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What multitrack recorder for remote work?
Old 15th May 2003
  #1
Registered User
 
Rick Sutton's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
What multitrack recorder for remote work?

I've recently upgraded my remote system, but I'm still not convinced that I made the correct choice for the multitrack. Choirs and school music productions are my primary remote clients and for years a DAT was all that was necessary, but I recently added a fostex D824 to the set up. It works well and for my normal remote work is fine......but in typical gearslut fashion, I feel compelled to go deeper in debt and move to a better sounding unit. Normally don't go asking other people to help me make my decisions, but this forum has people that have more experience in remote work than me so here goes.
The rest of my remote system is pretty good and I was hoping the Fostex would match up, but the noise floor in the electronics is a limiting factor that would preclude it's use for some high quality acoustic music projects that I have scheduled for this summer. The other equip. is Midas Venice (or for the critical sessions Neve, API and TAB Funkenwerk pres) 4 Neumann KM84s, 4 Schoeps with card and omni capsules and any extra mics I need from my studio operation.

The multitracks that I'm thinking of are: Genex 9000. A little pricey but doable. 8 track limitation is a bit worrisome, but it is currently my leading contender.

Radar. 24 tracks would be very nice, but price is really pushing it and doesn't look to be as easily portable as others I'm looking at. Portability is a huge factor for me.

Tascam 2424. Again 24 tracks is a nice feature, but haven't really heard much
about this unit for remote work. Also doesn't have quite the same "WOW" factor to impress the clients (I know I said school music productions and any thing with buttons and lights should suffice, but my main business is a studio that is known as fairly high end, given the state of recording in a small college town area, and it is expected that I show up with something above the standard Mackie level of gear.)

Don't think I want to haul a computer around (nor do I feel as confident with a computer system on location) so haven't really looked too far in that area.

Well, apologies if this doesn't make a lot of sense, but I would like to hear what experiences you have had hauling your multitrack of choice out to jobs. One last clarification, not looking to do rock remotes. School groups, jazz, folk and acoustic groups of various descriptions are my target clients. Best regards, Rick
p.s. thanks to Steve Remote for help with my splitter questions. Appreciate the phone call and all the good advice.
Old 15th May 2003
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
I do exactly what you do... The Genex 9000 would be an amazing machine, but probably more than what you need.

My recorder I usually bring out with me is a Tascam 2424. It is a pretty robust machine and pretty reliable. I also like using DA-78s... The converters in it are mediocre, though. Sound is good for things that don't need definition. For classical and most acoustic music, though, I wouldn't use it as my first choice. The nice thing about it, though, is I've had geat luck with it when I need time code.

I've been thinking about going direct to DAW, though. I'm a huge fan of the Sequoia DAW. I've been using it for a few years now as my main mixing and mastering platform. It is incredibly stable and the sound for mixing is fantastic. Get a copy of that, run it on a laptop with a firewire hard drive and you're set. (I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times it has crashed on me... Most of those were beta versions that weren't released to the public)

I work with sequoiadigital.com and we've also been looking at putting together a mobile system based around a Shuttle PC type of box.

You can run a card-buss interface like the RME digiface and you have 28 ins with a stereo analog out (great for monitoring). Or, you can go with a PCI expansion chassis and use that to house a PCI card. A good friend of mine that does similar work does that with a Mac Powerbook and a Pro Tools rig.

--Ben
Old 15th May 2003
  #3
Lives for gear
 
David R.'s Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
For location, I always bring my adats. 8 tracks of reliable recording, if I need more, I bring another. XT20, so I get balanced i/o.

They might be out of fashion, but they work fine.
Old 15th May 2003
  #4
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Problem with ADATs for the kind of work he's doing is the tape length isn't enough...

I don't feel safe at a classical concert unless I have 70+ minutes per half... On the shows when you have a symphony or an oratorio on a half (or show without intermission), the time of performance can go to 1.5 hours or more.

