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Portastudios ??

 
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stupot



Joined: 08 May 2006
Posts: 493
Location: Swansea, Wales - UK

PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 11:09 am    Post subject: Portastudios ?? Reply with quote

Hi all,

Has anyone got or used a portastudio - in particular the Tascam ones? They seem excellent and the reviews are all really good. I like the fact theyve got a CD burner built in too - this is the model i was looking at. What do you think???

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Tascam-DP01FXCD-8Track-Hard-Disk-Recorder-with-CD-Burner?sku=240492

Stu Wink
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Gorecki
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Joined: 06 Oct 2005
Posts: 62518
Location: Davis, CA

PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

These days with computer based audio being so available and affordable the single all purpose units leave more to be desired than they did in days gone by.

Long time ago I used their cassette based units for song writing and had great success and use with them.

Guess the most important factor is what do you want to be able to do? Computer based is literally limited only by the computer and it's power. The self contained boxes are quite affordable for what you get but are quite limited in comparison.

Wink
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andy



Joined: 10 Jun 2005
Posts: 26

PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2007 1:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've used both. While I completely agree that a computer gives you more room to expand, and flexibility to add tracks, VST instruments, endless effects, plug-ins and all the rest , it also gives you endless potential for grief - all the usual computer sh*t, crashes, lost files, hardware incompatability, improperly loaded drivers, inexplicable latency problems etc.

If you're good with computers, no problem, but through trial and error and loads of frustration, I've come to the conclusion that you're better off with a reliable stand-alone unit... something specifically built for the job. Not that a computer can't be that, it's just that when you also use them for email, spreadsheets, word processing, etc. there's too much going on. (You could always get a laptop just for recording, in fact there's a pro-audio shop on Charing Cross road in London - and many other places too no doubt - that sell silent computers especially configured for sound.)

I'm probably overstating the case because I've had bad luck, but the point is a good multi-track recorder will do the job without any of the extraneous problems. Tascam have a great reputation, and I've had two Zooms in the past while were both excellent. As most new multi-track recorders will have some USB interface too, you can use it to record on a PC if you want, but also take it with you to gigs, rehearsals, romantic walks in the park...

Cheers,
Andy
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stupot



Joined: 08 May 2006
Posts: 493
Location: Swansea, Wales - UK

PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2007 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cheers guys,

Hi andy - how simple are they to use. Im thinking along the same lines as you - as standalone unit that i can use for simple editing, augmentation, playback etc.

Presumable id need a couple of condenser mics too?

Im really naive about these things sorry. Im basically coming up with some nice simple progressions and want to capture them, play them back and record some simple lines over them. I dont really aspire to be a Rudy Van Gelder or Tio Macero!!! Wink

Any further advice you could give would be great Very Happy

Ta, Stu
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andy



Joined: 10 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2007 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Stu,

They're really easy to use, certainly for basic recording. Then there's various layers of other stuff you can get into once you're confident with the basics. Some are more intuitive than others, though, so read the reviews.

Recording jazz guitar is (theoretically) pretty simple, as what you're presumably going for is a faithful representation of what you sound like live. For some reason, though, there's always a big divide between what you hear in your practice room and what you hear on tape (or disk). For that reason, it does help to get some basic sense of how recording works. When I first started with a multi-track I also got a useful book on using a home recording studio - lots of tips on things like bouncing tracks, mic placement, recording yourself in stereo with a lick of reverb or chorus on one track to give it depth, how to set up an effecient effects chain, etc. It's all a process of experimentation, and that stuff's good to know for the future and a lot of fun to learn... you'll probably find yourself naturally gravitating towards that information anyway.

You will need some mics if you're going to record yourself acoustically, otherwise you can plug a guitar lead directly into the unit and then adjust your tone with whatever onboard effects it has (mine has about 90 different patches). Alternatively, you can use any combination of routes into the unit you can came up with - guitar into preamp, effects chain, effects loop of your amp, all sorts of things really, whatever gives you the sound you like from rich to lush to brittle. After a long time recording directly into the unit, I took to the old rock method of mic'ing an amp at low volumes as I realize that it's really the combined sound of the humbucker, the speaker, and the diaphragm moving air that I want to hear, not just the signal. Those classic jazz records of the 50s and 60s were performed by live bands playing acoustically. At the risk of sounding like an acid-head, when you listen to "Kind of Blue" with a sense of that, you can really hear the air.

