4 Track Cassette Issue - Please Help

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Member Since: Apr 28, 2010

I recently bought an older Fostex X-12 Cassette 4 track. Everything works fine except: when I record AND have the levels up on at least one track other than the one i'm recording on, I get a large amount of noise/hiss and bass response reduces dramatically. When I stop recording the noise goes away and everything's fine and when I go back to play the recording it sounds fine...it's just the monitoring while recording that is messed up. Does anybody know what the issue is? Is this an issue that could be remedied by cleaning the recording head or demagnetizing the unit? I am using an XLR cable into my preamp and then a TS cable into the recorder...should I be using a TRS cable into the recorder instead? Is this an issue with the type of cassette used, i'm just using a regular new type 1 cassette? Any info will be helpful, i'm new to cassette recording. Thanks!

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Since: Apr 03, 2002

Apr 29, 2010 02:48 pm

Cleaning the heads and demagnetizing are the first two things I always think of in regards to problems with tape recording...after reading the whole post, I'm not sure if it would help or not, but it wouldn't be a bad thing to do.

As far as the type of tape...shorter tapes are better as the tape tends to be thicker...those 90 minute types are thin and can make issues.

Prince CZAR-ming
Since: Apr 08, 2004

Apr 29, 2010 04:40 pm

then a TS cable into the recorder...should I be using a TRS cable into the recorder instead?

This is an issue if your device (preamp) outputs balanced signal on a 1/4" jack. If yes, then use a TRS jack. But, and this is a big but, if your recorder doesn't input balanced signal, then it's of no use.

Balanced is 3 connections: hot, cold, ground. If either end of the chain doesn't use balanced, then it makes no sense to use a TRS cable.

It won't hurt anything if you DO use a trs on an unbalanced connection, but there's no point of it, if you think you're gaining something.

preamp : balanced outputs
cable: TRS
recorder : balanced inputs
then all is OK.

If one item in that chain is not balanced, then there's no benefit or degradation from using TRS cable instead of TS cable.

Czar of Turd Polish
Since: Jun 20, 2006

Apr 29, 2010 07:29 pm

Does the issue arise when recording "any" type of input? (different mics, bass etc..)

Since: Apr 28, 2010

Apr 29, 2010 11:51 pm

I've tried going through the preamp, as well as directly in with a mic. I get the issue regardless. I ordered a demagnitizer today and plan on cleaning the heads this weekend, but i'm not sure if this could even the issue for the unit has barely been used (only a few hours on it). Is there anything that could happen naturally over time?

The Czar of BS
Since: Dec 31, 2007

Apr 30, 2010 12:22 am

This maybe a strange question to ask........ What type and model of headphones are you using?

The reason for me asking, is that it sounds like it just maybe how your monitoring your unit. No bass, high amount of hiss. This could be that you monitoring system is being over taxed. And not able to run at the SPL that you need.

Since: Apr 28, 2010

Apr 30, 2010 12:41 am

Some older Sony MDR V-6 headphones straight in. I use them on my computer all the time without issue...

Since: Apr 28, 2010

Apr 30, 2010 12:57 am

It seems to me it has to do something with the recording head since I only get this problem when the record button is down? Or a problem with the monitoring part of the circuit (bad potentiometer?) this seems unlikely though?

Uh, at least one more time . . .
Since: Feb 07, 2007

May 02, 2010 12:55 pm

Why exactly are you using the old recorder? It's extremely likely, from what you've described so far, that the machine is at the end of it's useful life, and you can expect more problems as you go on. The very nature of the old cassette muti-trackers is straight-forward: They are cheap, mechanical devices that have a lot of moving parts, and depend upon critical, microscopic alignment of the the heads and tape path. The pots go bad, the heads skew (often within months of their intitial, new purchase), and of course the audio quality of the things is mediocre from the get-go.
I've read that it's now fashionable for bands to release recordings they've made on cassette, in addition to vinyl and of course CD's, downloads, etc. This is a strange fad, to say the least. The medium (cassette tape) was never very good, and the portable players were crappy--even the expensive ones. I own two Nakamichi home decks, and even these machines require service--the belts and motors go bad, and can be expensive to replace. I rarely use them, though I will happily make cassette copies of our group's music on them to sell to young people longing for the good old days . . .
In short (!), all I'm saying is this: There are plenty of cheap digital four trackers on E-bay, and even the new ones are very reasonable in price now. Are they more reliable than the cassette players? Yes. More importantly, do they sound better? Unequivocally, far better. Do they fail, and go bad after a certain number of years? Yes, though they have far fewer moving parts. Go digital, and someday, like me and many others, you will look back and wonder at how things change, sometimes for the better.

Hold 'Em Czar
Since: Dec 30, 2004

May 06, 2010 09:47 pm

the bass response dropping out sounds like you're getting phasing issues to to some sorta internal feedback loop type thing....think of it as a slightly delayed signal being heard while you're recording (perhaps some sort of "input monitoring" button needs to be depressed). lemme ask ya this, after you record, does the bass response go back to normal on the track you just recorded, or is it still sound bassless?

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