Workstation vs. HD recorder opinions please?

Discussion in 'Digital Recorders' started by jayzen, Mar 30, 2004.

  1. jayzen

    jayzen Guest


    I am a musician / composer, currently using an 828mkII for recording with a Mac (desktop). This has been a great introduction to the world of digital recording. I plan to keep this equipment, and use DP for mixing in the future as I feel it has been a good investment.

    However I would like to add a very portable, reliable solution for recording and would like to move to a dedicated machine, instead of buying a laptop, for recording in the field, at musician's houses etc.

    Its obvious that I will need high quality mic pres and microphones, and I plan to purchase those, but that would be a separate discussion.

    I am looking for a recording solution under $2000 perhaps (although I am not stuck to that number) that will simply get my high quality signal into digital form, at least 16-24 tracks. Additionally I would like the machine to work well in conjunction with my Mac, at least from the point of transferring files.

    I have narrowed the field down somewhat to these options:

    Hard Disc Recorder: Alesis HD24 or HD24XR, Mackie SDR2496 or similar machines

    Workstation: Yamaha AW 2816, Tascam 2488 24-track, Roland VS2000-CD

    I will mainly be recording acoustic instruments (guitar, flute, horns, some strings, vocals) as well as software synths and DI electric guitar / bass. I would like to produce master quality recordings eventually and it would be great to be able to capture great sounding tracks that could interface with other equipment.

    From what I have read, many musicians (not necessarily engineers) think highly of the Alesis HD24 solution, and are satisfied with the A/D conversion. That being said, for recording, would there be any advantage to getting a workstation as opposed to a HD type solution? It seems that with a HD I would need to buy a mixer, or could I eventually just use software mixer / controller for this?

    Do the mixers, preamps and effects in the Yamaha AW 2816 or Tascam 2488, for example really add significant value to the production process?

    Are the converters in the workstations on par with the dedicated HD solutions?

    I suppose I am really interested in the sound quality of the various machines. I would think that the workstations have to sacrifice in the A/D conversion department, since they are giving you pre-amps, a mixer, CD burner, etc, for $1300-$2000 dollars. Since I will be using outboard gear for all of these things (although an on-board mixer would be nice), I would think the HD units would be somewhat superior, just for capturing the sound.

    Any thoughts? (greatly appreciated!)

  2. Fozz

    Fozz Active Member

    Jun 4, 2001
    Williamsville, NY
    Home Page:

    I'm only recording people talking about their lives. For that I am using an old Sony 2 channel DAT, a Personus MP20 and a pair of Audio Technica AT4050s. If I decide I want more mics, then I have a similar question as you do regarding what to record on.

    I had originally thought about a Korg D1600 (similar thing as the Yamaha AW 2816, etc) but then decided that I would rather have separate components. My current plan de jour is to get the Alesis HD24 .

    I didn't want to get a Mackie because it seemed that I would have to use their Mackie Media disks, where as with the Alesis HD24 I could use any IDE drive. There is also the Tascam MX-2424 ( and the Radar recorders ( But they are too expensive for what I am doing.
  3. jayzen

    jayzen Guest

    alesis hd24 / hd24xr


    Yes I am leaning towards this option. Are you planning on the hd24xr or the hd24? I guess we are talking about $500 or so difference in price, with 96khz converters. I would probably just do the hd24 unless i heard the converters were that much better, since you can send it 96khz digital already.

    I guess my only will reason for getting a workstation would be the mixing options...

    Might I ask what kind of music you are producing?


  4. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    Dec 31, 2003
    I use a Mackie SDR2496 to track on , and a DAW with Sonar for mixing. The Mackie WILL use any brand of IDE drive, you can buy third party drive caddies and firewire cases to make your own external drives for significantly less than the cost of the Mackie Media drives. The SDR will support a 2 Terabyte drive (I don't even know if anyone makes one yet). Simply put, I love it. I'm getting great sounds with it, acoustic and electric. I usually track at 24 bit, 48KHz, there's a 12 track per pass limit at 96KHz for latency issues. For whatever reason, Mackie has just discontinued production on it (even though it won the 2003 TEC award for digital storage device)....upside; prices will come down on remaining inventory at your favorite retailer. Downside; how long will support be available?

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