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What's your favorite way to record live? Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
View Poll Results: What's your favorite way to record live?
Analog recorders (2", 1", 1/2", 1/4", audiocassette)
10 Votes - 4.67%
Digital recorders (DASH, ADAT, DTRS, DAT, etc, etc)
32 Votes - 14.95%
Hard disk recorders (RADAR, X48, HD24XR, MX2424, etc, etc)
87 Votes - 40.65%
DAW (PT and all the rest of the computer based rigs)
85 Votes - 39.72%
Voters: 214. You may not vote on this poll

Old 9th October 2002
Super Moderator
Remoteness's Avatar
Exclamation What's your favorite way to record live?

This poll is not about the battle of the brands, but more about, what you perfer to use. We have many options available to us, what's your favorite?

Which recording device do you like to use and why?

Choose a flavor and explain why you love it's taste

Only one flavor please.

Oh, and how do you backup your media? Do you bring two of everything or a combo of different recordable media?
Old 10th October 2002
Lives for gear
Steve Smith's Avatar

Tascam DA-78s

The media is inexpensive, you get 1h50m in a single tape ( The sets I generally record are 1h30m to 1h 45m, no reel changes) The transport is solid, and I have had very very few realaibility problems with Tascam ( the oly time I remember is because an owner had not made sure the software versions were all the same on the machines slaved together) and, if there is a power outage, the data is on tape, not on some harddrive gone bye-bye... that concept scares the **** out of me.

When I can I record to two sets of 78's simultainiously(sp) although I have never had a dropout..

Old 11th October 2002
Moderator emeritus

What Steve said - I used a pair of DA-78's on the last (and to date, only) live recording I did, and they were rock solid.
Old 11th October 2002
Here for the gear
Sugarite's Avatar

I wouldn't hesitate to bring a DAW on the road, but a Tascam MX2424 is easier to set up, less cumbersome, probably more reliable, and you can still transfer the audio to a DAW reasonably fast. I loathe tape, if not just for the lengthy process of transfering it to a DAW. I also time-align everything on mixdown to a master pair of audience mics, which is way too much of a PITA with tape.
Old 12th October 2002
Lives for gear
C.Lambrechts's Avatar

If I were to do an ideal recording setup I think I would go for a PT setup backed up by a set of da 78's or something in that line.

whatever you use during live recording I think it needs to be backed up at least once.
Old 7th November 2002
Super Moderator
Remoteness's Avatar
Anybody else care to vote?

PT, or not to PT?

DA*8's or other MDM's?

We only got 10 votes...

What's your preference in the real world of live recording?
Old 12th November 2002
Here for the gear
Kooster's Avatar

I use a 3348 for my primary record machine with a back up to DA98. I also use 48 tracks of Radar (Nyquist) with 80 gig drives and back up to DA98 at the same time. NEVER record just to a hard disk system without tape back up of some sort. Just my opinion.

Old 14th November 2002
One with big hooves
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
I've only done two of what I would consider to be "real" remote recordings. I used Adats both times rather then bringing an analog deck or a DAW. I don't like computers and I sure as **** won't trust my audio to HAL when there's only one shot. I would've brought the 2" deck but it won't fit in the car. If the budget was there a truck would've been great.
Old 14th November 2002
Gear Addict

I've done a fair amount of live multi-tracking. Although a lot of it was of my own band (thankfully on hiatus). I used to use ADATs. But - they suck. I've used a DA88 a couple times - it just doesn't suck so bad. We finally said - fucc it - lets just take the computer down there ! And we haven't turned back since. So when I upgraded to HD - I upgraded my B rig to have 32 analog inputs and mounted it the rack I used to have the ADAT's in (a nice 20 space shock rack with wheels and 32 channels of mic pre).

Now we only use ProTools live. I've never had a problem with it - and of course with HD in there now - it blows the ADAT's out of the water.

The best part is not having to load the ADAT's into the ProTools rig later (in fact I've still got a load of tapes I haven't bothered loading in yet!).
OR is the best part not having to remember to bring any tape!
Or was it that the tape never runs out it the middle of the encore !!!
Perhaps its that we no longer have to worry about machine #3 not locking up to the others after the set has already started!

I do still need better mic pres though and am starting to think that four Digi Pres would be the way to go for this rig.
Old 14th November 2002
Gear Addict
Greg Heimbecker's Avatar
DA-78s work for me for all the reasons Steve Smith laid out. Tape length is a big one particularly for live classical performances. Where necessary I run a DAT backup though in 3 yrs of DA-78 use I haven't ever had a problem. I'm also not working in the rarified environments Kooster and Steve Remote are.

Is anybody using anything other than Fuji tape at 24 bit? Anybody need 20 Quantegy tapes?
Old 14th November 2002
Here for the gear

The absolute truth of the matter is this: Pro Tools RULES! BUT...
and this is a HUGE but...tape is far more reliable and far less taxing on your nerves!!!

I myself am using a 6 i/o (48 input) 24 bit PT system running on a half terrabyte of SAN storage- with 6 HR 78's for backup.

And while I have yet to experience a problem with know, you just know it's coming...and for that reason alone, I would not be caught dead without the tape!!!

Better the devil you know!!!! CYA!!!!
Old 16th November 2002
Gear Maniac

I record on a DAW that is capable of up to 24/94.

I have a rack that contains two firewire hotswap drives. I record to one main drive, and as soon as the gig is over I make a sector copy to the 2nd bay. After breakdown both drives get pulled from their bays and put into a case, which sits with me on the passanger on the drive home. Yes, I worry.

