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AKAI DR4D - better than a minidisc?
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zemlin
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15th October 2005
Old 15th October 2005
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AKAI DR4D - better than a minidisc?

I have an old Sony portable minidisc I use for non-critical as-cheap-as-possible recording gigs. There are a lot of limitations I'd like lose.

Thinking about an old Akai DR4 4-track hard disk recorder. Seems like it should be a good step up from a minidisk and still only need me to take one cheap box to make a recording.

Any reason this wouldn't be totally adequate for things like Jr.'s piano recital or test recordings at a dress rehearsal?
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15th October 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zemlin
I have an old Sony portable minidisc I use for non-critical as-cheap-as-possible recording gigs. There are a lot of limitations I'd like lose.

Thinking about an old Akai DR4 4-track hard disk recorder. Seems like it should be a good step up from a minidisk and still only need me to take one cheap box to make a recording.

Any reason this wouldn't be totally adequate for things like Jr.'s piano recital or test recordings at a dress rehearsal?
I had one of these.

It's big and heavy, makes noise and requires a DAT backup.

There's no provision for dumping data to other media as it's SCSI (it's old, ya know).

I think you'd be much better off spending three or four hundred bucks on one of those new Edirol or Tascam mini HD recorders.

Ed
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15th October 2005
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zemlin
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15th October 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp11
I had one of these.

It's big and heavy, makes noise and requires a DAT backup.

There's no provision for dumping data to other media as it's SCSI (it's old, ya know).

I think you'd be much better off spending three or four hundred bucks on one of those new Edirol or Tascam mini HD recorders.

Ed
I had rather assumed a direct transfer to PC would be possible - that's a bit disappointing. Noisy would be a problem too. Thanks for the heads-up. Big and heavy I could deal with if it worked well - they're selling for just a bit over $100 on eBAY. Granted, small and light would be swell!
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15th October 2005
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It seems all the low end records will only record 2 tracks simultaneously. I was really hoping to get to 4 tracks on a budget.

I'm also considering going to an HD24XR for my field recordings so I can leave my DAW at home and reduce setup time. I could just save my pennies for the HD24XR and use it for everything. It's just that I could really benefit from something cheap and simple long before that day will come.
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15th October 2005
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The Akai DR4D does have spdif out, so you could do a digital transfer into your PC soundcard, but it only transfers 2 channels at a time, in real time. It does record 4 tracks simultaneously, with line inputs (you'd need mic preamps or a mixer) and it is 16 bit 44.1K, which is better quality than minidisc. It either has a small internal hard disk or an external SCSI drive. Don't buy one without a drive, because that SCSI spec is so old, I doubt you could find a new drive. But I could be wrong about that. You can link 2 together for 8 track recording, but why? A used ADAT would be about the same size as one DR4D, and a lot more convenient.
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15th October 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle duncan
A used ADAT would be about the same size as one DR4D, and a lot more convenient.
Hmmmmm ....

I see many sellers post the number of hours. How many hours is "high mileage" for one of these things? I would not be putting a lot on it, so I wouldn't need a lot of overhead.
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16th October 2005
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ADAT's are like cars. Hours are miles, and every sixty thousand miles you're going to have to get serrviced. If the seller has recent documentation, that might mean something. Or it might be a hustle.
As an addendum to my previous post: Even though I own 2 DR4D's, and 2 dormant ADAT decks, I just bought a $200 minidisc 2-track recorder for remote and scratchpad recording. The Sony MZ-B10 has a built-in mic and speakers, just like those cheap cassette decks we used to use, but every time you push the record button it assigns a new track number, so it's easy to go back and find stuff. It has line level inputs to override the internal mic, with automatic level protection (a built in crap compressor) but they're not linked, so if you have a direct out of the PA on one side, and a mic on the other, the tracks are going to pump and breath independently of each other, which will play hell with your stereo image.
You can also buy a good external stereo mic and get better sound, but it will always be less than CD quality. I'd say it's more important to record those recitals than it is to worry about the quality of the recording. I would go with convenience, which the minidisk will give you. Plus, if you get a USB model (not the BZ-M10) you could transfer tracks to your PC via USB and everything would be great.
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17th October 2005
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I'm such a genius. I didn't realize you already had a minidisc. Anyway, hours on an ADAT could go up to 1000 before the thing needs servicing. At that point it's between $300 & $400 to fix up the transport. And you may have to wait a while. The service places are usually pretty backed up.
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19th October 2005
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The DR4D convertors sound killer IMHO. Only 16 bit though. I use it for backtracks when playing live...never a glitch.

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19th October 2005
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I have a modest collection of decent (by budget standards) microphones. I also have a 4 channel mic pre I would haul out for such work. I could also use my small mackie (1402 VLZ) between the mics and the recording device.

16 bits isn't a problem, as long as the metering is good enough to know where things are peaking.

My minidisc recorder is an old MZ-R700 I got from Best Buy as an open box for $80. I don't know how they ended up with it - it was far from new. I sent it to Sony for a warranty repair and they replaced a few significant bits - so for what I paid, I think it's a decent thing ....

I hate having to turn off the auto record level EVERY TIME I TURN IT ON. I don't like the arbitrary metering and level setting on it - I'd feel a lot better if the outboard gear could be set to not go past 0dB and that was it. As it is, I have to play with the MD recorder without having any known set points to make it match my other gear. Something with a means for digital transfer would be lovely too.

Lastly, 4 tracks would make it a ton more flexible than this little squirt. While one of those compatct newer rigs looks nice, I'd really prefer to get something used for not much more than $100.

The comments about noise on the DR4D - is it more than a noisy hard disk? Does it get very hot? I'm wondering if a couple moving pads draped over it would quiet most of it in the event I'm recording in someone's living room.
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19th October 2005
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Since it's scsi disk it's a little noisy...but not that bad. Doesn't get very hot either. Go get it - it's super easy to use and extremely rigid.
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