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What do you use to do remote recording? Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 10th January 2007
  #1
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Talking What do you use to do remote recording?

Hello all.

I've been using several Alesis HD24 and HD24XR for remote recording. These decks have performed very well for me but I'm interested in offering other options.

I'm far away from abandoning my HD24 decks, they sound good, work reliably, compact, inexpensive, light weight, easy to make backups, easy to audition tracks and power efficient.

I use the Fireport accessory to transfer recordings from the Alesis drive carts to my Protools rig in my studio for editing. Everything is OK in my little recording world, right now.

But I am concerned. Here are a few reasons.

What happens when ATA drives become extinct?
When will Alesis discontinue the HD24? and XR?
Will they develope drivers to support OS-10.5?
Will the machines ever evolve or get better?

A while back I looked at building a Mac recorder with Apogee converters and using Protools in my RV (recording vehicle). I also did some inquiries about using the Motu 24io and Digital Performer. I could not find a dealer who could tell me for sure these combinations would work reliably. The computer setup is a lot bigger and more complicated to set up but it has one big advantage, RAID hard drives whichh can cut disk access in half (but doubles the chance of drive failure).

Live recording lives or dies with reliability. Imagine trying to talk your way out of an equipment failure after the band just played the best show of their lives. It's never happened to me because I go to extremes to back myself up and my gear has never let me down.

Live recording has very specific demands, we need to be able to lay down LONG continuous tracks or have two machines that we can switch between for shorter individual recordings, plus two more machines for backup.

Live concerts don't usually stop to let the recording guy make adjustments. The show happens and we need to record it. I always record 24 tracks with two machines, one is a redundant backup. If the show is really long then I use two stacks of two machines so I can switch stacks and give the hard drives a chance to cool off. Now for the fun.

What do you use?
Has it been reliable?
Would you buy it again?
Has it ever let you down?
Does it sound good?
How do you back yourself up?

Many thanks to all the folks in the GS high rise corporate tower that make this forum possible. You all ROCK!
Old 13th January 2007
  #2
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I regularly record live gigs and i have had so many bad experiences its untrue. I have an hd24 that has let me down more times than i can remember, i have also had problems with macs and pcs. When recording really loud stuff in a resonant room the Disk has real probs recording, i have resorted to recording to a computer and also a tascam mx2424 and I often have to go home and pick up a couple of da38s. there is a lot to be said for DTR in the live setting, and you can get da38s for next to nothing on ebay.

I would also recommend always taking a good room mic with a 50m mic cable and a g-clap attached as a lot of the time the room mic will be in the lighting rig.

If i had the money i would for sure put together a van with a bunch of madi interfaces so as not to have to worry about the vibrations ( then all i need to wory about is someone cutting the power to the van !! )
Old 13th January 2007
  #3
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Hi Mark

I have a setup that's quite similar to your. When I started out offering remote recording services I tried several different solutions, including hauling a whole PC with monitor and interfaces to the gig (laptops weren't so reliable some 6 years ago), and that wasn't practical let alone reliable.
I chose to go with dedicated HD recorders. I went with an SDR 2496 from mackie. I've had nothing but great results from it, in years of use on the road, it gets loaded and unloaded lots of times from my SUV to gigs and back to the studio, so I have to say it's pretty much vibration-proof. I've mounted a removable drive tray in it so I record each show to a different drive and then, just as you do, I pull it out and plug it in my Pro Toools setup back at the studio for eding and mixing or simple file delivery. So far in almost 6 years of use I've never had a single problem with it. The only time I had to scramble was when somebody tried to pull out the drive from the tray with power turned on...(don't ask me why, I don't even know who did it) and that fryed the drive; luckily it was before the gig, so I could always record on the internal drive, but can you imagine my "surprise" when I hit record before downbeat and I got an error message from the machine...not for the fainted...
Anyway the machine is rock solid. I hit record and let it run for the whole show (sometimes 1 hr plus) or just hit stop in between songs (during the audience applause) to save the track, and immediately start again; it's almost instantaneous. So far I've been backing up to tascams DA78hr or DA38s, which I rent and leave running till the end of the show, but since my gigs are going past the 24 tracks I'm searching over ebay for a second SDR2496 (they're discontinued) to have a compact 24 track backup, or 48 track with backups at additional cost.
Sound is pretty good: it's got both analog (on DB25 connecotrs) and digital (ADAT) I/O, so if I think something doesn't sound good on its converters I can just use outboard converters and go digital, it's got TC, MID I/O, Word Clock and its completely sychronizable to video black or time code for video shoots. I guess for the price it's a hell of a mahine.
As for the fact that HD recorders have been discontinued...DAW are a more flexible choice in the studio, but I think on the road where as you said reliability is the key an dedicated machine is still the best solution for what I'm concerned. Too bad we won't see any further developement on those things.

