Genealogy: What is Tascam 44 vs TEAC A-3440 vs Tascam 44OB?


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Jan 20, 2015
Gear owned
I know there is some connection, but googling produces a variety of answers. The 44 looks a lot like the A-3440 but specs say it weighs 20 pounds more, so something is different.
If I recall correctly, the Tascam 44 was a successor to the TEAC A-3440. The 44 came out a few years before its "siblings" (the 42 and 48). The 48 is an 8 track on 1/2" tape. That's the extent of my dodgy knowledge of the 44.
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I own a 3340 the A3440 and the 44. I would love a 440B as well but still looking for a good one :) I suspect the difference in weight will be down to the 44 having a 4 chan DBX noise Reduction system built in to the same case as the Transport and Pre Amp sections. This was also supplied as an external accessory for the 3340 as the DBX155 and A3440 as the RX9 DBX unit. The order in which they were produced was the 3340,A3440,44 and then the 440B
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I was a dealer for all these machines in the old century as well as a constant user of them. The general evolution was-

3340 with the manual cue lever for functions.... like driving a garden tractor :)
3340s, logic control of the transport functions (ie, silver lever dumped)
3440, further logic improvements but keeping the "Teac" name for the model
40-4... last to use the "Teac" name . Was basically a 4-channel version of the 80-8 and continued to use the original, increasingly complained-about style lifters/tape path configuration. No pitch control
............... end of series that utilized all ac-motors ....................

44, appears with Tascam brand name instead of Teac, incorporates the logic monitor switching of 80-8, 90-16, 85-16, including ability for machine to stop at zero, rather than running off the reel. A dc motor is finally utilized to (sort of) overcome the frustrating speed/pitch deviation that plagued earlier 33** models in high heat conditions and speed/pitch issues of music at head of tape compared to at end areas of tape. IE, it was difficult to say, razor blade a take edit from something recorded at the end area of the reel and then splice it onto an earlier area because of minute pitch deviations. The 44 though, was still using the almost antiquated tape path scheme as the 3340. The rare, optional external varispeed box you could buy to add pitch to an 80-8 was now integrated (technology-wise) to the 44 to give it varispeed. Instead of the old dolby boxes you could buy for the 33** series, the 44 included the option for dbx units that bolted on... similar to the way it had been done the previous 3 years for 80-8, 85-16 machines and then ms16. The addition of the dc capstan motor (although still belt driven) technically now allowed external sync. But there wasn't really mainboard design factored in for it.... at the time, I felt Tascam didn't really care as they figured no one would use the machine in ext sync with a second machine just to use 3 tracks.

44-ob was a major revision to update the 44. The machine was now on par with the ms16 and even the atr models imo. Full external sync was built in, 3 dc motors, adoption of the transport path of the pro series (ie, dumping the 3340 approach), including full tension servo control for very stable pitch from beginning to end of reel, xlr I/o in addition to rca, better integration of logic switching for optional dbx, very heavy chassis to handle all-day shuttling of tape for edits/sync etc. Plus a few other little odds and ends like the splicing block.
BRDTS is the most accurate of the comments. I was /am a repair person to the devices even now and the 44OB was actually a total new design from anything else they made. To say it was an upgrade from the 44 is a little bit off in that it may have been a later model but if you look closely there are all kinds of entirely different circuits in them. For instance 44 is belt driven and 44OB is Direct drive, the 44 used the same old heads as the 40-4 but the 44OB has Wolke heads in it. I have all of these machines in my possession and a 44 sitting to the left of my computer. Of course I am no new comer as I have worked on these for near 45 years now.
So from the responses above it's obvious the 44OB is the best 4 track machine they made. I have 2 additional questions. Where does the Tascam 34 fit into this hierarchy? And where does it stand in the order of best to worst machines? Also lastly, if you had to put a hierarchy of best machines to worst what would it be?+
The 34 as opposed to the 34 B which is a slight upgrade in features all belongs to the 30 series entry level machines. The 30 series was further elevated when the 20 series came out in the 22-2 and 22-4.
The 34 is the plastic equivalent of the A3440 deck pretty much.
the line up if I do not forget any goes like this-
22-4, A3340S, 34, A3440, 34B, 40-4, 44, 44OB, ATR60-4.

