Monday, March 30, 2009

Drum Machine into the Tape Deck

pic via our friends at matrixsynth

OK, new tricks:

VL-Tone drum machine --> Input 5 on Tascam Board -->
Submix Out 5--> Tascam 122 Tape Deck --> Tape Monitor Out on 122 -->
Input 1 on Tascam Board --> Buss 4 on Tascam Board --> Fostex 250 4-track

Does that seem complex? Well... it is. Basically what I'm doing is using the board and 122 to overdrive and eq, then tape saturate the signal before bringing it back into the 4 track. In more simple terms I'm recording the recording of the VL-Tone. It's fucking awesome. Additionally I cranked the bass at about 60hz to make it hit a little harder.

You have to be careful with it, but you can also get an infinite repeats feedback loop going by feeding a little of Submix out 1 (the signal that's going to the 4 track) into the 122. Cranking it past 1 or 2 will blow everything up (which might be cool if you sampled it), so be forewarned.

You get a lot of natural tape compression from the saturation which I think adds a ton of punch (or Dick/Fuck as we say in the industry) and I might start doing it with all drums/drum machines. Sadly this technique can only work with the first track you lay down because of the several ms of latency between the original input and the output from the 122 back to the 4-track.

Remember you can only do this if your tape deck has 2 or more heads and both a TAPE and SOURCE monitor switch. Of course if your deck has a speed switch and fine adjust knob, you can use it as a slap back echo.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Crushingly, my famed Fostex 250 is not doing so hot. Considering that it's over 25 years old, and has seen umpteen hours of use in the last 3 years, this is less than surprising. As luck would have it, however, I responded to a craigslist ad for a Tascam 464. The 464 is the upgraded version of the classic 424 (not to be confused with the 424 MKIII - the 464 is still better). Arguably the best tabletop 4 track Tascam ever made (the 234 is cooler, but rackmount). A good condition 424 goes for $100-$175 on that eeebay, but no one knows about the 464. I paid $65 bucks for this beast and am damn pleased about it. The transport is super-stable and the pre's sound great. I'm of course still running everything through the board, and the only drawback to this unit is that it doesn't feature direct tape inputs (which you could probably hack into by looking at the insert returns on the first two tracks and duplicating the wiring on 3 and 4 - it's probably a lot of work though). I've dumped the tracks off the Minidisc and am ready to record some vocals, so we'll see how it turns out. So far I'm immensely pleased with this purchase.

As for the Fostex, I'm going to try and either swap the pinch roller off a newer broken tape deck, or pay $35 for a reconditioned pinch roller from Terry's.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Korg EX-800 Mod, Part 2

EX800 Moog Slayer Mod - Finished

After seven years of talking about it, I finally modified something. I went ahead and did the Moog Slayer mod (cutoff and resonance knobs for the filter), the FM mod for DCO1 and the noise control knob. Here are some pictures of the process.

EX800 Grounded Pot Assembly - Step 1
I drilled the case out, installed the knobs and grounded them together.

EX800 Pot Assembly - Step 2
Here I've attached the leads to the pots.
Top Left is Resonance, Bottom Left is Cutoff, Top Right is Oscillator, Bottom Right is Noise.

EX800 Pot Assembly - Step 3
Larger view of compete front panel assembly.
The pots with marker on them are the pots I added. The middle three are original.

EX800 - Liquid Electrical Tape
Instead of using heat shrink I bought some Liquid Electrical Tape.

EX800 Liquid Electrical Tape Drip
It works really well, but it smells awful and it's super drippy.
It took two coats to get really covered.

EX800 mod finished pot replacement
Internal board with mods wired in. I chose not to replace the resistors on
the board because I didn't want to ruin it.

EX800 Grounded and Reassembled
Finally, I grounded the whole whole thing. The red wire on the right
has a resistor covered in liquid tape running to the cutoff pot.

The big question is, "How does it sound?" It sounds amazing.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Korg EX-800 Mod, Part 1

Korg EX-800

I'm going to attempt to modify my Korg EX-800. "Atom Smasher" from has a fairly easy looking filter mod known as "The Moog Slayer" for my rackmount Poly-800. It involves removing two trim pots from the board and case mounting them so you can manually control the analog filter. While I'm at it, I'm going to swap the NOISE control trim pot on the board for a case mount pot as well.

He also has a slightly more complicated mod where you jump one of the points on the DCO's IC chip and control the oscillator's cutoff with a knob. I'm not really sure what that means, but if the filter mod goes well, I might try the other one.

I went ahead and removed the trim pots and I've ordered the parts along with a step drill bit to put clean holes in the metal case.

Korg EX-800 Mod: Step 1

VR5 is the resonance, VR2 is the filter cutoff.

Korg EX-800 Mod: Removing Trim Pots

Korg EX-800 Mod: Removing Noise Pot

VR3 is the noise level.

Korg EX-800 Mod: Removed Trim Pots

Trim pots after I de-soldered them from the board.

Monday, March 02, 2009

MMDS & Springsteen::Kennedy & Lincoln

The TEAC 4-track recorder Bruce used to record Nebraska -- that's it above, the very one. And you'll be able to see it up close and personal at Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Museum in less than a month. On April, 1, during the Rock Hall's 2009 Induction Week, they'll unveil their latest exhibit, "From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen."
via backstreets

Hmmm... who's 4track does this look like? Our Fostex 250 is almost identical to the TEAC 144. See, we're just that awesome.