(BTW, can anyone remember the name of that Scandinavian jazz album that's generally considered to be the greatest live jazz recording of all time?)

Alternatively, you're only wanting to record chord-progressions at this stage for practice, have you considered a Boss Loop station? Much, much less arseing around pressing buttons and setting channels when all you actually want to be doing is jamming.

Hope that helped. I'm off for some more acid.
Cheers,
Andy
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andy



Joined: 10 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
(BTW, can anyone remember the name of that Scandinavian jazz album that's generally considered to be the greatest live jazz recording of all time?)


I just remembered, it's "Jazz at the Pawnshop". An audiophile's sacred cow due to its unbelievable ambience and clarity, though jazz fans don't find so much in the performances.

http://www.amazon.com/Jazz-at-Pawnshop-Various-Artists/dp/B000002481/ref=pd_krex_fa_t/102-6384991-8483325
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surfrider



Joined: 04 Jun 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Southern California

PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have had a couple of multi track portastudios. I have the four simultaneous Tascam with the cassette. I just sold a Fostex MR8 HD and bought the same one with the CD burner. I am just getting used to the digital unit. The reason I recently bought the one with the CD burner is because it is all there in one unit. With the tape I had to transfer it to CD and I was always changing tapes, but it was easy. My first digital was a pain becasue I had to transfer the WAV to my Mac and it took too much work.

Primarily, the recording units are used for hearing practice sessions. I have recorded my now defunct band and record practice and lesson sessions. I also plug Jamey Aebersold play alongs into the unit and record.

However, the biggest difficulty is to record and play at the same time which takes up too much mental space. How many of you record and play at the same time????? How many are using their units for practice v. a demo recording production???? Or, what do most of you record on your units???

Surf's Up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Phrygian Dominant



Joined: 14 Oct 2006
Posts: 583
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have used both and believe that you can get really good results with both these days. However, I do agree with Gorecki that computer based recording gives you much more flexibility/upgradability and, in the final analysis, also gives you much more bang for the $.

In response to andy's comments: I would advise if you do get into computer based recording to add a second hard drive to your computer. Use one hard drive for ONLY your operating sytem (windows, recording software, plug-in's etc) and then have a second hard drive for storing all of your music and other files. In short, keep your files on a seperate hard drive from your operating system. That way in the event of an operating system crash all of your music files will be safe since they are on a seperate hard drive. That's what the pro's do to keep their files safe.

Then once you choose the recording software package make sure you check their website if buying other third party add-ons to make sure they are compatible with your basic software bundle. Or email them if you're not sure.
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stratocasturbator



Joined: 17 Jan 2007
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Location: South Orange, NJ

PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm going to cast my vote on this one as per gorecki's suggestion...the computer-based DAW is the way to go...you have the flexibility to run whichever software suits your purposes, you can upgrade and expand whichever aspect or feature you decide is most important (as opposed to using a fixed feature set which will inevitably be outgrown by the user), and post-production can be addressed as well on the same machine--mixing, mastering, burning to disc, uploading to internet, etc.

the initial savings are an illusion anyway. I mean, if you're getting into recording, you should know it's an open-ended expense...you're going to want to upgrade something eventually--microphones, preamps, good cables, numbers of inputs, etc. hey, you can even upgrade to a faster computer one day, and install the same software you're used to using! with an all-in-one, when the time comes to upgrade it, you're probably going to be facing a whole new architecture/learning curve, with its own protocols, OS, and of course, limitations...and the old machine will have little resale value, and be just as likely to collect dust with the other relics. meanwhile, the old DAW machine is still useful, as per its original incarnation as a computer...
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magicninja



Joined: 04 Apr 2007
Posts: 27
Location: New Mexico

PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2007 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a Roland VS-880EX and it works for what I use it for. Which is just something to plug into before going to my PC. before I did that it held out on it's own though. I really don't like the onboard effects however.
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