At least with DTRS, you have tapes that are close to 2 hours. With hard disc, you just make sure you have a large enough disc to cover everything.

--Ben
Old 15th May 2003
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Roland's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
One thing that did suprise me was the fact you found the Fostex noisey. It maybe you have other problems you are not aware of. I'm not suggesting the Fostex is a particularly high end product but it should have at least DAT performance electronically.

I would also suggest that Transformered mic pre's such as the Neve's are not the "best" when it comes to recording the type of music you are doing.

I would also agree with Ben about the RME. It is good kit and not expensive.

Regards


Roland
Old 16th May 2003
  #6
Registered User
 
Rick Sutton's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Thanks for the replies. As to the noise issue on the Fostex, I would agree that it should have similar spec to a DAT machine, but the one I've got is definitely a little noisier than the Dats I use(guessing 3-4 dB more noise). I can also assure you that it isn't coming from other issues, no need to go into long explanation, but I've got 35 years in this and a good control room to evaluate this in and it is not the best machine for the acoustic jobs I've got lined up. Not that it is REALLY noisy,(it's fine for 95% of the jobs I'd use it for) just an irritating low level noise floor that shows upon detailed inspection and comparison to my other recording systems at the studio. It's as much the nature of the noise as the amount that is problematic- sounds like the outputs are picking up a little bit of computer hash from inside the unit...still, don't care why..it is what it is and I ain't gonna hang on to it.
Also, I am aware of Neve's not being in vogue for acoustic recording and when I'm doing 2" with SR I tend to use the more transparant pres, but for digital I prefer the 1073 and Telefunken....okay, maybe I got cloth ears, but that's what I like.
I do appreciate every reply on this subject and it is interesting to hear the different opinions and approaches to this important part of our work. Talked to Genex today and it looks like the 9000 is gonna be what I'm gonna go for. Anybody want a three week old Fostex? Cheers, Rick
Old 17th May 2003
  #7
Lives for gear
 
TinderArts's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I've used the MX2424 for a number of years for remote stuff. It has been a rugged, great sounding unit. You can find really good deals on the used market ($2500-2800 for a MX with analog card).
Old 17th May 2003
  #8
Moderator emeritus
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by fifthcircle

I also like using DA-78s... The converters in it are mediocre, though. Sound is good for things that don't need definition.
Ben, the last project I did used the stock DA-78 converters to tape and Benchmarks coming from tape (well, from a DAW, since some editing took place...). I was surprised at how good the AD's actually sounded (Especially compared to the 888/24 we had to use for a vocal overdub later in the project.

They aren't Myteks or Benchmarks, but they did their job pretty well without any obvious degradation. I'm thinking now that on projects where I record vox to Pro Tools, I'll use the DA-78 converters and then go SPIF thought the 888/24 into the DAW. Thy are that much better than the Digideisgn converters.
Old 18th May 2003
  #9
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Doh.. I should read what I'm about to post (or not do it at midnight after a 15 hour day of work!). 2- 4 hour shows in a day!

I meant the MX2424 converters are mediocre. I'm actually pretty pleased with the DA-78.

--Ben
Old 18th May 2003
  #10
Lives for gear
 
Steve Smith's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I wont do a remote date without a DA 78 ( or several) either as the main recorder or the backup. They are rock solid, and sound pretty darn good to these ears. In the last 7 years of using tascam DTRS machienes live, I have had only one problem, and that was media related ( big lesson, allways pre-format and verify your media)

Call me a chicken, but I am just not ready to go hard disk only on a remote date.. scares the hell outta me.
Old 18th May 2003
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by fifthcircle
...

I meant the MX2424 converters are mediocre. I'm actually pretty pleased with the DA-78.

--Ben
Ben,

That statement is so wrong.

I also use the MX2424 for the occasional remote recording gig (I had three, now I have two). The quality of the ADA converters in my experience have surpassed 2, & 8 ch stand alone units that cost more.


