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analog or digital?

ive been talking to my teacher at tafe and was checking out some other people opinions on the matter. I'm thinking of getting a desk to get me going and were wonder what you think is better for getting me going. an anolog or a digital desk. my teacher said a 2 inch 24 track would be a good starter because anolog has a much fatter sound. what do you guys think.


Boswell Wed, 07/05/2006 - 14:47

What do you want to record?
How much do you want to spend?
Is this live work or studio?
Do you want to edit and mix on a computer?
What's the end result?
Is this a commercial venture?

Lots of questions you should be asking. The desk and the recorder are just the back end. The microphones and preamps are the things that influence the sound the most. If you're serious about this, start at the front.

The choice between analog or digital desk is largely a matter of personal preference in how you want to work and how you like the sound.

When it comes to recording, the choice is more clear cut. A 24-track analog tape machine is (a) expensive to buy and maintain and (b) not transportable. For digital, you can get a stand-alone hard disk recorder such as the Alesis HD24XR, or you could record straight into a computer.

To advise you further, we need more information from you.

RemyRAD Wed, 07/05/2006 - 23:32

I think your teacher is fully your leg? What is he, 80 years old?

Of course if you're interested a friend of mine has 2 mint OTARI MTR90's with remotes for $2500 each in Sterling Virginia.

So you know how to maintain a 24 track analog machine? If you do, buy one. If you don't, stay far far away.

There are no digital microphone preamplifier's just analog microphone preamplifier's with analog-to-digital converters so, you can choose just about anything.

Like Boswell said you have to know what your application is going to be, mostly. These days it certainly makes a lot of sense to have some quality microphones and microphone preamplifier's along with the Alesis multitrack hard disk recorder. It operates much like an analog machine operates if you have the ability to remove the disk drive and with the special FireWire adapter, transfer all of your tracks into the computer for mixing in the box with your favorite software and plug-ins, etc.. That really makes the most sense. If I were you, I would think about giving my teacher a failing grade for suggesting they 2 inch 24 track analog machine. I sold my 24 track 2 inch, Ampex MM 1200 back in 1993 does that give you some idea?

I'll see you at the poor farm
Ms. Remy Ann David

hueseph Wed, 07/05/2006 - 23:36

...yeah, you're probably looking at a few grand for a 2" 24 track which will likely need some major clean up and calibrating....regular calibrating......look out if the heads are dead cause that's an investment in itself. Not to mention the console you will need to invest in and the hours that it will take to wire it all together...the space it will take up.....I hope you have a big budget and a large house.

If you're just starting out, why not just get a decent interface for your computer and go from there? Unless you have a couple hundred grand burning a hole in your pocket, 2" analog is probably well out of your range. Think about the room treatment, not to mention having to build a "room within a room". You wouldn't want to go spending thousands of dollars for a nice Otari and a SSL console only to throw it in your garage.

anonymous Wed, 07/12/2006 - 21:57

Have you ever edited something on analog equipment?

It's a huge pain. I don't know anyone who uses only analog equipment anymore. Analog equipment is pretty much obsolete. Sometimes obsolete things are cool because they're old and unique. Sometimes obsolete things are obsolete because they're just not worth the hassle.

In my friend's studio, he has a garden variety pro tools setup, and to get the analog sound he likes, he has a 2 channel reel-to-reel. He records straight into pro tools. He has his outputs and inputs set up to record the output from the computer to the tape machine, and record the output from the tape machine back onto the computer. Instant analog sound, without the analog hassle.

Digital doesn't sound like anything. It doesn't color the sound the way analog equipment does. It's naked sound; clean and sterile. You can make sterile sound colored more easily than you can make colored sound sterile. In that regard alone, having a digital setup gives you more options. It gives you complete control over the sound you want, or over the sound your customers want.

TeddyG Sat, 07/22/2006 - 13:55


"Starting" with a 2" 24 track and it's associated gear would be rather ludicrous, in my humble opinon, but...... You could:

Pickup a piece of software(Cubase?) and a decent sound card and work with them.

Also, pickup an analog tape machine -- any "fair condition" 2 track would be a start - like an Otari or an Ampex - whatever.

They can all use the same external gear(Preamps, mics, speakers, etc.), though you might want to also get an inexpensive mixer(A little Mackie?), as well, so you can, sort've "try it all"?

Analog, tubes, this sort of thing, may or may not be "best"(Fun to argue about though!), but digital/solid state is certainly cheaper and more easily maintained.

In the end, whatever you do will be digital anyway(Assuming any kind of mass distribution of your product.), so..? You'll have to learn digital, and probably first - that's the way it is. Analog is, these days, only an option - and then only a valid option for those who really, REALLY want to go through all the trouble it will encompass, especially when coming in at the very beginning of one's learning process. It's not that analog, itself is "trouble" it's just that TODAY it's much more akin to working on antique cars - the parts - and the knowledge - while there - are much harder to find and to deal with...... If your main interest is "the technology"(The how it's done), then analog, tube gear, whatever is ONE way to go(Really just another "tool" in the technicians box to attain the desired end-result.). If your main interest is "the product" - especially putting out an acceptable product and selling it - the "how" we arrive at the product becomes almost irrelevent - so in this case digital - all the way - would be preferred. Inotherwords, one may kibitz about some parts of it, but, digital is quite capable of making a product that is much more than "acceptable" -- TODAY, analog, often, due if to nothing more than the logistics, would at least be a much more difficult road to travel.

So, first... What is more important? How you "put out" your projects or the projects themselves? For instance, as an actor, I, most of the time (And I'm sort've "Into" such things.) don't even know if I'm being filmed(With FILM) or taped. Fact is I generally don't even know where the camera IS??? I trust the camera person to know where I am. I trust someone else to decide whether film or tape is appropriate to the project, while I concentrate on my lines and arranging my body(Best I can?) to BE photographed. In the end,(As I've yet to be invited to participate in a genuine Movie - sigh) it all ends up on TV anyway - with IT's limitations, so whether it's film(Analog) or tape(digital, perse.) is absolutley meaningless TO ME(Though, years ago, FILM WAS obviously BETTER - even to ME! Today? I don't know..?)! Again, it's your perspective of WHAT'S IMPORTANT. In the end, only experience WITH BOTH MEDIUMS will give you a clue to "which is best" for whatever...... Sometimes I prefer a tube mic, sometimes a solid state - go figger.




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