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I am a videographer first and a recording technician second. I've been trying to get better and easier to use equipment and software to record live bands (audio). My goal is to have a setup that can create great sounding audio to go with the video (isn't that the goal of any videographer?)

I first purchased a Roland 8 track (6 track record) recorder and got good results (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-T5XFzq8w8). But six channels is very limiting. And I found the solution difficult to manage and time consuming to export off the Roland and onto my computer for editing in Sonar.

So I purchased a Tascam 16 channel USB interface with 2 x 8 channel splitters so I could go directly into Sonar while getting direct input from the stage or from a snake before the signal was sent to the front of the house mixer. I got decent results, but the Tascam isn't so good to setup in a short time-frame - hardly any peaking indicators and such. Results from my first use weren't bad, but not great (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtYappa5uYA)

I'm a small-time videographer who works with bands with low/no budget. Therefore, I can't afford a sound engineer to go with me on most gigs. I need a fire and forget multi-track recording setup. I'm ok at post-production as long as I can get good channel recordings to start with.

Any suggestions?

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I don't think this is very answerable because least expensive and best are open to interpretation. You may want to rephrase your question with something that can be answered definitively. –  Nic Jan 6 '11 at 21:36
    
Any answer may be useable. Do you have any recommendation besides stating the question is not answerable?Given my expierence I have a inexpensive solution. I'm just looking for a better solution that's resonably priced in the scenario I put forth. –  Herschel Jan 6 '11 at 22:01
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What is reasonably priced for you? What is your budget? How many channels do you need? Is this PC available, or are you looking for something standalone? –  Brad Jan 6 '11 at 22:28
    
Resonable is $500-$1600; 16 Channels minimum; PC Laptop is available, but I think standalone is preferred as long as it has a fast method of exporting tracks to a PC. –  Herschel Jan 7 '11 at 4:37
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Relevant: Q&A is Hard, Let’s Go Shopping!. (This question already addresses many of the possible pitfalls in a shopping recommendations.) –  neilfein Jan 7 '11 at 17:20
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2 Answers 2

If your mixer has direct outs, this is probably the way to go: http://www.alesis.com/hd24

Alesis HD24, 24-Track

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I've seen similar units out there as well. Perhaps the JoeCo BBR1 might meet your needs, but is a bit out of your price range: http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/JoeCo-BBR1-Blackbox-Recorder?sku=485728

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I haven't tried either of these units. You might try to find someone who has before purchasing. I just think they might meet your needs.

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Thanks Brad, it seems that there are great reviews out ther on the Alesis unit. I'll check it out further. –  Herschel Jan 7 '11 at 15:05
    
I've used the Alesis unit and it is fantastic, albeit pricey. If I remember, it uses IDE drives as well which are getting harder to find and more expensive. It's pretty awesome because you can FTP to the unit to get the recordings off. –  Nic Jan 7 '11 at 16:57
    
@melee, good point on the drives! Yes, if it were me I'd order some spare drives to have on hand. newegg.com/Product/… –  Brad Jan 7 '11 at 17:09
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If you are not in need of a computer during the recording, and you can use something similar to an old-fashioned tape-recorder, the Alesis HD-24 is the machine to go with. As Brad mentioned in the comment, you can transfer the audio tracks to your computer after the recording, or you can hook up an analog mixing desk to do the rest of the work, basically the possibilities are endless. :)

The computerized-solution: while I still don't get your real problem with the Tascam (your DAW software should give you enough information about the levels, shouldn't it?) I am very happy with my M-Audio ProFire 2626. It comes with 8 microphone pre-amps, 2x ADAT in/out and one SPDIF (coax) in/out, so it can deal with up to 26 channels in and out. You can extend it with ADAT-preamp units such as a Behringer ADA-8000 (budget option, I don't like it because of the noisy sound it produces) or either a Presonus, or Focusrite octopre LE with ADAT interface extension. Choice between the latter two is generally a matter of taste.

You can easily set it up, it is just a matter of connecting it to your computer, running the M-Audio software which shows enough info to quickly set your microphone input gain/trim to an appropriate level. It has on-board DSP that can do very basic but also very flexible mixing, panning and routing, so setting it up is just a matter of minutes.

If you need more meters on the hardware itself, have a look at MotU, they normally put a bit more LED-based meters on their interfaces.

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The Alesis HD-24 has an Ethernet interface. Show me a computer made in the last decade without an Ethernet interface. Then, show me where you can find an Ethernet interface for more than $20, let alone one for a few hundred bucks as you mention. Your information regarding it is wrong. –  Brad Jan 9 '11 at 15:01
    
Checked it, and you are completely right. My mistake, answer edited. Actually, this option makes it a very interesting machine! –  Pelle ten Cate Jan 9 '11 at 21:54
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