What is the best Digital Multitrack Recorder for a budget to mid size home studio?
August 3, 2004 3:49 PM   Subscribe

What is the best Digital Multitrack Recorder for a budget to mid size home studio?
posted by protocool to Shopping (5 answers total)
Software on a computer excluded?
posted by jeb at 3:56 PM on August 3, 2004

Response by poster: Software on a computer excluded?

Yeah, I've been doing my homework on standalone units this week. Software might be next weeks' question. Thanks.
posted by protocool at 4:01 PM on August 3, 2004

Depends what you want to do with it. Two guys I know have the Boss BR1180CD, and they both like it a lot but they primarily use it for making quick demos of songs by themselves. It's super easy to just throw tracks down and fiddle with which track is in the mix, and then burn a CD of it. If you want like a songwriting sketchpad it's great. If you want to make a bedroom masterpiece with it or record a live band, I think it's less good. (we can't figure out, for example, how to 'master' it so you can burn to a CD without destroying the 'pre-master' tracks, but that might just be because we're idiots.) It can only record from two inputs at a time. So even getting a good drum sound on it is pretty tough.

But for ease-of-use/'speed' of use it's great. The built-in CD burner really is way more convenient than it sounds. You have a rough idea, you can record it, mix it, and end up with a nice portable CD in minutes.
posted by jeb at 4:22 PM on August 3, 2004

I use a Korg D1600 and love it (link goes to new gen, I have last generation). It also has a built in CD burner, 16 tracks, tons of effects and nice editing features. I got mine for $1400 and have got TONS of use out of it.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 4:49 PM on August 3, 2004

Well.. until next week then. I gave up on standalone recorders, if for no other reason than because I started doing all effects through my computer also, and only use non-software based stuff for: preamp stage (including some compression and eq), the occaisons when I want to drive a speaker (often, for stuff like guitar, in this case it'd be EQ, power amp, EQ, compressor, back into the computer).

Want to talk about features? Well, everything. All kinds of effects. Built in CD burner, or even DVD burner. Network cards are useful for transfers, for using multiple computers, for storage, etc. Hard disk based recording. Output in any format you wish including mp3, wav, whatever. Also able to record midi events.

Man, that last one is a big one, in my opinion. I have a midi control surface that I use to manage computer based effects. Any knob twiddling that I do can be saved with the audio track, so that when I play it back, the knobs get twiddled for me. The way I set up effects (this is all cakewalk sonar by the way) is to run the input through the effects in real time but only record the raw input. So whenever I play back the recorded data, it goes through the effects again. I can twiddle to my hearts desire and when I get it how I like it, commit to that effects settings and write the result back to the same, or a new channel. You can do all kinds of crazy crap this way, too, that is really hard with a standalone rig. Like... I can set up envelopes to twiddle the virtual knobs for me. Those envelopes are like graphs over time of where I want the knob positions to be. You can set up volume-following envelopes, where the value of the knob is dependant on how loud you play -- this is great for, say, an echo that only shows up when you play above a certain level.

God, I could go on and on about this. I guess it's overkill for a lot of folks, I'm a compulsive knob twiddler myself. The funny thing is, before I got into doing stuff this way I used ONLY: EQ, compression, power amp/isolation chamber, and reverb. Sometimes an echo effect. But that's it. I recorded that into a standalone 4 track.
posted by RustyBrooks at 2:43 PM on August 4, 2004

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