Cheers

L.G.
Old 13th January 2007
  #4
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Thread Starter
Thanks for the responses. I learned some things from both of you.

I've hauled out the Protools rig too, it was a lot of work to set up and the workflow did not seem good for live recording. Protools is my DAW of choice in the studio, it just seemed cumbersome live. A dedicated hardware interface would make it a lot easier but would drive the cost up to where I could not make a profit in my market.

When Motu came out with their first Firewire audio interface I bought one and tried using it to record a friends band with a laptop. I had a freshly formatted external Mac Firewire hard disk and spent an entire day testing things in the studio. Everything worked perfect, then I took it to the club where the band was playing and it bombed miserably, locking up, the laptop was crashing, it was like a whole different system than the one I worked with all day. That was back around version 4.xx of Digital Performer but I never want another night like that.

The market for self contained, multi-track digital recording machines must be really small. There are a lot of things I wish were different on the Alesis machines but for now I am thankful that they exist. Back around 1972 I bought a Teac reel to reel (3340). It was noisy, it didn't sound that great but it was multi-track. Before that, all I had was a Viking 2-track. The HD24xr is smaller, oh so much lighter, virtually silent signal to noise, unmearsurable wow and flutter and packs 24 tracks into only three rack spaces. I appreciate it so much because I grew up with only crap gear as a reference. I remember the first time I heard a Studer 16 track two inch machine, it was this giant mechanical tape beast and it sounded SO GOOD.

Last year I was working in a big local studio which has great sounding rooms, we were recording drums for a loop library using their Protools HD system at 96k with Apogee converters. I also recorded to an HD24xr for backup and to have something to take home at night. To me, it was an eye opener how good the Alesis sounded when we A-B compared the recordings. I'd say the Apogee sounded better but not by much and that was on stunning monitors in a fantastic control room. The Alesis cost around $1700, the Protools rig was well over $15,000, a huge difference in hardware cost for not much difference in sound. One system sang "ahhh" and the other sang "eeee". Both had clarity, width, depth and realism.

What really blew my mind was how the tracks recorded with the Alesis A-D sounded when we Firewired them over to the Protools HD system and played them through the Apogee converters. I bought another pair of HD24xr after I got paid for that job.

It's a shame Mackie did not continue and innovate more with their recorders, I think they confused the market with too many models.

Hopefully others will chime in with what is working well for them. I was expecting more "Radar Love" with this thread.

I am wishing you guys all the best with your recording endeavors.

Mark
Old 13th January 2007
  #5
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I use a single HD24 and a 002 rack as a backup. I split the output from an AD16 to ensure that the first 8 tracks are completely redundant and I Y-cable the outputs from 8 pre's to both the Apogee and the 002.

I guess it depends on the style of music, but I can usually get away with less than 16 tracks - I do mostly classical and jazz. Even the largest orchestra's and choirs (with soloists!) have been done well with less than 16.

I never really considered the possibility of ATA drives disappearing completely...

Best,
Old 13th January 2007
  #6
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We use Genex 9048 hard disk recorders whihc record WAV files onto reliable SCSI drives for transfer to firewire drives on my PT computer.

My experience renting supposedly bulletproof PT rigs for remotes has been very bad, and I won't go that route unless the client insists.

We run backup whenever possible to either w 2nd 9048 or good old reliable (mostly) Tascam Da-78 decks. Only had two occasions where we needed the backup units, but you've got to have them. Important to have an extrernal masterclock

Good luck.......
Old 13th January 2007
  #7
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All technology eventually makes way for the new. You can't plan for the distant future, so just worry about the immediate. ATA drives will be available for many years to come.
Old 21st July 2008
  #8
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Cool

i live a comfortable life off live gigs....

i use a macbookpro running m-powered protools 7.3.1, a projectmix i/o, with b.l.a. mod, and a digimax lt. i use a splitter snake so i get direct mic feeds. 16 tracks easy without ever a problem. 10 minutes to set-up and be running, life is good...
Old 21st July 2008
  #9
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I use a Pyramix DAW from a DAD AX24/Sphynx 2 with mic pre's via MADI. Uses a simple/stable Intel board/processer with SATA drives in a heavy duty rack case. This has removable HD trays in the front if we need to change out anything. We make sure to set up templates beforehand.
I also use a Tascam DV-RA1000 and a Korg MR1000 as back up.
No problems ....yet.. (where's that wood?)

