is a long one, and the more we know about your rig, the more we can help you...
     
  17. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    an 80-8 in good condition should not have issues with top end clarity. that's actually a decent recorder. not a big fat 1 inch but still pretty good. if anything those machines don't do the low end as well as a large format machine. i suspect you need to recap and align the machine.

    in the day of that machine it was common for the engineer to boost the highs 3 dB while recording a track and then to cut the same at playback but that was to cut down on noise not to get it brighter.
     
  18. frosty55

    frosty55 Active Member

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    Since the machine was serviced 18 months ago, its been used for about 20-30 hours.
    Mixer is a Studiomaster 166 Trilogy
    Mics are Beta 57A (2),SM58 (2), Akg D112, Beyer M69, Beyer CK710+713, PZM, Stagg tom mics.
    Room isn't acoustically treated.
    Monitors are really my hi-fi speakers(Quad 11L)
    The tape isn't brand new
    Tape does shed the odd bit of fine oxide, but nothing bad.
    Don't use noise reduction.
    Havent a test tape or an oscilloscope.
     
  19. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    servicing a machine is a very fine but you really should replace the caps. there's no way that machines caps can be in good shape after all these years. the fact the tape is shedding is also of concern. get a new reel and get a tone generator and a real test tape and learn to align the machine and to set the bias. last do not expect it to "sound" like digital recorder. that's just not going to happen. if that's what you want go buy some old ADATs.
     
  20. frosty55

    frosty55 Active Member

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    Oct 24, 2008
    How do I upload a track onto here?
     
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