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4 Track Recorder

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by romac, Mar 26, 2004.

  1. I am interested in getting a 4 track recorder but I don't know where to start. This place is always very useful so I thought I would ask here:)

    My needs:
    - Only needs to be 4 tracks
    - Would like to run effects through it
    - Would like it to be easy to use
    - Only need it for practice purposes, I won't be sending off demo's to music colleges
    - No more than $200, preferably as cheap as possible really
    - It's my first recorder so like I said easy to use and doesn't necesserly (sp?) need to be digital or on CD

    The ones' that have caught my eye so far:

    Does anyone have any advice on this subject?? What recorder do you suggest?
  2. Given your requirements I'd suggest the Tascam 414 MKII. Great standard analog 4 track. I think I saw a used one in the For Sale section for $100. New they are around $200 or just over I think. I'll steer from my "buy used!" mantra and say if you are serious about the sound you should go new. Heads can get abused easily without maintenance and you never know what conditions the box was in before.
  3. It depends how concerned you are about sound quality and options. It will allow some minor eq'ing, panning, pitch control, effects looping, 1/4 or xlr inputs, line level guitar input, track bouncing, etc.

    If you just need something to put a quick idea down, go for the Tascam you linked. If you want to record something worth listening to for reasons other than retreiving an idea, I'd spend the extra few bucks.

    Do you have a computer? If so, you can set it up for simple recording VERY cheaply.
  4. yeah I have a computer. It's quite poor though and I like the idea of having a seperate piece of equipment that I can just record onto a cassette. Call me old fashioned :rolleyes: I may make the extra investment since it gives me more scope in recording. I'll think about it. I would running it through some effects so maybe that one you suggested would be better for me.
  5. One more thought...

    The Tascam you posted will only record one track at a time. Even if I'm the only one tracking I like to record direct and mike a cabinet at the same time. Then I can mixdown the two as I see fit.
  6. Sorry for my ignorance but what would be the point of that??

    ps. thanks for all the help
  7. The tone/sound of a guitar direct vs the sound coming out of an amplifier and cabinet setup is VERY different. Recording both is a common practice. You could also record one track clean and another with effects. Recording techniques and options are endless, but the point I'm trying to make is that you are extremely limited with a 4 track that will only record one track at a time. Unless you mono the room (ughh) you will never be able to record live with someone else, with guitar or bass + your vocals at once, etc. Then again, you may never need to use it for anything other than single tracked ideas. Depends on your needs.
  8. So how would the recording direct and miking a cab work?? If you've got a cable coming out of your bass into the recorder how can you possible be miking a cab since the bass would not be hooked up to the cab?

    I am very ignorant on this topic, so if you just bear with me :)

    One more thing, would this set-up work?:

    Bass > Zoom 708II Multi Effects pedal > Combo > Tascam MF-P01 recorder

  9. romac, you will need two channels to record a mic track and a DI track, this is whats called true stereo.

    Many bassist record this way so they can blend both sounds in to one, then they may pan one sound left and the other to the right or they will send both signals to one track combined.


    Recording Direct input (DI)

    The easiest way to record bass is by going direct from the amp into the board. This method will give you a natural tone with equalization flexibility. There are no speakers or microphones to alter the sound of the guitar. The only drawback of direct recording is that the sound may lack midrange clarity. In this case it is better to boost the mids on the amp instead of on the mixer since the amp's tone controls are more suited for bass guitar.

    You can also try taking a direct out from the Bass( I use a countrymen DI) to the mixer. This will give you a warmer sound with more low-end. However, I find that getting a signal direct from the bass amp will give me a cleaner sound and will punch through the mix.

    You may need a bit of compression for the bass guitar. Start with a 3:1 ratio and lower the threshold until there is almost always gain reduction. This will insure that the loudest parts of the signal will be affected and the quietest parts won't, which will keep your signals a few decibels hotter and preserve some dynamics. I then increase the ratio until I get between 3 and 6 decibels of gain reduction. The attack should be fast enough to catch peaks but not so fast that it cuts down the attack (depending on pick or finger style technique). The release should be fast enough to let go of the signal before the next note can cross the threshold. However, if your release is too fast, you'll either hear the compression or you'll hear the bass signal distort. I usually start with a 10 ms attack and a 250 ms release.


    Another method for recording the bass is by micing the amplifier. When the bass player gets his/her sound, place a microphone(D122, 421, or an sm57) four inches from the grill of his/her speaker cabinet. Aim it where the dust cap meets the speaker cone. If the sound coming from the mic isn't what you want, try moving the mic. Moving it closer to the center of the speaker will give you a brighter sound. Moving it closer to the edge will give you a duller sound. Either way, try to avoid using EQ. Compression can also help with the tone. (I love the LA2A for bass).


    Direct recording can lack midrange punch and using a microphone can lack low-end depth. So, another method of recording bass would be the combination of both direct and miced sounds. Simply split the signal after the bass and send one signal to the amp and one signal to the mixing board. This will give you the best of both worlds - the midrange punch of a miced signal and the low-end boom of a direct sound. Use the miced sound as your main sound and blend in the direct signal for low end. Try compressing the blended signals to help to further smooth out the bass sound.

    Hope you can understand this, if not ask as many questions as you need to, we all have to learn some-how!

  10. Right I'm bringing this back up because I'm making a final final decision on which one to get. Thanks Treena and baba for being of great help on the subject.

    With the combination of micing and direct - how does that work physically?? I can't comprehend how it would work. You would need a cable from the bass to the amp as you would be micing the amp but then how could you connect the bass to the mixer/recorder?? Is there a cable that splits in half???

    Also do you think I should save up more and get a digital mixer/recorder?? What about the cheaper PC recording option??
  11. If you get a DI box (like the Countryman Treena mentioned) it will take an "in" from your bass and provide two "outs"....one goes to your rig and one goes to the mixer. Many types of DIs out there, Countrymans are great but you can spend much less. Just price shop DIs if you are still looking for a least cost solution. You could also get a passive splitter to do the same but you'll need the DI anyway to get signal level up to what the mixer wants.

    I'd skip the digital recorder option and look towards PC recording if you want to up your spending and options. The only advantage I see to digital porta-studios is that they are....portable. They are also cheaper than traditional studio setups but so is computer recording. If portability isn't an issue, you already have a computer, look into PC recording. M-Audio makes excellent sound cards for the money to record on your PC. Check out the Delta 44. You will also need some mixing/recording software. Cakewalk works well for me. Note - the PC option will be a much steeper learning curve than a good old analog 4 track.

    All things considered, I would again suggest the Tascam 414 MKII for you. Minimal investment, you can get an idea of how much recording you will really be doing, and always upgrade if needed.
  12. I was in Guitar Center the other day and they had Tascam 414MKII recorders for $149 if I read the sign correctly. This is a heckuva deal on a pretty good recorder, I've had one for several months. It will do simultaneous 4 track recording, which is a plus for me. And its mixer is pretty versatile. Only drawback IMHO: it only has high speed, so you can't use it to play back a regular cassette. That's a real shame, it means I have to carry 2 tape decks when running sound if I want to record the gig but play a cassette during breaks. Other than that, I heartily recommend this 4 track.

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