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Good quality, silent 4-track recording options

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Good quality, silent 4-track recording options

Postby OD23 » Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:35 am

I'm looking to find a convenient/portable way to record 4 channels of decent/high-quality audio, and am a bit stumped at the lack of options available at less than £500ish. A family member recently donated a 1st-gen iPad to me, and I thought there must be a compatible four channel interface with good preamps available by now, but it appears there isn't - the RME UCX looks good but only has 2 pres, as does nearly every other interface that'll work with iOS. I could buy one of those interfaces and extra preamps but this kind of undermines the convenience I'm after. I've also looked at the Edirol R44, but people say the sound quality isn't brilliant and it's quite expensive... All I want is something like a Focusrite Saffire (I have the pro 40 for my desktop) with iPad compatibility, or a solid-state, silent multitrack recorder with nice pres. Any suggestions?
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Re: Good quality, silent 4-track recording options

Postby Jeraldo » Wed Nov 14, 2012 4:04 am

Look at the DR-680.

Well equipped, silent acoustically, very quiet electrically, and very good sound.

It's also extremely well thought out in an operational sense-there's a lot of very useful features in that box, and despite so much stuff in menues, it's actually all very easy and quick to access after a few minutes of getting acquainted.

It has 6 pre's, and will run for a very long time (several hours) on 12 AA NiMH batteries with 6 phantom powered mic's plugged in.

At street prices in the US, it comes in at your price point, or only slightly above.

Find and download the manual to check it out-though make sure you get the manual addendums. Many important features were added with subsequent software updates. (MS matrix, channel ganging, etc.)

Contrary to what the manual says, two 680's will perfectly synch, if you ever wanted to do that.
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Re: Good quality, silent 4-track recording options

Postby ef37a » Wed Nov 14, 2012 6:25 am

Wow Jerry!

Looks like a nice piece of kit. I shall file that away in brain because that recorder would be an answer to many questions I have read in several forums. Just off to see if SoS have ever run a ruler over one.

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Re: Good quality, silent 4-track recording options

Postby Sam Inglis » Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:43 am

The Tascam US-800 apparently has iPad compatibility, though we haven't tested it, and has six mic inputs. You could also perhaps consider the Zoom R16, which is a neat little 16-track that records to solid-state media and can run on batteries. The R16 is completely silent and can also act as an audio interface for your Mac or PC. Not sure if its preamps and analogue circuitry would be up to what you want, though.
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Re: Good quality, silent 4-track recording options

Postby Jeraldo » Wed Nov 14, 2012 6:17 pm

Dave-for the sake of completeness, the 680 will actually record 8 tracks simul, but 2 of those would be from SPDIF or AES.

Also, the line inputs are separate entities, they are not simply padded mic inputs.

It's about the size of the HD-P2, perhaps a lightly smaller footprint.

The sound will hold up in very august company.
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Re: Good quality, silent 4-track recording options

Postby OD23 » Wed Nov 14, 2012 6:31 pm

Thanks for the advice, the standalone Tascam unit is tempting, but I'm wary of importing from the US both because of the potential tax/duty charges and the hassle if anything goes wrong with the machine itself. Sam, thanks for the reminder about the US800, I had seen that but again was doubtful about the preamp quality (although given the recent SOS preamp head-to-head maybe I shouldn't be), same goes for the Zoom unit, and the new Alesis IOmix. Having seen discussion of the specs though I wonder if the pres in the US800 aren't the same as the ones in the DR680, both seem to provide 60db of gain... I want to use this rig to make exposed piano and voice recordings, so I'd like something which can provide at least half-way decent quality. Although maybe it's better to get a cheaper interface and spend more on good microphones (currently I use an NT55 pair for the piano which are a bit bass-light)...
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Re: Good quality, silent 4-track recording options

Postby Jeraldo » Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:21 pm

OD, is Tascam not distributed in your area?

The US800 does indeed look very interesting! (Assuming getting a Tascam product is not a problem.)

I wouldn't assume the pre's are the same, the HD-P2, DR-100 (don't know about MkII) and DR-680 have different pre's, though the 680's were "based on" the DR-100's, and are, of course, controlled differently. All are specified at 60 dB gain, as are most pre's in this and other price categories from most manufacturers. Tascam sometimes moves things among products, for example the improved converters of the DR-100 were put in later runs of the HD-P2. I wouldn't be concerned about getting a less than adequate preamp in the US800 or any other Tascam product.

The Zoom R16 and 24 have not engendered good reports about their use as audio interfaces, and especially as controllers. Users do report very good experiences about using them as a one box recorder and production box. But the R16 is really limited in terms pre's and phantom power, and though the 24 is an improvement, it still comes up short especially when run from batteries. Again, download and read the manuals. The R16 and 24 are not for high quality audio work, but if you need a one box recorder with some options that more specialized devices don't have-then they are a good choice. As is the case with some other Zoom products, they are known for very poor clocking. But if the device is being used as a one box do it all, that may not be an issue. After that list of negatives, I still think that owning one could be a lot of fun.

Good luck with your choice, and let us know what you ended up with. Lots of good choices, it really depends on what you want the thing to do!
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Re: Good quality, silent 4-track recording options

Postby Goddard » Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:24 pm

OD23, consider a Presonus Audiobox 44VSL interfaced with iPad via USB using Apple camera connection kit and powered USB hub, along with Auria DAW app on iPad. Or, 1818VSL for more mic inputs.
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Re: Good quality, silent 4-track recording options

Postby Sam Inglis » Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:38 pm

Hmmm, yes, for high-quality piano and vocal recordings I'd probably rule out the Zoom, though it's great as a scratch recorder for gigs and band practices and so on. (Jeraldo, what do you mean by saying that it has poor clocking? It has no digital I/O so nothing to clock to or from as far as I can see.)

I haven't tried the Tascam US800 so can't comment on its preamps.
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Re: Good quality, silent 4-track recording options

Postby Jeraldo » Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:07 am

Sam Inglis wrote:Jeraldo, what do you mean by saying that it has poor clocking?


Sorry, I meant something more like clock. They tend to run a little (or more) above or below the intended sampling rate.

I'll look forward to your or others experience with the US800!
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Re: Good quality, silent 4-track recording options

Postby OD23 » Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:01 am

More good responses, thanks - Jeraldo, Tascam is distributed in the UK but the price for the DR680 is ridiculous, around £780 (I think this is around $1200), really frustrating as I'd far prefer the simplicity of having a standalone recorder and it looks ideal for what I want. However, since the price is so crazy here the Presonus 44vsl looks like it might be a good alternative, I just hope it works reliably with the iPad...
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Re: Good quality, silent 4-track recording options

Postby Richie Royale » Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:14 pm

Not sure if you have seen this thread about iPads and interfaces.

http://www.soundonsound.com/forum/showf ... t=1#990610
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Re: Good quality, silent 4-track recording options

Postby Jeraldo » Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:52 pm

OD-
Yes, I'd agree, £780 is a lot! It's a little over £500 here, delivered.
(There are few other life compensations here!)

I have some friends from your side who are in the music instrument business, and they arrange for audio gear purchases while they are here doing maintenance and building. Of course, they have the time to use the gear before returning, assuring things are OK. Or they can send it back to me. (That's anecdotal, I'm not in the business!)

If you do a search of the forums, I believe you'll find the duties for doing everything legitimately, and it may be worth your while. OTH, if something went awry, any savings in time and convenience would quickly be lost. I see it mentioned occasionally, and there is a whole thread devoted to "the cost of importing gear from abroad," or something very similar.

As a newbie to iOS, I'm interested in that direction as well.

Let us know what you do!
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Re: Good quality, silent 4-track recording options

Postby stollypop » Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:31 am

I have a Zoom R16 and find it to be a fantastic bit of gear for the price. Have had no problems with it and very easy to use.
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