HD Recorders: TASCAM/Mackie?

Discussion in 'Digital Recorders' started by etnier, May 27, 2001.

  1. etnier

    etnier Guest

    I am considering moving from 2" to one of the new hard disk 24-track recording systems and am asking for anyone's opinions of the relative merits of the units mentioned above. I don't really understand the operational differences between the two, and am of course interested in sound quality, particularly as I will be using the unit's A/D/A converters a substantial amount.

    (Specifically I would track anything more than 2-4 inputs using the recorder's A/D, and play back most projects using the recorder's D/A so as to have access to analog processing during mixdown. My console right now is an 02R with upgrade to a DMX100 or some unknown newer equivalent planned in the next couple of years.)

    I need a box that is fully functional for tracking, lockup and editing, and very good sound quality throughout.

    I have searched for a thread on this topic- you'd think there'd be one, but I can't find one. However, I have to say that the server for this board is so slow I didn't search as deeply as I otherwise might have. If there's a useful thread somewhere, I certainly would apprciate a reference to it.

    Thanks in advance...

    And, of course, some useful additional information for you:
    :) :eek: ;) :mad:

    [ May 27, 2001: Message edited by: John Etnier ]
     
  2. hiverdude

    hiverdude Guest

    I wouldn't really recommend the Tascam or the Mackie. I would go with a Radar 24. I've seen and fiddled with all 3 of them, and here's why I went with Radar, despite some of the different features the other 2 machines have.

    MACKIE:

    -You can't have 24 simultaneous digital ins and outs. There are only 3 slots in the machine for audio interfaces. So you can have 24 channels of TDIF or 24 channels of analog I/O... or 16 channels TDIF 8 channels analog etc...

    -Not very rugged machine. I went into a store and the sales guys were having a laugh at it's expense. They showed me that if you arm 24 tracks and hit record, you only have a 50/50 chance that it will actually record anything.

    -Backup does not seem very convenient. They suggest that you back up to their proprietary hard drive carriers or FTP the files into your computer.

    TASCAM:

    -I crashed this one within 5 minutes of getting my hands on it. It repeatedly flashed "OUT OF MEMORY" until I rebooted it and reinitialized the hard drive. There is no way that I would trust this machine with my audio.

    -The buttons/jog wheel feel gross, cheap, and gummy.

    -The menu system is rediculous and a real nightmare for a first time user who wants to do something simple like change the sample rate without a manual in hand.

    -On the plus side: It sounds great. You can record in virtually any file system format. They do seem to be working out their bugs, and their tech support guys seem very responsive...

    RADAR:

    -Totally rugged beast. The session controller feels amazing and solid. I have faith that I can pound on the keys for years.

    -Sounds amazing! you have the possibility to get audio cards that go up to 192kHz... it seems more modular than the other 2 systems

    -I have yet to crash mine... I've actually armed 24 tracks and punched in and out repeatedly as fast I could for 5 minutes, and it didn't even hickup.

    -24/7 Tech support

    -On the down side: DVD-RAM backup is damn slow... but they do have other options available and more coming. They don't have Pro-Tools export until next month. I also wish you could zoom in further on the waveforms, but the editing fucntions are great nonetheless...

    Anyways, I'm obviously biased :) I just want a machine that records well and doesn't crash, and that's what I got... good luck with your choice!
     
  3. On the DAWWORLD side of this site (click the link at the top) there are forums for all 3 (TASCAM, Mackie and RADAR24).

    I moderate the Mackie one, and it's been knida dead, but I'll be glad to discuss my reasons for going Mackie vs the other choices.
     
  4. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2001
    Larry, would you mind doing it here...I know I don't get over there too often, but am interested in hearing why you chose the Mackie over the Radar, Tascam, and I guess eventually the alesis?
     
  5. Warning, kinda long post.
    Of course this is all very subjective and I don't want to anyone to base their decision on my evaluations. Determine what's important to you and then listen to these units yourself.

    RIght off I want to state that I think I would have gone RADAR if I could have afforded it and if I'd had access to one to hear it, I might have decided to wait.
    In terms of priority, the money difference will be better spent on adding a pair of comps and a top notch preamp.

    In March when I bought, Alesis HD24 was still unavailable. This narrowed it down to Mackie/TASCAM.

    I analyzed how I work, and prioritized the functions I really wanted as:
    [*]File level portability to PT studios. This was a wash between the 2.
    [*]Editing, especially volume automation since my console only provides mute automation via a software package that's long gone. The fact that Mackie's is built in, vs computer based for Tascam was a plus for Mackie.
    [*]Analog sound, I've seen both touted as very good sounding, and when I listened, they sounded different from each other, but both sounded fine to me. Another wash.
    [*]Bugs, TAScam was at the time getting numerous reports of lost files, FTP errors, unstable backup, and Viewnet was widely accepted to be too ambitious for a JAVA based implementation. Tascam had promised (and may have shipped by now) a non JAVA version, but I don't like using release 1.0 of software. Mackie had just released their 1.1 update, and the YAHOO group seemed to feel that it was stable. Advantage Mackie.
    [*]Backup is via sneakernet to the PC. SO the recorder is free while backing up. No need to buy DVD drives till I want to. I can carry the removable media to the PC, put it into a $35 dollar carrier installed in the PC, and backup offline to CDR. OEM hard disks are $100/ea for 30 gig right now. As noted above, TASCAM was having seroius problems reported at the time I bought.

    My experience to date with the Mackie is that I've never had a failure of any kind which resulted in a lost take. I've punched multiple tracks in/out without a problem, but the famous "yeah, but can you punch 24 tracks in at once" is not a thing I've ever felt the need to do. (Note: that's been a controversial topic in religious debates of the relative merits of these systems - I guess it's important to certain types of recording). I've never seen a failure recording 24 tracks at a time or seen one reported either. That's just me tho.

    The 24 dig/analog I/O simultaneously is something I didn't need to consider since I mix analog.

    I also feel the the build quality is plenty rugged. I found no stripped screws on my unit.


    I hope this is objective, I don't feel like I'm being defensive. I'm just trying to document why I chose the way I did.

    To help you research, The tascam offical support BBS is linked from http://www.tascam.com and the RADAR board is at http://www.recordingtheworld.com
    The most active Mackie group is at groups.yahoo.com lurk there and see what the discussions reveal.
     
  6. etnier

    etnier Guest

    Thanks very much for this very informative post. I gotta say, from what little I've learned so far, it looks like RADAR to me. Sigh...

    My experience to date with the Mackie is that I've never had a failure of any kind which resulted in a lost take. I've punched multiple tracks in/out without a problem, but the famous "yeah, but can you punch 24 tracks in at once" is not a thing I've ever felt the need to do. I've never seen a failure recording 24 tracks at a time or seen one reported either.

    Well, if I'm tracking a band and they want a full-band punch, that could easily take 14-16 tracks. Can that be done? Can you explain what specifcally is at issue here? (CPU load, ergonomics, voodoo, what?)

    The 24 dig/analog O simultaneously is something I didn't need to consider since I mix analog.

    Could you explain this? (I know what mixing analog is, BTW! I'm don't know what "The 24 dig/analog O simultaneously" refers to.)

    Again, thanks.


    -------------------------------
    And now, your Graemlins of Zen:


    :D :D :D ;) ;) :mad:
     
  7. I can't elaborate on the punch problem, since I've never encountered it punching up to 4 tracks (max for me so far). Best to ask at groups.yahoo.com hdr2496 group.

    Sorry for the shorthand; the 24 dig/analog i/o simultaneously reference was to the hardware restriction that the Mackie imposes. It has 3 card slots, each supporting 8 channels of i/o. Mackie makes analog i/o or digital i/o cards therefore you can't use 24 channels of mackie's converters, but output to a digital mixer at the same time. The mackie is either pure analog or pure digital for each group of 8 channels. To me this is less of an issue since I mix analog.

    I believe both TASCAM and radar have digital I/o available even when their analog option is installed.
     

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