The Four-Track Tape Recorder
Thirty years after its initial introduction, the four-track cassette recorder (shown in Figure 4-1) refuses to go away without a fight. Many home studio owners got their start with machines like these. Nowadays, this is one of the least expensive ways to get into home recording. If you are just getting started and money is at a premium, you can do very well with a tape multitrack.
Today, cassette multitracks, which are no longer in production, go for about $100 or less. eBay is a great place to find a cassette multitracker. The most basic machines allow one track at a time to be recorded. However, a maximum of four separate tracks can be played back at once. You can control each track's level (volume) and the pan (left to right balance), but that's all the control you get. After you find a blend you like, you can output the recording to another two-track “normal” cassette deck to capture the final mix. As for the quality, don't expect miracles. Even so, these recorders work well for documenting ideas and rough sketches, and they are very portable.
Figure 4-1: Four-Track cassette recorder