Four-track recorders like the Tascam Portastudio gave thousands of artists their introduction to at-home music recording through the 80s, 90s, and 2000s. But despite a revived interest in tape, it’s now very difficult to find high-quality cassettes for at-home recording. The solution? Well, Tascam is making more tapes.
To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Tascam is launching a line of 424 Studio Master High Bias Type II Cassettes optimized for its vintage Portastudios. These are the first new Type II cassettes to hit the market in nearly twenty years, as the only tape manufacturing plants to survive the CD and MP3 age did so by selling cheap Type I cassettes to prisons and police departments. (Yeah, that’s why your new Purple Rain cassette sounds worse than the vintage copy.)
These new cassettes feature a hand-assembled, TEAC-styled shell and gold reels that call back to the 80s. Unfortunately, Tascam referrers to the tapes as a “modern collector’s item,” so they’re probably super expensive.
Also, the new tapes won’t sound identical to old stock. The cassette industry is still suffering from oxide shortages, so Tascam had to make some adjustments to make available materials work. The company warns that you may need to do some “fine tuning” to get the sound you want from these tapes, but again, they’re probably the highest quality new cassettes available in the 21st century.
Tascam says its 424 Studio Master High Bias Type II Cassettes are “coming soon,” though we don’t know an exact release date or pricing. Again, I have a feeling that these puppies will be expensive, so don’t expect to get into the retro recording game if you’re on a budget.