Tascam is making brand new cassettes for its ancient four-track recorders

For musicians who crave analog sound.

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Jon Fingas
December 21, 2021 3:23 PM
Tascam 424 Studio Master Cassette
Tascam

Tascam knows some musicians pine for the 'warm' quality of cassette recordings, and it's willing to effectively resurrect dead technology to meet their needs. The company has introduced a 424 Studio Master High Bias Type II Cassette designed for the brand's decades-old Portastudio four-track cassette recorders. Artists can record analog samples and tunes without hunting down rare tapes and fretting over degradation.

The cassette isn't a perfect match. Tascam said it's using existing magnetic oxides to produce tape that's as close "as possible" to the material Portastudios were meant to use, but recorder owners may still have to do some "fine tuning" to adjust for 2021-era cassettes. 

However, this isn't just an appeal to nostalgia — to some extent, it's about the preservation of analog cassette recording. Cassette production has been suffering from oxide shortages since 2019, years after a (still-ongoing) tape revival. Tascam noted that it's now the sole company making High Bias Type II cassettes. While there are tapes already on the market, they're both rare and expensive.

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Not now

Availability is only listed as "soon." Tascam's cassettes also won't satisfy creators who want genuinely new recorders to replace a shrinking supply of old hardware. This might be the next best thing, though, and could be a relief for Portastudio fans who don't want to make a complete leap into the digital realm.

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Tascam is making brand new cassettes for its ancient four-track recorders