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Small 2 or 4 track based home recorders, worth the cash?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by RS, Mar 31, 2002.


  1. RS

    RS

    Aug 27, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    Tascam and Fostex 2 and 4 track recorders are really cheap right now. Would it be worth it to pick one up for home demos and compositional purposes?
    Easy to use? Acceptable sound quality?
     
  2. They make a decent quality recording if used correctly. My band bought an old Tascam off Ebay, and with all the instruments running directly into the 4-track from the board, it sounded clean and the signal was plenty strong. Obviously not album quality, but great for demos and whatnot. What are new ones going for these days?
     
  3. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    California
    Great topic for the Recording Gear & Equipment forum.

    Moved.
     
  4. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    The cheap cassette studios are cool for notebook type recordings. The quality is decent, but I would never use it for a pro-demo of any sort. They're more suited to getting your ideas down and sharing them with others.

    There are a lot of mini digital studios coming out these days for less than $400. I'm sure the prices are gonna drop real soon too (they always do) - I'd hold out and save the extra bucks. The quality will be much better, if you want to expand you're studio you can dump the files into your computer or other unit, they have built in effects and lots of other fun stuff. I'd look into one of these unless money is really an issue and you just want a notebook type thing.
     
  5. farboozle

    farboozle

    Apr 18, 2000
    Fairfax VA
    If you just want a musical sketchbook, you can always consider using your computer's soundcard.

    Try downloading from http://www.digidesign.com/ptfree/

    Get more tracks, sound quality may surprise you, best of all, you've spent 0$.
     
  6. backtoschool

    backtoschool

    Oct 24, 2000
    not that I want to plug musician' friend but they are having a sale in which you can get a starter pack with a 4 track analog recorder for $199 or just the analog recorder for $99. I think at that price it might be worth the money.
     
  7. I noticed the musiciansfriend was selling a Fostex X-12 for $99. Could that be the same one?

    Anyways, I saw on a website that the tape motor was bad, the speeds would fluctuate.

    I guess you should stay away from cheapie starter kits (ala Squire paks?).
     
  8. I've had a Tascam Porta02 for many years. It's great as a scratchpad for when I think up a tune and don't want to forget it...very easy to use, and no worries about wasting expensive media. Great for getting stuff down to tape and showing it to bandmates.

    The newer version is identical and you can buy them new all day for $150.

    Keep in mind that the $99 recorders typically only allow you to record one track at a time, which isn't very useful when friends arrive. The Porta02 allows two tracks at a time. 4 tracks at a time gets expensive and you might as well have a minidisc or cheap hard drive recorder.

    Drawbacks: a bit noisy, some tape wow which is really only noticeable on very slow unison legato passages (sounds like a bit of flanging). But this is the case for all cheap cassette mechanisms.
     
  9. Johnny BoomBoom

    Johnny BoomBoom Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2001
    Glasgow, Scotland
    I have just sold a Tascam 424 Mk III. To be honest it was a good quality unit, with good sound, 4 inputs and a digital out. You could also 'bounce' down the tracks with a minimal loss of sound quality.

    However, I've just ordered a Fostex VF08 8 track digital recorder for not a lot more than the Tascam costs new! SO, that's the way I'm going!
     
  10. CS

    CS

    Dec 11, 1999
    UK
    Johnny-how much is the Fostex and gives us a review when you have tried it out. (please and thanks and all that social stuff)
     
  11. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I just saw the Zoom 4-track that uses Smart Cards selling for a mere $250 :eek:

    That puts a LOT of pressure on the cassette based machines. Where tape wins out is in storage....tape is cheap and you get more time per tape. If you like recording 30 minute prog-rock epics, forget the cheap digital units. Plus you can keep your masters around forever without having to mix them down just to free up some memory space.

    Digital wins out in almost very other respect: more flexible editing features, built in effects, ability to save multiple takes (virtual tracks), some even have built in MIDI and digital mix outs. The latest digital 4 tracks are also incredibly tiny and therefore extremely portable.

    Where it blurs are in features like how many tracks can you record at once, can you EQ in real time. The cheapest tape units are just as limited as the cheapest digital units in those areas, unfortunately.
     
  12. Johnny BoomBoom

    Johnny BoomBoom Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2001
    Glasgow, Scotland

    The Fostex is about £380 - I'm getting it from www.thomann.de - as their prices are really good for a lot of things!


    The only slight downside in the Fostex is that although it is an 8 track - you can only record 2 tracks simultaneously!!! So it looks like our band will need to pickup an 8 track mixer to record the drums properly!!!! I'll let you know how I get on!
     
  13. CS

    CS

    Dec 11, 1999
    UK
    Drat and double drat :)

    I got my 424 because it can record up to 6 inputs (you know this). I'll keep waiting for a sub £400 24 track :D
     
  14. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    This is a HUGE cost savings and one reason these boxes are so darn cheap. These machines are really 2-track recorders but 4-8 track players. Having only two tracks recording at a time means a lot less processing power is needed, also fewer knobs and buttons which adds up to a gigantic cost savings.

    NONE of the all-in-one digital machines let you record as many tracks imultaneously as they can mix, they are really built for recording by overdubbing instead of multitracking a live band.
     
  15. Johnny BoomBoom

    Johnny BoomBoom Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2001
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Yep, but to do a live drum kit, we ar gonna invest in a mixer that can mix 8 channels and then put the stereo outs into the Fostex - at least that's the cunning plan. Hopefully it'll save us a small fortune than buying one of the proper digital 'records 8 tracks simultaneously' recorders - these are nearer £1000 ($1400) here!

    For mixers, we're keeping our eyes on ebay and other auctions - there are some possibilities this week already!
     
  16. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Before I moved up to a G4/MOTU combination, I used a Yamaha MD4s for years, and it is one of the best and most reliable machines I've ever owned in my life. Also very easy to use, and you can record 4 tracks at once.
     
  17. Johnny BoomBoom

    Johnny BoomBoom Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2001
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Well the Fostex arrived, with SCSI connector!

    It definitely has only 2 inputs, balanced or unbalanced. But the mixing abilites look phenominal!! Also it has 24 hours of recording onto it's 20Gb hard drive!


    Haven't had a chance to use it yet, but it looks good, fewer knobs than my 4 track, but there apears to be a lot of menu driven stuff in it!


    Only problem would be having to get an 8 track mixer to record live drums - and then you'd need to get the mixer right 'cos you could only edit 'stereo drums' in it's entirety after that.

    Anyway, good little unit for £375!


    When I use it in anger, I'll let you knwo hoiw it goes!