#1
I've been trying to summarise my thoughts on this for a while and conclude what the main benefits would be of choosing either, to be honest I fail to see the benefits of multitrack systems in comparison to interfaces at all but never really qualified the differences well enough to give an argument with merit in previous posts - instead opting to get too bogged down in the fine print. Anyway, here are several reasons why multi-trackers fall down (for me);



Portability


This one gets thrown around a lot for multitrack systems - the aspect of being able to take it anywhere, somehow interfaces don't merit this purported exclusive benefit of multi-trackers and I'd like to dispel that. For the last month or two I have been walking around town with an 8 channel interface and a laptop which together cost £400 - around the same price as equivalent multi-tracker; these both fit in my rucksack no bother and I have absolutely no problems walking them about for miles to get to the place where I'm recording.

What does this mean? Well if you already have a laptop - and I'm imagining most people here do then the choice is clear - you'll save money already because you don't need to purchase one, for those that have desktops then the cost is equivalent and you'll be blessed with something which has more than the functionality of just recording something. And it's not as if you can't use an interface at a desktop either which brings me onto my next point...

Modularity

If my laptop becomes outdated and I need more CPU power I can replace it and keep the interface, if my interface becomes less than I require then I can replace that and get rid of the laptop - this is a modular system of working and as such when one thing becomes redundant then you do not have to change the whole. If your multitracker becomes redundant then you have to replace the whole thing - anyone can this is not an efficient way of upgrading. This applies to software effects as well - multi-trackers will have a limited selection which cannot be expanded or for which nothing is developed outside of a tiny number of developers.

Expansion and Features

I am willing to bet there are zero pro-studios that employ the use of a multitracker on a day to day basis in this day and age, why? Because in terms of functionality they lack high level abilities - Gary has disproved some of my theories on more rudimentary matters but I seriously doubt multi-trackers possess top tier editing or production functions like beat detective/slip editing, vocal tuning, VST technology. You are also usually stuck mixing a song in a 4" screen - as anyone who has dealt with a sizeable number of tracks will know - it is imperative to be able to navigate fluently and quickly - this is difficult when numbers stack up and your left dealing with a mess.

Conclusion

As someone who is very active and always in a productive mindset of trying to get the best out of something I find it counterintuitive to use something that limits future options so early on. I always find it best to pare down choices so as to avoid confusion but keep an eye out for future limitations of said choices. If you ever have any ambition to expand beyond home recording then multi-trackers will leave you having never associated yourself with a modern professional DAW environment and therefore lagging behind on functionality.

Gary likes to use the argument of different but created equal and I feel that is misleading as not all things are equal at all, this is as much a PC cliche as saying that music is subjective - to use a quote I found funny in regards to this - "You can shít in a pot, throw in a potato and call it a stew but people are still going to be looking at you funny" - art is only as subjective as the people looking at it and as a collective conscience we often agree what is acceptable and useful and what is not; products are an extension of this. Things can change with opinion but a lot of the time they are based on collective convenience and appraisal.

I think it would be a collective convenience for this forum to understand that for most people interfaces are the way forward instead of clouding judgement with other choices that don't quite stack up. I'm not saying multi-trackers are useless just that outside core functionality they don't inherently compare to the interface as a modern option and as such shouldn't be constituted as a entirely viable alternative all the time without considering a users future implications.
Owen - Sound Engineer - Mixing & Editing Available, PM for details.
Last edited by Beefmo at Sep 30, 2011,
#2
I am not going to sit here and bash multi-trackers cause lets be honest if one wants to use a multi-tracker then go ahead. It doesn't effect me in anyway. If you want to record tape because jack white has tricked you to think it sounds better go ahead. In my mind its a personal preference.

I have always embraced technology and continue to do so. In my mind its just more efficient. I have 2 20" screens I can drag samples into without any real menus to scroll threw. I can record a midi pattern then try 8 different vsts with 30 different patches until i finally program one i like. i can load up different reverb algorithms to compare which plugin would work best.

I spend 40-60 hours on major productions and a lot of it is trying new sounds and experimenting with new ideas.

Its just not efficient for me to use a multi-track device.

In the end its just like DAW preference. Do what is more efficient for you.

Whether your using Pro Tools, Logic, FL Studio, Reaper, Cubase, etc. or a multitracker do what works for you the best.
#3
I'm someone who holds a similar opinion to yours, and have debated a few times with Gary about it when he first really showed up on here - but seeing as he's nicer about it and doesn't hold it against people for disagreeing with him, I'm happy to let him remain of that opinion and no longer try to sway his mind towards software-based recording.

I will say though, that I think soon even Gary may find that multi-trackers get left behind as everything is moving towards a digital future that is downloaded rather than hardware that is bought.

