The TASCAM Portastudio was the world's first four track recorder based on a standard compact audio cassette tape. When the original Portastudio 144 made its debut in 1979 it was a revolutionary creative tool. For the first time it enabled musicians the ability to afforably record several instrumental and vocal parts on different tracks of the built-in four track recorder and later blend all the parts together while transferring them to another standard two-channel stereo tape deck (remix and mixdown) to form a stereo recording.

These machines are typically used by artists to record demos, although they are also often used in Lo-fi recording. The analog portastudios by TASCAM and similar units by Fostex, Akai, Yamaha, Sansui, Marantz, and others generally recorded on high bias cassette tapes. Most of these machines were 4 track but there were also a couple of 6 track and a few 8 track units. Some newer digital models record to a hard disk, allowing for digital effects and up to 24 tracks of audio.

The highest-selling of these was the TASCAM 424 (in three versions), which offered a great deal of flexibility while still remaining inexpensive to use. For bands prior to the advent of digital recording, the 424 was one of the easiest and affordable ways to record demos or even commercial albums.



Using Your Portable Studio by Peter McIan (1996, Amsco Publications)

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