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Laptop recording question (basic)

Discussion in 'Recording' started by mslaggie, Feb 10, 2004.

  1. mslaggie

    mslaggie Guest

    Hi everyone - I have been reading the posts here for a while and now have a question for the experts here. It's pretty remedial but I haven't found a clear answer anywhere yet.
    I have been doing some live recording using board feed/room mic into a mixer into an Alesis HD recorder. I am thinking about switching to something like a MOTU 828 or 896 into a laptop.
    I would like to be able to send 2-4 mic channels and 2-4 channels of mixer feeds into the laptop, and have the ability to change those levels, pans, etc at a later time. I assume I would need some software to edit with and a large enough hard drive to hold 3 hours of 8 track audio
    My question is - does the MOTU-laptop combo allow this? If so, any recommendations as to software and PC specs/HD requirements would be greatly appreciated. I'm also open to other suggestions if anyone has them.
    Thanks in advance,
    Mike
     
  2. chadmaniaus

    chadmaniaus Guest

    Our two posts are somewhat related questions! I'm fairly new here too and there plenty of people on here with waaaay more knowledge, but I'll throw my 2 cents out:

    I'm using ProTools LE, so I'm stuck with their hardware. But if you go the MOTU 896 route, you'll want to pick up some software like Sonar, Cuebase, Digital Performer, etc. I see a lot of people mention Sonar on this site and have favorable comments. Depending on how old your laptop is, you definitely want to make sure you have excellent processing speed and plenty of RAM. With computer based recording you'll want to have plenty of room beyond the 'minimum requirements' on the software box. I have two 120 GB external hard drives, but am looking to move to a Glyph hot swappable rack mount version, for better portability. Firewire those bad boys together and your up and running. Then later you can add a control surface if you're so inclined. I'm sure I left plenty out, that others can chime in on. But I think that would be a pretty cool basic set up!
     
  3. Bill Park

    Bill Park Guest

    There are a lot of choices.

    I bought an RME Multiface (8 channels of A/D/D/A and 8 lightpipe I/O, plus MIDI I/O, word clock I/O, and line/headphone out.) 16 channels is pretty easy for most laptops. No need to get fancy.

    There are any number of softwares that would work, too. I just do audio and not MIDI or looping or synths and that kind of stuff, so I use SAWStudio and Sequoia (both a little pricy), but check out Vegas or Samplitude.

    In terms of capacity, you can figure that out for yourself. But for portability an external firewire drive may be the ticket, because then you can move that drive to a bigger, more powerful rig at home and probably do a lot more with it. No reason to buy a bunch of fancy stuff... a wiebetech drive backplate would be a good way to go, because it allows you to work with regular drives... pop them into the backplate, pull them off and replace them when they are full.

    Really, what you want to do is not difficult, and many products fit the bill. My own experiences with MOTU were not good, which is why I switched to RME. I have friends who use MOTU without problem. There is also Frontier, and MAudio.... lots of choices.

    Bill
     
  4. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    M-Audio Firewire 410 - A little pricey, but at 4 in/10 out, digital i/o and little bells and whistles like phantom power, it's a good bang for the buck.
     
  5. jeeper

    jeeper Guest

    I am taking from your post that you are doing what I call remote work. That's what I do here and no studio work. If I were the one to go the laptop or portable computer route I would have to consider RME especially if I were PC. Have a look at the RME site and their suggestions for what to look for with a PC system. They have many suggestions about hardware especially in their reference PC setup. Also look at the balance of their tech info for ways to set up Windows for minimum latency etc. I've built my own PC using their reference PC for a model and have not had any hardware issues with it at all. I know that what's there is not oriented towards a laptop like you want to go with but it well may give you ideas when selecting a laptop.

    Now for the real thing I have to say about remote work. I do not use a computer as such in the field. I use a dedicated hard disk recorder (Mackie MDR here) just as you do. I have enough headaches and problems on a remote job I certainly do not want to complicate it by having to add the computer nor user overhead like an OS (Windows, DOS, Linux, Mac) would. I want my system to operate as transparent as possible in the field just like a hard disk recording system does. I do not want to have to point and click to arm tracks heaven knows I have enough trouble sometimes minding my board and pressing track record ready buttons on the front panel.

