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Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by mljohn, Aug 1, 2000.
What's the best home studio recorder for under $500?
Hey, a few questions to consider:
Computer or stand alone?
Recording yourself or a band?
Mic'ing or DIing?
Is portability important?
Something that is expandable/upgradeable?
Analog or digital?
Type of music?
There are some more, but sorting a bit through these will be a start...There's alot of stuff out there, and very little of it is "junk", so it's not so much as "which is the best", but "which is the best for my situation?"
Let me/us know and we'll help you as best we can.
The Tascam PortaStudio III (~$350-400) is pretty good, but rather "plasticky", so most probably wouldn't stand up to much abuse. Has many features, but no phantom power.
Good luck! Heres some pointers, look at GMs questions and answer them and look at the following machines and features. The list is not exhaustive.
TASACM PORTA 02 Basic 4 track tape machine. Runs at normal speed. 2 band e.q. Records 2 tracks at once. Cheapest machine I saw advertised.
TASCAM PORTA 414 MKII 4 track tape machine. Runs at faster speed for better noise reduction. Records 4 tracks at same time. Generally twice the price.
TASCAM PORTA 424MKIII This is the one Will recommended. For half as as much money again you get a 6-channel mixer (there are other inputs) a 4-band e.q (bass low mid high mid and treble) and 2 effect sends. The mixer is very good but its still tape with the inherent problems (maintenance and wear).
FOSTEX FD4 This is the cheapest digital machine and ironically the mixer is poor in comparison to the 424. You do get options of external or internal disk. If internal is used you can record a master mix internally and then blast it to whatever. Digital outs are included so you can master digitally. Max recording is 2 tracks so close micing a kit is out.
YAMAHA MD4S Mini-disk system at similar price to FD4. However no digital outs and I have heard that you cannot bounce down (i.e. record tracks 1-3 to 4,clear 1-3 and do some more).
Boss BR8 Maybe out of your price range, but its 8-track digital. Mixer is poor and it runs 149 secs to 100mb without compression (read poorer quality but allegedly better than tape). It does have a digital effects unit and COSM (Rolands amp modelling) IF you want a guitarists/bassists sketchpad then this is a contender.
Multi-trackers are made to a price and this means compromise. You are not going to make recordings that sound like a Pop record. I do know someone who made great tape albums on an old Fostex X15 and a Teac mixer. Some machines can be expanded with an external mixer. However dont forget microphones and outboard as part of your budget. I have just bought a multi-tracker and am waiting for the next payday for the mics and a practice combo. Notice that I have not mentioned which one I bought. Its your choice. Get a short list of ones that are close to your needs and ask for comment ref. reliability and user friendliness. Its no use having an all singing all dancing bit of kit that you cannot work (think 90% of video recorders) Ill finish where I started. Good Luck.
I went with the Fostex X24. Not the best machine on the market but at $220 I snatched it up. It will suit my purpose for the most part which is a sketchpad for ideas. I also like the 4 track-at-once and the bounce features. I do plan to record our band through it, though not for demos. I just want to get an idea how tight we are before we waste money in the studio.
Thanks for the input though. I graduated from a recording institute about 10 years ago so I have plenty of recording experience. I've been away from it for a while and wasn't sure exactly what was on the market now at the low end.