Also, I think the only real benefit of hardware-based recorders is in live recording, where a 24-ch hard-disk recorder (or chained recorders of higher track counts) are the standard way of going about things (at the least, as a back up) - these differ greatly from multi-trackers, and are more aimed at capturing the mic signals trouble-free with very little latency, to be uploaded to a computer and imported into a DAW for the actual mixing to take place.
Hey, look. Sigs are back.
#4
Quote by DisarmGoliath

Also, I think the only real benefit of hardware-based recorders is in live recording, where a 24-ch hard-disk recorder (or chained recorders of higher track counts) are the standard way of going about things (at the least, as a back up) - these differ greatly from multi-trackers, and are more aimed at capturing the mic signals trouble-free with very little latency, to be uploaded to a computer and imported into a DAW for the actual mixing to take place.


+1

UG really needs a like button....
#5
Not particularily trying to sway Garys mind, he can do what he wants and if he's happy with it that doesn't bother me, I stuck that in the title if anything to notify him for a chance at a rebuttal, but I think it is a crutch of an idea that some of the newer guys hold onto when they'd be better just opting for something more suited to them.

This forum would be so much better if the quality posters could offer advice on the proper standardised platform without having to get too bogged down on these things but that requires a lot of the archaic knowledge to be shifted out and the newer stuff solidified in stature, I don't feel that can go on when people want to offer twenty different options for everything - each of varying effectiveness.
Owen - Sound Engineer - Mixing & Editing Available, PM for details.
Last edited by Beefmo at Sep 30, 2011,
#6
Quote by Beefmo

This forum would be so much better if the quality posters could offer advice on the proper standardised platform without having to get too bogged down on these things but that requires a lot of the archaic knowledge to be shifted out and the newer stuff solidified in stature, I don't feel that can go on when people want to offer twenty different options for everything - each of varying effectiveness.


I know Crossbeck has sent out information about setting up something similar to this. I don't know how far along it is.
#7
For me at least I would only use a Multi-tracker in a live environment where I wanted to go in, set it down and record an entire band without having to worry about too much editing afterwards.

I find I get a little "edit happy" as far as timing goes in some cases which can really kill the feel.
All I want is for everyone to go to hell...
...It's the last place I was seen before I lost myself



Quote by DisarmGoliath
You can be the deputy llamma of the recordings forum!
#8
Quote by Beefmo
Not particularily trying to sway Garys mind, he can do what he wants and if he's happy with it that doesn't bother me, I stuck that in the title if anything to notify him for a chance at a rebuttal, but I think it is a crutch of an idea that some of the newer guys hold onto when they'd be better just opting for something more suited to them.

This forum would be so much better if the quality posters could offer advice on the proper standardised platform without having to get too bogged down on these things but that requires a lot of the archaic knowledge to be shifted out and the newer stuff solidified in stature, I don't feel that can go on when people want to offer twenty different options for everything - each of varying effectiveness.

Oh I definitely agree with you there - the amount of times I open a thread, read the OP ad start forming an answer in my head, only to stop as I read the other replies and then decide I can't be bothered to get bogged down in the same old debate about something generally considered as a 'rookie mistake'... worse still is when I can't even be bothered to reply because the question has been asked so many times before. :/
Hey, look. Sigs are back.
#9
Ready? Here goes...

The biggest weakness in your argument is that you're looking at things from a professional point of view, not an amateur who just records as a hobby.

Portability
Yes, you can take a multitracker to gigs, practices, friend’s house etc. and this is a good thing.

The biggest advantage in the portability section though? Believe it or not, it’s the fact that you don’t have to take it anywhere. It's a huge advantage to have the multitracker set up ready to go when you get a few minutes free to have a quick play, without having to worry about setting up the computer in the guitar room - with a multitracker, I just go to my guitar room, plug in and hit record.

Also, none of the other musicians I know in real life keep their computer in the same room as their guitars. I’m lucky enough to have a room of my house which only holds my guitars & other kit, but I’m the only person I know in that situation. Most are lucky if they have a small corner of the bedroom.

And that’s they key point in this part of the argument, and possibly one of the biggest advantages of multitrackers over software:
When my friends who use software want to record, they can only do it at a time when their wife & children don’t want the computer. Their recording comes last in the family priorities.
They weren’t allowed to buy a computer specially for it because “we’ve already got a computer, why can’t you just use that one? If it’s good enough for the rest of us, it’s good enough for you". On the other hand, I know people who had the sense to say to their wife that they wanted to start recording so needed to buy a multitracker and they were granted permission (you'll learn one day that it's always the wife who controls these things, husbands generally have to do as they're told). They’re also the only people in the house who use it so don’t need to worry about who else wants to check email etc.

That's the way life is for grown ups. Welcome to the real world

Modularity
Yes, I’ll agree that this is a weakness of multitrackers (I’ve never said they’re perfect – not on purpose anyway). The only potential advantage here is that you can buy & sell on the used market so you end up with minimal loss. I can’t remember how much I bought my last multitracker for, but I think it was around £300ish - when I upgraded recently I sold it for just under £200.

Reliability is also a key thing to consider. I had my last multitracker for over 10 years and it still performed as well as it did the day I bought it. During that time I had to upgrade my PC at least 3 times because they’re so unreliable – everyone I know has lost information of some kind due to a PC crashing, even if it was just the past half hour’s work, and if during that half hour that I’d lost I recorded a solo I was happy with, the chances of me getting it spot on again are pretty slim – I’m the first to admit I’m not the best guitarist out there.