Regards,
Bruce
Old 21st July 2008
  #10
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Larry Elliott's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DSD_Mastering View Post
I use a Pyramix DAW from a DAD AX24/Sphynx 2 with mic pre's via MADI. Uses a simple/stable Intel board/processer with SATA drives in a heavy duty rack case. This has removable HD trays in the front if we need to change out anything. We make sure to set up templates beforehand.
I also use a Tascam DV-RA1000 and a Korg MR1000 as back up.
No problems ....yet.. (where's that wood?)

Regards,
Bruce
Bruce

From this am I correct in thinking that your backup is a Stereo Mix?

Thanks

Larry
Old 21st July 2008
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macleod View Post
( then all i need to wory about is someone cutting the power to the van !! )
You need a UPS my friend!
Old 21st July 2008
  #12
"Live dangerously" is my motto-- just a single HD24, no real backup. I've heard tales of low frequencies throwing the drive off its stride, but in those situations I sit it on a jacket or some other soft fabricy thing.

Surely, when the time comes, Alesis will come out with a "next generation" something-or-other... I'm content to go with that flow. And why not?
Old 21st July 2008
  #13
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huub's Avatar
merging built pyramix pc with optical madi interface, clocked from video..
reliable: yes, as long as you know what you're doing.. have recorded 8 1/2 hours straight no prob.. 64 channels to single sata drive no prob too..
back up is whatever is available.. pc with rme madi card and reaper, tascam DA machines, if multitrack is not required by client (but rest assured, they will want the multitracks anyway , no back up.. Have personally never needed the back up.. knock on wood..

huub
Old 21st July 2008
  #14
Registered User
 

Joel, you ARE living on the edge! I had problems with my HD24 until doing the washer mod. Apparently the connector on the caddy doesn't seat well in the machine and can vibrate loose. If this happens then the recorder freezes until you push the caddy back in all the way. The fix is to put rubber washers on the screws on the back of the caddy, between the caddy chassis and connector. This pushes the connector away from the caddy and gives the socket in the HD24 more meat to grab onto. I think it's a must-do mod for any HD24 owner.

As far as Alesis coming out with a new product, I don't think that's going to happen. The stand alone hard drive market is minimal and will eventually be phased out.
Old 21st July 2008
  #15
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I live dangerously too. I could do a couple of things for back up but don't. I use two or three (only twice four) Metric Halo 2882 and ULN-2, both 2d card, v5. Millennia pres, PB 1.67.
Old 21st July 2008
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by bishopthomas View Post
...The fix is to ...
I'm staring at a caddy with a drive right now, I've opened up the sliding top... what do I do, again? You mean the screws that come in from the side and hold the drive in place? Rubber washers where? Please be patient with me, I've got severe problems with the English language....
Old 21st July 2008
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Elliott View Post
Bruce
From this am I correct in thinking that your backup is a Stereo Mix?
Thanks
Larry
Yes, thankfully I've never needed them.

Regards,
Bruce
Old 22nd July 2008
  #18
Registered User
 

Joel, I hope you didn't stare too long. Turn the caddy around so that you're looking at the connector on the back. There are two screws that attach the connector to the caddy. Unscrew them and slide a rubber (or nylon if that's what's lying around) washer between the connector and the caddy chassis. This way the connector is no longer directly touching the caddy and sticks out about 1/8" extra. This is all you need to get a firm connection between HD24 and caddy.
Old 22nd July 2008
  #19
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Remoteness's Avatar
Hey, Bishop with his serious plastic washers...

He hooked up my caddies real nice!!!
Old 22nd July 2008
  #20
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Here's a couple of pics from the last gig I just recorded last week. Simple thing, just Cello and Piano for some contemporary classical. The setup worked like a charm though, 10 hrs straight of recording for three whole days, not a single hiccup from the PT/laptop system or from the backup. The cool thing is that I only have to press F12 on the laptop to start the whole recording of main and backup, as I have MIDIed up the Mackie SDR to PT. So far the ISA428 AD is feeding the clock for the whole system, but since I use additional gear (3124 and ADs) for larger gigs, and I have additional things to purchase (I'm thinking about a second 428 with AD and load its additional 4 analog ins with something like a Sytek) I may need a clock generator for the whole setup. Any ideas about something relatively small (like 1/2 RU) but good quality? (don't want to hijack the thread, but, anybody actually tried this: Black Lion Audio Microclock ?
Attached Thumbnails
What do you use to do remote recording?-dsc00133s.jpg   What do you use to do remote recording?-dsc00135s.jpg  
Old 22nd July 2008
  #21
I use a laptop (HP nv9440 running either protoolsM or cubase) with DA-78s as backup, both fed digitally from Apogee AD16s.