NYC Drew
Old 18th May 2003
  #12
Moderator emeritus
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Steve Smith
I wont do a remote date without a DA 78 ( or several) either as the main recorder or the backup. They are rock solid, and sound pretty darn good to these ears. In the last 7 years of using tascam DTRS machienes live, I have had only one problem, and that was media related ( big lesson, allways pre-format and verify your media)
One gotcha with DA-88's that I learned about from Kooster in an interview a couple of years ago - if the head goes out, you may not see the an error light when tracking, but only on playback. Threre's not confidence monitorin on the 88's (I don't know about the 78's).
Old 18th May 2003
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
ClickTrackAudio's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I also go straight with the DA-78 as my main recorder. As long as you give them some basic TLC every once in awhile, you're good to go. You get just short of 2 hours recording time, and I use the digital interfacing from external preamps, so you can control your front-end quality.

I'm planning on adding a MX-2424 in the future, but I'm not rushing to it...apart from the bonus of less gear to hump, the benefit for the girls I play with is fairly negligible.

Cheers
Wayne
Old 18th May 2003
  #14
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
That statement is so wrong.
Well, to each his own... For acoustic music (which I do and the original poster uses), the converters don't really measure up. The reasoning for this is that I don't thing they sound very accurate. They have a tendency to add sort of a smeary fuzz to the sound (I don't know how else to describe it). For styles of music where coloration is generally accepted more, this can be a good thing. I've been relatively happy with the recorder on rock shows. For classical and jazz, though, I need a clearer sound. This can be had by converters such as Benchmark, Prism, Lavery, Mytek, and others...

Quote:
One gotcha with DA-88's that I learned about from Kooster in an interview a couple of years ago - if the head goes out, you may not see the an error light when tracking, but only on playback. Threre's not confidence monitorin on the 88's (I don't know about the 78's).
I give my DA78 plenty of TLC and I check error rates constantly. I've never had a problem with my machine that was not operator-related I believe the DA-98s have confidence monitoring.

--Ben
Old 27th June 2005 | Show parent
  #15
Lives for gear
 
Jim vanBergen's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
da-98'S DO have confidence monitoring. I have used them on many instances with fine results. I (sadly) have a rack of DA-88s and 38's that are worth bupkis right now. . Just having them serviced costs more than their entire value, and I don't use them enough to make it worth the cost. I should sell them...any takers?

I have been using Mackie HDR 24/96 for almost six years with very good sonic results. Hate the name/brand, happy with the final results... as well as ProTools HD3 rigs. But the monitoring with PT is also a huge pain in the ass, and I have experienced scary moments in tracking (prayers and fingers crossed that we have gotten everything) and while it has always worked out, I never think I'm going to get the show solidly. Ergo, multiple formats and backups.

I'm really interested in the new Tascam X-48. I have had LOTS of problems with the MX2424 but it looks like Tascam actually built this one in-house. I'd like very much to see how well it stacks up, and what converters look nice. It comes with 48 ch of TDIF in, so maybe the thing to do would be add Apogee 16-ch A/D converters on the way in from good mic preamps.

Anyone else intrigued by this unit? Any one have any hands-on experience?

Jim van Bergen
Old 27th June 2005 | Show parent
  #16
Gear Nut
 
🎧 15 years
I've looked at the X-48, but I don't think it's out yet. Looks interesting, wish it didn't say Tascam on it. I'm sitting on 4 Sony PCM-800s (at least they don't say Tascam), so I am looking for a new recorder. I'm thinking the Radar is the way to go. It even has great sounding A/D.
Old 28th June 2005 | Show parent
  #17
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
DA98HRs DO indeed have confidence monitoring.

DA88s -- At this time I believe you would be better off donating them to a school or organization. I'm keep mine -- 16 bit projects are still happening in the TV and radio world. They are a true workhorse. IMO, nothing beats them for 16 bit stuff.

