Fostex MR-8HD?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by KeithBMI, Nov 19, 2005.

  1. Has anyone used this unit? Our band needs something to capture our music. It's Digital, which is nice, because we want to host our MP3s on MySpace and PureVolume. It can also record 4 tracks at a time, which is a big plus. What are your opinions?


  2. bassnboards04


    Sep 25, 2004
    Yea I just saw this one musicians friend and i was like...hey cool i wonder if this is good or not i will definately be watching this thread
  3. craigb

    craigb Supporting Member

    Well I've got one but haven't had time to do much with it yet. The ability to record 4 inputs at a time to hard disk is why I have it.

    I had an MR-8 and found it adequate but the fact that it recorded to cards killed it for me in the end. It couldn't record enough time to do rehearsals or gigs.

    So I moved to the Tascam DP01-fx. Records 2 channels, 40G HD. Much better. Could set it up with a couple of mics and record a rehearsal or take a output from the board and record gigs. Sold it in a fit of downsizing and went with a Tascam US-122 (2-input USB interface). That works fine (still have it) but I came to the conclusion I really didn't like hauling a laptop to every place I'd want to record. So I picked up the MR8-HD.

    I still use it primarily as a portable tracking device and dump everything to the PC to mix/play with. It (and the DP01-fx) are both good for that with their USB connections. Here are some semi-random thoughts on the MR8HD:

    - the keys/buttons don't seem like the most robust things in the world
    - it does have phantom power to run condensor mics (important to me)
    - I don't care about the effects because I'll add them later on the PC
    - makes a good front-end to the PC
    - ability to set/monitor levels is limited by the lack of resolution on the meters
    - can record to uncompressed .wav files for highest quality
    - pretty compact (much smaller than the DP-01)
    - sliders are small/short

    I'm happy with it so far but haven't used it enough to get a good feel for long-term durability or quality (or lack thereof) in the preamps (I don't expect much).
  4. Thanks for your input. :smug:
  5. rboyce


    Oct 12, 2003
    Boston, MA

    If you're looking for a "all in one" hard-disk recorder that will easily record a live band, I'd consider the VF-160ex instead. It will probably only cost you another 300 bucks (for a new one), but it will allow you to record 8 tracks simultaneously. And if you invest in an external mic preamp with ADAT output (like the Behringer ADA8000), you can record 16 tracks simultaneously. I use a VF-16 (the earlier version of the VF-160ex) and a Behringer ADA8000 to record my band's rehearsals, and it works like a charm. Very easy to learn, and the results are good enough for the purposed you mentioned.

    You can snag a used VF-16 or VF-160 on eBay anywhere from $300-500.

    My 2 cents.

  6. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    Been reading the manual for this and am now concerned it can't do what I need. I just want to record four tracks simultaneously and subsequently lift the wav files straight from the Fostex's hard disk onto my computer, for importing into Cubase and then overdubbing/mixing/mastering etc. Can it do this?

  7. craigb

    craigb Supporting Member

    I haven't done it with my MR8HD yet (I haven't done much of anything with it yet) but with my MR8 each track was available as a mono .wav file (16 bit, 44.1KHz). Using the wav manager software from Fostex it was possible to copy individual tracks in/out and I would take drum tracks I made using PC Drummer and export/convert them to the correct format and copy them onto the MR8.

    Looking at some of my old projects I have archived on my PC I see that all the track wav file names are tr0n.wav (tr01.wav, tr02.wav, . . . ).

    Reading the MR8HD manual they only talk about exporting a stereo wav file, but you can copy the whole song folder including the individual track wavs. So I think the file format/handling is the same on the MR8HD as it was on the MR8.

    I plan on trying out my planned gig recording setup on Monday so I should have some real data to check with after that.
  8. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    Thanks Craig, that's really useful! Look forward to the results...

  9. craigb

    craigb Supporting Member

    Well I only ended up recording 2 tracks last night - it just worked out that way. I'm sure the MR8HD can record 4 simultaneously, I just didn't do it that way this time.

    I transferred the tracks over to my laptop today. The MR8HD gets recognized as a USB disk and you can browse its directory structure. But it looks like there was more there than just 8 tracks of .wav data. There was probably undo information and other stuff. So it's not quite as simple as plug in and copy.

    Fostex provides their "wav manager" software which is also used for the MR8. Once the MR8(HD) is plugged in and recognized you fire up the wav manager and tell it which drive is the MR8(HD). Then pick a song and which tracks (1-8) and import/export away. I pulled down tracks 1 & 2 as individual wav files and pulled them into Audacity and there was our not-so-glorious rehearsal (complete with clipping from not paying attention to the levels).

    So Alex you should be able to record 4 tracks and then pull them over. That's my primary use model as well. The MR8 is a portable tracking device so I don't have to take a laptop everywhere I want to record - but I do all my mixing/processing/etc. on the PC. That's why I like these newer digital multitracks with USB ports - they are designed for getting wav files to a PC.

