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Stand-Alone Multitrack Digital Recorder or PC Recording Software?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by jaxstarke, Sep 29, 2013.


  1. jaxstarke

    jaxstarke

    Nov 6, 2010
    Beckley, WV
    I have a friend who insists on buying a stand-alone digital multitrack recorder with a separate drum machine and everything and I keep telling him he should just buy recording software for his PC and be done with it. I've used PC recording software slightly more than the stand-alone recorders and I have to say that I prefer the PC stuff waaay more than the alternative. For me there was a huge learning curve I had to overcome but in the end I think it's worth it. You just have more flexibility in my opinion. What do you guys think?
     
  2. RustyAxe

    RustyAxe

    Jul 8, 2008
    Connecticut
    I use both. I track on a Tascam DP-24, and edit on a PC using Reaper. There is no BEST way. Whatever works.
     
  3. tmdazed

    tmdazed

    Sep 29, 2012
    Like Rusty i use both , i have a stand alone Zoom r16 i use for tracking, and use audacity, reaper and cubase lite5 for editing and mastering. I find at least with the comp i have in the studio i get a slight Latency problem with headphone dubs and it was cheaper for me to get the Zoom rather than upgrade to a comp with specs I need for the studio. I simply pull tracks from the zoom to a memory stick and do post in the house on my far more powerful desktop
     
  4. jaxstarke

    jaxstarke

    Nov 6, 2010
    Beckley, WV
    That's the thing, he can't get both.(money issues) It's either one or the other. I personally think he'd get more bang for the buck with the software but as I've said my experience with stand-alone recorders is somewhat limited.
     
  5. I also have done both, and prefer the stand-alone for recording and a PC for editing and mixing.

    We have had some success with recording with an interface and a PC, but we have had a lot of headache with latency and pops, clicks, and dropouts, due to buffer size or software settings. Sometimes we fight a weird delay that is simply nausea inducing, making simultaneous playback/recording really hard.

    But editing on a PC is easy and works well.

    Recording on a stand alone unit has never given me any latency, delay, pops, clicks, or weirdness. I don't have to figure out software settings. I don't search the Internet for drivers or fixes. I never catch the singer running Facebook in a background window, or have problems with resource sucking stupid programs doing unwanted things in the background. The stand alone units are purpose built for one function, and they do it pretty well: harvesting tracks.

    But the ones I have used can be difficult to edit, mix, or add effects.

    Much of this may be driven by the fact that I am a cheap scumbag and I am not using top-of-the-line gear. Any PC I use will be multi purpose, an somebody will be browsing Facebook, and the kids will be playing games, and somebody will always be accidentally downloading sneaky crap software that continually runs when nobody consciously ask for it.

    I imagine that if you have enough money, good computer skills, and nobody else mucking with the computer while you are at work, the interface and PC route works excellent. It mostly causes headaches for a common dufus like me.

    Stand alones go pretty cheaply used. Often as cheap as (or cheaper than) a good interface. If you can go with only grabbing two tracks at a time. Stuff like a Tascam DP-02 is $150 or so. Audacity is free. Reaper is $60. You may already have a crappy PC. How expensive is a GOOD interface and a GOOD PC?
     
  6. tmdazed

    tmdazed

    Sep 29, 2012
    depending on the computer he has , he may still be able to get a standalone and free up resources on the computer for mixing and mastering. The computer does not have to be over the top to run a lot of the editing software, but to kill latency its gonna cost you, the zoom i talked of before is around the 350 mark and you are not going to get much of a computer for that money, not to mention a decent multi channel interface, single channel for recording a band is a time consuming pain in the butt only being able to track one instrument at a time
     
  7. I just saw "separate drum machine".

    So what is his purpose? What are his needs? Is he recording a band, or just songwriting. Is he noodling alone? Does he have a really good PC? Could he use drum software on the PC instead of buying a machine?

    Maybe if he is just songwriting or making one-man demos, and has a decent PC that is not choked up with crap, and has lots of time to figure stuff out, then maybe an interface, software, and a drum machine is an OK way to go.

    Of not, a stand alone is as cheap as a good interface and would cost less than a hot rod recording PC.
     
  8. jaxstarke

    jaxstarke

    Nov 6, 2010
    Beckley, WV
    Would be used for writing mainly. Guitars, drum machine, maybe vocals, maybe bass. I use Drumcore for my drums. They sound good and it was free. Would save him money on a drum machine he could use towards a better interface. As far as his comp. goes, I don't have a clue what he has or how good/bad it is. Something he has to take into consideration for himself.
     
  9. tmdazed

    tmdazed

    Sep 29, 2012
    dunno but my r16 has a pretty good drum machine built in
     
  10. Stand alone multi-tracks are better now bang for buck, than they have ever been. If you're friend wants to get one, then he should research the offerings and get one. He should look for one with the inputs and the features that he needs. Most allow a person to track on the machine, and transfer files over to another computer for editing... maybe your computer! ;-) Some units also double as audio interfaces. The stand alone portable studio option is very handy..
     
  11. Kickass

    Kickass

    Jul 20, 2012
    Scottish Borders
    I have used a Yamaha AW4416 with a Yam 01v or Focusrite Liquid Saffire 56 for 16 track recording for the last 10 years. It has automix and I master to a pc, although the 4416 has master track facility and onboard cd burner. The Focusrite, recent acquisition, allows all tracks to be transfered to the pc in a single pass for editing or mixing. If I was starting now I would use a pc with the focusrite LS56 via firewire.
    Recently I had to teach someone how to use their new Tascam DP03. It has mixdown facility and onboard cd burner. It also has 2 built in mics, a metronome and digital effects but only records 2 tracks at one time. I was impressed with this little box but like many home studio devices the limit of 2 simultaneous recording tracks makes it inappropriate for live band recording.
    Dane
     
  12. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
  13. jaxstarke

    jaxstarke

    Nov 6, 2010
    Beckley, WV
    Well, from all the responses here I guess I'll steer him towards the stand-alone recording devices. I would have assumed more folks would be using their computers for recording these days but I stand corrected. Thanks for all the responses guys.:D
     
  14. seamonkey

    seamonkey

    Aug 6, 2004
    Standalones are handy I have one, but barely use it.
    I just take a PC. For drums it's way easier to automate. Automate DAW and modeling also.

    IOS - Your smartphone already has the capabilities if you plug in a mic.
    Same for Android for "recording"

    But, these days a PC is small and light.
     
  15. jaxstarke

    jaxstarke

    Nov 6, 2010
    Beckley, WV
    That's why I use a PC. Everything is right there. Drums, effects, you name it. Even if I had a stand-alone unit everything would end up on my computer in the end anyway. I just eliminate the middle man and do everything on my comp.
     
  16. jtz

    jtz

    Sep 17, 2011
    roland v studio 100 is what he is looking for;
     
  17. jaxstarke

    jaxstarke

    Nov 6, 2010
    Beckley, WV
    His name's Roland so he'll appreciate that. :D
     

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