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Thread: Vintage 70s/80s stereo boombox that was used to record bands back in the day

  1. #1
    Senior Member Slobrain's Avatar
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    Jul 2006
    A little town in Texas!

    Vintage 70s/80s stereo boombox that was used to record bands back in the day

    Hey folks,

    Its been a while since I've been on due to health issues and wanted to ask if anyone ever used either a Sony or Panasonic boombox with the built in mics to record bands back in the 70s, 80s or 90s?

    I used a boombox back in 1991 that recorded really well at practices but I cannot remember what brand it was. I had been thinking about that and trying to remember this particular boombox recorded extremely well but not sure what ever happened to it. I think the one I had was from the 70s.



  2. #2
    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Oct 2007
    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    They were all about the same.
    Main problem with any, even the better ones, is that on recording, volume/gain control was disabled, all of them used an ALC (automatic level circuit) instead.
    Mic sensitivity expected people speaking at normal levels some 3 feet away, but typical rehearsal room SPL was way higher, recording could be either overcompressed or if careless, plain squashed.
    That said, careful placement inside the room could yield acceptable results.

    Best models might have included some kind of basic Dolby processing , or even advanced DBX, although standars was recording "raw" , no further processing.

    Many Indie bands used them for the "live show" Lo Fi quality they provided, as opposed as "sterile Recording Studio" sound.

    Some friends who own a Blues Club nearby prefer to use a 4 track Teac or Yamaha "Portastudio" type cassette recorder, which is one notch or two above in quality and flexibility and swear on its distinctive sound.

    Although I suspect nowadays a plugin must be available to make Digital recordings sound that way
    Juan Manuel Fahey

  3. #3
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    May 2006
    Chicago, USA
    4-track cassette-based Teac Portastudio? Didn't Bruce Springsteen use one of those to record "Nebraska"?
    J M Fahey likes this.
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  4. #4
    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    May 2010
    Sioux Falls, SD
    Quote Originally Posted by bob p View Post
    4-track cassette-based Teac Portastudio? Didn't Bruce Springsteen use one of those to record "Nebraska"?
    Correct sir!
    News :: Bruce Springsteen's "Nebraska" - A PortaStudio, two SM57's, and Inspiration | TASCAM
    bob p and J M Fahey like this.
    “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

  5. #5
    Supporting Member
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    May 2006
    Staffordshire UK
    I remember a couple of guys in the bands I was in had stereo Philips radio cassettes that were head and shoulders better than any other types that I encountered for that application.
    I think it was down to the designs avoiding the absolute cheapest mics and record / erase heads, and, as JM notes, a decent ALC able to accommodate a wide dynamic range.
    I remember having a Grundig radio cassette that had a permanent magnet erase head! Recordings from its FM radio sounded bad, I wonder if it even had a bias system. I've still got the 1978 recording of Dr Feelgood In Concert on Radio1 I did with it. Thankfully I got a Sony top loading cassette deck by the time they broadcast Rory Gallagher's incredible In Concert from The Venue in 1979.

  6. #6
    Supporting Member
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    Dec 2009
    I've used a couple of Panasonic 'boom boxes' and still have some of the tapes. Recordings were quite variable - some good, but many squashed flat by volume and/or poor placement. I then moved on to a Teac Portastudio, then onto a Sony Walkman Pro with Dolby, which I still have. That turned out really well and was much better quality when set up right than the Teac. I liked the simplicity of the auto recording level of the boomboxes, though. I also got a Sharp Minidisc recorder. OK, but insanely expensive at the time. I still have that, too. Now worthless, of course. Along with my 'separates' hi-fi minidisc recorder.

  7. #7
    Junior Member
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    Jul 2017
    Look for them on the lokal market places Or on the polish trade websides - there is a lot of stuff like this.
    To want to, is to be able to.

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