I've been using the Tascam DA machines since the 88 first came out (about 15 years now), they are rock solid (yes there is something to be said for digital tape). I can not say the same thing for the computer. The downside of the DA machines is that, in today world, you have to transfer the audio to a computer back in the studio in real time. My desire to save a couple of hours in the studio has caused me to lug some extra gear to the gig. But it is also reasuring to know that, post converter, I have two independant recorders trying to capture that one time only event. Getting it right the first time is the only option.
Old 22nd July 2008
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by bishopthomas View Post
Turn the caddy around so that ...
Cool. thanks Thomas.
Old 25th July 2008
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildplum View Post
I use a laptop (HP nv9440 running either protoolsM or cubase) with DA-78s as backup, both fed digitally from Apogee DA16s.

I've been using the Tascam DA machines since the 88 first came out (about 15 years now), they are rock solid (yes there is something to be said for digital tape). I can not say the same thing for the computer. The downside of the DA machines is that, in today world, you have to transfer the audio to a computer back in the studio in real time. My desire to save a couple of hours in the studio has caused me to lug some extra gear to the gig. But it is also reasuring to know that, post converter, I have two independant recorders trying to capture that one time only event. Getting it right the first time is the only option.
Plum, what audio interface are you using with the laptop? Max analog inputs?

Thanks
Old 25th July 2008
  #24
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i use a macbookpro, an m-audio projectmix i/o (with the bla mod) and a digimax lt...with protools 7.3.1...and lacie 500gb hard drives... ROCK SOLID!!!
Old 25th July 2008
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson View Post
"Live dangerously" is my motto-- just a single HD24, no real backup. I've heard tales of low frequencies throwing the drive off its stride, but in those situations I sit it on a jacket or some other soft fabricy thing.

Surely, when the time comes, Alesis will come out with a "next generation" something-or-other... I'm content to go with that flow. And why not?
Joel, how do you monitor? Lug in a console?

Thanks
Old 25th July 2008
  #26
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Talking

I have just placed an order for the new NAGRA VI.

I have had one for a couple of weeks to write a review for "Line Up" magazine in the UK and liked it so much I'm buying one. This will be the centre of my location recording set-up.

Monitoring is on K+H O110D and Sennheiser HD 650 and HD 25-1 via a Grace m902b.

Mics are mainly Sennheiser & Neumann as listed elsewhere.
Old 25th July 2008
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by garysjo View Post
Joel, how do you monitor? Lug in a console?

Thanks
I guess I take a dangerous approach with that, too.

I figure there's really only two things I need to know when I'm monitoring--well, three. Is there a signal? How high do I set the gain on the mic pre? Where do I set the attack/release/etc on the compressor/limiter?

So, instead of any bulky "perfectly accurate" monitoring system which requires a quiet room, an amp, & speakers, I just rely on my trusty Sony 7506 headphones to clue me in on how it's all shaping up, sonics-wise. So I have the simplest, bare bones "boards" (a few Alesis Multimix's of various flavors) that give me a headphone out for however many channels are in play.

I just accept several things as given: what you're hearing through the 'phones is not really what's getting recorded, because you can't block out the sound from the room, not with 7506's. Also, in a live concert setting without any sound check, you set the levels based on what the murmuring crowd sounds like--you might have a few split seconds once the players start, in case your calculations were off. Also, your mic placement is already a done deal, you can't call a halt to everything and go change it-- you pray that you've judged this accurately, which is why you usually put up redundant sets of stereo mics to allow for all contingencies.

I guess I'm saying that to me, it's not a game of "test out the monitoring as though you were sitting there mixing and then jockey around the mics and players and EQ this or that until you're happy and then tell them to start," it's much more like hanging from the undercarriage of a moving train, you just need to know your grip on the shock-absorbers is secure--everything else you worry about later.
Old 25th July 2008
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by garysjo View Post
Plum, what audio interface are you using with the laptop? Max analog inputs?

Thanks
I use an M-Audio Lightbridge. I've done 32 tracks using Cubase (16 using ProTools-M).
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