Need a good hard disk recorder

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by nonsqtr, Mar 18, 2004.

  1. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    I have an mAudio Delta 1010 and a Windows ME computer, and I'm having trouble with "glitches" in the tracks. They sound like "pops", and it seems they happen during the recording phase. I've been told by several people that this problem is common to computer based recording systems (ie it's not just because of the rotten ME operating system).

    So my thought was, to go to an external stand-alone hard disk recorder. I don't want to use tape of any kind. I need unlimited tracks, and ideally there would be some kind of a built-in mixer with EQ and the like. The whole reason I got the computer recording system in the first place was to be able to do the edits "quickly", and that part of it works beautifully. However, I don't want to spend ten thousand bucks for a ProTools system at the moment, although I do need the capability of recording 8 tracks simultaneously (mainly for the drum tracks).

    Is there a good stand alone hard disk recorder that meets these requirements? 8 or more simultaneous tracks for recording, unlimited tracks for storage and playback, some way of conveniently backing up the tracks, and ideally a built in mixer with EQ and powerful/convenient editing capabilities?

    If the mixer/EQ and editing are too much to ask for, what would be a good hard disk recorder that meets the rest of the requirements? Or, is there some other computer based recording system that's 100 percent reliable, with no glitching, and doesn't cost a fortune?
  2. A friend of mine got a used Akai DPS-16 (?) that has 8 inputs, two with mic option (including phantom power), 16 track mixer, a huge number of "virtual tracks", three band EQ, effects etc. The mixer also allows you to mute and solo individual tracks or groups of tracks. Only 16 tracks can play at once though (although you can store multiple takes on virtual tracks). A full review is on the Sound on Sound website:

    I used it to record a local choir and the results are pretty good. Editing (chopping and moving around chunks of audio) is a little more finicky than using a desktop package since you can't just point, click and drag. But it does a very nice job and I can also sync the output via MIDI to a desktop PC sequencer allowing me to record the tracks into the computer and ensure that they're lined up correctly using MIDI timecode.

    Unfortunately it doesn't have a built-in CD-ROM burner but it does have SCSI connections so you can have an external burner or hard-drive for backup. The unit I used had something like an 80Gb hard disk, so there's plenty of room within the unit itself.
  3. Your glitching could be caused by a huge number of things. One possible culprit is background tasks. Windows likes to run lots of little tasks in the background when the computer is "idle" i.e. recording a track. Make sure your installation is clean, you don't have a huge number of tasks running while you're recording (check this using the Task Manager), and that you don't have Windoze software doing little system optimisation tasks in the background.

    Do the pops and clicks happen when you move the mouse around? This could be due to conflicts in the IRQ interupts between the soundcard and the graphics card.

    It may also be down to something fundamental like the motherboard and BIOS. I tried to upgrade to the KX project drivers for my Soundb****** and they introduced little clicks and pops that could only be remedied by doing an upgrade of the BIOS.

    It's worth checking on some Forums and the MAudio FAQs to see if anyone else with the same PC configuration as you has had similar difficulties. It may be that simply updating the soundcard driver would fix the problem. The current drivers may not be optimised for Windows ME.

    All of these problems are one of the reasons that folks have dual boot systems for music or whole separate PC's set up specifically for doing music work. It's also the reason that music shops charge a fortune for their tailor-made PC's rather than the off-the-shelf high street machines. They've invested the time to check that these issues don't arise (or at least mitigate against them).
  4. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    That sounds right, thanks for the input. If I go to a new mondo PC, with a gig of RAM and a 2 gHz processor, dedicated to nothing but music, do you think the glitches will go away? Is anyone using a glitch-free PC (Windows) recording system?
  5. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    You could get a super PC, but it would probobly be over kill. I have done plenty of tracks on pretty crappy PC's. As stated before you need a clean PC, get rid of all the BS software on your computer. Get more RAM, as much as you can.

    I would disagree that cracks and pops are common with a PC setup. 9 times out of 10 they are results of a screwy setup somewhere and honestly I bet Windows ME is the culprit. I have installed a number of M-audio pieces on 2000 and XP systems (even 98) but ME sucks ass. The 1010 is a fine interface, I bet if you got into XP you would be in good shape.
  6. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Sounds good, thanks Droog. I'll bump the RAM, and move to Win2k, and see if that works. Will keep you posted.
  7. SciFiGuy


    Dec 27, 2003
    Madison, IN
    As far as background programs, I downloaded a program called enditall (I don't remember where) that shows all the background processes and allows you to kill them (except ones you "protect") all at once. Handy for audio and video work.
  8. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Yup. :)

    What kind of computer do you have now anyway? There are some sound card/motherboard combos that can cause this kind of problems. Driver configuration is another thing - if you're pushing your system to achieve lowest possible latency it might go nuts on you.

    Also, Windows ME is supposed to be a ill-suited OS for audio, I don't know why, but everywhere I turn to I hear how much it sucks... :meh: