Dedicated Multi-Track Recorders

For those who are not very computer savvy or who don't have regular access to a digital workstation the dedicated multi-track recorder may offer some advantages.

Things to look for:

How many tracks does it record at one time? Some record only one, some two and some all four or eight simultaneously.

Does it have tone controls? That can be beneficial when recording with some sound sources.

What speed does it record at? Some have both high (3 3/4 IPS) and low (1 7/8 IPS -- which is standard speed for regular 2 track cassettes), some may only have one or the other. The higher speed makes for better recording. A compatibility issues between decks can also occur as a result of recording speed.

Noise reduction. Dolby C is considered the best and most common of the consumer noise reduction formats (SR is used professionally and is similar to C, dbx Type II also sees some professional use but is rarely found in low end recorders). Does it have a defeat for NR? Dolby B is not found as often. Again the lack of Dolby defeat or the type of Dolby can be a compatibility issue between machines.


Tascam 02

List: $190.00

An entry level four track that lets you record two tracks at a time and mix all four to an external source. No tone, but Hi-Z selection, pan for each track and sliders.

Fostex X-12

List: $180.00

Similar to the concept of the Tascam 02. Records track by track.

Tascam 414

List: $375.00

This one will let you record all four tracks at the same time. Four full-function mic/line input channels, Two XLR inputs and One dedicated guitar input. Two-band channel EQs. Two effects sends per channel. Two stereo effects returns. 60mm master fader. 12% pitch control. Discrete sync output.

Tascam 424

List: $500.00

Four-track simultaneous recording via six channels with eight inputs, full EQ (3-band with sweepable mids) for channels five and six. It has Auto Punch with rehearsal function and DBX Type II noise reduction. There's also a stereo multipurpose input designed to accommodate stereo devices or effects returns. Inputs 1-4 have balanced XLR connectors and 1/4" jacks. Also has a solid, logic-controlled transport for smooth tape handling.

One of our contributors has a unit similar to this one for his club demos and likes it very much.

Small bands and solo artists can possibly use this unit as an entry level live mixer, which also allows you to record your shows, by hooking the playback outputs to the power amps and speakers...

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While not pictured or shown here, largely because it's discontinued (however you can possibly find them used on E-Bay) is the Sony four track digital that uses their Mini-Disk technology. We've used that one and it's quiet and economical. It can record up to four track at the same time, but you don't get as much recording time on the Mini-Disks. There is also no provision for virtual tracks as you will get on the units below. It is, however, low cost and simialr to the analog Tascam 414 in features, making it a very good entry level digital station...

Boss BR-8

List: $1,000.00

Eight-track/64 virtual track recorder with superb sound quality. Onboard effects including reverb, chorus, multi-effects, and COSM guitar amp models. Dedicated guitar input. Built-in recording Rhythm Guide to assist in building rhythm tracks. Uses low-cost, removable 100MB Zip disks. Phrase trainer for slowing down and learning riffs. Optical-digital output for connecting to digital devices such as DAT or MD. Built-in tuner for guitarists.

We know a singer-songwriter-producer who has this unit and likes it very much. Previously they had the Tascam 688, which was a similar concept using cassette tape for analog recording instead of Zip disks for digital storage. Both units are very similar in operation. Keyboardist will find the "scenes" easy to work with, while those used to dedicated controls found on units like the Tascam 424 may find the virtual LCD scenes difficult to use.

Fostex VR800 with 6.4 GB Hard Drive

List: $1,100.00

Eight-track ADAT input. Sixteen additional tracks (24 recording tracks in total). 3-1/2" bay for recording media such as E-IDE hard disk, ZIP or ZIP 250MB drives. Non-compressed recording at 16-bit, 44.1kHz. Copy, paste, move, and erase. Non-destructive editing with undo/redo including multiple track paste. Track exchange of any eight tracks to/from the additional 16 tracks. Audio scrub with graphic envelope display. Digital Track-In for importing data from a CD player, DAT machine, etc. Word Out & ASYNC function. MTC Slave, MIDI Clock and SPP out, MMC. Six edit memory locations and 99 locate points. SCSI port for an external recording or backup device (connect two devices simultaneously) +/- 6% vari-pitch. 99 song programs.

Akai DSP12V2 Digital Studio

List: $1,700

A 12-track digital random-access recorder and a 20-track (at mixdown) MIDI-automatable mixer. Recorder section features 250 virtual tracks, the ability to record 8 tracks simultaneously, record onto optional internal hard drive or optional external drives via SCSI-2 interface, and backup to DAT or SCSI devices. A 16-bit linear data format, sample rates of 48kHz, 44.1kHz and 32kHz, 18-bit 64x oversampling A/D converter, and 20-bit 8x oversampling D/A converter ensures pro sound quality. The integrated MIDI-automatable digital mixer section includes 6 balanced analog inputs and one optical S/PDIF digital input, 2 aux sends, 2 master stereo outputs (analog and optical), and digital EQ. Plus, there's an intuitive graphic interface, flexible editing and locating, and much more.

-- Contributing to this column was Lucy Russo and Alan Mayer

Our Music Special continues with these other articles:
Learning Music | Promo Pictures | Booking Agents| Managers | Producers | Pressing CDs
Record Companies | Copyrights | Recording Software | Sound Cards | Guitar and Bass
Multi-Track Recorders | Live Sound Gear | Microphones | Recording Engineer | Bands in Texas
Teen Band: Y@nK | Gigs and Clubs | Music Theory | Radio Airplay

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