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themaddog 09/28/2011

Tascam MSR 16 : themaddog's user review

« Great narrow track machine »

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The Tascam MSR-16 is a 16 track multitrack recorder that uses 1/2" tape. It is set up for 1.5 mm thick, +6 tape, and in particular Quantegy 456. Although Quantegy 456 is no longer produced, RMGI (Emtec, and previously BASF, and previous to that AGFA) SM 911 will work just fine. Also, RMGI SM 468 can be used as well.

My two MSR-16's had dbx Type I noise reduction which is mandatory to producing clear, hiss free recordings. Some claim that the MSR-16s, which came with Dolby SR noise reduction is superior to the dbx, but I have not used any of those machines. The dbx can be switched on and off on tracks 1-8 and 9-16, and can be outright disabled on track 16 solely, for the purposes of SMPTE and MTC striping. There is also an Accessory 2 jack to use a device such as the Tascam MIDIizer to synchronize another MSR-16, the MSR-24, the TSR-8, or the 238 or 688. In addition, there is a remote control available for this machine that uses a standard serial cable. Although I can't remember which cable it uses exactly, a normal male to female extender cable with the same number of pins can be used to place the remote control in a separate room and will operate just fine. This standard cable can be ordered through the Amazon marketplace, which is where I acquired mine.

Down to brass tacks: The MSR-16 makes excellent quality recordings. Personally, I think the recordings are as good as the ones I made on the TSR-8 I owned for a short time, but with the benefit of an additional 8 tracks. This is a powerful machine, particularly when combined with a DAW for added tracks. In the time I owned two (one at my band's studio, the other in my home studio) I was able to easily take tapes recorded on one machine and bring them for playback, overdubs, and mixdowns on the other machine with ease. The recordings are crisp and clear, but if you want even crisper recordings uses higher bias tape (for which the machine is underbiased) such as RMGI SM 900. This may put more wear on the machine, but I was satisfied with the results this achieved.

This is a narrow track machine, so don't expect to be able to get a lot of tape compression out of it, especially since the dbx is pretty much mandatory to use and compensates for it anyway. If you ever need to bounce tracks it will do it seemlessly, and I'll think you'll be impressed with the results. During the one time I bounced a track, I bounced it three times, adding more and more effect each time, and the loss of quality, due in part to the excellent onboard dbx, was indiscernible, particularly within the mix.

I really enjoyed this machine, but after a few years opted for the larger track width of the Tascam MS-16. I still wish I had it around, but it was time to clear some space.