Any multitrack recorders with preamp bypass?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by mikehartl, Jan 28, 2012.

  1. mikehartl

    mikehartl Member

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    I'm currently looking for a multitrack recorder that allows you to bypass it's internal preamps... can anyone make a recommendation?

    I currently have a Tascam DP-008 that I use to record as I'm arranging songs, but I'd like to record a more official demo. I'm currently looking at the Tascam Neo but am unable to find any information on bypassing its preamps, as I'd like to use a higher quality one.

    Thanks for the help guys
    Mike
     
  2. NashSG

    NashSG Member

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    I've had a Tascam 2488 for years. If you have the preamp set low, it is pretty passive on the source and you can set a level with an external source. It does help, especially if you are recording something that is quiet. It works pretty well, but almost all of those studio in a box type recorders use a somewhat compressed native audio format and there is only so good an analog to digital conversion in a home recording device. Then again it is really more about what is in front of the mic than behind it to some extent.

    Unless you are going to need more inputs for tracking a drummer, I don't know that the preamps or A/D converters are going to be much improved between a DP-008 or a Neo 2488.

    If you don't have one, an inexpensive but handy tool would be to get one of those small ART tube preamps and use that in front of your recorder. They work pretty good as a powered DI for an acoustic or bass recording direct. A little more expensive would be maybe looking at a "studio channel in a box" device with preamp, EQ and compresson built in. There are quite a few models at different price points out there. Nice thing about something like this is that it is still useful if you go to a higher end recording setup down the line.

    A higher end multi-track recorder like say one of the Alesis ADAT HD or the Mackie don't have preamps, but then at that point you could also go to a PC and soundcard.

    Also, if you are only mixing on the recorder - get a USB cable and a copy of Mackie Tracktion or Reaper and try mixing on a PC. That is the way to go with these kinds of recorders. I think the recorder part of these devices is better than the mixer really. Mixing on a PC is also great as you can easily save your work and come back to where you left or save totally different mixing setups. I've used other software, but I have been using Propellerheads Record for my mixing for the past year or so.
     
  3. Ephi82

    Ephi82 Member

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    I have a 2488 and use outboard pre's exclusivly. I plug line in and use no gain from the board. I assume that there is some "color" or limitation from going through the board's pre electronics, but i hear a lot of Great River Pre amp goodness now in my sounds! Put another way, my tracks sound WAY, WAY better than when using the boards pre amps and there is nothing i hear in the sound that is objectionable. (The 2488 pre's were "usable", but thin sounding and noisy at higher gain. I dont hear this when using my outboard stuff) Have you found this a problem with you DP-08?

    the 2488 (and I believe the NEO) does not have inserts on each channel. that would be the way to by pass the pre easily, so look for a rig that has inserts if you are really concerned about this.

    By the way, the NEO at $499 is one heck of a deal right now, no?

    By the way 2, TASCAM has launched the DP-24, the big big brother to your DP08.
     
  4. scredly

    scredly Member

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    Doesn't look like pres can be bypassed. If it had inserts you could make a custom insert cable to by pass them. A return only instert cable: Use a 1/4" TRS plug, and solder the hot to ring, ground to sleeve, and leave the tip unconnected.
     
  5. HilltopStudios

    HilltopStudios Member

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    I use my Focusrite Trackmaster's SPDIF out into the 2488 MKII's digital in. Looking at the specs of the new DP-24 Tascam seems to have left out SPDIF. Closeout prices on the Neos make it a good time to pick one up.
     
  6. mikehartl

    mikehartl Member

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    Thanks for all the help so far guys. I am very new to recording. I guess I should make my goals for this demo more clear:

    I'm really looking to get a warm "analog" sound out of my recordings, while keeping my setup fairly simple. I was mainly interested in the Tascam Neo for its additional tracks/inputs and the fact that it does 24 bit recording vs my DP-008 which records in 16bit. Will I notice a big difference in quality between 16 and 24bit recordings?

    For most of the recording, I'm planning on using a multitrack recorder with a $200-$300 condenser microphone (for vocals and acoustic/electric guitar) and external tube preamp along with the SM57 and 58s that I currently own. I have not purchased the preamp or condenser mic yet, so do you guys have any suggestions on that front? I will read into the ART tube preamp as recommended above.

    Here is a link to a quick recording using a cheap Behringer C2 condenser mic and SM58 into the Tascam DP-008. (It is a live recording, and the bass is too high but this should give you and idea of my style of music.) I think it can be improved upon a lot, any comments?
    http://soundcloud.com/mikehartl/let-em-walk-by-original

    Thanks again guys
     
  7. NashSG

    NashSG Member

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    I gave it a listen and I thought that sounded pretty good. In the end, it's what the microphone is recording more than the microphone itself.

    Your idea is all there and everything sounds like what it should sound.

    I think you will get some improvement going to 24bit recording in headroom, especially if you are mixing a song with more tracks. I think the bigger thing on the 2488 is that you can record 8 tracks at once, especially if you want to track a drum kit.

    Small mixing board, especially if you can find one that has individual channel outputs and or mix busses can be pretty handy. These are handy as you have multiple preamps in one box for micing a kit, channel inserts for using a compressor, some generally have decent mic preamps with phantom power and also have some sweepable mi-d-EQ on board to tweak. You can also use it for playing a gig if you need. There is a reason Mackie sold a bazillion of these things, although you will definitely find many people like the older US ones more than the current models. Soundcraft makes some nice small mixing boards too.

