Can I use Tascam 85-16B tape machine with QU16?

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    Profile photo of Trevor

    Hi everyone,

    I have the opportunity to buy a Tascam 85-16B 1-inch tape machine from a friend for $650 which is pretty much a steal. However, considering the QU16 does not have inserts on every channel, how could I utilize the two together?

    Ultimately, I’d like it to be a situation where I’m getting both analog and digital signal dumped into the DAW on 2 independent tracks for each source simultaneously during recording (so I could later choose tape or digital for each track depending on the sound and mix needs). Or, second best, would be to get the recordings going through the tape machine but right into the DAW from there so I wouldn’t have to keep playing back from tape after it’s recorded (the tape sound will already be on the recording within the DAW where I can mix from there). The downside to the second situation is that I wouldn’t have the digital tracks too…I’d be limited to the tape sound. But if I could get it set up in either of these ways, I would buy the tape machine.

    Honestly though, based on the limited amount of analogue connections/insert points on the QU16, I really have no way of knowing how this could be done. Is there something else I could buy hat would link these two in such a way? I’ve never had the opportunity to buy a tape machine that I thought worthy but now this seems like the perfect situation for my style of production. I just have to figure out if it can be done.

    Really appreciate any help you all could give me on this matter!!!


    Profile photo of GCumbee

    As an old analog guy who owned many 2″ and other machines I will say I really don’t see the practicality of doing this. Sure you can playback 16 tracks from the machine into the QU via the line inputs. But you can only record a maximum of 4 mono and 3 stereo(10)sources at once using the mix outs. Save the LR for monitoring. That would in effect be 7 sources.

    Next. Can’t remember. What type of noise reduction does it have? I think dbx. You would almost HAVE to use that since without it that would likely be a noisy machine. Even at 15ips. I just really don’t know your effectiveness other than nostalga. I have done this with 2″ at 30ips. We used to cut rhythm tracks then dump to RADAR or Pro Tools. In the end I never felt it really was worth the hassle. I still own a 2″ Otari MTR 90. It sees very little use anymore. Used to only use to dump old masters to PT. Not even that now. I do know some guys who still record rhythm with a 16 tr 2″ then dump to PT. 16 on 2 has widest gap of any multitrack so you can pound level on it without NNR.

    Profile photo of Trevor

    Hey GCumbee,

    Thanks for the reply here. That helps to have your opinion. It seems like what you are saying confirms that the QU16 would not work well with this since you could not utilize all 16 tracks. Kinda bums me out that there are no physical outputs or inserts for each channel on the QU16. 🙁 Really limits studio functionality.

    I think I’m beginning to steer away from the idea of using tape. It seems like everyone says it doesn’t make that much difference and if it’s not a great tape deck then it most likely won’t be worth the hassle.

    Any other thoughts would be appreciated.

    Thanks again,

    Profile photo of GCumbee

    My feelings have always been that the QU series is much more suited for live unless you just plan to record tracks via USB. Or, utilize the DAW method via the Ethernet port.

    Otherwise another brand or analog is your best bet. I have owned several large analog studio desks. Still have one. All have always had as many direct outs and inserts as channels. There are many great smaller desks that would work for you and these days can be had for killer prices.

    Profile photo of

    Hi Trevor.
    You might want to consider a ZED R16
    You might be able to drive your proposed tape purchase from the inserts and return to the Jack inputs?

    or if you are thinking long term proposition a GSR24 desk with direct outs to drive your tape machine.

    Both of these desks can also drive DAW at the same time
    Or maybe you want to insert the tape deck into the channels?
    I used to sync analogue tape to 4x Adat tape machines.
    what a mission that was!
    Taught me a lot about wasting money.
    I use GSR24m with MAC and, to me…. the sound quality is brilliant!
    The ZED R16 I think has the same pre-amps as the GSR24
    This subject could open a can of worms here however..

    As an idea the QU32 is coming shortly and that has more outputs and you would also have 16 returns.
    However I agree with GCumbee
    Digital has come a long way
    What is tape going to give you? Natural analogue Compression? Hiss?
    I know there is a group of people that want analogue all of the way through the mix mastering chain.
    However you will need a lot of money for that to do that properly.
    And some people are wanting the summing mix sound of desks now.
    You can do all of that with those other 2 desks I mentioned.
    Return the signal from a DAW back into the respective channels to mix analogue in the desk.

    just some thoughts for you

    dave NZ

    Profile photo of GCumbee

    Like I said there are some good analog choices as Dave mentioned. Wasn’t sure how much money you were wanting to spend. I have not heard the GS console but I hear it is great. If I were doing a new room now that might be my choice given all the features it offers as a hybrid console.

    Profile photo of Trevor

    Awesome, thanks so much fellas! The input helps a lot.

    At this point, I think I’ve trumped the idea of buying this tape deck off my friend. It needs work and my money would probably be best invested elsewhere.

    My thing with the QU16 is I feel like I’ve paid a lot of money for features that I don’t necessarily need. I like the DAW control and whatnot…but it’s not necessary. At this point I’d like to make the best investment on a quality multichannel preamp (need 16 channels total for my studio) and quality AD/DA conversion. I would return my QU16 if I felt another route would give me higher quality results into the DAW.

    Does the ZED R16 have better preamps than the QU16?

    Should I look into buying separate modules (A multichannel preamp routed into a standalone AD Converter into the computer) for these two purposes? Would that have a better chance at best possible sound quality? Would it be noticeable over the all-in-one QU16?

    I know these are all a bit subjective but I’d rather know that my money was spent on the best mic pres and conversion rather than fancy bells and whistles if that makes sense. Though the features of the QU16 are nice. I only use this for studio recording/mixing. Not live.


    Profile photo of

    Only you can decide what is best for yourself and budget of which ever desk you want.
    If you already own a QU then that is a great mixer and very flexible in/out of your DAW.
    QU is Very fast and speed these days is really important.
    The tape deck is not.
    The ZED-R16 is firewire and QU is USB.
    There are quite a few people lining up for a QU32 for studios.
    Choose some good quality Mic’s
    If you are wanting to setup for commercial project studio then you need to re-assess as GC said.
    I use both of these mixers.
    Think… choose carefully.

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