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Q. Can you help me get back into recording?

I occasionally record my songwriting and performance efforts on gear that I have accumulated over the years. My main setup includes a Behringer Eurodesk 48/24 and a Fostex D160, both of which I purchased a number of years ago, after reading your reviews. I'm afraid to say that, after house and job moves, I became less involved with recording, but I am now keen to try to record again. Here's my problem:

Q. Can you help me get back into recording?Q. Can you help me get back into recording?

The Fostex D160 (left), reviewed in SOS December 1997, was a powerful machine in its time. These days, Fostex have the D2424LV (right) which, as you can see from these pictures, shares more than a striking resemblance to its older sibling.

Back in 2000, I switched on the D160 for the first time and managed to format the drive, but didn't do anything else. I tried to wire up the desk and to a certain extent this worked and I now have all my instruments permanently wired in so that everything is ready to play when I want, without any patching. Last week I decided to record for the first time on the D160 but the machine keeps on showing the error message 'no disk IDE'. I have taken the disk out and put it back in several times but the same message appears. Can you suggest what the problem may be?

Failing this, can you please recommend a replacement 16- or 24-track machine that works on a similar stand-alone basis? It will obviously need to have analogue inputs for my mixing desk as I do not want to replace anything else.

Paul Hazel

Features Editor Sam Inglis replies: I would imagine the most likely cause of your problem is a dead hard drive. It sounds as though the D160 itself is functioning, at least well enough to tell you that there's no hard drive! It is fairly well-known that hard drives tend to fail if stored for long periods of time without being 'spun up' occasionally. The first thing I'd suggest would thus be to track down a suitable replacement and install it. You may need to consult Fostex as to what sort of hard drive should be used, and perhaps to get hold of a replacement — given that the machine is 10 years old, it may not be compatible with all modern IDE drives.

Fostex are distributed in the UK by SCV London (www.scvlondon.co.uk), who should hopefully be able to help you with your old machine. But if it's unsalvageable, they'll also be able to suggest a modern Fostex machine to replace your D160. They may well suggest the D2424LV, a very well-equipped 24-track, rackmountable digital multitracker, or the MR16HD, a more budget-friendly desktop device. Of course, alternatives from other manufacturers (including Mackie, Tascam, Marantz and Zoom) are available, and it would be wise to shop around — and check out some SOS reviews — before taking the plunge and buying a new bit of gear. 

Published March 2008