    I ran into an interesting issue I'm going to have to break open the manual for. After about an hour and a half the MR8 stopped recording on its own. It looked like it had hit the limit on "bars" in the song. I'll have to figure out how to make it record in a different mode maybe.

    And I also found when I went to download the software that mine is in the serial number range that needs to go back to Fostex for an upgrade for USB host capability. I hope their turnaround is quick for that.
  10. To record a bass, guitar and drum set would you just do this...?

    Drums - mic - Recorder
    Bass - amp - Recorder
    Guitar - amp - Recorder
  11. duke2004

    duke2004 Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2004
    Cambridge, Mass.
    thanks for that report, looks like the drag and drop works, sounds like you were able to manipulate individual tracks. i have gotten feedback from people who were hesitant to buy one of these since Fostex online manual talks about a "save onto tracks 7/8 as stereo wave file" kind of thing. If that were truly how you had to do it, it would be a major pain in the butt to grab multi tracks from a song
  12. craigb

    craigb Supporting Member

    Yep, you are able to get and/or put all 8 tracks. You need some kind of multitrack software to deal with them on the PC (Audacity works fine and is free/open source). I just recorded the gig my combo did last night (2 tracks again - we've got some real limitations because of the lame mixer we are using (my tiny Behringer)).

    KeithBMI - if I were recording drums, guitar and bass with no vocals I'd probably stick a pair of mics on the drums into channels 1 & 2 and line out/direct outs on 1/4" connectors from the guitar & bass into channels 3 & 4.
  13. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    Thanks Craig, really useful info!

    I'm actually thinking of going up another notch, to a Yamaha AW1600, partly due to being paranoid about clipping with 16 bit live recording (the Yamaha does 24 bit) and partly due to my band having more members than I anticipated! (so the Yamaha's 8 track simultaneous at 24 bit is perfect). Unfortunately it's three times the price...

  14. craigb

    craigb Supporting Member

    I'd love to have something better (more tracks, better resolution) but for my needs and budget the MR8HD is great. The USB connectivity to the PC is great (I don't know if any of the better standalones have similar connectivity or not). I think about getting a firewire-capable mixer (Alesis makes some cheap ones) when I have the opportunity so I can record everything separately live, although that requires taking a laptop to the gig.

    One limitation I found on the MR8 is that a single "song" can only last for 99 minutes or so. So if you sets run longer than that you can't get it on a single "song" (the unit of recording the MR8 uses). Not a real big deal but it means I have to pay attention when recording rehearsals because I can't just let it run for 3 or 4 hours without any intervention.
  15. Used it today for the first time with "The Stone Shades" and it worked well.

    Went from the bass to the amp and then XLR to the MR-8HD
    Guitarist went from his guitar to the amp, and then from the mono out to the 1/4 input.
    For the drums, we found one mic and used it to record.

    It ran a little hot. It was on for about 2-3 hours, but never gave me any trouble.

    You can hear how it sounds by clicking the link in my sig and listening to the songs.

    All in all, I'd say it was worth the 400 or so dollars is cost.
  16. duke2004

    duke2004 Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2004
    Cambridge, Mass.
    hopefully not a pattern of quality control, but used my new one from GC. All the controls work but the lights are totally intermittent. I finally gave the unit a good shake and the lights reset to the way they should be. GC is getting me another one in a few days
  17. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    Bought one of these yesterday afternoon, recorded with the band that evening. A joy to use, even compared to my very straightforward cassette 4-track which I've owned for nigh on a decade. Great sound. Transferred all the files to Cubase this morning and already have rough mixes up on the web for my band members to check out and consider overdubs and mixing/production.

    I am utterly blown away, this is the best £300 I have ever spent on musical equipment!!!

  18. Rumzini


    Feb 14, 2004
    Jackson, MI
    After looking into different ways of recording...I'm thinking of going this route. Portability, 4 tracks at once, and ease of use look very availale in this unit. I checked out The Stone Shades demos. Were these tracks done all at one time? Edits? Was there anything done to enhance the sound of the recordings after the initail take?

    Anyine have any more samples to listen to?
  19. We used one instrument per track. The MR8 is our best piece of equipment. for the drums we used one instrument mic placed near his feet :)D) and used the line out on the amps. You can probably get it to sound a million times better based on what equipment you have.

    Mine did break down. I'll have to take it back and get it repaired. It seems like the hard drive does not start up with the rest of the system, one good whack and I can hear it start to spin.

    The problem is, the drive will stop spinning and thus, stop recording our song.

    The transport to and from the drummer's house, it probably to blame.

    Once we get some mics, we'll try mic'ing the cabs for a fuller sound.

    It is a good unit and worth the price, it is also very user friendly.

    *edit* Nothing was done after the recording to clean it up, but we did use the reverb that comes on the unit.