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Re: Gear plug: Tascam 564

>>Purchased a Tascam 564 Minidisc recorder last week (like a cassette
>how much are these things anyway? Is it worth it over just buying a big 
>drive and going the hard disk route?

I got mine for $1199 through Musician's Friend.  The MD's (you have to use 
the 140MB data disks, not the regular two track MD's, although it can play 
those back) are about $18 apiece.
As far as the HD recording route, it depends.  My home computer is a old 
Mac IIfx with 20MB of RAM.  To me, it would have been too much 
money/hassle to buy a few gigs of HD, a Jaz drive to back it up with, a 
sound card, HD recording software, etc.

Plus, then it's a glass interface, instead of knobs, and so on.  If you 
already have a fast, modern computer, it may be worth it to you.  I 
preferred to have my recording setup seperate from my computer, which also 
allows me to move my recording setup to our rehearsal space, if I want to 
record there.  The computer is nailed down--it's not going anywhere.  And 
for $1199, plus the cost of disks, I was set to go.

I briefly considered one of the 8-track all-in-one HD systems that have 
popped up, but for that money, I think I'd want to go to a tape-based 
digital system with a seperate mixer.  To me, the mixer on all-in-one 
units is always the letdown, and you're stuck with it.  I'm willing to 
live with that for a 4-track portastudio at just over a grand, but for 
$2-3k, I want serious options, and for me, the integrated HD systems don't 
deliver the features/flexibility at that price point.

For instance, Fostex has the DMT-8VL, which is going for about $1399, but 
the onboard HD can only hold 12 minutes of audio.  To back it up, you have 
to buy the SCSI card, for $350 or so, and a Jaz drive for $400-500, and 
then Jaz carts are $70 apiece, etc.  Of course you do get 8-tracks, but 
there's there's only two-band eq in the mixer, etc.  If I've got an 
8-track machine, I want to be able to make records with it, and the HD 
based systems don't look like they're quite there for me.   Maybe the next 
generation, though I'm still opposed to the included mixer at that level.

I didn't get the 564 to make CD's with, but to make really good home 
demo's, and to archive/edit my looping output.  For that, it seems really 
great so far.  If you're trying to figure out how to layer 16 tracks of 
Queen-style vocals and record a full drum kit, look elsewhere.  I look at 
it as the best 4-track Portastudio yet built, a Portastudio on steriods 
(and I've heard some very nice things off tape-based 4-tracks, which is 
what I'd been planning to buy until these came out).

>> the ability to "bounce forward" to a later section of the MD, which
>allows you to do sub-mixes while retaining all the original tracks.  The
>sub-mixes do not occur in the digital realm, but are routed through the
>analog mixer, so you can eq, add effects, etc.  You can do this up to four
>times (only five "song" files per disc, 37 minutes of audio).
>could you do it digitally? Seems like going through the compression
>algorithm multiple times would do a number on the audio. Have you tried 

I suppose you could, if it was a digital mixer, but it's not.  I think 
that would push the price up too far.  Then you run into the "for that 
price, I want more than four tracks" problem.   I've done one bounce 
forward so far, but I've got grave doubts as to the usability of four 
generations of "bounce four tracks into one" with modern ears.  It's one 
thing for the Beatles or Brian Wilson to have crammed everything together 
into the glorious Wall-o-Mono, but thirty years down the road the 
"recorded in Pepperland" sound seems to have fallen somewhat out of favor. 
 This weekend I'll do four generations of bounce just as a test, and 
report back.