non MD portable recording solutions

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by ole Jason, Nov 6, 2004.

  1. So far I've found the Pandora PXR4 and the Edirol R-1 but the Pandora is $300 and the Edirol is going to be around $450... not exactly affordable. Is there anything else out there I should look at? I don't need a bunch of silly effects or drum simulators. I just want something with a good pre that I can hook a mic into and record orchestra rehearsals or bluegrass jams.

    The reason I'm not looking at minidisc recorders is I don't really want to fool with buying and using media everytime I want to record something. I've also been told that there's no digital output on MD recorders. The thought of having to re-record the stuff onto the pc doesn't exactly thrill me.

    If I'm wrong about MD feel free to convince me, I definately like most of their pricetags!
  2. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    Neuros is what I'm thinking of trying for gig and practice recording
  3. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    My field recording rig is as follows:
    Creative Nomad Jukebox 3 with 20G storage
    Stereo mic preamp (usually an FMR RNP, sometimes a Presonus Bluetube)
    A pair of mics which varies depending on what is being recorded
    A power strip and assorted cables, mic stands, and shock mounts for mics

    It's portable, not horribly expensive, and doesn't take long to set up. The CNJ3 has both copper analog and optical digital inputs so I can get ridiculous with signal input if I choose to, and it has both USB and firewire jacks so taking the audio off is simply a matter of plugging it into the computer and copying it over. The CNJ3 is all over ebay, and Creative will sell refurbished units a lot of the time.

    Drawbacks: You have to have Creative's software package, which is kind of dumb but whatever. It's also got a very clunky interface for playing mp3s, but if you want a good interface for playing mp3s you should be using an ipod anyway.

    It's not necessarily in your price range, but honestly you're asking a lot for under $300. I'd be surprised if you find it new.
  4. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    See my Neuros post below.

    I've been hearing that many Neuros' are being returned due to problems powering up and bad hard drives. James, I think they look great but "I've heard tings."

    The Edirol really looks like the mutt's nutts but no word on the release date yet. It's supposed to be released imminently
    but could always get pushed back.

    I think the new Sony Hi-MD's look pretty good for the $$, but I'm with you...I'd rather not muck around with the transfer (though it's supposed to be 100x, I don't want to screw with formatting.)

    I say wait for the Edirol and get a 1GB card...I think it's definitely going to be worth the extra $150.00 for the Edirol.
  5. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    cool, thanks for the heads up. I hadn't heard... but my research is a couple months old. I've got too many other things in line for my cash :smug:
  6. Yeah after looking around there doesn't seem to be a whole lot available in the way of portable hard disk recording. The Edirol looks VERY nice. Looks like they're going to release one w/ 4 channels and a built in 20gb hd too.

    I'll probably end up dropping the cash on the Edirol or wait until they start coming up on the used market. The Korg pxr4 looks okay but I don't think it's really designed for what I want to do with it. It seems to be more geared towards making scratch tracks and stuff. I'd rather have something I can use with a high quality mic(s) to make live recordings.
  7. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    The 4 channel Edirol R-4 looks AMAZING, but I believe it's going to retail for $1600. I'm going to wait for the smaller one too.

    James, I'm with you...plenty of GAS expenditures to keep me busy.

  8. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    You're correct, MiniDisc portables don't have digital output, and that is a bummer because MD works so well. MiniDisc component decks do have digital out often, that's how I transfer stuff, I have a deck and a portable.
  9. Scooperman


    May 28, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY
    I've been using a portable Sony MZ-NH900 Hi-MD. It does have digital outs via SPDIF and/or USB. When using USB the transfer to my PC has been no problem and really does take only a few minutes for 2 sets worth of tunes, Once it's there I convert the Sony files to .wav files (via a free third party utility) for editing and burning standard audio CDs. Very quick and very painless.

    I figure that I'm going to have to put it on my PC at some point no matter what portable system I use, even if only to burn CDs.
  10. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    If you buy one of the new Hi-MD machines from Sony, they finally have come up with software that allows high speed uploads and conversions to WAV files for MD recordings made with mikes (yes, the software will not allow it if the recording was made digitally!).

    More info here:

    Neuros sells a RAM based mp3 recorder which is pretty funky but cheap ($140), has built in (speech quality?) mike and a line (not mike) input, USB upload, records in 64K to 160K mp3 or WAV (!!) formats, no Mac support :rollno: :

    Pogo makes a similar funky RAM based recorder called the RipFlash (again, no Mac support):
  11. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Oh yeah, there is one other thing to consider about don't HAVE to transfer to a PC and burn CDs since the MDs themselves can be extensively edited after recording (try THAT with a CD-R).

    While I do transfer MD recordings to CD when I want to make copies for friends and bandmates, for my own listening I just pop in the original disc.

    No need for transfers, etc. I just treat it like a cassette tape. With memory or HD based recorders you MUST get the recording off the unit and into a PC to get a hard copy.

    This may or may not be important to you.
  12. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    While there is no MD data drive that I know of, you can keep an eye out for a MD deck with lightpipe outs. I have seen these at dumpoff pricing and it is not a bad way to go. You would get a digital transfer to wav using a simple optical interface and a recording app on the computer side.

    I am a *former* minidisc advocate. I have no complaints about the sound quality or the portability, but Sony has managed to stink up yet another perfectly good format. Forget who makes it, because portable MD are made by a few companies... here is my impression of the products and I can't imagine who felt that this was going to be a big hit in the marketplace:

    Uni-directional USB (inbound only)
    Proprietary file management software
    Proprietary compression format
    Unidirectional digital interface (inbound only)
    music only media, no data allowed on the drive
    no MD data drive for transfer and management of MD data

    Yeah, whooo boy is that a winning gameplan!

