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Multitrack Digital Recorder or Computer?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by crazyphil, Oct 22, 2002.


  1. Should I invest in computer hardware and software or should I buy a Multitrack Digital Recorder with a CD burner? Which ones are good?
     
  2. matter are u willign to pay thousands on comp. stuff? do u wanna be able to upgrade verything eventually, then get computer absed recording, do u wanna be portable? have an all in one package, then get a multitracker
     
  3. I have a Tascam portable and a PC that I master on. It works out well for now.

    I like the portability and can master with Wavelab at home and burn CD's.

    I will eventually get more channels and will probably stay portable and master etc on my PC.

    But this is just my preference. Yamaha, Tascam, and Roland all make good portable stuff.
     
  4. Be Sharp

    Be Sharp Guest

    Nov 1, 2002
    First, I think I'll just say hi, because I'm a new member. I've been using this site and reading posts here for a while, I just never thought to register. Anyway, I use my computer to record. The only software I have is a pretty simple MIDI Sound Recorder something or other that came with the version of windows I have. I put a mic near my amp and record from that. The sound quality isn't the best it could be, but it's good enough until I get a chance to go to radio shack and get an adapter so I can plug my amp directly into my computer. The timing is also hard to do when I'm putting tracks (well, actually .wav files, because thats how I save each recording) over one another because the program doesn't play back and record at the same time. I get around that though by using a metronome. What I like about it is that I can put as many "tracks" as I want into one recording, and burn it to a cd in a matter of minutes. I'm sure using a digital recorder or getting software specifically made for recording music makes things easier, but I don't think you need that stuff.
     
  5. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    Depends on how you want to use it. I do most of my recording at rehearsals or live gigs, so obviously portability is a major issue.

    For a home studio you could probably build a low-end recording system cheaper on a PC (if you don't need too many simultaneous channels). Many software packages come free or at a low cost if you get their "light" version. There is also freeware. None of this is available if you go the stand-alone route.

    Be prepared to have to upgrade eventually, so check what possible options you will have with the two alternatives. A PC system can often be upgraded but the portable will probably have to be traded/sold.

    Also, do expect some problems with a PC alternative, I have yet to use a PC for audio where everthing is really stable. A standalone will most likely work right out of the box.
     
  6. I've outfitted one of my spare PC's with a Delta 2496 Audiophile and it seems to work nicely. Thanks for the info.
     
  7. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I've not really done digital multitrack recording on a computer, but I can really recommend getting a Multitrack Digital Recorder. I've used the Yamaha AW4416 (Yamaha's digital 16-track hard-disk recorder and mixer in one) a lot, and it's pretty good. I'm looking to get a Roland VS2480CD sometime in the future - it's Roland's version, but it has 24 tracks, and quite a lot more features. Both of these have a CD burner built in (though it may be optional).
     
  8. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    I second the AW4416 recommendation, have been using one for some time now. It is expensive, and if you can afford it you should also add the Waves effects expansion card, it brings the AW to the next level with mastering effects. Audio editing is limited and cumbersom compared to a PC, I prefer to re-do a take rather than try to fiddle with waveforms. Apart from that, the AW has two major faults, there is no good way of splitting long recordings, so it's best used for individual songs. There is also no good (read: cheap) way of transferring audio digitally to a PC, so you may be stuck with burning CDs or CD-RWs for the transfer, which can take quite some time. But if you're happy with using it as a standalone system primarily (which I am) then it's *very* good, arguably with slightly better sound quality than the Roland units.
     
  9. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Hmmm is that true? I've not tried the Roland one but I've read reviews that say the sound quality is great. Also, it does 24-bit @ 96kHz.

    It might be worth pointing out that the AW4416 has rather limited mastering capabilities when it comes to burning CDs. It automatically puts 2 seconds (I think it's 2) between each track, and doesn't give you any choice over this! The Roland VS2480 has more effects, it has a spectrum analyser (very useful), frequency specific compression, more comprehensive mastering facilities, more mic inputs, the facility to connect a CRT monitor, and, of course, 24 tracks, which is 8 more than the AW4416 has.
     
  10. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    I think the difference in audio probably comes down to personal preference, like how the mic pres and effects sound, and in most cases the result will probably more depend on how skilled a person is with regards to other things, like microphone choice and placement, eq-ing, and mixing. They are both top-of-the-line units. I have not used the Roland myself, I believe from reading about it that the user interface may be better on the Roland, but they are both complex machines, so it's also a matter of learning how to use what's there. More tracks is always good though. I also agree you should compare with the AW4416 equipped with extra inputs and the Waves card - it is very good and not an option with the Roland.
     
  11. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    You're probably right, Anders.

    One other thing with the AW4416 is that the ****er crashes *just* after you've recorded something new, and *just* before you've saved it, so you lose it. I reckon it's programmed to crash at the perfect time to piss you off. Once, I recorded the same passage three times because each time I recorded it it crashed before I saved it. I find it a bit annoying that you actually have to save the song to keep the changes you make. E.g. if you record some new audio, you have to save it to commit the changes, so to make sure you don't lose things, you have to keep saving. Whereas the Akai DR8 (an 8-track HD recorder I've used in the past) acts like a real tape machine, once it's recorded, it's there, no saving.

    For all I know, the Roland one has the same problems, though. This is just what I found with the Yamaha.
     
  12. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    Yes, as I said, these are complex machines and as with a PC you need to learn how to work around the quirks. It can be quite daunting to begin with, especially for someone who has no experience from tracking/mixing.

    The AW4416 does not behave well when you run out of disk space, so periodic housekeeping (optimizing songs + defragmenting the harddrive) keeps it running without crashes. I have also lost some work, but you learn to save after every important change (again, same as a PC :)).

    There are some very good discussion groups on the web where work-arounds and tips are shared. I'm sure there is such user info available for Roland as well, it's really invaluable.
     
  13. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    On the upside, it doesn't crash nearly as much as Windows ;) No Blue Screen Of Death(tm) :D The instability of Windows has gotta be one of the reasons Macs are so much more widely used than PCs for digital audio recording. Along with the fact that Macs use SCSI drives. Though, IDE drives are getting faster - the AW4416 and the VS2480 use IDE drives.
     
  14. well a 2480 runs about 3K nowadays, and if you were to build P PC based 24 track system from scratch it would probably cost close to that I think.

    I wouldn't mind having a 2480, but can't really drop that kind of jack