HELP: Compact digital studio OR computer bases?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by JimS, Dec 23, 2000.

  1. HELP: I want to set up a home recording studio and am unsure whether to get :confused: a totally self-contained and portable digital studio (eg Roland VS 1880, Korg, etc) or a PC-based system w/ Cakewalk, Soundblaster, Echo, etc? My budget for the recording apparatus would be around $2500-3000. I could spend more if it would make a huge difference I but would prefer not.

    The portable factor seems nice since I could record guitar, bass, vocals, and eventally keyboards and then take the unit to my drummer's house and he could run his Roland electronic set right into the recording unit.

    My goal is to record myself, others, and then burn CDs in small quantities, enough for friends and family; not hundreds for record deals and mass least not now.

    Currently all I have are my instruments and amplifiers. I know I'll need a couple of mics, cables, drum machine, and eventually a synth keyboard/sampler. I believe most of the recording units have FX like compression, echo, reverb, EQ, etc.

  2. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    Youve nailed the main difference on the head-portable. The other problem with a PC is the 'I want to use it for my homework Dad' factor. If you share a house with other PC users then you may have to have a dedicated music PC.

    I like as a general resouce. Its a UK magazine but some of the articles are excellent. Happy hunting.
  3. CS,

    YOU nailed it on the head. I have a computer for my boys*
    and one for me. But the portable factor maybe key. In addition to above, I could take it to pickup gigs and run a line from the PA to the 'portastudio'. And thanks for the hyperlink.

    *0ne son plays bass and the other guitar, ages 9 & 6.
  4. CS


    Dec 11, 1999

    Sorry about the time taken to reply I missed this thread somehow.


    Glad to be of help.

    BTW my 9 yr old son uses my drum kit, however he says it's his.
  5. virtual.ray


    Oct 25, 2000
    I have 2 Roland machines,the VS880EX and the VSR880.I think there is another issue besides portability to be raised,which is reliability.Computer systems tout unlimited tracks,96khz etc. but what good does that do you when your system crashes? Even though they may be somewhat limited dedicated stand alone machines were designed from the ground up to do one thing well: record audio.In two years of use I've yet to have any problems or lost data with my machines.
  6. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    Hey, I just picked up a Tascam 788 Digital portastudio, and it is amazing. 8 tracks, and you can record 8 tracks at a time. It has an internal harddrive that allows for 2 hours of recordings to all 8 tracks. 999 levels of undo. I think there is a 16 track version, but I am not positive. I got mine for well under a grand with a bunch of extras that I talked GC into giving me for free.

    If you have a $2k to $3k budget, you could grab one of these, and a bitchin' set of studio monitors, power amp, and some nice mics. Oh, and don't forget a CDR to mix down to.

    All of the stuff that I've recorded has sounded great so far. And, the beauty of digital recording at 24 bit and mixing down to a cd just gives a great tone.

    Check out the tascam website, and see if it'll work for ya. You can even download the entire manual in Adobe Acrobat to see all of the options.

    And, it's portable, too. I'm very happy with mine.
  7. slade


    Apr 5, 2001
    I've got a Roland VS1680 as well as 880 and I tell you what- you can't go wrong. Roland kills the competition- don't buy anything else. We've done six full c.ds and tons of demos and the machine just keeps becoming more and more usefull.
    Just my opinion of course-
  8. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Woodland Hills, CA
    if you have that much money to blow I think you will be happier with a recording machine.

    PCs are cool and much less expensive... BUT there are little problems and stuff. Limitations. For example, when recording on to a PC it seems that there is a tiny delay. This causes your second track to be slightly out of alignment with your first. You can edit this after the fact by slicing a piece out from the front, so it's no biggie... but the recording machine does not seem to have this issue. I am sure there will be others.

    That's just my opinion though... more experienced PC recording guys might know ways to prevent this. Good luck!!
  9. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    The timing delay G mentioned is commonly known as latency, and is a big problem with cheap sound cards. More professional sound cards and quality drivers can take latency down to well under 10 ms, which is barely noticeable. If you play with a drummer, and stand 3 metres from his kit, the time it takes for his sound to reach your ears is around 9 ms, and with that in mind it doesn't seem like a big deal, does it?

    I am currently upgrading my PC with a HoonTech DSP24 sound card (bang for the buck!) and buying an ADC/DAC converter unit with 10 inputs and 10 outputs, to be used with the card (all for around $700). No matter which way we (my band members and I) looked at it, we found that we got a more powerful recording system by buying that card and using my computer, than purchasing a digital portastudio. Pretty much the only loss would be, yeah, the portability... a PC is a b*tch to lug around and set up, in comparison.

    The main thing with portastudios is that they're not as upgradeable as PCs. Today, you can do pretty much everything with a PC and with good results too. Your system won't crash if you configure it correctly, and it will perfom just as good as a dedicated portastudio. But if you have a lot of cash to spend, a portastudio is without doubt easier to set up and use, and you get more money back when you sell it as second hand than you would with a PC.

    But if you go the PC way, DON'T use a SoundBlaster! Place a couple of hundreds in a professional card, it's worth it! It's almost impossible to get the latency below 40 ms with SoundBlaster cards... and when it's that high, the latency can be a quite annoying thing.
  10. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Woodland Hills, CA

    j/k!! I should check out that shtuff... Hey Oysty, you think I can get one of those cards to work at the same time with my regular sound card? (so that I can use my regular card for my PC sounds... But the advanced one for recording) The reason, is that my sound card is integrated, can't be disabled, and I can't afford a new mainboard right now... paticularly if I am buying a good sound card!!!
  11. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Integrated, huh? Bummer. It might work with another PCI sound card, but don't count on it - integrated audio and graphics on motherboards are known to cause problems with DAW (digital audio workstation) PC's.

    Where were I when you were buying your sound card? Uh... reading stuff about sound cards, I guess...! :) I have surfed a lot, studying harddisk recording and other things... until a week ago, I didn't know half as much as you do! And feel like I still don't know the colour of green! :D

    Save your money, Garth ;). Buy a new motherboard!
  12. MtnGoat


    May 7, 2000
    Jim S,
    with your budget I would think you may be a good candidate for the new alesis 24 track hard disk recorder, which I believe sells for around $2k. It has the editing advantages of computers, but also has the portability and ease of use of tape-based machines like the adat.
    Many people love them, but in my opinion, computer-based recording systems are a big pain in the ass and messing around getting all of the tracks to record and play correctly basically kills any creative idea I once had. I have only recorded in one studio (of maybe 10) that uses a computer setup where I didn't spend heaps of time waiting for the engineer to get something to work correctly. Personally, I want to spend my time playing and putting my ideas to tape, not configuring my software. Plus, I don't need any additional source of carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis.