Elephant Stone Can't Do Without Their TEAC-3440

Rishi Dhir of Montreal psych-rockers Elephant Stone told us about his love for his TEAC-3440 4-track, ¼-inch machine.

Rishi Dhir: It's often surprising how the anticipated contribution of a piece of gear to the overall sound can be both exactly what you expected and yet entirely different. For years, I was on the hunt for a reel-to-reel tape machine. My old friend, the amazing engineer Howard Billerman (Hotel2Tango, Arcade Fire), advised me to aim for at least a prosumer-level machine, highlighting Revox, Otari, or TEAC as the gold standards.

So when a friend gave me a TEAC-3440, a 4-track, ¼-inch machine, I was thrilled to get started. After investing a few hundred dollars in repairs and new tape, I integrated it into my ProTools setup. I boldly(blindly?) processed my drum, bass, and lead vocal tracks through the tape machine. The result? The drums had smoother transients, the bass sounded warmer, and the vocals gained depth. But I hadn't considered the cumulative effect of tape hiss. On four tracks, the noise floor was manageable, yet with 20 tracks layered, the hiss became quite noticeable. Fortunately, the U-HE Satin plugin offered noise reduction settings that effectively tamed the hiss.

Reflecting on the experience, the TEAC 3440 indelibly shaped the album's sound. In subsequent projects, I've preferred the simplicity of the UAD Studer A800 plugin for its sound. However, the TEAC 3440 delivered a sound that, unbeknownst to me at the time, was exactly what the album needed.

Elephant Stone's Back Into the Dream LP is out now.