This past weekend, I went down to the weekly antique/old junk sale at St. Lawrence Market and picked up this:

I had been considering getting an Ensoniq Mirage there, but the guy wouldn’t budge from his $100 asking (I offered $80, $100 being still a reasonable price for the Mirage, but like I really need another keyboard around, 8-bit sampling capabilities notwithstanding, so $80 seemed a good enough a deal to have another keyboard, $100 seemed more sobering). So I got a reel to reel instead (from the same guy). It’s an Akai 4000DS, nothing particularly to write home about in ideal condition, of which this is is in less than ideal condition. But, I got it for $20, so for my intentions, it was worth it any way I look at it. Not as exciting in a “what’s the weird old thing” way as Mystahr’s recent find, but to my mind, still a good spot of fun.

I’ve mostly figured out how to work it. I realized as I was doing so that my experience with reel to reel tape was limited to this old video recorder that my father got in the late 70s, which I, at the young age that I was, used mostly as a TV in my basement. Which really amounts to no experience, although I used to do a lot with cassettes, which are of course not the same.

I’m pretty sure that the thing is stuck in mono, since no sound comes out of the right channel, and the right input gets mixed in to the left. At some point, I might get ambitious and take it apart to see if I can fix that. I’ve managed to find the service manual on-line for free, but everybody wants as much as I paid for the stupid thing for an operator’s manual. I found a really good outline of how reel to reel machines work over here, which removed any need to hunt down the manual.

I picked up a used reel of tape at a local junk shop and have gotten it to record properly (albeit only one channel). I’ll likely be using it mostly for tape loops. Sadly, the tape only contained some crappy Eagles album in full, so no exotic and mysterious finds there.


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