Four-Track Cassette Looping Part 3.

Actually I’m not quite sure what part this is, but we will continue on from three from now on, as I’m sure I’ll continue to have posts about this subject.

Fostex Four track

While lamenting the rather wimpy volume control on one of my varisped tape recorders and wishing I had another like my Marantz Field Recorder, with it’s many controls and mic input, I remembered my Fostex X-18. I hadn’t played with the Fostex much since I figured it would not end up making a great live looping tool, but it did have some characteristics that I thought would suit my work with latralmagog.

After setting it up and getting re-acclaimated to it’s controls, I began trying to figure out exactly how fast I could switch from record to play, thinking if I could get it pretty tight it might work in a live setting. So I began, and I was getting pretty good at fast switching, and I started to feel like I was discovering something that could revolutionize my live setup, especially since it works great with contact mics. Then I discovered something so amazingly logical and useful I feel like an idiot even listing it as a discovery.

When the machine is in play mode, all you have to do is push the record button down too.


And to get out of record mode, you just hold down play and hit stop. This way only the record button pops back up.

Okay, so what have we learned here? READ YOUR FRICKIN MANUAL!!!!

Seriously though, I should have read that thing cover to cover, but hey, better late than never. So anyhow, now I have the ability to gradually build up loops without ever stopping the tape, and since four-tracks have those nice mixing capabilities, I can fine tune levels and bring parts in and out at will, something none of the expensive digital loopers will let you do. Plus it’s got that great shitty chewed up tape haze that makes everything sound like a transmission from another planet.

So of course I had to record a few loops using this method, and here they are…


– Phin Feedback, Bowing, and Plucking
– Zither Knocks, Plucks, and Feedback
– Flute, Horn, Silver Platter, and Bells

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4 Responses to “Four-Track Cassette Looping Part 3.”

  1. Andy C Says:

    Just reading this post i am a little confused…I own a simliar 4 track recorder to the one shown in this picture but i dont understand how the tape can loop in a regular 4 track without having to stop and rewind every time you needed to start the loop again? Is this some kind of mod you have done to your 4 track or am i just being an imbecile? haha

    Look forward to your reply


  2. howsthatsound Says:

    haha. good point. i will have to edit this when i get a chance. i forgot to mention i am using 30sec loop cassettes in the four-track. 🙂

    let me know if you have any other questions.

  3. mike hansen Says:

    you got that to work
    i tried to do something similar with an ordinary tape recorder and It didnt work

    it works on an old answering machine (which I still have)
    we used to have a nice electronics shop that had ‘everything’ called “Quement”, & then there is Radio Shack. I used to buy those ‘loop’ (outgoing message) tapes. They would run anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes, and some of the ‘sensor-foil’ wouldnt work on my answering machine.

    Maybe your 4 track is built differently. Because I should try. When I tried to record on an ordinary tape recorder – it wouldnt work. That was years ago.

    • howsthatsound Says:

      you can use both a home made loop cassette or an answering machine cassette on virtually any tape recorder. if you have a 4-track find one of those answering machine cassettes and have some fun. it’s really cool all of the things you can do.

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