I’ve never had any reliability issues with a mulititracker.

Before I get accused of being any kind of techno-idiot for that argument, you couldn’t be further from the truth. I actually work in IT, managing the development of software for the UK military. At work we have some of the most powerful PCs money can buy and they still suffer performance issues after a while (admittedly, at home I have a cheap laptop so I’d need a serious upgrade there if I wanted to switch methods anyway, this was one of the deciding factors in sticking with a multitracker when I upgraded).

Side note: In the interest of objectivity, I’m not going to rule out that working in IT is a reason for finding multitrackers more attractive. I spend all day at a computer, I don’t want to spend all my free time at one as well. It’s not a major factor in the decision, but it would certainly be the final 5% if it was heading towards a draw.

Expansion and Features
You've already admitted in other threads that pretty much every technical aspect of recording you've mentioned as an advantage of software can be achieved with multitrackers. Most of what you've assumed they can't do is actually standard functionality for pretty much anything out there these days.

We’ve covered most VSTs in other forums, and for all except vocal pitch correction I’ve been able to perform equivalent functions using a multitracker. Again, here I’m going to refer back to the first sentence of this post - that I’m not saying multitrackers can match up to professional studios. Can they do all these different functions as well as a pro studio? Of course not, but in my experience they can do it as well as, and often better than software downloaded onto a home PC (I’ve proved this on multiple occasions in the past comparing my work to a friend’s work).

PCs may offer more flexibility in this area, but I’ve never found the many options available within my multitrackers to be limiting in any way – I don’t think I’ve even needed half of the things they can do. At the end of the day, no amount of pitch correction is going to improve my singing! (The argument about whether a professional singer should need it or not is for another day, but I’m sure people like the Beatles didn’t have it….)

Screen size? I’ve never found it to be a problem – with a good user interface you don’t need a huge screen (although a lot of the current multitrackers can be hooked up to a PC style monitor). Upgrades? Again, most of the modern kit is upgradable, although obviously you need to connect the to a PC for this.

Conclusion
You've called software 'the modern method' in other threads (either you or DisarmGoliath, apologies if I'm remembering the wrong debate) without considering the fact that multitrackers have moved on just as much as software has. My first multitracker was the old Tascam Portastudio cassette based 4 track - obviously that doesn't match up to either of the digital options, but the modern equipment is basically a purpose built computer designed purely to allow people to record at home.

I’m not saying that multitrackers are the only solution for the home recording artist. All I’m saying is that they are an option, some will prefer them, some won’t. Including myself, I now know 5 people in the real world who record their playing. 2 of us use multitrackers, 2 use software and one uses the Zoom R16 which is kind of a hybrid (at my recommendation). To add to that, one of the guys who uses software has occasionally come to me to help him finish work on something because he couldn’t figure out how to do it in his software (he uses Cubase, which I gather isn’t the easiest of packages to get used to).

I know 5 people isn’t a hugely representative sample of the whole population, but not counting the R16 guy, that’s a 50/50 split. I also know there are numerous people who post regularly in other forums on UG who use multitrackers, but don’t post in the Recordings forum because they don’t need help like people who are struggling with software. Like me, they just plug in and play.

It’s been said in the past that I provide misleading advice to newbies because I recommend multitrackers and don’t mention software. Other people are being no more misleading by mentioning software and not multitrackers. Like I’ve said in all the various threads – multitrackers are just as much a viable option for the typical home user as software is. Both have advantages, both have disadvantages. It’s up to the individual to decide which they prefer. It’s no different to when people ask if Fender are better than Gibson. I’d say Gibson everytime, someone else would say Fender. The only difference is preference.

And the comment about multitrackers being a rookie mistake for newbies to recording? DG/Beefmo - I've been recording myself since before you were born It's not a rookie mistake, it's an informed decision.

The final word (of this post at least):
As noted earlier, most of your arguments in this and previous threads compare multitrackers to how things are done in professional recording studios. I’m not an expert in professional studio setup, but I have been in a couple occasionally. In one part of the room, there is a huge mixing desk. Next to this is a huge rack of stuff which controls the various effects etc. Next to that is a PC which was specifically put together to control all the equipment I’ve just mentioned.

On my multitracker, I have a mixing desk. I have a section which controls the various effects etc. I have a screen with all the inputs to bring it all together.

No, professional studios don’t USE multitrackers.

Professional studios ARE a multitracker, just on a much bigger scale.
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Last edited by GaryBillington at Oct 1, 2011,
#10
And by the way - Beefmo & DisarmGoliath: Believe it or not, I've enjoyed the debates we've had. You two are the only one's who've consistently provided more of an argument than the standard "that sucks, do this" argument you see on so many of the threads here at UG. Keep up the good work.
Gibson LP Traditional, LP GT, LP Studio, SG Standard x2
Barber Tone Press > EHX Worm >TC Polytune > MXR Custom Badass 78 > EXH Glove > EHX East River Drive > Zoom G3 > TC Spark Mini Booster
Laney VC30
Marshall TSL602
Jet City JCA22H
.
My SoundCloud
Last edited by GaryBillington at Sep 30, 2011,
#11
Gary, you seem to think you need a high-end computer or something to record to, which just isn't they case. Pretty much any computer bought within the last 5 years will be able to handle most things you throw at it. Of course, there are exceptions, such as electronic music, etc, but those don't really apply in this case.