    Just like the iPod blew MD off the map, devices like the new Edirol R1 are going to make MD a footnote. I wonder if the recording industry drones that made NetMD and MagicGate look so attractive are looking like such good friends to the MD industry now.... I think not.

    But I will say this in defense of MD: If you can handle the real-time analog transfer option for getting the audio off of the portable MD, it is a great way to do field recording on a budget. Like most budget solutions "time is money". if you want to save the money, plan on spending the time.

  13. Scooperman


    May 28, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY

    Pete, I guess you haven't been following the thread.

    Hi-MD offers bi-directional, faster than real time digital transfers via USB.

    There are utilities that will convert from .wav files to Sony'e format and vice versa.
  14. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Just wanted to put this in perspective: MD has been around for 12 years and predates CD-R, mp3 and computer audio in general. NetMD and Hi-MD are attempts to extend the life of the format. In other words, MD users have been doing digital recording AND editing for over a decade while others still wait around for another inexpensive solution.

    EVERY digital recorder solution today has issues:

    Creative Nomad: needs mike preamplifier, no Mac support
    iRiver: no level meters, glitches in recordings
    Marantz, Edirol and other pro recorders: $$$$$$$$$$
    Laptops: need external audio interface, BIG, $$$$$$ if you don't own it already
    MD: clumsy transfers to computers

    Like I wrote above, I don't NEED high speed file transfer since I can edit on the MD itself and then play it back any time I want. All these other digital recorders are really computer peripherals (and this is why they have no copy restrictions: BY LAW they are not considered "digital audio recording devices". ALL digital audio recording devices must have copy protection, usually SCMS. Sony had to extend copy protection to their software so that music downloaded to the MD could not be then copied digitally). MD also works even if you don't own a computer.

    I think the format will eventually die out but in the meantime I continue to record with it successfully. If you think about it as a digital version of cassette tape instead of a computer peripheral the MD strategy makes sense. MD was designed to record unlike the mp3 players which add some recording features as an afterthought. Sure, if I wanted a music player I'd get an iPod. I bought my MD first as a recorder, using it as a music player was just icing on the cake.

    Recording music as a hobby has all but died out. MD may be the last consumer oriented recording format we're going to see.
  15. Scooperman


    May 28, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY

    Actually, transferring Hi-MD to my PC isn't very clumsy at all. I plug in the USB cable and make a few mouse clicks. Transfer happens at up to 100x speed. That's it. Converting to a .wav file only requires a few more clicks.

    Hi-MD also allows records non-compressed file formats.

    Heck, even DAT never allowed faster than real time transfers. The only stuff I've seen that could realistcally be a real improvement over Hi-MD costs several times as much.
  16. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    This is true except:

    1. only can upload a track once, better not screw it up :rollno:
    2. only can upload analog source recordings :confused:
    3. USB2.0 needed to get the 100x speed (USB1.1 is a lot slower) and no Mac support at all :spit:
    4. cannot upload old recordings made in original MD format (i.e. I have hundreds of HOURS of recordings I've already made)

    I'd call that clumsy compared to the interfaces on most other types of digital recorders. I like the basic idea of HiMD but the computer interface part is still a little weak compared to units that just mount as hard drives and allow drag and drop file transfers without special drivers or translator software. It is miles beyond what original MD allowed, though.

    I really like MD and have used it for years. I was trying to be fair when I said all the digital recording solutions have some gotchas and until HiMD arrived a few months ago (heck, the transfer software just arrived from Sony LAST WEEK) it's a fact that MD had it's pants down when it came to computer interfacing.

    Personally I am not a fan of computer audio in general, so that actually made MD more attractive to me!!!
  17. Scooperman


    May 28, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY

    Yeah, I guess you're right.

    When you say that the "transfer software", you mean the file conversion software, right? I didn't even know that Sony's was out yet! I had been using the "Hi-MD Renderer" utility that a third party had made available for free.
  18. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I used to be a mini disc user for years, but now I use a Nomad Jukebox 3 for all of the recording that I do. Although it needs a pre-amp you record direct to wave and can transfer to a desktop or a laptop for quick editing with a program like CoolEdit. The change to the Jukebox has save me tons of time because I don't have to listen to a recording in real time to edit it. I can record a one hour show or rehearsal , download to my laptop, edit, seperate into tracks and burn a CD in 15 to 20 minutes.

    The Jukebox does have it's problems, it crashes from time to time and you have to reset it, but it's much better than using MD unless of course you need something real small and need to be stealthy, which is the only reason I still have a MD recorder.
  19. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    At $439.00, if the only problem with the Edirol R-1 is going to be $$$$ it seems like the no-brainer solution here. I realize they're not out yet and could have a plethora of glitches and hardware problems, but Roland gear is typically pretty solid IME. With a 1GB card it should be excellent for field recording, and it's Mac compatible (allegedly).
  20. Scooperman


    May 28, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY
    The Hi-MD format allows me to transfer to my PC and convert to .wav files at much faster than real time so it's not such a big deal. However, it is still more convenent to not have to convert file type at all. So I guess the Jukebox is overall superior to Hi-MD, at least on paper (having not tried it for myself).

    The added bulk as well as higher cost seem to be the only potential problems with the Jukebox, which might be a small issue for me since my main purpose for getting the Hi-MD was to replace a portable cassette recorder (Sony WMD6C - Pro Walkman) for recording rehearsals and gigs. Other than that though, the Jukebox looks like it might be a real winner.