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Leaving the world of analog 4-tracks:

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Joe Coleman, Dec 17, 2003.

  1. Joe Coleman

    Joe Coleman Guest

    Hello all! I am new here, I've been reading up on as many posts as I can but I have to be honest... A lot of this stuff is WAY over my head. I have had good luck in the past using just two 4-track recorders to bounce tracks off one another but I think that it is time I got into digital: I'd like to be able to make some quality mixes for my own music. I do have an Alesis Blackface ADAT. I was wondering what I need to hook that up to my computer or at least to a CD Burner (via synch out?). I like the idea of still using some form of tape to really get that saturation quality to it. If I can figure out a cost effective way to successfully hook it up to the computer (or CD burner), I will get another ADAT for more track-bouncing capabilities. In even some more extreme settings, I wouldn't need more than that many tracks (remember that I am used to having 4x2 to work with). Please forgive my ignorance when it comes to recording terminology and even computer terminology... I don't know if I need software or what. I do appreciate any guidance that you knowledgable folk can offer me, I am at your mercy.

    Happy holidays all! :cool:
  2. Pez

    Pez Active Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    First off welcome to RO. Hope you have a thick skin. ;) Even though the ADAT uses tape it shouldn't really be thought of in the same way as your previous tape format. It holds digital data so it will not give that nice tape saturation that you may be used to. If you overload it then it will just sound like crap on steriods.


    Hi Joe,

    I'm certainly not the foremost expert on these things, but if you're simply wanting to move into the digital realm and basically do the same things that you did on your 4 trk you could just go with a little harddisk multi track recorder. This would function similar to your 4 trk but would have more options, effects, and the ability to hook it up to a computer. Many come with cd burners, so if burning cds is all you want to be able to do, you wouldn't even need your computer. I just saw an 8 trk by Zoom (MRS-802CD) for $699. Tascam makes the pocketstudio 5 for $299 and Korg makes something similar. Anyway, just to give you an idea.

    Another option would be something like the MBox by Digidesign. Basically it 's a two channel hardware interface (converter/mic pre) you would plug in to your computer by way of USB. The software is Protools LE. Basically it turns your computer into a multi track digital recorder/mixer. It would give you 32 tracks and open up a whole new world of digital editing,plug-ins(effects and virtual instruments), midi, etc. The MBox is currently going for around $400-$450. You could also use it to load audio from your ADAT into Protools for editing and mixing. There are other companies that make similar products, but what's nice about the MBox for a beginner is that it's an all in one solution. Other products would require a different software program such as Digital Performer or Cubase etc.

    It all depends on what kind of computer you have and what kind of quality you're going for. I would say if you have a good computer, go with something like the MBox. PTLE is easy to learn and you'll love all the things you can do with it - especially compare to an old 4 track.

    Good luck!

  4. Joe Coleman

    Joe Coleman Guest

    Thanks for the replies and the warm welcome! I have the pocketstudio5 but cannot get my computer to read it; I do have the necessary software. I'm still trying to figure out what I need to/am going to do. I know that ADAT's are not the best, but I did not know that they could not provide tape saturation as such, thank you for the info! Being as that I already have it, I'd like to utilize it. Eventually, I will most likely get a laptop dedicated for recording for portability and to free up the household computer. But being as that my computer knowledge is not superb, I want to avoid having to do any upgrades to my current machine if I can help it. I want to be able to access it through the USB because I am sure that the soundcard I have is not satisfactory. I have seen some editting software (I don't remember what or who had it for the life of me) where it was easily visible on the computer screen. Perhaps the M-box will be what I look into... Does anyone know if M-box is compatible with windows 98-SE (at least to get my feet wet until I can afford a decent laptop), and does it come with the necessary software or do I need to get that extra? I'll have bragging rights among my musician friends who are actually less recording-savvy than myself if I can say I have a protools setup, it sounds so professional! ;)


    Joe, go to http://www.digidesign.com to read more specs about the MBox as well as compatibility. I'm pretty sure it's compatible with what you have. Also, the price includes Protools LE software. All you need to do is load the software, plug in, and you're ready to record.

    Also, don't limit yourself by just saying you don't know a lot about computers. I'm sure you're a smart guy and there is so much out there these days to educate yourself a little. I didn't know crap about computers or recording. I didn't know what RAM, a harddrive, Protools, a plug in, a condenser mic, or litteraly anything a year and a half ago. I started asking questions and researching on the internet.

    I would consider getting more memory (RAM) for your computer. It is cheap and will greatly improve the performance, especially for audio. I would also consider getting an external harddrive where you can store the protools sessions and audio files. This will keep things separate from the other files on your computer as well as save space on your internal hard drive. Lacie makes a good and affordable firewire drive for such purposes.

    All the best ~

  6. UncleBob58

    UncleBob58 Active Member

    Apr 9, 2003
    Fairfield County, CT
    Home Page:
    Welcome Joe!

    The best piece of advice I ever got when I was diving into computers, et. al., is that it is very simple, but there's a lot of simple. Don't be intimidated, you just have to learn a new language and the "culture" that uses it.

    You've come to the right place. RO is populated by professional, intelligent people with a wealth of knowledge and experience who have an honest willingness to share. The best way to learn and upgrade your skills is to teach, and I have been a rabid student here, as well as occasionaly sharing my own meager knowledge and experiences.

  7. Joe Coleman

    Joe Coleman Guest

    Hey, thanks again for the replies guys! I am seriously considering the M-box. For the price, it seems to be an incredible value for a learner such as myself. I am also thinking of getting a (mostly) dedicated computer for it as well, possibly a CD-R capable laptop for portablilty. It will have to be XP to use the pro-tools LE. I am thinking of starting out somewhat cheap and upgrading its components when I am able. Any recommendations for how much RAM I am going to be needing? I know it will be quite a bit.

    Thanks in advance guys... :c:


    possibly a CD-R capable laptop for portablilty. It will have to be XP to use the pro-tools LE. I am thinking of starting out somewhat cheap and upgrading its components when I am able. Any recommendations for how much RAM I am going to be needing? I know it will be quite a bit.
    Thanks in advance guys... :c: [/QB][/QUOTE]

    Joe, I would get as much RAM as you can. I'm not as familiar with laptops, but I would say a minimum of 512MB. Better to have too much than too little. I would also say that the processor has more to do with it though than RAM. I had 768 in my G4 power mac (933 mhz) and things ran well. I decided to stick more in there because i purchased some sample software and now have 1.3 GB. I can't tell any difference in performance. I know RAM is important, but so is processor speed.

    Two more thoughts. The Digi002 rack is $1,100 and connects via firewire which is faster than USB. It has 4 mic pres which are probably higher quality than the MBox. So, if you can spend the extra $ it might be worth it. All depends on what kind of stuff you're doing though.

    Every consider an ibook or power book by Apple? They're pretty sweet and work well with protools.

  9. Joe Coleman

    Joe Coleman Guest

    I have heard that they are very good for recording, but I am more familiar with windows (although not overly so). I will certainly look into it though... Thanks for the tip on processing as well, I didn't know to look for that either... This place is so informative!




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