I do agree that they're nifty for getting ideas down quickly and for travel. They even have their place in live recording.

Honestly, it just doesn't seem you have the experience with using an interface to record. For the price, you can get an interface with just as many inputs as any multitracker. Most of the people who post in this forum with questions about interfaces or software problems are due to simple ignorance and laziness. They don't take the time to look up questions that have been answered hundreds of times, nor do they both to simply read the manual. If more people used multitrackers, you'd have just as many questions like "omg multitracker don't record what do?!1".

The problem isn't with interfaces and software being anymore complicated than multitrackers, problems with them are just more prevalent because more people use them.

You say you've proved in the past that you can get just as good of results with your multitracker than your friends do with their software. To me, it just seems possible that your friends never took the time to properly learn how to utilize them. Yeah, the learning curve might be a little higher, but I also think the digital approach offers a lot more options with a lower cost. A decent entry-level interface can be bought for ~$100 and can be used with thousands of effects, virtual instruments, etc. For the price, you simply can't do the same thing with a multitracker. That's my main problem with you recommending them to those new to recording. You're keeping them from learning important things that they WILL need to know if they ever hope to delve into recording further.

Multitrackers have their place, just not in the repertoire of an amateur.
#12
Quote by CrossBack7
Multitrackers have their place, just not in the repertoire of an amateur.

The only conclusion to draw from this statement is that you believe multitrackers are designed for professionals. I’ll allow the professionals to respond to it.

Quote by CrossBack7
Honestly, it just doesn't seem you have the experience with using an interface to record.

I have as much experience with recording using a PC & interface as I do driving a car that I chose not to buy. You may look at several cars, each with similar features, but you choose the one that you like best. The same goes with your choice of DAW. Last time I upgraded, I investigated using my PC to record, I spent a couple of hours playing with an interface & PC in my local guitar shop as well as spending some time with friends who record that way, and I made an informed decision that I preferred to purchase a new multitracker.

Quote by CrossBack7
The problem isn't with interfaces and software being anymore complicated than multitrackers, problems with them are just more prevalent because more people use them.

This isn’t true. In the time I’ve been using UG’s forums, I’ve encountered loads of people in other threads who use multitrackers. They don’t post here because they don’t need to.

Software may provide 1,000s of effects, but my multitracker has more capability here than I will ever use. Software may provide the option to use virtual instruments – I don’t want to use virtual instruments, I actually play my instruments myself and don’t spend hours programming the tunes in to my computer, I spend a few minutes actually playing them whilst they are recording.

As for the comment that you can’t do the same things with a multitracker that you can with software, that just proves that I have more experience with software than you do with multitrackers. It’s been agreed in numerous forums in the past that multitrackers can do everything that the equivalent software can do. To say they can’t just shows a lack of knowledge on your part.

As I have said countless times before, it is all about preference, I’m not sure what part of that you don’t understand. For the typical home recording set up, it is an equal choice between the two options.

This thread exists merely because I dared to have an opinion which differed from all the other people who were posting here because they needed help. I don’t want a learning curve, some of us have lives & other responsibilities. I want to plug in, press record and play. My multitracker allows me to do that. If I wanted to use my PC, it would take 15 minutes to get everything in the same room, and quite often my playing time comes in 15 minute blocks. If I have to set up everything each time, I’ve lost the opportunity.

Accept the facts: Both have advantages and disadvantages. With software it is mainly the ability to expand your equipment bit by bit, but still being reliant on a PC. With multitrackers you get a lot of practicality, reliability and ease of use in a purpose built unit, the only disadvantage is they aren’t easily upgradable. If you can’t accept that people have a choice, I think that just proves I’m not the one being closed minded – I considered all the options and made an informed decision when I upgraded, I didn’t just go for the option which the more vocal members of this forum think is correct.
Gibson LP Traditional, LP GT, LP Studio, SG Standard x2
Barber Tone Press > EHX Worm >TC Polytune > MXR Custom Badass 78 > EXH Glove > EHX East River Drive > Zoom G3 > TC Spark Mini Booster
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Marshall TSL602
Jet City JCA22H
.
My SoundCloud
Last edited by GaryBillington at Oct 1, 2011,
#13
Quote by GaryBillington
The only conclusion to draw from this statement is that you believe multitrackers are designed for professionals. I’ll allow the professionals to respond to it.



I'll address this below.



I have as much experience with recording using a PC & interface as I do driving a car that I chose not to buy. You may look at several cars, each with similar features, but you choose the one that you like best. The same goes with your choice of DAW. Last time I upgraded, I investigated using my PC to record, I spent a couple of hours playing with an interface & PC in my local guitar shop as well as spending some time with friends who record that way, and I made an informed decision that I preferred to purchase a new multitracker.



