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Recording with a 4 Track

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Witty-Name, Nov 15, 2004.


  1. Hey y'all
    Okay, i'm new to recording stuff so feel free to point out the obvious etc. etc. I would say stay away from personal critism but that's never helped before so, oh well.
    Okay, down to business. What will buying a 4 track do for the band? Right now we record on a kareokee machine... so as you might guess, this isn't ideal. So is it worth spending money on a cassette 4 track to improve the recordings? Any other info would be great aswell
    Thanx alot
    Rob
     
  2. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Back up and describe what the recordings will be used for.

    Do you just want to record practices, make demos, record a CD?
     
  3. Eldermike

    Eldermike

    Jul 27, 2004
    NC
    I have used a 4 track tape machine to make some pretty good recordings. However, in today's digital world your options should lead you to some computer based recording equipment. You can start out low end in the digital world and still be very close to studio quality. The wide range of quality in the analog world is totally price driven and the curve is steep.
     
  4. msquared

    msquared

    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    Unless you can get a cassette four track cheaply (as in, "under $25") then don't bother. It doesn't cost much to get into a decent two or four channel recording rig that will plug into USB or firewire on your computer and you'll have a lot better set of options for editing and mixing. If you're using Linux you can even bypass the software cost altogether.
     
  5. Droog

    Droog

    Aug 14, 2003
    PDX
    Everybody else has assumed you want to make a demo or a record with your 4 track, I won't. Yes a cassette 4 track sounds like ass, no its not studio quality. Is it a good way to hear how bad your practise went? Yes! Thats what we use our guitar players 4 tk for. Its a great and cheap way to step out side of the musician roll and take up the listeners roll. They are nice to have around for ideas and if nothing else they really help identify week and strong points of a song. They are cheap and easy, you can drag them any where and take no time to set up. Its not big deal if it takes a digger off of the table because somebody tripped over a cable. I damn sure am not going to bring my compy to our practice space, nor do I want to set it up to do crap recordings, (thats why I have the 4 track).

    As said before just depends on what the indended use is.
     
  6. adam on bass

    adam on bass Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2002
    New Braunfels, Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Spector, GK, EMG and D'Addario
    I disagree. I have done many recordings that I have sold to labels on my 424mkIII. You just have to know how to use it and it is VERY IMPORTANT to keep it clean. I love the sound it gets compared to stale stiff digital. To reiterate you really have to learn how to use it to your advantage. There are a lot of good digital recorders out there but none in the low price range that I would suggest(IMHO).
     
  7. Cheers.
    What we really want to do is just enhance our recording quality in general. Yeh, we want to hear how practise went but we also wouldn't mind being able to put out a demo or two. Like i said, our recording facility at the moment is as advanced as a kareokee machine. The cheapest i've found one at the moment is about £70, but i think it's fairly decent...
    If it would make a decent difference to our recordings, not only for demo's but also so we can hear how we're doing then it would probably be worth investing in...
    Rob
     
  8. Droog

    Droog

    Aug 14, 2003
    PDX
    Ok, ok I'll agree that a well maintained machine in hands of somebody who knows what they are doing will give good results. I should have said our 4 track sounds like ass. Wonder if its ever been cleaned? Gotta be 10 or 12 years old.

    Did not mean to dissuade. We are fortunate, for the serious recording we have access to a better facility than the garage, so 4 track is relegated to grunt work and ridicule :) A cheap 4 tk is going to be head and shoulders better than your karaoke box, and yeah I bet you could easily get gigs with stuff recorded on it.
     
  9. Yeh, well i thought it would make at least a partial difference, and we need to get some stuff down that's of better quality than what we have now. Also the chance to record each bit seperatley will be nice too.
    Do ya know if there's a site or something that explains how to use em? I'm pretty much in the dark, though i might know someone, which would help even more i guess...
    Rob
     
  10. adam on bass

    adam on bass Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2002
    New Braunfels, Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Spector, GK, EMG and D'Addario
    There are plenty of books on the subject that are relatively cheap and very helpful. Some city colleges offer courses in it now, although the ones(classes) I have seen have been about digital.
     
  11. msquared

    msquared

    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    It's worth noting that there is a difference between CD quality digital recording and the kind of stuff you can do cheaply nowadays, which is much better. I'd accept that a well maintained cassette four track sounds decent in the hands of a good recordist, but if you had someone of equal skill recording with a 24 bit/96kHz digital four track the cassette stuff is going to lose. Consumer cassette tapes simply aren't made to hold as much data as contemporary digital recording generates.

