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HD Recorders: TASCAM/Mackie?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by etnier, May 27, 2001.

  1. etnier

    etnier Guest

    I am considering moving from 2" to one of the new hard disk 24-track recording systems and am asking for anyone's opinions of the relative merits of the units mentioned above. I don't really understand the operational differences between the two, and am of course interested in sound quality, particularly as I will be using the unit's A/D/A converters a substantial amount.

    (Specifically I would track anything more than 2-4 inputs using the recorder's A/D, and play back most projects using the recorder's D/A so as to have access to analog processing during mixdown. My console right now is an 02R with upgrade to a DMX100 or some unknown newer equivalent planned in the next couple of years.)

    I need a box that is fully functional for tracking, lockup and editing, and very good sound quality throughout.

    I have searched for a thread on this topic- you'd think there'd be one, but I can't find one. However, I have to say that the server for this board is so slow I didn't search as deeply as I otherwise might have. If there's a useful thread somewhere, I certainly would apprciate a reference to it.

    Thanks in advance...

    And, of course, some useful additional information for you:
    :) :eek: ;) :mad:

    [ May 27, 2001: Message edited by: John Etnier ]
  2. hiverdude

    hiverdude Guest

    I wouldn't really recommend the Tascam or the Mackie. I would go with a Radar 24. I've seen and fiddled with all 3 of them, and here's why I went with Radar, despite some of the different features the other 2 machines have.


    -You can't have 24 simultaneous digital ins and outs. There are only 3 slots in the machine for audio interfaces. So you can have 24 channels of TDIF or 24 channels of analog I/O... or 16 channels TDIF 8 channels analog etc...

    -Not very rugged machine. I went into a store and the sales guys were having a laugh at it's expense. They showed me that if you arm 24 tracks and hit record, you only have a 50/50 chance that it will actually record anything.

    -Backup does not seem very convenient. They suggest that you back up to their proprietary hard drive carriers or FTP the files into your computer.


    -I crashed this one within 5 minutes of getting my hands on it. It repeatedly flashed "OUT OF MEMORY" until I rebooted it and reinitialized the hard drive. There is no way that I would trust this machine with my audio.

    -The buttons/jog wheel feel gross, cheap, and gummy.

    -The menu system is rediculous and a real nightmare for a first time user who wants to do something simple like change the sample rate without a manual in hand.

    -On the plus side: It sounds great. You can record in virtually any file system format. They do seem to be working out their bugs, and their tech support guys seem very responsive...


    -Totally rugged beast. The session controller feels amazing and solid. I have faith that I can pound on the keys for years.

    -Sounds amazing! you have the possibility to get audio cards that go up to 192kHz... it seems more modular than the other 2 systems

    -I have yet to crash mine... I've actually armed 24 tracks and punched in and out repeatedly as fast I could for 5 minutes, and it didn't even hickup.

    -24/7 Tech support

    -On the down side: DVD-RAM backup is damn slow... but they do have other options available and more coming. They don't have Pro-Tools export until next month. I also wish you could zoom in further on the waveforms, but the editing fucntions are great nonetheless...

    Anyways, I'm obviously biased :) I just want a machine that records well and doesn't crash, and that's what I got... good luck with your choice!
  3. On the DAWWORLD side of this site (click the link at the top) there are forums for all 3 (TASCAM, Mackie and RADAR24).

    I moderate the Mackie one, and it's been knida dead, but I'll be glad to discuss my reasons for going Mackie vs the other choices.
  4. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Feb 10, 2001
    Larry, would you mind doing it here...I know I don't get over there too often, but am interested in hearing why you chose the Mackie over the Radar, Tascam, and I guess eventually the alesis?
  5. Warning, kinda long post.
    Of course this is all very subjective and I don't want to anyone to base their decision on my evaluations. Determine what's important to you and then listen to these units yourself.

    RIght off I want to state that I think I would have gone RADAR if I could have afforded it and if I'd had access to one to hear it, I might have decided to wait.
    In terms of priority, the money difference will be better spent on adding a pair of comps and a top notch preamp.