    It is a bit more but you get something say like an AKG C1000 or a Shure SM7 or others - there are a reason those mics get used by pros over the years. It's a little bit more, but you get more out of it in the end. I really love both the C1000 for recording about anything and the SM7 for vocals, that thing with it's windscreen just makes recording a voice way easier than anything else.

    A compressor is also a handy item and there are a ton out there. It's kind of a new tool to learn, but it definitely helps in recording vocals, bass or percussion. Low end ones would be like an Alesis 3630, which are used by a ton of people in PA rigs. I got a DBX that is pretty cool I use on drums and an ART tube one that I like cause it is really easy to use.

    Those are a few things I think would be handy starting out and they will work in whatever your home studio goes toward in the future.
     
  8. JJuran

    JJuran Member

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    +1 NashSGs remarks.

    I have Tascam DP-008 and don't like the mic pres in it either. But I do love the deck though for it's simplicity and decent overall sound quality and convenience.

    I use an outboard Art Tube MP with an AT 2020 or Pro37 on it and take the line out from the Tube MP and patch it into the 1/4" line inputs on the DP-008. Not a bypass of the built-in pres, but a huge improvement anyway. Like NashSG says, keep the input setting on LOW (set to line in for use with an external pre).

    Acoustic guitar and vocals are certainly nice enough for a good demo. Very happy with the DP-008 and an outboard pre-amp. I haven't yet recorded anything all that loud with this setup, but it's just for around the house and for capturing ideas, demos, etc...
     
  9. Diplomat

    Diplomat Member

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    Hi Mike,
    The Akai DPS24 is able to give you what you want if you are able to find one. I have owned a V1 for nearly 10 years and it has never given me an issue. I understand some of the V2's weren't so accommodating.

    The sound quality is great...

    Here is a link to my band http://www.reverbnation.com/wholetthecatsin

    Everything on the website and the album was recorded into the DPS.

    Hope that helps

    All the best,
    Andrew
     
  10. mikehartl

    mikehartl Member

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    All great ideas... you guys are giving me a lot more research to do haha. I know nothing about compressors... but I just picked up "The Recording Engineer's Handbook" that looks like it gives a wealth of information all around.

    I've heard that Akai DPS24 is a killer machine and I was initially set on getting one, but they are difficult to find. I will keep my eye on the emporium and ebay tho in case one shows.

    I've been reading up on the Rode NT1A and NT2A mics, as well as a Blue Bluebird, but I've read quite a few posts suggesting that a SDC is better for recording acoustic guitars, which will be the core of my sound. That AKG C1000 gets great reviews from literally everyone so I may have found my guitar mic... thank you for that. And it's a lower price mic, so I may be able to afford an LDC as well, suggestions to compliment the AKG?

    I'm not looking for perfection... like mentioned above its more about what you put in front of the mic more than anything. Lately I've been spending more time researching and buying gear than actually playing! That needs to stop lol
     
  11. NashSG

    NashSG Member

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    Oh yeah, another big thing is having a decent set of accurate near field recording monitors. As it was put to me years ago, trying to record and mix with inaccurate monitoring is like trying to build a house with a yardstick that is off. If you are trying to mix with a stereo or computer monitors, expect to find things sound really, really different depending on what you are playing it back on. A decent set of speakers really helps a mix to translate from system to system.

    I'd say of nearly ALL of the gear I ever got, the set of Yamaha MSP5 monitors I got in the late 90s improved my recordings more than anything.
     
  12. Diplomat

    Diplomat Member

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  13. Ephi82

    Ephi82 Member

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    This is going to be a journey of learning, and it will be fun as long as the joy is still in making music.

    Some advice:

    The "warm analog sound" really begins and ends with a captured, well balanced, great sounding, performance of music. The sounds made when singing or playing an instruments create analog wave forms and move air. The technology that converts this to digital 1's and 0's is now very sophisticated and high resolution. If it doesnt sound good after recording, its not the recording medium's fault, and analog tape wouldnt do any better.(although tape, being not as good at capturing detail in the hi freq, may leave crappy artifacts of a bad room behind)

    With that being said, after the performance, these are factors that most critically impact the recorded sound:

    the room: a lot of rooms will add to the recorded sound in very undesirable ways. For example an open room with tile floors will have nasty flutter echos and will make a sweet sounding voice sound like crap. You have to find a good room, or treat a less good one.

    Microphones: this is the first step in converting sound to a recording, so it has a lot of influence on the quality of recorded sound. There are as many opinions about microphones as there are microphones!

    I have found this to be true though: in general, the more expensive mics tend to be the better quality and sounding mics. They are truer to the source, very sensitive to all sounds in the room and some emphasize frequencies in the sound recorded that are pleasing to the ear.

    That being said, if your recording room sounds crappy, an expensive high sensitivity mic will record crap, very accurately! In this case, a $100 sm57, designed only to pick up sound in front of it, and up close, would be a better choice! IMO, dont buy a condensor mic until you have a nice sounding room to use it, and when you do buy one, dont go cheap. (as close to $1,000 as you can get) A nice condensor will record all vocals and acoustic instruments, and a SM 57 dynamic is hard to beat in front of a guitar amp. That covers a lot of ground.

    Monitors: others on this thread have said it already. If your mixing room isnt treated and you dont have accurate monitors, get ready for frustration in getting your mixes to sound good on other playback systems

    Pre amps: after you get the room figured out, and get more experience, you will discover that hi quality pre amps is a great tool to add girth, dimension and meat to your sounds. These can be expensive, and while many are worth it, some are not, so have enough experience to know what you want and need before spending money here.
     

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