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stand alone or DAW

Discussion in 'Recording' started by willjrockstar, Nov 26, 2006.

  1. i have a 24 channel soundcraft,a fair amount of outboard gear,and a few mics,and a pc. would it smarter for me to grab a 24track digital recorder or the interface and pro tools. im not even sure which version of that i need. i like quality and im not a big fan of buying stuff twice,but i just started learning my way around a computer.(7months.) i have been recording for 12 years,and using a yamaha digital 8 for almost that long.
  2. Kapt.Krunch

    Kapt.Krunch Well-Known Member

    Nov 21, 2005
    I can offer a few pros and cons, but it's really about how you want to work.

    Standalone unit:
    Portable, you can take them nearly anywhere.
    Should work properly, and nearly as easy as a tape recorder, right out of the box with little fuss.
    Generally decent sound quality, depending.
    May contain on-board effects, which could be handy.
    Can find some with multi-track simultaneous recording (be careful, some only allow two track recording while playing back previous tracks, etc.)
    May have internal CD burner, which might be handy.
    Price for a good one will probably be less than a properly configured computer, with an I/O, and good software...if starting with absolutely nothing.

    May have limited storage.
    If it contains internal hard drive, may be more subject to damage if subjected to rough handling, dropping unit, etc.
    Small screen to work with, and perhaps a lot of scrolling through menus.
    May or may not have easy way to transfer to computer.
    Onboard effects may or may not be adequate for your needs.
    Not much expansion capability. Can only use it for recording (which should possibly be included in the Pros section, actually).
    May be able to get work done quickly.

    You can use a computer for other things.
    You already have a computer (you just need to make sure it is adequate).
    Larger screen to work with, and possibly easier navigation.
    Wide variety of low-cost to very expensive software and effects to choose from, possibly better sounding than some on-board stand-alones.
    Usually, good amount of drive room, and easy back-up.
    Wide variety of low-cost 2 channel to very expensive multi-channel I/Os available. You can go budget, high-dollar or anything in between.
    Generally good sounding, depending.
    You WILL learn a lot more about computers.

    You can use a computer for other things. (Most people might agree it's best to use a recording computer only for recording).
    Not as portable, unless it's a laptop.
    Possibly more prone to crashing, depending.
    More difficult to set up properly.
    Can get very expensive, very fast.
    You WILL learn a lot about computers, or you'll give up. Some people prefer to make music, rather than futzing with the learning curve and frustrations of configuring a computer, and constantly learning new software.

    Probably a lot more to consider.... these are just some basic things.
    Pretty much depends on how you want to work, what you want to accomplish, and how much your budget allows. It's really a wide-open question, and these are just some quick observations.

    Good luck,

  3. krunch thanks for gettin back, two of your comments id like to answer to while i ponder are as follows.what i would like to accomplish is to make the best recordings that my ears and any other senses will permit.second my budget allows up to $1,500 right now.lastly,im not sure how i want to work.any more suggestions?
  4. Kapt.Krunch

    Kapt.Krunch Well-Known Member

    Nov 21, 2005
    As to as how you want to worK? Do you, or will you eventually, have a need to record more than two tracks (or one stereo track) at once? If you do, then you'll need a unit (stand-alone or computer interface) that will allow that.

    I hardly ever record more than one mono or stereo track at once, as far as whether I'm playing guitar, bass or keyboard along to MIDI stuff. But I got a Delta 1010 that allows for 8 tracks simultaneous recording. Why?
    Because I have two computers...one for recording audio, and the other for MIDI. I have two soundcards in the MIDI computer, and also may wish to use keyboard or outboard modules sounds, which are controlled by the MIDI computer. Usually, I'll try to record all my guitar, bass and keys into the audio computer, with the MIDI computer synced to follow, so I can monitor all the MIDI tracks. When I have all my audio tracks recorded, then I need to find complimentary MIDI or virtual instrument sounds, and get any MIDI tracks that I wish to record with the song into the audio computer. I have the ability to, if I want, run both soundcards out (two cards, left and right of both= 4 tracks); possibly a keyboard and outboard module for 4 more tracks. I can dump them all down in one pass.
    I also have a Tascam 8-track tape deck that I use occasionally, so I have the ability to dump them all down at once.
    Heck, I may decide I want to record guitar through a POD, a direct signal, and two amps mic'ed up. I have enough inputs.
    Maybe I want to do something crazy, and run 5 tracks already recorded through guitar amps to re-amp, or run through outboard effects. I can do that because I have enough outputs.
    This is why I chose what I did. You have to decide how you want to use it now, and how you envision what you might like to be able to do in the future. If all you need is two-track recording, then you can probably save money and get other things.
    Once you get a stand-alone, that's pretty much as far as you can go with it, assuming you add nothing else. You can't really add more track recording/playback capability than it already has. With a computer, you could start with a less expensive interface, and you could always upgrade for more capabilities later. A lot of times, you may even be able to add another interface to the existing one...but it would certainly depend on your computer and would most certainly need to be the same manufacturer and possibly the same model family, and stated as being able to run together. Watch out for that one.

    As for which sounds best, and what would sound best to you...that's probably another wide-open subject. As I have absolutely no experience in actually using a stand-alone DAW, and my computer interface experience is pretty much limited to the Delta 1010, I'm not qualified to make comparisons in sound quality. Other people will have to chime in on that. You can read reviews, search forums and ask questions...as you are doing right now. I considered a stand-alone, and did a lot of research before I settled on the moderately-priced Delta. That's where I gleaned some of the pros and cons I mentioned. I'm not running a pro-recording studio, so this suits my needs for now, and am still learning how to get the best sound out of what I have.

    I've also made it much more difficult to get anything done. Now, I have so many choices of sounds and methods that no matter what I get near finished, I always think I can make it sound better by replacing this, re-doing that, remixing, too much or too little effect, etc. I actually finished more songs on my trusty little TASCAM Porta-One, because....that's what's there. I'm done. Didn't sound the best, but passable. And I could start something else.

    So, I guess, start with what you envision you may need as far as track-recording capabilty, then narrow it down from there. Once you decide you need only two tracks recording, or you decide you need eight, then you can throw out the rest, and research and ask questions about your narrowed range of products. If you narrow it down to, say, 4 stand-alones and 4 computer interfaces, you need to research what your computer will allow, research the capabilities and deficiencies of all, and narrow down from there. Eventually, you'll be left with a couple or three choices, and can focus on those. One will eventually surface above the rest, according to your needs and budget. Nobody here can tell you what is best for you until you decide what you need, and present your wishes. Then you'll be in business :wink:

    Hope this helped,

  5. dude you are toooo kind, puttin up so much effort to help someone you dont even know. hope i can return the favor some day
  6. Kapt.Krunch

    Kapt.Krunch Well-Known Member

    Nov 21, 2005
    Always glad to try to help if I can. There are many much more knowledgeable folks in here than myself, but I've gained a lot of insight from mainly reading through posts, making my own mistakes, and trying things for myself. I figure if I can return the favor, I'll try.

    I CAN get wordy :roll: , but I try to explain my reasoning. Makes it easier for others to spot my inaccuracies and explain why my thinking is wrong :wink: That's why I phrase things, a lot, as questions, or try provide alternative ideas. I think the smartest people know they can always learn more, and realize they can be wrong.

    Good luck to you,


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