    In March when I bought, Alesis HD24 was still unavailable. This narrowed it down to Mackie/TASCAM.

    I analyzed how I work, and prioritized the functions I really wanted as:
    [*]File level portability to PT studios. This was a wash between the 2.
    [*]Editing, especially volume automation since my console only provides mute automation via a software package that's long gone. The fact that Mackie's is built in, vs computer based for Tascam was a plus for Mackie.
    [*]Analog sound, I've seen both touted as very good sounding, and when I listened, they sounded different from each other, but both sounded fine to me. Another wash.
    [*]Bugs, TAScam was at the time getting numerous reports of lost files, FTP errors, unstable backup, and Viewnet was widely accepted to be too ambitious for a JAVA based implementation. Tascam had promised (and may have shipped by now) a non JAVA version, but I don't like using release 1.0 of software. Mackie had just released their 1.1 update, and the YAHOO group seemed to feel that it was stable. Advantage Mackie.
    [*]Backup is via sneakernet to the PC. SO the recorder is free while backing up. No need to buy DVD drives till I want to. I can carry the removable media to the PC, put it into a $35 dollar carrier installed in the PC, and backup offline to CDR. OEM hard disks are $100/ea for 30 gig right now. As noted above, TASCAM was having seroius problems reported at the time I bought.

    My experience to date with the Mackie is that I've never had a failure of any kind which resulted in a lost take. I've punched multiple tracks in/out without a problem, but the famous "yeah, but can you punch 24 tracks in at once" is not a thing I've ever felt the need to do. (Note: that's been a controversial topic in religious debates of the relative merits of these systems - I guess it's important to certain types of recording). I've never seen a failure recording 24 tracks at a time or seen one reported either. That's just me tho.

    The 24 dig/analog I/O simultaneously is something I didn't need to consider since I mix analog.

    I also feel the the build quality is plenty rugged. I found no stripped screws on my unit.

    I hope this is objective, I don't feel like I'm being defensive. I'm just trying to document why I chose the way I did.

    To help you research, The tascam offical support BBS is linked from http://www.tascam.com and the RADAR board is at http://www.recordingtheworld.com
    The most active Mackie group is at groups.yahoo.com lurk there and see what the discussions reveal.
  6. etnier

    etnier Guest

    Thanks very much for this very informative post. I gotta say, from what little I've learned so far, it looks like RADAR to me. Sigh...

    My experience to date with the Mackie is that I've never had a failure of any kind which resulted in a lost take. I've punched multiple tracks in/out without a problem, but the famous "yeah, but can you punch 24 tracks in at once" is not a thing I've ever felt the need to do. I've never seen a failure recording 24 tracks at a time or seen one reported either.

    Well, if I'm tracking a band and they want a full-band punch, that could easily take 14-16 tracks. Can that be done? Can you explain what specifcally is at issue here? (CPU load, ergonomics, voodoo, what?)

    The 24 dig/analog O simultaneously is something I didn't need to consider since I mix analog.

    Could you explain this? (I know what mixing analog is, BTW! I'm don't know what "The 24 dig/analog O simultaneously" refers to.)

    Again, thanks.

    And now, your Graemlins of Zen:

    :D :D :D ;) ;) :mad:
  7. I can't elaborate on the punch problem, since I've never encountered it punching up to 4 tracks (max for me so far). Best to ask at groups.yahoo.com hdr2496 group.

    Sorry for the shorthand; the 24 dig/analog i/o simultaneously reference was to the hardware restriction that the Mackie imposes. It has 3 card slots, each supporting 8 channels of i/o. Mackie makes analog i/o or digital i/o cards therefore you can't use 24 channels of mackie's converters, but output to a digital mixer at the same time. The mackie is either pure analog or pure digital for each group of 8 channels. To me this is less of an issue since I mix analog.

    I believe both TASCAM and radar have digital I/o available even when their analog option is installed.

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