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FDP Forum / Home Recording Forum / Why are stand alone multitrack recorders no more popular for no professionals?

smrybacki

Carlisle, PA

Less gear....more practice!
Jan 16th, 2012 02:48 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I have an older Korg D1200 MKII 12track recorder, as well as a Boss Micro BR 4 track recorder. Last year I decided to give computer recording a go and I sprung for a M-Audio Fast Track Pro along with Ableton's Live Intro package.

While it is easy to see that the computer side is probably a lot more flexible because it is an open architecture, it is certainly a lot more expensive when you consider:

1. Your computer needs to almost be dedicated to solely recording purposes, and even then it needs to be powerful enough to handle the rigors of recording.

2. It is way more expensive to buy all the things you need in order to make a finished product. My Korg cost me $850 back in like 2004 which was the bottom line price, save the monitors and mic I bought...total cost $1200. The Micro BR was $200.

I don't know, maybe it's just me but using the Korg multitracker is just easier and far less hassle, and it costs a lot less overall to create nicely polished finished recordings. Yet, wherever I look the only thing people talk about recording at home with is a USB (or firewire) interface and some DAW software. I tried it and despite the advantages of so called open architecture, I get more done, faster and with less hassles using the closed architecture solution. I liken the desire for open architecture to what I see at work (I am a computer programmer/DBA) where the minute something new comes out, everyone rushes to buy it. Take Microsoft Word (or any office product) for example; These programs may have a gazillion options in them, but the average user uses maybe 3% of what's available, and most of that has been around since the advent of computer processing in an office environment. Just wondering what others think here...

reverendrob
FDP Data Goon
Moderator

Up the street...

from the Fred Meyer
Jan 16th, 2012 07:14 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Why I don't use a standalone these days:

- Even a budget machine built with decent cheap hardware can handle 48+ tracks.
- Ease of archiving both raw masters and pre-mastering mixes.
- I have < $200 invested in the DAW and interface, and can handle 8 simultaneous inputs plus the digital out from my guitar synth.
- Automation on the DAW. I do not ever have to want to go back to manually adjusting *everything* in real time on a mix. It's literally a sanity saver, especially if you start using plugins galore and the like.
- Would still have to transfer to the PC to do the final mastering.


garp
Contributing Member
********

Connecticut USA

Nothing to do but feed all the kangaroos
Jan 16th, 2012 09:09 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I still use my stand-alone recorders for specific purposes, but found editing on their tiny LCD screens to be absolutely maddening or even impossible. The ability to see and manipulate individual tracks and their respective waveforms on a DAW’s video monitor makes it much easier for me to accomplish most editing tasks. But that’s just me.

I had a very similar conversation this evening with a good friend who for years has used stand-alone recorders exclusively — ranging from Tascam cassette units to the Boss BR-1600CD — to record entire albums. To date, he has resisted the transition to computer-based recording — mostly because he’s intimidated by the so-called learning curve — but has recently been having second thoughts. I told him honestly that there’s no right or wrong answer, and that he should use whatever technology makes him most comfortable and most productive.

IMHO, the fact that respectable companies continue to market stand-alone recorders with an ever-expanding assortment of new bells & whistles proves that there will *always* be a market for them.

Roly
Contributing Member
**********
****

Whitehorse Canada

I don't get out much
Jan 16th, 2012 10:26 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

With a stand alone recorder you are stuck with the mic pres and converters.
I like the options a daw offers.

insanecooker
Contributing Member
******

Houston, TX

Jan 17th, 2012 06:16 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"1. Your computer needs to almost be dedicated to solely recording purposes, and even then it needs to be powerful enough to handle the rigors of recording."

For many years I had one computer that I used for everything, including recording. There is no need to dedicate anything.

I only moved to a dedicated one because I wanted to get a silent video card and that wouldn't really work for gaming. The difference in noise levels was really minor though, so I may go back to my single-system approach.

I cannot imagine mixing on a stand-alone machine.

smrybacki

Carlisle, PA

Less gear....more practice!
Jan 17th, 2012 01:48 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"I cannot imagine mixing on a stand-alone machine."

