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Mobile studio in depth questions.

Discussion in 'Recording' started by beatdub, Dec 8, 2011.

  1. beatdub

    beatdub Active Member

    Hi. So I took up a black friday deal and got a good core i7 laptop for cheap. Unfortunately all laptops now have 3.0 usb and no firewire possibilities, which makes my bandmates nice focusrite sapphire useless to me. I still have a 2 channel emu 2.0 interface that's working well for my midi triggering vst's and 2 channel recording. I would like to have multi channel for live drums.
    It seems there isn't 3.0 multi channel interfaces coming out anytime soon. The best 2.0 usb deal i saw was the tascam 1600, (under $300!). I noticed the big improvement in 24 bit recording on our last projects.
    So here's my questions.
    Will the tascam perform well mutitracking in 24 bit 96khz?
    Could I eventually chain 2 together if i wanted more channels?
    Would It be more advantageous to get a usb 3.0 flash card reader and record, mix, and store projects onto flash cards instead of a 3.0 hard drive?
    Would flash cards have a faster data transfer, and be more stable (you can drop a flash card on the floor, no worries)than a 3.0 external hd?
    If usb 3.0 interfaces come out, would you be able to record in 32 bit?(sonar gives that option)
    Thanks in advance to anyone that could answer my questions and help me stratagize on how to move forward down the right road on my mobile studio.
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I'll reply in depth later from a computer. Flash cards are NOT made for multi track recording. Exceptions include a couple of small stereo recorders.

    What is your computer? Most PC machines still have Express Card slots and you would just use a firewire adapter.
  3. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Most laptops have Express card options. That is what I do for all of my laptops. There will not be any USB 3.0 audio interfaces at all unless Thunderbolt fails to be realized in hardware integration. USB 3 and Firewire 1600 are technologies that have been skipped.

    The Saffire is quite superior to the Tascam cheap devices. Despite the few recent posters that are enamored with them, Tascam is not known for quality or customer support or longevity of product lines.

    No. USB devices cannot be aggregated (daisychained). Some firewire devices can be but not all. Traditonally the best mobile recording interfaces are firewire in either 400 or 800 speeds. There are various reasons for this that I won't rehash here nor is it worth arguing with the uninformed over the differences (not meaning the OP-just the inevitable noob postings that will follow).

    No and no. If you wanted to get an SSD hard drive with a mini USB port then by all means give it a try but only get the very latest generation of SSD because the older generations will not work due to read/write limitations in constant write state. Stay away from using a CF or SD or Memory Stick of any generation as it is not the same technology as an SSD drive.

    There will not be a USB3 recording interface so don't bother waiting for it. There are some reliable and quality USB recording interfaces available but they are not cheap. If you give a budget and channel count we can perhaps give you some direction for a new device but you should probably just start by making sure you don't have an Express Card slot. Give us the brand and model number of the laptop and we can help.
  4. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    As Jack says. If you want to make use of your friend's Saffire, you can almost certainly get an ExpressCard or CardBus card (depending on the type of your laptop expansion slot) to use. Make sure that the card is fitted with a Texas Instruments FireWire chip set.

    Avoid the Tascam for the sort of things you want to achieve. Also, don't use flash cards for recording on to - they are fine for hand-held recorders and also for transferring files about, but hard drives are still the way to go for this type of multi-track activity.
  5. beatdub

    beatdub Active Member

    Thanks all. When i seen the sale ad $599 for an Asus core i7 laptop as well as 2 years no interest i thought "what a deal." When i got there, the first thing that dissappointed me was that it didn't have any express card slots or firewire ports. So I looked down both isles of laptops and wouldn't you know not a single one had them. But they all had shiny stickers touting the speed of usb 3.0. After some googling I thought that much like HD-DVD was stomped out by blu-ray, firewire had the same fate. I did read something about light peak being the next thing, but I thought since UNIVERSAL serial bus is standard on all computers, and pretty standard for all the other hardware peripherals (printers, cameras, etc.) that i was getting a "blu ray" computer. Well i guess it would suck if I bought into the "HDDVD player" generation of laptops. I'd be all for a monopoly on data transfer methods so none of us have to waste money getting the wrong thing.
  6. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    The Fireface UFX can go USB and according to some reviewers the USB transfer is better. I've tried tried both USB and Firewire with no noticable difference in transfer properties.
  7. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    The UFX, Babyface and a few other devices are excellent. The Tascam and similar USB units are not of the same quality.

