Recording Equipment Help Please



I'm a recording neophyte.

A friend of mine is about to buy the following gear to set up a small recording studio in his house.

Your thoughts on his choices would be appreciated!

Boss BR-1600CD Multitrack Digital Recorder
Yamaha DD55 Digital Drum Pad plus the power adapter (sold separate)
Studio Bonus Bundle B (Speaker Monitors, MXL vocal mic with shock mount/stand/cable
CAD 6" Flexible Pop Filter (round screen that goes in front of mic)
AKG Headphones
John Pearse Ol' Reliable 6-string capo (old type with screw. still very popular in bluegrass)
John Pearse 700M Bronze Acoustic Strings (4 sets) (GREAT STRINGS)

All for $1951.07 (free shipping)


Chairman of the Bored
Platinum Supporting Member
That looks like a nice little scratch pad for musical ideas he's got there....but if he's even remotely serious about trying to be a recording studio though, he just pissed away 2 grand.

Recording gear gets real expensive, real fast. Granted, the technology available today is 10 to 20 times more powerful that what was available just 10=12 years ago...but what I mean by that is you can now do with a $30-50,000 investment what you couldn't do without a $250-300,000 room just a few short years ago.

If I was on a tight budget, I'd go with a Metric Halo ULN-2 + DSP, a Studio Projects LDC, and pro-Tools LE. He could probably get these things for about $2500. He'd still need monitors though.

Recording is a wonderful experience once you get through the big learning curves. Best of luck to your friend. :dude


Silver Supporting Member
Don't do it.

Learn pro tools and get a beefy computer based rig. These all in one, machines your friend is looking at are really not the way to go. You're friend will be trapped in that box and will have no way out other than....selling it at a huge loss and buying- drumroll please...that's right! Pro tools and a computer. So save a step and just get into the pro tools world sooner rather than later. Measure twice...cut once.

Seriously. Get pro tools LE, some plugins and a mic or two and your buddy should be golden. Plus the skill of being able to operate pro tools is great because you can go other places and use their system (for tracking drums or a string section) and bring stuff back to the budget /project room and do synth and vocal ODs for free. And the skill is salable one...meaning your friend or you can sell your abilities on that system as an just can't do these things with a br 1600.

good luck,

[ You're friend will be trapped in that box and will have no way out other than....selling it at a huge loss and buying- drumroll please...that's right! Pro tools and a computer. QUOTE]

It could be argued that any spec of a "computer" is going to get obsolete pretty quickly.... and upgrades are limited and can also be expensive. Ultimately you are going to have working but obsolete hardware whichever way you go.
Couple that with the ability of modern electronics to allow downloadable upgrades (such as on the POD) and the issue remains open... does it not?


Silver Supporting Member
True enough, yes they are making computers faster and faster. That doesn't make the slower computer obsolete. My freinds have old and new pt rigs and the old ones are great too. The main thing is this- the skill of operating the system is tranferable as are the files and...bottom line even an old pro tools rig kicks ass on one of these roland/korg machines. So while technically a computer is going to become obsolete, it's not the same as being limited to one at best pro-sumer machine. I think your splitting hairs. I stand by what I've said.


>> That doesn't make the slower computer obsolete. My freinds have old and new pt rigs and the old ones are great too. The main thing is this- the skill of operating the system is tranferable as are the files...

Exactly so.


Stop, you're both right! ;)

I like standalone systems as well as anything else, if the operating system is useful. Although I use a computer based system in the studio, I can see that standalones have certain advantages.

Back in 1992, when computer based systems absolutely sucked because they crashed frequently, couldn't handle a lot of data, etc., I invested $22K in a Roland DM-80, a standalone system consisting of a 4 space rackmount module, and two controllers, one for a built in mixer, the other for controlling the editing.

I used it along with my analog machine, and my two DA-88s. It sounded great, synced up to picture blazingly fast, and was a truly professional machine. It never crashed in nearly ten years of use. Not once.

All of the DM-80 skills translated just fine to computer editing. The basic premise was the same. The computer just goes a bit deeper is all.

In general, standalones are good if you prefer the following:

1. Portability and ease of setup.

Even the best laptop/rackmount converter systems have to be attached to mic preamps and/or a mixer for recording and monitoring by band members, assuming that you have more than two people in the band. When you're recording live, it's fairly easy to forget some kind of cable or box that you need to make things work right.

Setup one X- stand, put the box on top, and you're in business.

If you're the guy who is bringing the rig out of the closet to use it on the dining room table when you feel like recording, you can avoid the look of a zillion wires and cables.

2. The standalones are extremely robust.

The software is in ROM, the systems don't crash, etc.

3. They're pretty easy to use and understand.

It took me one five minute lesson from the guy who delivered my DM-80 to understand it. The thing was so straightforward, and every function had a button on the controller. In contrast, it took me a while to learn Performer when it was only MIDI, and it's more complex to learn a digital audio/sequencing program.

A built in controller surface is nice, too.

4. You Get a Lot for Your Money.

You'd spend nearly a grand on a good control surface for your computer, a couple of grand on the computer, several hundred on basic recording software, several hundred on plug-ins, and several hundred on converters plus more on a MIDI conversion box ( if you need MIDI), plus cables to connect everything. When you think about it, a dedicated all-in-one box isn't a bad idea.

In fact, I remember when Tom Jung of DMP Records was doing live jazz sessions with a standalone Yamaha system in the early to mid 90s. The records still sound great, and the Yamaha was never thought of as particularly high end by anyone but Tom, so it just goes to show ya.

Please don't construe this to mean that I think standalones are "better" or "worse". In fact, I think it's a matter of horses for courses. :)


By the way, you might say, "Les, what did you get for the DM-80 when you sold it, huh?" And the answer is, I got a couple of grand. Huge loss, right?

I didn't care, I made a lot of money with that thing over the years.

Then again, I invested 10 grand in my Mac SE computer around the same time. Memory was $1000 per megabyte back then, and I had a whole EIGHT megabytes in my SE. That made it a serious machine! ;)

I also had - get this - a Twenty Megabyte Hard Disk!! That was HUGE.

The difference is that the DM-80 lasted me ten years, and then I gave it to my son, who cut his demo on it all by himself. Still sounded great, still worked perfectly, he got airplay on his demo, and has an actual for-real record label interested in his band, based on this recording.

Today that system is still working hard for a voice-over talent here in the Detroit area for broadcast sessions.

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