8-track Analog -> Digital
February 16, 2005 6:48 PM   Subscribe

HomeStudioFilter: I have a Tascam 688 cassette 8-track recorder, and I'd like to get a MOTU 896 HD. Will that enable me to put all my 8-track analog glory to digital? [+]
posted by petebest to Technology (8 answers total)
Response by poster: the mkII is $100US less, but will it do what I want? I basically want to put all 8 tracks onto the computer to manipulate them all individually. Currently I make a stereo mix of the master tape and digitize that. I want to get digital quicker. Y'know - ADD and all that. I'm hoping that the two items together will let me hook up the 8 1/4" analog outs from the Tascam into the 8 1/4" analog ins of the MOTU HD and then digitize them all with some kind of "Lite" software awesomeness that lets me manipulate individual tracks.
posted by petebest at 6:52 PM on February 16, 2005

The mkII will do what you speak of. I'm not up to speed on current MOTU offerings, but the mkII will do what you're talking about. 8 patch cords should do the trick. MOTU boxes used to come with their own branded software, I'm not sure if it's bundled anymore, or with what interfaces. N-track is pretty decent, for multi-track cheap-e-ware.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 7:18 PM on February 16, 2005

Peeked at the 896, it has 6 more mic-pres. You don't need them for porting stuff from your Tascam, but they might be useful, depending on your recording style. BTW, Sam Ash has the 828 listed at about $750, and the 896 at about $950. I think you could use the Tascam mic pres too. Some people would say that's dumb, but eh.. to each their own.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 7:32 PM on February 16, 2005

Absolutely -- anything with at least 8 analog inputs is going to do you just fine. And I'll second the recommendation for n-Track; it's a great piece of low-priced multitrack software. I've been very happy with it for a good long time. You might want to check out the forums, though, to make sure the MOTU devices are well-supported (ie, the drivers won't crash your machine twice an hour).

Basically, you'll route each of the interface's inputs to a track in your multitrack, hit record on the computer, hit play on the 8-track, and there you go. Easy-peasy, eight tracks ready for mixing.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:34 PM on February 16, 2005

I have had very good luck with MOTU gear. Check their website for the latest software bundle, but I got great results using AudioDesk (for Mac OS9) before I upgraded to Digital Performer. Both are digital multitracks - AD is audio only, DP allows you to merge MIDI instruments with audio tracks. Once you have captured all the tracks, then you make your mix onscreen.

Digital Performer does include additional software (esp. the multiband compressor & limiter) that will help you master your project.

You will probably be OK if you look for a used firewire 828 on ebay, or even the interface I originally had, the 2048 in combo with the PCI-324 card. I think either of those can be had much cheaper than the prices you were quoting, so you can put your saved $ into software.

Looks to me like the 828mkII lets you record at a maximum 96kHz sampling rate, and the 896 brings it up to 192kHz. Though audio geeks may differ with me, since you are porting from cassette, recording at rates higher than 44.1 kHz / 16 bit is probably not necessary.
posted by omnidrew at 8:13 PM on February 16, 2005

omnidrew: you are quite right.
posted by noius at 8:31 PM on February 16, 2005

Response by poster: thanks very much folks, I'll check into 828 and make sure to give you a shout out at the Grammys . . .
posted by petebest at 7:53 AM on February 17, 2005

I've used variations on this set-up for about 4-5 years, running RCA-to-1/4' cables out of the Tascam 688 into a MOTU 828 and recording in AudioDesk which is bundled with the the 828. The nice thing about the 688 is that will operate as a stand-alone mixing board, so if, in the future, you want to record straight to digital (i.e. not just dump from cassette) you'll be able to easily using the mic-pres on the Tascam bussed into the 828.

I ran into one problem with that set-up which i am still uncertain whether it is a design flaw or a problem with my particular model. When i had multiple mics plugged into the 688 (and then bussed to the 828) i was getting noticeable low frequency hum. Removing the ground screw (it is the only obvious screw) on the male end of the XLR mic cables took care of this entirely.

One other product to consider that hasn't been mentioned yet is the PreSonus FirePod. It can handle 24bit/96kHz and is retailing for about $600. Pretty cheap, and it is bundled with Cubase LE, which i've never used but have heard good things about.

In many ways, i'd suggest looking into software while you are looking at hardware. Many digital audio programs are not compatible with certain hardware. And, i think this is really important: you will be using the software a lot(!) and you are going to want to enjoy that experience. On the software end, much of it is simply preference and how you like to work. For example, before i upgraded to OSX i would record into AudioDesk, but then take those file to ProTools Free to mix; simply because i was never comfortable mixing in the AudioDesk interface. I've been told the OSX AudioDesk update is a nice improvement but i've yet to use it.

I guess the main point of this answer is this-- consider what you want to do in the future. If you simply want to dump your stuff (tracking intact) from some tapes, you could probably pay someone with a home studio $100 to just do the A/D conversion. If you are looking to slowly build up a nice DAW, you might want higher bit-rate or more mic-pres than the 828 can offer. Will bundled software (Cubase LE, AudioDesk) meet your needs? Etc, etc.

(none of this is to steer you away from the 828, i still use it!)

Anyway, apologies for the long response, good luck! and post some mp3s when you're finished
posted by verysleeping at 9:36 AM on February 17, 2005

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