    On top of that, the data generated by the recording is much more useful. To name a few: you can play it as many times as you want without wearing down tape, you can do nondestructive filtering with plugins, you can do automation, and you can make unlimited copies. These have all saved me countless hours, and that's not even taking into account the editing options and the stuff you can do when you start involving MIDI.
     
  12. Droog

    Droog

    Aug 14, 2003
    PDX
    No ****! :) The guy said he does'nt even know how to run a 4 track. Do you think an HD ProTools system is going to do him any good? I don't imagine a new PC with interface, software and plugins is going to be a possibility right now.

    Yes, obviously better equipment would be better but we are talking about a 4 track and whether or not the band would benefit from one. I say yes, any recording is better than no recording.

    You want to learn how use a 4 track? Read the manual and play with it. They are not that complicated. Find somebody to help you if you can.
     
  13. Yeh, the thing is I aint really lookin to spend too much money yet and i just want something to make our band recordings better....to my knowledge they cost quite a bit more than 4 tracks, so it'd be great, just not needed right now.
    Rob
     
  14. [/QUOTE]
    Yes, obviously better equipment would be better but we are talking about a 4 track and whether or not the band would benefit from one. I say yes, any recording is better than no recording.

    You want to learn how use a 4 track? Read the manual and play with it. They are not that complicated. Find somebody to help you if you can.[/QUOTE]


    Yeh, cheers, that's what i was thinking. You're right, and it's gonna have a better quality than the kareeokee machine anyways!
    I've checked out a couple on sounds live, one for £80...
    Rob
     
  15. msquared

    msquared

    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    That's not what I was talking about, actually. But sure, a four track is much better than nothing. If you can get it really cheaply (ie: used), it's a great and inexpensive tool. But the digital equivalent isn't much more expensive, and depending on how much digging you do you can sometimes find the stuff cheaper than new cassette four tracks. To me, if you already have a computer then the only scenario where it makes sense to get a cassette four track is if the group in question practices somewhere other than where the computer is.

    Likewise with a computer.

    I'm not trying to wage a holy war here, just offering some different options on what can be done.
     
  16. Droog

    Droog

    Aug 14, 2003
    PDX
    I'm not trying to be dick either (just comes out that way sometimes) :) I think you are totally right as to the advantages of the digital realm. However our friend Rob here has said he has basically no experiance or knowledge on the recording process, in my experiance starting simple and learning good techniques makes learning new equipment and advanced techniques a whole lot easier. Those cheap digital 4 tracks are going to be way more confusing than a good ol' Tascam analog. I love recording with a computer, but I am a compitent sound engineer too. Learning to run, and get good results from a computer based setup is a bitch when coming from having no knowledge on recording what so ever. I know, I have had to teach people. I just think the scope of this bands needs lend themselves to a trusty ol' crappy 4 tk.

    80 pounds sounds like a good deal (I think) get one, learn how to get good recordings on it. It will make you appreciate and understand the nicer (and more expensive stuff) a lot more.

    I'll step off my high horse now. Thanks :D
     
  17. adam on bass

    adam on bass Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2002
    New Braunfels, Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Spector, GK, EMG and D'Addario
    Exactly. It is better to start learning the process with a 4 track. Knobs and stuff you can touch. If I had my way I would buy an Otari 24 track and scrap all of my digital gear. The last recording my band paid for was analog 2in. and the sound difference between digital was amazing.
     
  18. Yeh
    Well cheers for your posts, we aint in a position to record with a computer at the moment (mainly as we don't practise near one but also, as you so rightly pointed out, we have practically no experience) So i've pretty much convinced the others to it's advantages so we're gonna get one and see how things go, and hopefully it might help give us grounding for something more complicated later on....if and when we need it.
    Cheers again y'all.
    Rob
     
  19. supermonkey

    supermonkey

    Mar 15, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    I notice a tendency, on the part of more experienced studio goons, to way overshoot the technical know-how of the person they're talking to when giving advice. Dealing with this in another thread....

    If you're recording on a karaoke machine, damn near anything you do is going to be a step up in quality (and complexity).

    But I'm in firkinahsoul's corner: you can do astounding things on a 4trk, provided you work to its strengths. The quality of any recording device is more often limited by what goes into it, but it's always the machine that gets blamed. Garbage in, garbage out.

    Get a decade+-old Tascam Portastudio for <= $100 on Ebay. Then, from now on, don't ever skimp on mics....