I've heard a lot of good things about the Alesis HD recorder. I haven't used the sMackie HD recorder but, I bet it's a pretty cool device, especially if JVB digs the box.

I ordered two Tascam X48s with all the extras. I trust they have worked out the problems they had with their MX2424. I was intrigued in the fact that it records 48 track 24 bit 96K. 24 track @ 192K. Put a nice A to D in front of that and we may have something there... I guess time will tell. I'll keep you folks posted once we test them in our shop.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Sony DTRS -- They may not say Tascam on the front panel but, it's all Tascam inside. Yup, 100 % Tascam I'm afraid. The Sony PCM800 was manufactured by Tascam for Sony.

If you're looking for a stand alone digital recorder the RADAR sounds great and is a killer workhorse. When will iZ make a stand alone A/D converter? That would rock!
Old 28th June 2005 | Show parent
  #18
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
I look forward to seeing everybody's reviews about the X-48. I've been burned by Tascam to buy this one anymore. It seems like every new product of theirs for the past several years that I've used has had at least one fatal flaw. From the battery issues of the DA-78, to the CD error issues on some of their CD burners, to the MX-2424 just crashing in mid-record or the disc power issues (or playback- something that is absolutely unacceptable for a live show) to the preamp issues on the FW-1884 and the DM-24. I've had way too many issues to go there again.

I hope they have gotten this one right, it looks like a really cool product on paper.

--Ben
Old 28th June 2005 | Show parent
  #19
Lives for gear
 
Don S's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Ben,

Good to hear other people are happy with the DA78. I've owned one for about 4 years and been very pleased with the results. I sometimes use a mytek on the main array and feed it through the Coax input. But the analog always sounded good to my ears.
I was surprised to read in Bob Katz's book (mastering audio) his quote about a DA78 as being "8 channels of cheap digital".
Maybe because it does not have high sample rate capabilities (out of the box)?

Rick,

The biggest caveat with the Tascam DA** machines is the maintenance costs. Every year the heads need to be professionaly cleaned and aligned. And about every 1000 to 1500 hours the heads need to be replaced (about $750).
But there are advantages. Tapes are long - some as long 110 minutes. If you need to add a track, just hit the track arm button. I believe the Alesis makes you decide in advance exactly how many tracks you are going to use. They might have fixed this.

If I could afford it - a genex or a radar. There are 2 older ones on Ebay for 4500!

Don
Old 28th June 2005 | Show parent
  #20
Moderator
 
jayfrigo's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Remoteness
I've heard a lot of good things about the Alesis HD recorder.
We looked at a bunch of options and decided on 4 HD24XR machines in the truck for 48 tracks plus 48 redundancy. Bulletproof so far, affordable, easy to use, and sound good. The name Alesis painted on them nonwithstanding, the things work well in this application.
Old 28th June 2005 | Show parent
  #21
Registered User
 
Rick Sutton's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Well, looks like this old thread has popped up again. It's now two years later and here's what has transpired. I bought a genex 9000 and although it had a lot of early "teething" problems the machine finally became stable( I think it took three trips back to Genex) and has performed brilliantly on all my remotes for the last 14 months or so. All of my remote work (other than choirs) is small acoustic acts and 8 channels has been adequate. Also purchased a used Tascam DA38 as backup.
Bought and sold a Midas Venice and now use two API 3124 for 8 channels of pre.
The last remotes I have also been supplying the sound rinforcement which makes the job a bigger pain in the ass but gives me more control so I don't have issues with a substandard house or user supplied system. Mics are Neumann km84 (4) Schoeps CMC series (2) and Sm81's etc.
Best to all, Rick
Old 28th June 2005 | Show parent
  #22
Gear Nut
 
🎧 15 years
Oh, I'm very aware that the Sony PCM-800s are all Tascam, but none of the people in my video world know that. They just see Sony on everything and are happy as clams. I even took the Tascam lables off the meter bridges so they would match my Sony remote. Yes, it is pretentious, but so is the world of HDTV that I work in daily.

