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Need advice on Digital Workstation options

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Moondog, Jun 25, 2002.


  1. I just bought a Roland 1824CD, which for the money seemed to be a nice setup. However, I am having a terrible time trying to figure out how to use it. It just does not seem intuitive to me. I would like to be able to turn a knob instead of hunting through menus and pushing shift and page to try and find something. Or having to look stuff up in the manual constantly. Also I'm finding the little LCD screen is not too good either. Is it just me or is this thing not very user friendly? I just want to record fairly high quality CD's of my songs. I am willing to keep trying to work with this unit, but would I be better off to go to some other setup? (I can take it back and exchange it if needed) It was not cheap ($2000) so I would think I have some other good options. Or will I eventually figure this thing out and grow to like it? Any advice/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I was almost in the same boat as you: I almost purchased a Yamaha 2816, but was talked out of it by a local studio owner who advised me that it left very little room to update and edit. Unfortunately, the next step up carries a much greater price tag. Here's what I ended up with:

    MOTU 1224 Digital Audio interface (Includes Audio Desk Software)
    Mac G4 800 w/extra 40 Gig hard drive for audio only
    Soundcraft Spirit M12 mixer
    Phillips 15" LCD flatscreen monitor, mounted on top of the mixer

    Yes, it was a lot more expensive, but there's not much I can't do with this system. The CD burner will pop out discs at 24x speed, which comes in handy, and the flat screen monitor gives me plenty of room to arrange the components of the digital desk & effects and still be able to see everything without a lot of hunting. Plus, once you get started and figure out where everything is, Audio Desk is pretty intuitive on most functions. Those first 2 weeks were a killer, though.
     
  3. That does seem to be the way to go, to have an actual mixer hooked up to the computer with a graphic display. I guess the reason I went with the 1824 was because of the price and portability (I live in an apartment, so being able to take the unit to other places to record drums, for instance, appealed to me). Also The $2000 was pushing the upper limit of how much I can spend. It is very frustrating. Roland makes a "studio pack" with a mixer and software (I think elogic) and I think an interface for about 700, but I would have to buy a new computer and I would lose the portability.
     
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Yes, that's true. Portable, this system is not! I bought the mixer mainly for the routing options and mic pres...the nice thing about the Digital world is that you can mix on screen and automate everything. For the more portable stuff I kept my old Yamaha MD4s, which does a nice job and is easy to carry around. Think about it for a while. I'll probably get flamed for this, but I really do believe that Macs are much more stable for audio, but you pay the price for that stability at the checkout counter.
     
  5. jazzbo

    jazzbo

    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Me want. :(
     
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Also, keep in mind that if you're not afraid to run a recording rig on a windows machine (and if the Roland package supports this), all you really need is a new "tower"...any old monitor will do, and you can configure the machine with goodies that only help it record better. You'd have to do some serious research, but I bet for a grand you could put together a pretty decent box, which would put your total at around $1700. Still affordable, but still not portable.
     
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    No kidding. Me wanted for many years before me got. I just paid off my student loans in September of last year (after paying about $400 a month for TEN YEARS) , and my car even more recently. You'll get there, and when you do, you'll appreciate it a lot more. On the bright side, remember that the prices on all of this technology keep coming down as the competition gets stiffer. Also, this kind of thing is a pretty serious hobby to have as far as learning curve goes...kinda makes me wish I'd paid more attention in my acoustics classes way back when. Who knew I was going to need to know that $#!+ someday? :rolleyes:
     
  8. Thanks Chris, that's something to consider. That setup definitely would be more flexible and (I think) easier to use. I'm probably going to keep working with this unit for another week or two and see how I feel about it after I get to know it better (I have 30 days to return it). It seems at my price point about anything I do is a compromise of some sort.
    Plus I guess the portability thing is fairly important to me, since I live in an apartment it's easier in some cases (mainly drums)for me to go to other musician's houses to record them rather than having them come to my apartment. Also, I only have a corner of a room, not a real studio with acoustical treatments, so most stuff I will be recording will be by just using emulations anyway.
     
  9. Johnalex

    Johnalex

    Jul 20, 2001
    South Carolina
    Well I am in the same boat you are! I bought a Fostex-Vf16, I really like it because of its portability, but it can not do to much editing and is not very user friendly either. So what I decided to do is go ahead and buy a computer with a decent soundcard and some good recording software. But instead of selling the Fostex I am going to use it for its portability and transfer the files back onto the computer.....and also for a mixer into the computer. Good Luck
     
  10. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Digital recording systems are NOTHING like analog tape based systems. Even the computer based systems are somewhat non-intuitive because as you noticed, knobs and switches have been repalced by menus.

    Comnputers have one huge advantage over the standalone boxes: BIG SCREENS so at least you can get more information at a glance.

    Roland is probably the world's most infamous manufacturer when it comes to confusing user interfaces (not to mention decipherable manuals). They get the grand prize for multipurpose buttons. Have you checked to see if they have a "video manual" for your unit? Seems silly to have to buy training aids but it would be worth the $25 or so if it helps you to decipher the box.
     
  11. Johnalex

    Johnalex

    Jul 20, 2001
    South Carolina
    I think the problem with some of the Japanesse made machines it that they translate the manual straight from Jappanesse to English. I think that why some of the manuals are so hard to understand sometimes. That is just my opinion I am not to sure if it is true. Are there any American DAW manufactures?
     
  12. Yeah, as crazy as it seems I can see the logic of having a computer based system as well as the portable DAW. It is just a damn shame the DAW manufacturers can't seem to understand the needs of musicians. This unit would be way better if it just had a few more knobs and switches and a direct output for a monitor (like Rolands much higher priced unit). In other words, make a DAW with a basically analog style mixer. It really would not add to the cost and size that much. Multipurpose knobs/switches, menus, and shift/page are a real pain. In short, the user interface on this thing just sucks. And yes the manual sucks too, there are definite problems with the translation and you have to wade through page after page to try and figure out how to do something. I did order the video manual, I'm sure that will help a lot, they should include it with the machine. I appreciate everyone's thoughts on this, I have a lot to think about. There doesn't seem to be an easy solution, and definitely not one without major compromises. Hopefully the manufacturers will start paying more attention to what is needed
    to make music easily, instead of forcing folks like me to waste a lot of time and energy messing with their poorly designed user interfaces.
     
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I know that this doesn't help you, but when I was looking at the DAW option for a recording setup, I was wedded to the idea of the Yamaha mostly because I own the MD4s (minidisc 4 track). Not only did the machine perform flawlessly, it was also very intuitive and the manual was excellent in a very "for dummies" kind of way - step by step. If I ever purchase a DAW, it will be a Yamaha.
     
  14. Well I'm keeping all my options open. I am going to do my best with this unit but continue to look in case it just doesn't work out.
    The Yamaha 2416 was one that I looked at and as far as I could tell it was really nice, but the salesperson, (who seems to be an OK guy) steered me towards the Roland.