New to digital recording, not like the analog days, help!

3 replies [Last post]
Joined: 01/12/2004

I have 20 years experience in analog recording. I thought that I would try some of the digital multitrack items. I bought a computer and some software and started learning. I have had nothing but trouble....It NEVER performs in a way that is consistant. It loses my analog to digital tracks like it's going out of style! I am beginning to dislike it but I know that my analog days are numbered. Here is what I want to know....What professional machine can I get that will allow me to record....flat response....playback....flat response...hook up to a normal mixer for mixdown and use a punch in switch. I also want to be able to save data simply on a CDRW and mixdown to a dat machine or CD recorder in real time. Simple right? Your help would be greatly appreciated...


Joined: 02/12/2009


It is indeed a brave new world. It's frustrating at times, but that's the price of change. It's hard to move to the world of digital recording inexpensively while retaining the audio quality and ease of use of analog.

My biggest piece of advice is not to buy into the "instant-studio" myth that the manufacturers try to pitch these days. They sell their product with the pitch line, "Buy our product and you will instantly have a studio!" As an experienced engineer you know that's BS. There's no free lunch. Another big change in recent years is the depths to which their marketing departments will sink.

If you are accustomed to the analog model, perhaps a digital tape recorder would be a better transition than a DAW (workstation). One of the models I use is multiple 24bit Tascam DA-78s. Or a stand-alone hard disk recorder such as the Mackie line. They all have footswitch recording capability as you requested.

Then, just use your analog mixer, and use your computer as a two-track mixdown machine. Then you can burn CDs from the computer.

If you are used to analog sound quality, I highly suggest keeping all of your digital stages at 24 bits instead of 16. I personally don't buy the higher sample rate concept (88k, 96k, 192k), but 24 bit is indeed a big improvement over 16 bit.

That might give you the best of both worlds.

Read more here:

There was a great "Guide To Digital Audio" written by the folks at Apogee a few years ago, but they don't have it on their site anymore. So I've posted it here, it's essential reading:

And a bunch of tips and definitions here:

Hope this helps,

Joined: 01/12/2004

Hey Tony, thank you very much...I really appreciate someone who has a sensible approach to all of this. It's rare to find people who are just down right honest about all of this. I love analog stuff but's hard to find people who are not into the "instant record deal" and "if it ain't digital" mentality. I write songs and record them because I enjoy it. People can't understand that some people do it because they love it. It really doesn't matter if it's good or bad or creative or the same old thing...what matters is that it's something that we enjoy. Thanks for your insight.....


Joined: 05/30/2004


you could use the PC for email, spreadsheets and nekkid photos and buy a real recorder.

If your goal is to build songs out of loops and edit indivudual beats, yeah, a computer is probably the way to go. Get yourself a copy of Garage Band and go nuts. But if you want to record actual live musicians playing real instruments, get a dedicated recorder. Up until a couple of years ago, that still meant tape; the Tascam DA-X8 series was still the most reliable and therefore the choice of most pros. But now there are a small handful of hard disk recorders whose performance is so good that we look past their somewhat less than bulletproof reliability. (but they are still light years beyond any PC based system in terms of being stable) The IZ Corps RADAR is the #1 choice of pros, a basic 24trk rig will run you around $6k, but you can easily spend two or three times that if you load up on the options. RADAR owns the various pop markets, but the classical recording world leans towards underdog Genex and their DSD format machines. (the technology underlying the SACD format) The Genex machines also run the standard PCM format, but why bother when your machine can run DSD!?! Genex makes an 8trk model (perfect for the classical sessions) and also offers a 48trk monster, the GX9048. These things are the current state of the art in hard disk recording, but they are only a drop in the bucket when it comes to market penetration. RADAR is the king of the hill and their machine has earned that status.

Tascam and others (FOstex, Alesis, .....etc.) offer less expensive HD recorders that are still far more reliable than a word processor running audio software, but if you want something that will live up to your memories of analog, look at the RADAR or Genex machines.

Good luck.