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Grab Tech: Computer recording; what do I need? (25) RE: Tech: Computer recording; what do I need? 27 May 08

Lowden, I certainly share your taste in guitars. :-)

But I'm not as convinced about those standalone recorders. Their spec is often significantly less than you'd get from a corresponding PC and interface. 44kHz isn't a big issue, but 16-bit recording doesn't give you as much headroom if the sound has lots of dynamic range or if you screwed up and didn't have the preamp gain up enough. You're likely to be getting cheaper preamps too. Also, "faffing about with plugins" is a good way of experimenting with different tones - different flavours of EQ, different compressors, maybe adding some simulated valve overdrive, different reverbs, etc, etc - where a dedicated box limits you to what's in the box. This makes things easier initially, but ultimately will be limiting.

And finally there's the price. If you've already got a PC, a "proper" interface tends to be cheaper than a dedicated recorder. And even if you haven't, I did a few sums over on another thread to compare similar specs, and a new dedicated recorder comes out at almost exactly the same price as a new PC and a new interface box. Yeah, you can get second-hand recorders fairly cheap - but as olddude says, you can get anything else fairly cheap on eBay too.

From doing live sound, I love my digital mixer. Yeah, it's a heavy beast and the mic pres are a bit ropey, but it compensates by having 4-channel parametric EQ and a compressor on every input, which are very handy features indeed. And being able to save and retrieve settings is fantastic too - much easier when you need to soundcheck several bands, and you can also build up a little "library" of known-good settings for particular instruments which speeds up soundchecks.

If you like the feel of faders under your fingers, you can get MIDI faders which will control your software package. Behringer (cheapest again, predictably! :-) have an 8-channel fader board for £150. You need a software package that'll handle it though - Reaper and Mixcraft currently don't support MIDI controllers. nTrack does in theory - I've not managed to make it work yest with my setup, but other people have so that might just be me. And all of the full-on packages (Cubase and the rest) certainly do it.


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