    With my system I go on remote and record to the hard disk recorder and bring it back to my mixdown room. When back at the mixdown room then I use my computer. I either use FTP and internal FTP server in my recorder for small quick transfers or remove a removable hard drive that goes to dock on computer for transfer to my software. Back in the mixdown process I have the luxury of dual 17" monitors operating on one PC. Everything is laid out on a large screen size where I can see both my effects and track views easily. Now stop and think how user friendly that small laptop screen and builtin pointing device would be.

    I would also like to make another suggestion about your Alesis HD24. If you have not already considered it, consider their system for file transfer to a PC or MAC. It prepares their HD recorder file and helps you transfer it to your computer. I think they call it Fireport 1394. It operates similar to the way we transfer Mackie files to our computers the best I can tell.

    Please do not take this as a flame post as I am probably the last to do that to anyone. I'm just posting what my experience and computer knowledge is telling me to tell you and use it as one individual's ideas about the setup you are proposing. Stop and think it out before you move, your idea may be the best alternative for you and also user friendly for you.

    Good luck and remember, like I've told others, its your choice and you are the user not us. But also remember to think things out well because you will have to live with your choices.
     
  6. mslaggie

    mslaggie Guest

    Thanks for the quick replies - very helpful information so far.
    To clarify, I currently am using a Masterlink, which is only 2 channels, not an HD24. I was looking to switch to a laptop mainly for the ability to change my levels after the fact. My reason is that I have a less than ideal room that I am recording in (who doesn't?). As a result, finding a good mix of the board feed, the room mics, and the direct instrument feeds has been challenging.
    I'm trying to figure out what it would take to record the 6-8 channels at the show, take it home to a studio-like environment, and relisten to the show making adjustments to levels and doing those post-production sorts of things.
    Any further thoughts would be much appreciated.
    Mike
    PS - no flame taken here, Jeeper. Keep 'em coming!
     
  7. jeeper

    jeeper Guest

    There are several routes you can take besides the laptop to accomplish what you want.
    1.You can obtain one of several hard disk recorders that on the market today Alesis and Mackie are two examples.
    2.Another route is your laptop idea.
    3.Yet another is a rackmount rugidized PC like the Clarion (hope spelling is correct) with something like RME audio card. (look at the RME sites tech info for how their reference PC is setup it may give you ideas to build your own) Also while there probe arround they have a lot of great info on tunning a PC for audio. With a rackmount PC you could easily put it in a good road case and just let it live there back home for edits. You can obtain one of the several thin screen monitors on the market for easy transport. Hey they have come down to within reason on price now. If you go the full PC route go an extra few dollars and get dual video monitor supponrt on video card you'll never regret that once you try it.
    4.Should you decide to go MAC then maybe MOTU and DP is in order for you.
    5.Also don't leave out many of ours first multitrack setup the ADAT. You may find a used one that you trust at a real good price. Granted with ADAT you will be limited to 8tracks with one machine but two can be synced for 16 etc. The ADAT idea is not real high on my recomendation list anymore for new folks though. Tapes are expensive, formatting them takes a long time, and its an idea that's sort of seen its day but its still useable and a quick economical starter package. I found one brand of SVHS video tapes that worked well and I could obtain them locally but many others would not work properly here. Just remember if you get ADAT then you are pretty well stuck with keeping it unless you convert all your archived tapes to another format.

    If you've not decided on an edit package then download the demos from several vendors and look at what each has to offer for you. Look at Pro Tools LE, Sonar, Vegas, and several others. I like Sonar here but you may like others.

    I'm sure there are other options for you also. I know I probably didn't cover all bases here. Maybe someone else will jump in with more ideas.

    Good luck
     
  8. hamishw

    hamishw Guest

    just wondering guys, I'm new to the whole digital thing and was thinking of going the Firewire 410 with a V550 Vaio, but how do you get the audio signal from the RME Multiface to the computer? Is it via Lightpipe? im not sure i understand...sorry if this has been asked before...its been confusing me since i started reading on this forum. Cheers guys
    Hamish
     

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