Giving something like that a few hours worth of time isn't going to convince anyone. Judging by the stuff on your profile, a multitracker is perfectly good for you, but like you said, it's preference, and I think using a cheap interface is one of the best ways to get into recording.



Software may provide 1,000s of effects, but my multitracker has more capability here than I will ever use. Software may provide the option to use virtual instruments – I don’t want to use virtual instruments, I actually play my instruments myself and don’t spend hours programming the tunes in to my computer, I spend a few minutes actually playing them whilst they are recording.

As for the comment that you can’t do the same things with a multitracker that you can with software, that just proves that I have more experience with software than you do with multitrackers. It’s been agreed in numerous forums in the past that multitrackers can do everything that the equivalent software can do. To say they can’t just shows a lack of knowledge on your part.



Did you just totally ignore my bit about the price? You CANNOT do the same things with a $100 multitracker that you can with a $100 interface and free software. At that low of a budget, they're going to have to export to a DAW to use any effects, so they might as well do it directly with an interface, which honestly, is simple to set up if you just read the directions. Not to mention ones at that price range don't have any options for programming drums. So for a beginner, who has a limited budget, it doesn't make sense to point them to something that will limit them from experimenting.

Oddly enough, the first thing I used to record was a Tascam DP-004 multitracker, and while yes, they're convenient and great for squeezing off some ideas, I still wanted something better with more options. I went out and spent $70, and boom, a lot of different things to play with opened up.


As I have said countless times before, it is all about preference, I’m not sure what part of that you don’t understand. For the typical home recording set up, it is an equal choice between the two options.

This thread exists merely because I dared to have an opinion which differed from all the other people who were posting here because they needed help. I don’t want a learning curve, some of us have lives & other responsibilities. I want to plug in, press record and play. My multitracker allows me to do that. If I wanted to use my PC, it would take 15 minutes to get everything in the same room, and quite often my playing time comes in 15 minute blocks. If I have to set up everything each time, I’ve lost the opportunity.

Accept the facts: Both have advantages and disadvantages. With software it is mainly the ability to expand your equipment bit by bit, but still being reliant on a PC. With multitrackers you get a lot of practicality, reliability and ease of use in a purpose built unit, the only disadvantage is they aren’t easily upgradable. If you can’t accept that people have a choice, I think that just proves I’m not the one being closed minded – I considered all the options and made an informed decision when I upgraded, I didn’t just go for the option which the more vocal members of this forum think is correct.


I'm not attacking your opinion, I just don't think it's good to point newbies, who aren't at the same point in life as you, to a multitracker. If they use one and love it and decide it's all they need, then great, by all means, it's the thing for them. But most people who begin recording have the time to learn how to use a DAW, and they need to get their heads around things like EQ and compression, which is easier to do in a DAW. I'm not arguing that one is better than the other, since they both have their advantages and disadvantages like you said.

I still use the DP-004 to keep track of ideas, but it doesn't see much use in my recordings.
#14
Quote by GaryBillington
That's the way life is for grown ups. Welcome to the real world

Except, 95% of the people posting on this forum are under 21 years old, and probably less than 1% of the members are actually married and/or have kids.

Your argument might work well on another forum, that has more mature posters, but you have to consider your audience, and UG is full of teenagers, who have disposable income and plenty of time on their hands.

Quote by GaryBillington
I had my last multitracker for over 10 years and it still performed as well as it did the day I bought it. During that time I had to upgrade my PC at least 3 times because they’re so unreliable – everyone I know has lost information of some kind due to a PC crashing, even if it was just the past half hour’s work, and if during that half hour that I’d lost I recorded a solo I was happy with, the chances of me getting it spot on again are pretty slim – I’m the first to admit I’m not the best guitarist out there.

I'm sorry, but this argument just doesn't work either.

Computers are, generally, extremely reliable. Sure, there can be problems with them, but that's the same with multitrackers. 9 times out of 10, it's the user's lack of knowledge that leads to them having problems with their computer. Since I bought my first Windows computer (Windows 95), I have NEVER had a single computer crash on me, ever.

I'm sure some brands and models of computers have more reliability issues than others, but the same goes with multitrackers. If you want quality, you pay for quality. If you want the best your money can buy, you research before you buy something. I'm sure you don't just walk into Guitar Center and buy a multitracker because the sales guy says it's amazing - You come prepared by researching beforehand, and then make your decision based on what you like about the specific models you try out in the store.

Hell, I still have an old Dell that's nearly 10 years old now that is still chugging along that I use to keep my music on. I find it odd that as an IT professional, you're so apposed to computer recording. I am A+ Certified myself and do some IT stuff on the side every once and a while and I will never go back to a multitracker again, because it's so inflexible.

Quote by GaryBillington
Of course not, but in my experience they can do it as well as, and often better than software downloaded onto a home PC (I’ve proved this on multiple occasions in the past comparing my work to a friend’s work).