I'm pretty sure this is why George Martin was Knighted....

garp
Contributing Member
********

Connecticut USA

Nothing to do but feed all the kangaroos
Jan 17th, 2012 03:19 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I have to concur with reverendrob’s and insanecooker’s points about mix automation. I simply don’t have enough fingers or sufficient short-term memory to accomplish an ideal mix on my stand-alone recorders. Most of my mixing is done alone at 3 a.m. — without human assistants — making the DAW even more valuable to me.

Without a doubt, George Martin & Geoff Emerick had talent for mixing. For another interesting historical perspective on real-time mixing by humanoids, be sure to watch the documentary linked in the recent

10cc thread in Moe's

BrentD
Contributing Member
***

Lansing, MI

Jan 17th, 2012 06:03 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Zoom has the R16 (and I think an R8 and an R24) that works like a control surface for computer recording but that can also act as a stand-alone recorder. I think this might be the best alternative because you can focus on recording away from the computer but when it comes time to mix or edit you can dump everything into a DAW. I think that sort of thing is available on a stand-alone like a 2488 but if all you did was record and dump to a computer then you'd be wasting a lot of the 2488's (paid-for) features. With the Rxx units, they seem to be fairly priced and simple.

A hybrid solution.

reverendrob
FDP Data Goon
Moderator

Up the street...

from the Fred Meyer
Jan 17th, 2012 06:49 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Honestly, I don't need a control surface for the DAW- I thought about getting one a few times then realize it was just as easy to use automation and the mouse, and since there's not a fixed number of tracks or even insert points etc. on any particular song, it would have turned into a constant 'configure this surface' battle wasting even more time.

And you're stuck with 44.1 pres.

insanecooker
Contributing Member
******

Houston, TX

Jan 17th, 2012 07:37 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

rev, I disagree with you on the control surface. I had a Mackie Control for a couple of years and sold it before moving to the US.

I haven't gotten another one yet, but most definitely will, as I find using the mouse for automation frustrating. YMMV, of course.

nicnite

usa

Telebastard
Jan 18th, 2012 01:45 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I had an Yamaha AW4416 for years. Made a few albums with it. It sounded excellent. I regret not keeping it as a front end for my computer based studio.

It also had excellent automation with flying faders. What a great unit. It wasn't cheap at the time: 3K. But worth it. Basically an O2R mated to a hard drive. The advantage was the pre's, converters, drives and fx processors were all perfectly mated and to my ears it had better sonics than some very good audio interfaces that I've used since.

Also the fact editing was so clunky definitely put the focus on getting a good performance.

That said, for many if not most production styles it's hugely useful to have the easy and flexible editing of a DAW, the unlimited track counts and the much greater variety of plug-ins.

I do miss that thing though. And I agree that for many home recordists a stand alone unit has some real advantages.

It is not cheaper however. Now you can get 8 good sounding channels in a USB interface bundled with a DAW and some decent plug-ins for under $400.
n


n

reverendrob
FDP Data Goon
Moderator

Up the street...

from the Fred Meyer
Jan 18th, 2012 01:41 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Maybe a few days spent with a control surface would change my mind, but I'm just used to things the way the are I guess.

I could always map the controls on the DAW to the guitar synth controls. ;0

stiggowitz
Contributing Member
*******

S.W.Washington

stigg "Geezer, and lov'in it"!
Jan 25th, 2012 11:40 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"I still use my stand-alone recorders for specific purposes, but found editing on their tiny LCD screens to be absolutely maddening or even impossible. The ability to see and manipulate individual tracks and their respective waveforms on a DAW’s video monitor makes it much easier for me to accomplish most editing tasks. But that’s just me."

I use my br600 as a scratch pad and transfer device but thats about it.
I can't imagine trying a full on project with it.
s:)

wnstardis
Contributing Member
*******

Chicago, IL USA

Bill~~~
Feb 6th, 2012 08:42 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I've been using a TASCAM MX-2424 for years and years. For me it's the best of both worlds as I have been recording since the early 60's so the "control interface" is absolutely second nature. This machine gives me 24 channels of great A/D D/A hardware that allows me use of all the various hardware preamps and effects I've amassed through the years. The recorded files get passed to my DAW for editing then passed back to the MX-2424 for 24 analog output and analog summing. Mind you I already had the gear around. It just wouldn't make any sense financially as this is strictly a hobby at this point in my life.

But if I were just starting fresh with no gear already purchased I'd go all DAW in a heartbeat..

