I never cease to be amazed at how seemingly disparate editorial features weave together in the course of producing this magazine to give each issue a characteristic flavour uniquely its own. Take this month's feature on the Akai budget 24-track system for example. In the same post as David Mellor's floppy disk, containing his finished review of the Akai system, was an invitation from Teac UK requesting the pleasure of the SOS team's company at London's Cafe Royale, where a new generation of Tascam products were being unveiled to the music press and dealers before their official public launch at the British Music Fair.
Guess what Tascam launched? That's right, a brand spanking new one-inch 24-track tape recorder. (Details of the machine can be found on page 11.) A cold shiver ran down my spine at the very moment it was announced that Tascam's new multitrack would sell at the remarkable price of £8399 including VAT, for two days earlier I had been in St. Ives reading David's 'budget 24-track' review (page 26), wherein he remarked that "even a second-hand model will set you back around £10,000" and that "so far, the manufacturers of low-cost recording equipment have not entered into the 24-track arena, although I am certain that companies such as Tascam and Fostex could produce an affordable 24-track machine, possibly using 1" tape, if they wanted to." Was the eerie prediction an uncanny coincidence or did David know more than he was letting on? I don't think so.
Like many readers, I once dreamed of having my own 24-track studio, to write and record whenever I liked without having to worry about running up astronomical studio bills. That was back in the days when you could still make a canny living from renting out your Teac A3340S-equipped 'professional' 4-track studio to local bands. The launch of this new Tascam machine makes the 24-track home studio very much a reality. OK, £8399 is still a lot of money to most musicians, but it's an important step in the right direction. Unfortunately, it is also likely to be another nail in the commercial 24-track studio's coffin. When Fostex first introduced their B16 budget 16-track recorder, it didn't take musicians long to suss out that they could buy their own 16-track recording system for what they would pay at the time to hire a commercial 16-track studio a few times a year. History is likely to repeat itself with commercial 24-track studios now that a machine like the Tascam MSR24 is on the scene.
The good news is that the appearance of the MSR24 is sure to create increased demand for ancillary recording equipment and open up a completely new market for budget mixer manufacturers. Almost overnight, those wealthy members of the home recording fraternity will be demanding low-cost 24-track compatible mixing desks to use with their new MSR24. They will no longer be satisfied with measly 16.8.16 or 18.8.2 desk configurations or wish to pay current prices for a suitable desk — it'll be 24.12.24s for £3000 maximum! Of course, they'll also need to buy eight extra noise gates and compressors to accommodate the extra input signals they'll be mixing, and an eight extra channels of MIDI automation if they've already gone down that path with their present desk.
The only dark cloud I can see on the horizon is that Wimpey and Barratt Homes won't take too kindly to the pressure groups home recording enthusiasts and equipment manufacturers will need to form to force them to start building houses wide enough to take one of the new generation of 220.127.116.11 mixing desks we home recordists will require to make full use of our shiny new 24-track machines. Alternatively, those of you who promised the wife an extension (to the house!) as you carried her over the threshold all those years ago, can actually stop dreaming up excuses why you still haven't got around to building it, and tell her you'll start this weekend (no need to disclose your ulterior motive, of course!). Finally, my advice is to start buying shares in Coles Cranes now, because pretty soon everyone is going to need one to hoist their 18.104.22.168 mixing desk through the bedroom window (preferably after removing the pane of glass)! Isn't home recording fun?