Having owned many multitrackers (and some pretty high end ones, at that), I find this really hard to believe. Your mixing skills must be unequal, or his recording gear isn't equal in quality to yours, because I'd really like to see someone who is professionally trained to try and get the same results on a multitracker as he/she could, using only the plugins provided free within a DAW he or she has never used before, and the thousands of awesome free plugins available on the internet.


I'm not saying that multitrackers don't have their place, I would recommend them to people wanting to record their bands practices or live sets and just put out rough demos, but not for someone who wants to put out something better than that. I don't think people necessarily have a problem with you bringing multitrackers up, they are great tools, in the right situation, and they SHOULD be addressed, but as many myths as you try to dispel with multitrackers, you're creating just as many about computer interfaces, which you are clearly not as much of an expert on as you are with multitrackers. However, with the fact that the ones you usually recommend cost $400+, most people would feel like that's wasted money for something that you'll outgrow in a short amount of time, and too much money spent if you're just looking for a quick recording tool. For $400, you could buy a computer interface that can get you professional results, not to mention, for $100, you can get an interface that can do just as much as the $400 one does, just maybe not with as many inputs, or high of quality preamps, whereas with a $100 multitracker, you get next to nothing.
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Last edited by MatrixClaw at Oct 1, 2011,
#15
I use a tascam 2488mk II. I get zero latency on 8 tracks and super quick re-recording as such with drums.. I put the tracks into reaper and EQ and master up later.. Before that I used the older dp01FX.. it did the job!

If I had the money and the specs, I'd run a focusrite with 8 inputs into my laptop direct.

Mixing and EQing on a multitracker like mine is pretty much hopeless unless you have a whole afternoon and a photographic memory. I get best of both worlds.
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#16
This post was written in loads of short bursts throughout the day whilst I was at work, basically a couple of minutes here, a couple of minutes there, so apologies if it's a bit disjointed. I've responded to what appeared to be the key points of recent posts, hopefully I've picked up on all your main thoughts.

Also, before I get told off for multiple posts, when I tried posting it all at once I was told it was too long, so I've separated it into a different post for each point I responded to.

Quote by MatrixClaw
Except, 95% of the people posting on this forum are under 21 years old, and probably less than 1% of the members are actually married and/or have kids.

Then re-read my post, wherever you see the word 'wife', replace with the word 'Mum' and it's exactly the same argument. I know a lot of people who have teenage kids, so can definitely speak with some authority here: None of those teenagers have their own computer, so if they wanted to record they'd have to do it when nobody else wanted to use the family PC.

Admittedly I don't know a great deal about this, but surely the discussion about PC/console gaming is the same as the discussion about PC/multitracker recording? Some prefer a console, some prefer a PC. Apologies if there are differences I don't know about, I've never been that into gaming. What I do know is most of my friend's teenage children have a games console of some kind in their room, so unless there's something I don't know most could probably have got their parents to buy them a multitracker to keep in their room instead if that was what they were into.
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#17
Quote by MatrixClaw
Computers are, generally, extremely reliable.

If this were the case, my job would be far easier. As I write this sentence it's 10am on Monday morning*, I've already had to resolve 2 issues relating to the unreliability of PCs. As I said previously, these are extremely high spec PCs and are all less than 6 months old with no external connectivity, yet they still experience performance issues and occasional failures.

At home, I have a Dell laptop which is approximately 2 years old. When purchased it was a reasonably high spec, comparing it to the current market it is probably average. It is already noticeably slower than when it was new and regularly freezes for a couple of seconds when I'm in the middle of doing stuff on it. My previous PC was a Dell desktop which I had for around 5 years before it died completely. If you've managed to keep your PC going for 10 years, well done. I believe yours is the exception rather than the rule.

I owned my last multitracker for around 10 years. It never suffered any issues of any kind and when sold it was still performing as well as the day it was bought.

* As I finish writing this post, it's now almost 4pm. There have been 3 more issues raised during the day. That makes 5 today, which is fairly typical for a Monday. The rest of the week it's normally only 1 or 2 a day. Admittedly, some of these issues are caused by Microsoft's constant desire to force upgrades on you rather than the PC itself (I believe people with Macs tend to have less issues with this), however I think it conclusively answers your claim that computers are reliable.
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Last edited by GaryBillington at Oct 3, 2011,
#18
Quote by CrossBack7
Giving something like that a few hours worth of time isn't going to convince anyone.

How long do you expect someone to let me keep playing with something before expecting me to buy? There isn't a shop anywhere in the world which will let you keep playing with something indefinitely, if you aren't convinced after a couple of hours it's safe to conclude you don't want to buy it.

Within the same couple of hours trying out the Multitracker I ended up buying, I'd completely recorded & mixed an entire song (although 'song' is stretching it a bit - more of an improvised jamming session).

Again, it's preference. Some prefer one thing, some prefer another.
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#19
Quote by CrossBack7
But most people who begin recording have the time to learn how to use a DAW

This is probably where one of the biggest differences lies. Do you want to get into recording as a specific hobby, or do you just want to use it as an aid to your current guitar playing hobby?