    I still would like the OP to give a model not just brand. A 34card slot looks a lot like a mem card.
  8. beatdub

    beatdub Active Member

    Item: Asus Laptop PC with IntelĀ® i7-2670QM Processor
    That's the one. It does have a memory card slot in the the front, other than that a useless to me hdmi and vga out, and usb ports. I thought it was weird that every other brand on the shelf had the same setup. It's too bad that $2000 for an interface is well out of my price range. I thought the biggest difference in sound quality when we started using the saffire liquid 56 was just stepping up to 24 bit 96khz. I would think as long as the preamps are clean enough, a cheaper one would suffice. We always recorded everything flat, and the concept of proper mic placement and less is more with eqing/compression after seemed to be working out with quality pro sounding mixes. So no possibility of someone making some type of firewire to usb converting type of box probably, huh?
  9. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Sorry to doubt you about the computer but I have found it best to verify through model numbers what a poster has stated about any given piece of equipment.

    How many channels do you need to record simultaneously? How many preamps will the interface require? Which Saffire unit are you currently using for comparison?

    Personally, if your friend's interface is what you are having success with, I would return the laptop and purchase one that had an Express Card expansion slot. Multi channel recording and USB and cheap are not usually three things you find in the same sentence. The Tascam can work if it is babied along but if you are used to the Saffire then you might not care for the Tascam at all. The interfaces that utilize USB very successfully are companies that write their own driver code and do not in fact use the "universal" part of the USB protocol. At that point the old adage "wire is just wire" comes into play. A couple of sub grand options would be the Presonus Audiobox 1818 or a MoTU 896mk3.
  10. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    You wouldn't be one of those people that purchases a car solely based upon the color of the paint are you? We've all had problems trying to adopt new technologies when they first appear. Even from companies that had a fine track record in the past. And that's because, everyone also has to catch up before anything becomes stable. So when it comes to surfing the Internet & playing games, the latest is the greatest. When it comes to audio & video workstations, older well-established technologies is what you want to seek out. A few years down the road, you'll be able to upgrade to the next newest & previous releases. Wow, remember the Saturn V rocket when it first came out was years away from ever carrying the first human being. They don't just plop astronauts into the newest rockets. That's a guarantee for catastrophe. While we like guarantees, we don't want that kind of guarantee.

    In a similar vein, I just set up a friends brand-new IBM/LENovo, i5 that cost him $900. It had HDMI, USB 2.0, FireWire 400 and I believe a USB 3.0 connector. It also wasn't on sale but this was required to utilize his new USB 2.0 Digital audio interface. This is where the term " system integrator " becomes an integral part of the equation. And that generally means, don't bother seeking out things that are on sale purely based upon cost. Your computer purchase will be great for you in the next year or two when other companies start to induce their USB 3.0/Thunderbolt & other interfaces. So you are kind of both ahead of the pack while trailing behind.

    It's back to the future again
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  11. beatdub

    beatdub Active Member

    Thanks guys for all the input. I do love the new laptop because i loaded multitrack band recordings we've done in it, and while my old p4 tower would struggle to keep up with all the high bit rate tracks and plug ins, the tiny little laptop hardly registers any cpu or disc activity :) Instead of seeing the cpu meter jumping around 60% and up and hoping it doesn't drop out, I see it cycle through 8 cpu's and only the first 2 register 20% :)
    So Jack thinks usb 3.0 will be skipped and Remy thinks new interfaces will be thunderbolt and 3.0? I'm sure in either case they will be expensive.
    I think my best plan of action would be to focus on the midi production, and maybe sell enough hip hop and dance pop production to afford the latest, greatest multitrack. And maybe just get the tascam as a tempory fix for multitrack drums until upgrade time comes. I know you all say it's garbage, but it seems to get a lot of good reviews from people, except those that get one's that don't work.
  12. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I think we will see Thunderbolt interfaces......in about two or three years. Other than storage drives we won't see audio related usb3 devices. A laptop with express card slot would still be best imo.

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