The Fostex R8 is an 8-channel, 8-track tape machine introduced in 1989. The R8 is known for its MTC1 MIDI timecode interface technology which allowed the user to connect the unit to a computer running one of the first digital audio workstation software - Cubase.
The Fostex R8 was a cleverly marketed eight track reel to reel tape recording device. It was first announced in January 1989 as a successor to the Model 80. The R8's most memorable marketing campaign focused almost entirely on the machine’s MTC1 MIDI time code interface, and the hardware’s ability to integrate seamlessly with a Cubase package running on an Apple Mac or an Atari. Cubase was still a new phenomenon when the R8 went to market, so this was all very exciting and forward-reaching stuff.
The idea was that once the user had set up the R8 with a mixer and linked it with a MIDI cable to the computer, literally everything was controlled from Cubase, which had a dedicated driver-link with the Fostex’s MTC1, and thus recognised and commandeered the tape machine to the extent where the owner would not have to even touch the Fostex. In 1989 or 1990, this notion of a musician or home producer being able to sit in front of a computer and control not only all the MIDI hardware, but also all fully-synchronised audio tracks, from the software, with a mouse, was a very, very attractive one indeed.
In a well implemented system, time code could facilitate something which would feel, to the user, roughly in keeping with a virtual studio. And Fostex’s system was very well implemented. The intuitive, all-encompassing, graphical interface was extremely liberating for people who’d previously had to put up with laborious or haphazard processes and perhaps had to record tracks in stages, inconveniencing the musicians along the way. The brilliance of it was that household computers could not record audio at the time. The Fostex R8 presented itself as a kind of contractor – performing the role that the computer could not yet handle, but still completely deferring to the digital machine’s far superior human interface and putting the computer firmly in charge.
Track system: 8-track, 8-channel system
Heads: 1 x record/playback, 1 x erase
Motor: 1 x capstan, 2 x reel, 1 x loading
Reel size: up to 7 inch reel
Tape speeds: 15 ips
Wow and flutter: 0.08% (15 ips)
Frequency response: 45Hz to 18kHz (15 ips)
Signal to Noise Ratio: 78dB
Total harmonic distortion: 1%
Input: 300mV (line)
Output: 0.3V (line)
Dimensions: 328 x 316 x 173mm
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