People who just want to record stuff to compliment their playing time don't want to spend all that playing time doing something else. I'm sure I'm not the only person who wants to just plug in, press record and play. By having a multitracker, the time I spend playing guitar is maximised, the time I spend mixing etc is minimal. The people I know who use software admit that they spend considerable amounts of time working things in the software rather than actually playing.

If you want to get into recording as a serious hobby, then yes, software is probably the best way to go.

If you want to just use it as an aid to your guitar playing and keeping the focus on that instead of the recording, a multitracker is probably the best way to go.
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#20
Quote by CrossBack7
Did you just totally ignore my bit about the price?

I didn't ignore it, however I didn't think it was a major point in this discussion as I take that into account when replying to individual threads. If the thread is asking about how to do something for free, I ignore it (although I have occasionally pointed out that you don't get anything for free and told them they will at least need to buy an interface in order to use their PC efficiently). Even if they ask about doing something on a minimal budget I'm likely to ignore it. I don't recommend people spend money they don't have.

When I see a thread where someone is asking how to start recording without stating a budget (or with a higher budget which would cover a multitracker), if I'm the first to respond I mention BOTH options, if others have already provided advice related to software I mention the alternative, because that's exactly what it is - an alternative.
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#21
Quote by MatrixClaw
Your mixing skills must be unequal, or his recording gear isn't equal in quality to yours

I've said it before in other threads - a good multitracker will always beat a poor PC/interface/software combination, and a good PC/interface/software combination will always beat a poor multitracker.

As for my skills, I think I do OK. I'm certainly happy with my more recent songs, although I often consider remixing my older ones - after all, mixing is an art form and it takes practice to get it right, back when I recorded them I was still learning how to get the best out of my kit. If I had more free time these days, I probably would revisit them. As it is, I always say you can probably figure out which order my older songs were recorded in by the quality of the mixing.

With my friend who I've helped out from time to time, he does more keyboardy type instrumental music and comes to me when he wants to use some vocals as he doesn't have experience with recording them. He knows that I can do a good job using my kit so we use my kit. His kit probably could do it if he downloaded the right plugin, but finding the right one would be a bit trial and error and he's always been happy with the results I've given him.

And that also covers your opinion that software is better because of the amount of plugins you can download - yes you can, but with a decent multitracker you get everything you need without requiring plugins. Maybe by finding the right plugin you could achieve that extra 5-10% quality, but maybe not. Also, as time has moved on even some of the more basic multitrackers have a very good range of effects which would be adequate for most people's uses. I'd consider mine to be a mid-range one and as I've said before, it has far more options than I ever expect to use.

That's sort of related to the next comment.....
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Last edited by GaryBillington at Oct 3, 2011,
#22
Quote by nick dixon
I use a tascam 2488mk II…...Mixing and EQing on a multitracker like mine is pretty much hopeless unless you have a whole afternoon and a photographic memory.

That's the exact same kit I purchased a couple of months ago. I already find the mixing & EQing options are really easy to use and don't hold me up at all.

I reckon of the time I spend using my multitracker, at least 90% is actually recording. Adding EQ takes literally seconds to perform, the same with all the various effects which are available. Creation of the final mixed version is an equally straightforward process and takes hardly any time and effort.

This is probably also related to the comment about my style of music being suited to use of a multitracker - as I use the same basic instrumentation, I know how to get good results without having to spend too much time on things which allows me to maximise the amount of time I spend playing rather than mixing, whereas my friends who use software based DAWs admit they need to spend more time fiddling to get the sound right than I do.

The fact that one person doesn't find a particular DAW very usable when another finds it remarkably easy merely proves the point I've been making all along - it's down to preference. Some people like working in one way, some like working in other ways, which I think some of you are starting to accept.....
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Last edited by GaryBillington at Oct 3, 2011,
#23
Quote by CrossBack7
I'm not arguing that one is better than the other, since they both have their advantages and disadvantages like you said.

And that is all I have ever said. This thread was started to call me out and discuss this, even though I'm probably the most open minded person here as I'm the only one who considers both options. Yes, I favour the option I'm more familiar with, but that is no different to any thread on any subject here. People recommend their preference. If anything, the people who needed calling out are the ones who recommend software without questioning if it’s the right option for that person.

I'd occasionally considered starting a thread to discuss the comparisons between the two options as well, but as it wouldn't stop people starting new threads to say "how do I do this?" I figured it wasn't worth it. You'd still end up having this discussion every time.
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#24
If anything, I think the most potentially interesting point in the discussion is this one:
Quote by DisarmGoliath
I will say though, that I think soon even Gary may find that multi-trackers get left behind as everything is moving towards a digital future that is downloaded rather than hardware that is bought

I don't think they'll get left behind, as the companies which make them keep up with modern technology as can be seen when you surf around eBay looking at used kit. As technology progresses, so do multitrackers and how they store/process/transfer data.

