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help me choose live sound recorder

Hi Everyone -

What I'm looking for is a digital version of a four (or six) track recorder for live situations. I'll do all the editing and mixing on my computer, so it needs to have a fairly efficient way of dumping data into a PC. I don't need to use the recorder as a mixing or editing station so I don't care about those functions.

It's gotta have XLR inputs with phantom power. A choice of resolutions would be cool (16/24 bit). Of course, I want the best gadget for the least money

The discontinued Tascam 788 is available cheap, but it looks like it doesn't quite meet my needs. The Fostex MR8HD looks interesting and the price is about right.

Any other suggestions?


Halifaxsoundguy Thu, 05/24/2007 - 16:53
Cucco wrote: On a side note - you're looking for what I've considered to be my holy grail for a while -

8 track recorder
8 built-in NICE pres
8 channels of good A/D
Small package.

If I could find one of these, I'd sell my left......well, you afford one!

Boss BR-1600

Yeah, I said it. I still use my BR-8 today it does things well. Not super great but usable. I tried the BR-1600 and could not find most the problems I had with the BR-8. I think it connects to the computer. This machine is a good machine for learning recording on. The BR-8 was the first of the BR models to come out. As I got more experience with recording I used to enjoy the challenges of getting an incredible sound out of a small box. I was able to beef up the sound but going Digital out to my HHB CDR for better D/A conversion.

Pro Audio Guest Fri, 05/25/2007 - 09:38
Thanks for the tip on the firewire/laptop combo; I'd also been looking into that. Oy, so many gadgets, so little time.

I notice that all the higher end devices use Firewire and not USB. I assume this is for the same reason that we don't use USB for connecting video cameras to computers. Even though USB 2.0 is theoretically as fast as firewire, the nature of the protocol makes USB unsuitable for high bandwidth, real time applications.

BobRogers Fri, 05/25/2007 - 10:30
Cucco wrote:
8 track recorder
8 built-in NICE pres
8 channels of good A/D
Small package.
The problem is that if you go much smaller than the HD24 you have to deal with a small screen and tiny buttons. Also, you need some space for the disk drive caddies (which is one of the best features of the HD24).

What I think we are more likely to see is the pres + A/D in a single rack space at the Grace/Apogee quality level. Or does something like this already exist? All I am aware of is the lower end stuff like the Mackie and the Focusrite octopre and some of the higher end stuff that I don't pay much attention to.

At any rate, that would give you your package in three rack spaces. It would be nice to get down to two, but that would be an awfully crowded interface.

Cucco Fri, 05/25/2007 - 18:33
You'd be surprised just how good the Mackie Onyx is! My usual rig consists of the Millennia HV3D-8, Lynx Aurora 8,Onyx 800R, Computer (Sequoia) and the HD24. The Onyx and the HD24 are in one case (a 4U case) and it works beautifully for those gigs where I just need a few condensers and a recorder.

The nice thing about the Deva is that it has a built in hard disc (IIRC) and it also allows direct recording to Firewire discs!!! (Super cool!)

Again, that price is a non-starter for me.

As for a good, inexpensive package, the 800R and the HD24 are as good as it gets. Like I said, I put them along side MUCH more expensive pres and rarely find issue. (Only issue - don't try to run ribbons with the Onyx. At high gains, it gets noisy fast. At regular - condenser-worthy gains, no issue whatsoever.)



BobRogers Sat, 05/26/2007 - 07:25
My current semiequivalent rig is the octopre with the HD24. The octpre is the one "if I had it to do over again" piece of gear that I'm still using. The Mackie gets better reviews, but an even better alternative would have been a "good" 8 channel converter (say Apogee level) to use with my A&H mixer. Not as light and compact, but probably a better long term purchase for my studio.

In term of using pres in this price range, one thing I consistently read on this board and have found to be very true is that almost all of them sound pretty good if you give them a lot of head room. Differences that jump out at you at the top of their range get very, very small with 6dB less gain. Sure, you are sacrificing signal to noise ratio, but its a good tradeoff. (And for those of us old enough to remember 45s, casettes, and 8 track tapes a little higher S/N is not that big a deal.)

Cucco Thu, 05/24/2007 - 07:54
Hey skygzr -

Based on my understanding of what you're wanting to do (gathered from previous posts), I'm afraid that neither of these devices are going to please you for very long.

I actually owned the 788 for a while and hated it. It crashed all the time and when it did, it didn't save the data it had written up to that point. In other words, it's a no go for live gigs. I don't know how the Fostex handles the same kinds of situations, but in general, I don't think you'll be pleased with those results for very long.

The only thing I could possibly think to recommend as an all-in one box would be the Edirol R4. It's only 4 channels, but from everything I've seen and heard, it's pretty darned nice.

Other than that, I would urge you to consider a firewire/laptop combination. Or, an Alesis HD24 with a Mackie Onyx 800R. Granted, either of these solutions will cost you a bit more money, but I promise you, any money spent now on a compromise solution will be money wasted.

Cheers and good luck!