Keep in mind that some units were made many years prior to other units but just represents my better units opinion. The 44 was that tan version with DC motor of the 40-4. The 44OB is a whole different animal than any other 44 type- you can tell by picking one up. Although the 40-4 in weight class is close to the 44 OB.
The 40-4 was the 4 track deck of the 80-8 type design.
All these deck work pretty well when adjusted correctly it is just some have better transports and treat the tape more careful as in the servo tension roller arms. The ATR60-4 may be a 1/2" machine as the rest are 1/4" tape.
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thanks a lot. As i figured the 44OB and ATR machines are the best of the bunch. After owning the 3340s and struggling with the sync response i think a 34, 3440, 40-4, 44, 44OB will be the ones i am for. I'm on a small budget though so most likely will end up with one of the first 3 as they are usually the cheapest.

The A3340S did have a poor frequency response that is true but really if you think about it you are only after the timing of the recording not the quality of it. Later on the 3440 and 40-4 and 44 were all better response on the sync head due to improved design. I have all these units in ownership and many times two or more of each. While I do not like the horizontal switch transport unit, even now after all these years there are units that have held up dur to not being abused. I just sent out the door a A1250 that worked perfectly yesterday and the lady told me the previous guy at Midwest said it could not be repaired. What was wrong with it? A unsoldered relay coil. How these guys stay in business I do not know.
I'm late to the party, but "Howdy everyone!" What great information.

My question is regarding azimuth. I understand the 44-OB does not have an adjustment for playback azimuth. Is that correct?

I am looking to archive my old 1/4" 4-track tapes and matching the azimuth is generally crucial on 1/4" 2-Track tapes. If the heads on the original machine (Sony) didn't have much range of azimuth, it may not make a difference. But it seems the 44 may be a better choice over the 44-OB if I need to match an old azimuth.

One last detail, since some of the tapes were cut with dbx, any high frequency loss due to incorrect azimuth will be doubled!

Any thoughts? Thank you in advance.
since some of the tapes were cut with dbx, any high frequency loss due to incorrect azimuth will be doubled!

Any thoughts?

Can you get a dbx unit?
Yes. I own a stereo unit and work with a studio that has another stereo unit. Plus, many 4 channel units are available on eBay.
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Who told you there are no azimuth on the 44OB? When you find out don't pay any attention to that fool as I adjust the machines all the time and there is not an issue with azimuth.
If you are working on tapes from an old Sony unit depending on the model, any Teac machine will work with them but using a 1/4 track or 4 channel decks to play 1/2 track tapes is a big mistake. Stay with the right format as playing the guard bands on a different format doe snot help anything and there could be strange stuff in there.
Those that are constantly changing azimuth to old tapes mess up their decks and I don't think they really get to where they need to go. If azimuth is such a large problem then the tapes were made on junk equipment to start.
Who told you there are no azimuth on the 44OB? When you find out don't pay any attention to that fool as I adjust the machines all the time and there is not an issue with azimuth.

It was in an old promotional document from Tascam that I saw online. They said the heads are mounted directly to a block on the face of the deck and the 44-OB was so reliable that azimth adjustments are no longer necessary.

I've seen pictures of the Tascam 44 head stack that show it hanging from the top with azmith adjustment screws available. But the shot of the 44-OB in the catalog seemed to show otherwise.

Several of the tapes I am archiving were cut on an 1/4 inch, 4-track Sony deck 1977-1982. Maintenance was not a top priority and they were fully aligned once a year, if that!
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In retrospect, I may have misinterpreted it. It stated that the heads are mounted to a block rather than hung, and that takes recorded today will match azimuths a year from now.
The fact is the hung heads have no problem staying where they need to be and allow for a lot more adjustments to heads for making up for wear. The chassis mounted heads allow only a few movements and if you think this is superior, they use that same mount type on the Tascam 38 and I see wrong mounted heads all the time tilted so wear patters are trapezoidal then at this stage of the game they can't really be moved. I do not find as a 45 years experienced Tech. that it is a better way and as in the X2000R a much worse way.
That's great and very useful information. Thank you.
SkywaveTDR - do you have any decks for sale?

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