TASCAM Brings 4-Track Portastudio to iPad

| Product News

We bring you this product announcement by setting the stage with some background music, literally: It’s 1984, and the airwaves are ruled by Prince, Cyndi Lauper, Bruce Springsteen (and Courtney Cox), The Romantics, The Thompson Twins, Van Halen, Corey Hart, Ratt, and…DaBarge, there we said it.

While the big names were churning out millions from songs crafted in multimillion dollar recording studios, a revolution was quietly beginning in garages, because 1984 was also the year that TASCAM introduced Portastudio, the 4-track casette recorder that made multitrack recording possible outside a studio (and long before Pro Tools or Logic were even possible).

It’s Wednesday, 26 years later, and the company announced that it is bringing this bit of revolutionary music history to another bit of what will no doubt be characterized (sooner, rather than later) as another bit of revolutionary history, Apple’s iPad. Portastudio for iPad is designed to look just like the original Portastudio, as you can see in the image below, complete with VU meters for each channel, a volume slider, and controls for high EQ, low EQ, and panning.

The app records one track at a time (as is the case with other iPad multitrack recording apps, and can record with the iPad’s built-in microphone, or a mic plugged in through the headphone jack, which includes any of the audio adapters for guitar and bass, like IK Multimedia’s iRig.

Portastudio by TASCAM is available now on the App Store for US$9.99.

Portastudio Screenshot

Portastudio Screenshot

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This may bring a bit of nostalgic feelings for many people, but I can’t help but think how four tracks is so incredibly little, considering the hardware muscle in that iPad.

I keep thinking how only 8 years ago, we had PowerMac G4s with 800MHz, running on 256MB of RAM, and we were able to capture 48 simultaneous audio tracks on Logic, Cubase, Digital Performer or Pro Tools. You could even run real-time effects on them.

Why couldn’t iPad handle as much, when its hardware is more powerful than those old G4 machines? Four tracks?? Seriously???


The Beatles did Sgt. Pepper with a 4 track*.  48 is nice.  But seriously, if you need more than 4 you need more than the micro connection and pre-amps of an iPad.  Your mileage may vary.

Some people will never be happy with anything, and everyone’s a critic.

I say BRAVO! that they made a faithful reproduction of the little box and all for $10.00.  ( I already have a Mac with Logic - this is just cool )


You may have misunderstood me; I love the nostalgic trip and the faithful reproduction. It is indeed cool. I also have a Mac, with Logic Express (although even GarageBand has plenty of muscle by itself).

What I’m frustrated about is that software developers still seem to scratching the surface of the hardware abilities that come with iPad. That also goes for hardware makers. Nothing prevents M-Audio, Tascam, Behringer, ProSonus and others from building a 4- 8- or even 16-channel hardware that connects to the dock connector (other than economics, I suppose), accompanied with the appropriate software. It’s hard to imagine more ideal control surface for DAW software than the iPad.

Same goes for all other types of applications. Apparently, developers are still skeptical about the possible return on investment into development of heavy-duty, desktop-grade apps that would run on iPad. I guess we’ll have to wait until they sell 20 or 30 million of these before MOTU, Steinberg, DigiDesign or Apple (with their Logic Express, or even GarageBand offerings) decide to take the plunge.


Touch?.  A good response to my points. My reflection on your comments is that this is a good “first step” and by being early to market they can claim a decent chunk of the nascent market.  And PROVE there is a market for far more capable software.  At $10 I hope they sell a bunch.


If developers do more than ‘scratch the surface’ (or even just that), you’ll probably see another Scratchgate class-action suit or worse, someone claiming the iPad was ‘willfully and maliciously misrepresented as a content-consumption device.’ raspberry

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