They'll definitely evolve, but I think they'll always be there - this has been proven in other areas, such as the current resurgence of vinyl sales even though the latest technological craze is for downloads, and last time I saw any statistics the sale of books was largely unaffected by the launch of the kindle. The games console vs PC discussion probably goes here as well.

There will always be people who want more of a hands on piece of kit than having to solely rely on their PC and there will probably always be people who need a standalone unit because they don't always have access to their PC.

What I believe will happen is there will be a merging of software & hardware DAWs, which has really already been kicked off by Zoom's R series. For those who aren't familiar with it, these are designed to function as standalone multitracker DAWs which can also link up to a PC and take control of software DAWs.

I fully expect the next generation of kit from most companies to move further in this direction and it wouldn't surprise me if the multitracker manufacturers start teaming up with the software developers to sell bundled units including both to provide the ultimate home recording experience.
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Last edited by GaryBillington at Oct 3, 2011,
#25
Quote by GaryBillington


What I believe will happen is there will be a merging of software & hardware DAWs, which has really already been kicked off by Zoom's R series. For those who aren't familiar with it, these are designed to function as standalone multitracker DAWs which can also link up to a PC and take control of software DAWs.




This is something I would welcome if it was pulled off tastefully and wasn't too pricey. The newer integration, I mean, I don't know if the R series is quite as integrated as I'd like yet.


Also, pretty much every DAW out there will let you try some version of it for a month or so, which is plenty long to figure out if it's for you or now, even if it is a limited version.
Last edited by CrossBack7 at Oct 4, 2011,
#26
Quote by CrossBack7
pretty much every DAW out there will let you try some version of it for a month or so, which is plenty long to figure out if it's for you or now, even if it is a limited version.

You'd still need to buy the interface, and I'm not about to spend money on that unless I knew it was what I wanted.

Yes, I could download a trial software package, but then I'd be relying solely on my laptop & it's soundcard/mic input. That would provide extremely poor results and put me off ever considering software again.

Like I said though, after a couple of hours trying out software I'd got nowhere, but in a similar amount of time I'd tested the full recording, mixing & mastering process on a dedicated multitracker.

When comparing the two, there was only one conclusion to make: switching to software would provide me with no extra functionality and would mean I spend more time with my computer than I do with my guitars. There's no way I can consider that to be a good thing.

Also, DAW= Digital Audio Workstation. That is exactly what multitrackers are (obviously unless you have an analogue one) and the phrase was coined to refer to multitrackers. It's meaning expanded to include software over the years, but it still includes multitrackers so shouldn't be used in an attempt to differentiate the two options. I normally ignore when people make this mistake, but I'm feeling particularly grumpy this afternoon

Quote by CrossBack7
This is something I would welcome if it was pulled off tastefully and wasn't too pricey. The newer integration, I mean, I don't know if the R series is quite as integrated as I'd like yet.

...whereas one of the 2 reasons I didn't choose the R24 when I last upgraded was because all the information & reviews I found were talking about how usable the integration was, I couldn't find any information about it's use as a standalone multitracker other than the standard Zoom specifications saying something about it having a range of mastering options.

If I'd decided to buy it, I'd have wanted to know that it could work without having to use a PC as well as having the option to hook up to one if I wanted to.
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Last edited by GaryBillington at Oct 4, 2011,
#27
Fellas, Fellas.

While I don't agree with Gary, I understand his arguments and see that there are, in fact, some reasons to go the multitrack way. It's ok to have a different opinion as him. When a new person asks about interfaces/multitracks, we all throw out our (sometimes) informed opinions and let the person decide for himself/herself. Isn't that MUCH better than everyone being one sided here and missing out on a chunk of the recording world? Whether you think that chunk is good or bad, it's only our job to give the newbies with as much information as they need to make a good decision. The only way that happens is to get both sides of the story...

Anyway, thank you Gary for enlightening us on the multitrack recorders. I, for one, learned some new things here. I'll be sticking to my computer based rig, but I do see multi's a little differently now.
#28
The only real "hard disk" recorder I'd recommend is the HD24, otherwise go for an interface
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#29
I'd have to side with interfaces. You pretty much have virtually infinite flexibility when recording on the computer into a DAW.
#30
Just wanted to add that computers ate built to do a million things a multitracker is built to record. I've used DAWs for a few years now, only ever having a two track interface which helped me learn about effect prosscessing and visualize spectrums and sounds and all that. But now I'm upgrading to Zoom's R24 which works as an 8 track recorder, then a 2 track Usb 2.0 interface and a DAW control surface. If it delivers what it says it does then ill get a second one and chain them together for 16 tracks of simutanous recording, import the tracks to my DAW useas an interface to record one for overdubs straight to my DAW and mix it all with a real surface rather then a mouse and keyboard, so I'm getting the best of both worlds plus a controller and i dont have to use something that wasnt built with 16 tracks of recording in mind to record the entire band off the floor. The debate between multitrack vs interface would probly best be awnsered by bringing them together
#31
Wow, this thread hasn't been used for a while!!

Agree with you about the R24 though, I expect pretty much all the manufacturers of multitrackers will be going in that direction with their next generation of kit, Zoom just got there first.
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