To be honest, I was originally using DA-78hr, but switched to the PCM-800 when I was using a digital console that had AES outputs. The Sony, of course, having AES instead of TDIF and +4db XLR I/O in place of the RCAs.

BTW, these have been rock solid performers. I have done all the work on them myself. None have ever run a dry cleaning tape; only manual cleaning. I also reversed the fan direction and put an external fan filter on each unit, as well as, sealing all extra screw holes and other openings. This has made a great deal of difference in the amount of dust bunnies that collect inside. The fan design on DA-88 and PCM-800s pushes air out by the power supply which is suppose to pull air in across the pc boards. What it really does is pull air in from the tape door right through the transport and drum. If you haven't performed this mod. just take a look inside the tape door; THE HORROR!
Old 29th June 2005 | Show parent
  #23
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I hear what you are saying about TrAShCA(M)n but, I haven't lost hope in that company. IMO, their DTRS machines have been great workhorses. DA88s and DA98HRs have been rock solid for us. Even the DA78HR with some tender love and care work well for us. And until there's no more Hi8 cassette tape available, I'm sticking with them as a main system or backup system to DAW.

I never let a name brand effect my audio or video production decisions.

I may call Mackie, "sMackie" but, I still use their HR824s and have been known to use their mixers from time to time as a monitoring device.

I also call Whirlwind, 'Vhirlvind" and I like their manufacturing and custom work. They have come a long way and I have stuck by them from the beginning. I've learned some hard lessons but, I hung in there with them and it panned out just fine... Hey, they coined the term, "snake" back in the 70s -- We use that term every day of the week!

I may call Alesis, "Alesis" (no need to change their name -- they did it for us) but, their HD works well.

And what about "TrAShCA(M)n?" I still use their DTRS machines. And their 7.1 monitoring unit is a nice piece. The DVRA1000 has real promise. They screwed up what would have been a great idea with their HD system but, I'm giving them another shot at it with the X48. 48 tracks @ 24 - 96 in one box. Come on, you got to give them another shot, don't you?

Anyway, these are my opinions so, there you go. Flame on!
Old 29th June 2005 | Show parent
  #24
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
I've had great luck with the DA-78.. I think it sounds good and I can't remember the last time I had a record issue with it. I use the IF-AE8HR for bitspitting my 96K stuff when I use this as a backup. The battery has died more times than I can count and Tascam's fix doesn't do much to help the cause.

I've gone DAW for my recording these days. My Sequoia rig has been absolutely bulletproof. It sounds great and I can record 98% of what I need to do with it. For the gigs where I need more tracks, I rent. BWF files are a wonderful thing.

As I said before, I'm interested to hear if they finally got back on track and got this one right, but I'm not in a rush to get one.

-Ben
Old 1st July 2005 | Show parent
  #25
Gear Nut
 
🎧 15 years
I'm using the Mackie SDR24/96. I wouldn't call it bullet proof but well worth the money. I'm going to upgrade to an apogee ad16X and rosetta 8k. Then I can use them as a front end for the Mackie and Nuendo at the same time (using the firewire card). I think this is a good soution because you can record on location with all the benifits of DAW's and have a affordable redundancy. What do you guy's think?
Old 2nd July 2005 | Show parent
  #26
Gear Maniac
 
Capt. Kirk's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
remote recordings

Guys,

I may be all wrong in my thinking, but I've never captured a perfect recording on location because of audience noise and air conditioner noises, etc. I don't know that anybody makes a recorder to do away with those noises, so I use a plain ole Alesis HD24 to track it. The ad converters sound ok and It has proven to be reliable. I then bring it back to the studio and firewire it into the box for edit. If I'm going straight to 2 track I use my laptop with an M-box into Wavelab. I haven't had any complaints, all good reviews. I may just be too low tech for this post, but I've never seen much from fostex that impressed me sents they quit making reel to reel.....Oops I just showed off my age...... heh

Kirk
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