I'm just an old dinosaur.

But I still have fun my way 'caus e it fits me like an old pair of shoes, and just feels comfortable.

mirrorboy

Yorkshire, England

Feb 8th, 2012 02:18 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Trying hard not to be a Luddite here so I installed the Ableton Live 8 that came free with a Fender Mustang amplifier. Looks like a steep learning curve having used dedicated purpose built recording machines all my life.

I still have my AW4416 and I wouldn't dream of parting with it. They only fetch 4 or 5 hundred bucks so I don't see the point in selling it. Heck I still have my old Revox tape recorder and that has a sweet sound like nothing else running at 30 inches per second!

brianrost

Boston, Taxachusetts

Mar 8th, 2012 04:48 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Late reply:

The cost of the computer really doesn't matter since even $300 machines these days can handle 16 tracks of audio. It's not like even 5 years ago when an entry level computer wasn't powerful enough.

Seems like every stompbox or guitar amp that does digital processing has a USB port and comes with a copy of Cubase or Live. If you need to mike something so you can sing or mike your acoustic, you can buy a USB mike or an audio interface for $100. I've even seen one acoustic/electric guitar with a USB output as well as 1/4" (forget what brand)!!!

That puts incredible price pressure on hardware multitrackers and mfrs have responded with still lower prices and a focus on portability with built in mikes and amp modeling. At the $1000+ level, hardware simply can't compete with computer platforms any more.

Tascam is making one last gasp with their new DP24 which is a conversion of their 2488 from hard drive to SD card storage, street price $700. Unlike the Zoom R24 you can actually mix, master and burn CDs on it.

ConchoBill
Contributing Member
*****

Universe of Tejas

Bluz Cowboy
Mar 21st, 2012 12:18 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I am getting a new laptop (or the wife and I are) and am thinking about using it to record the band if we can tame the new guy to drum for us in this connection. I know we need an audio interface and some software to do this. Can I do it and what should I buy (audio interface and software, for a cheapskate)?


brianrost

Boston, Taxachusetts

Mar 24th, 2012 08:31 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

ConchoBill,

Most audio interfaces these days come with bundled recording software as I mentioned above. If your needs are modest (recording practices, demos to get gigs) the bundled software is usually sufficient. A lot of the extra bells and whistles you get in the "full" versions of DAWs are extra plugins (including synth and sampling instruments) that you won't need. What you DO care about is having compression, EQ, reverb and delay.

Sadly the mfrs seldom give you much on the spec of the bundled software in terms of track counts and such. The exact features of Cubase LE or Live Lite will vary from mfr to mfr. If the bundled software isn't good enough, there's always Reaper ($60) and Cubase Elements ($99). If the laptop you buy is a Mac, you get Garageband for free.

As far as recording the band, you need to figure out how many simultaneous tracks are enough. Most interfaces in the $1-200 range are stereo (2 inputs), above that you'll find some 4 and 6 input models and by $3-400 you're seeing 8 inputs. For more then 8 inputs you need to daisy chain units. Read the specs carefully, most mfrs inflate input counts by giving you say 2 mike channels, some analog line ins and a digital stereo input (SPDIF) and call it 8 channels. What you need is something with enough mike inputs to track your band...drums are usually the channel hog but in a good sounding room, 2 mikes is enough.

Choosing the interface depends mainly on how many channels you need and how much you can afford to spend.

ConchoBill
Contributing Member
*****

Universe of Tejas

Bluz Cowboy
Mar 26th, 2012 02:48 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

brian, thanks a million. What are the drum machines like on those bundled software packages? Honestly, the thing I have the most trouble with is trying to find a rhythm on my BR600 that will work, and I don't want to have to learn the drum machine.

But I probably should just buy an audio interface; record the drums at one end of the room and everyone else at the other. Thanks again.


brianrost

Boston, Taxachusetts

Mar 27th, 2012 05:17 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

A common thing for drums these days is to provide sampled loops with the recording software.

Live Lite comes with a drum machine (Impulse), Cubase LE does not as far as I know.

There are also standalone drum packages that plug into your software that you can use. EZ Drummer is one, there is a "Lite" version included in some recording bundles.

EZ Drummer---drum software

FDP Forum / Home Recording Forum / Why are stand alone multitrack recorders no more popular for no professionals?




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