Ideally I would like to have a MX-2424 or Radar, yet rental is a more reasonable plan for me...
Old 16th November 2002
Here for the gear
Kooster's Avatar

I went for the Radar system as my hard disk recording system because of the A to D converters and it's stability. The Radar is built primarily as a recorder with editing capabilities and not as a DAW. Pro tools if fine if you are recording for 2 - 3 minutes at a time. But put it in record for 3 hours and it is usualy not too happy. This past summer I recorded 3 shows for Barry Manilo to ProTools HD and at the end of each 2.5 hour show the system would crash as soon as you hit the stop button. I can't tell you the sinking feeling I had in my stomach each time it happened. Thank heaven Steve Greko of Dream Hire (it was their system) was able to extract all the tracks back at their shop. The great thing about the Radar is that it can record BWF format for easy inport into Pro Tools. I was going to get the MX-2424 but was told by Steve Greko that when you connect two of them together for 48 tracks the unit becomes quirky. I believe the number he used was a 40% failure rate on all MX-2424 rentals. Way too high for my line of work. Again I never record to any hard disk system without a tape back up of some sort.
After saying that...... I am leaving tomorrow for Brazil to record RUSH in Rio and Sal Paolo onto 48 tracks of (you guessed it) MX-2424. It is what is available on the remote truck down there. I will be backing up on to DA88 also.
Old 16th November 2002
Moderator emeritus

Originally posted by Kooster
I went for the Radar system as my hard disk recording system because of the A to D converters and it's stability.
I haven't used the Radar under live recording pressures, but for the two weeks it was here, I had zero problems, and comments from the musicians on the the sound quality.

I'm glad to hear it remains solid in a live application.
Old 28th November 2002
Gear Maniac

Originally posted by Greg Heimbecker
DA-78s work for me for all the reasons Steve Smith laid out. Tape length is a big one particularly for live classical performances. Where necessary I run a DAT backup though in 3 yrs of DA-78 use I haven't ever had a problem. I'm also not working in the rarified environments Kooster and Steve Remote are.

Is anybody using anything other than Fuji tape at 24 bit? Anybody need 20 Quantegy tapes?
Greg, didn't you happen to record some of the String Cheese Incident's live stuff?

If so, what did you track to for those...
Old 28th November 2002
Gear Maniac

MY first foray into live multi track recording was with a MX2424 in July 2000. I haven't looked back since. At one point I had a total of three units, now I'm down to two.

Each unit is housed in a 5 space "anvil type" case-in-case.

-No internal drives (easier on the internal PSU)

-analog interfaces and AES/EBU interfaces

-hard disks for both units can be mounted in a single enclosure with 6 x drives, also rack mounted.

- split snake to preamps, or direct out from console to Analog card in MX are how it's usually done, third option is snake direct to Digimax, line out to console, AES/EBU to MX2424.

-syncing 2 (or 3) MX'es is as simple as connecting a SINGLE "TL" cable (looks like a serial cable, I think the pin out is like a "null modem" cable)

- typically record 32-38 tracks, have recorded in excess of 30 live performances, not one single MX2424 related hitch.

-no backup system whatsoever. Have not lost a single second of a single take of a single song of any show /performance to date. (the 1st recording in July 2000 don't count - )

- use a variety of drives. Primarily 9, 36 & 73Gb 10kRPM U160/U320 68pin SCSI drives. Hot swap solution is in external case.

- (not an advertisment!) currently in the process of acquiring 3 x 8 channel mic pres (Precision 8) and other A>D converters...

-love the ability to take the MX 2424 and my rack of hard drives anywhere in the world that uses AC power, and just plug in. That part of my rig uses 100~240V, 50/60Hz. ( For that same reason, that's why I love my TC Electronics stuff )

-writes to all popular file formats, was probably the 1st HDR to offer the easiest migration path to Pro Tools.

-I use a APC Smart UPS 700M and a Smart UPS 450 ("Powerstack 450") to provide clean power to the MX'es, hard drives, mic pre's and A>D converters. Using these overseas is a bitch, because I have unusually "high" power requirements, and the local crew has to provide step down/step up transformers which are larger than they "usually" provide, but since it works for me, that's how I'm doing it....

-with acquisition of additional A>D's, will need
a) clock generator
b) clock distribution.
Currently looking at Nanosyncs & Nanoclock...any suggestions?

-typically recording from Monitor World, or FOH positions.

-Some day, time permitting, I'm going to bite the bullet and put 4 x MX2424 in a Chevy Express /etc....

NYC Drew
Old 28th November 2002
Gear Addict
Greg Heimbecker's Avatar
Hi Jay,

BTW I got your email but have been slammed this week...

The only work I've done with String Cheese was tracking on "Round the Wheel". They booked our room for 22 days and came in with James Tuttle who engineered 10 days with me assisting and then I did the other 12 days. That album was tracked on Adats then dumped to 2" which my ruffs tell me didn't come without a bit of a penalty... It was mixed at Colorado Sound by Kevin Clock with John O'leary their FOH guy.

I don't know what they did the series of live CDs on. It sure generated a bunch of work for Airshow though!

Great bunch of guys! I had a great time working with them and was priviledged to work with Tony Furtado and Paul McCandless. The project paid for our first Pro Tools righeh

When I come up for air I'll respond to your email.

Happy day Turkeys!grggt
Old 1st December 2002
Lives for gear
jwh1192's Avatar
DA-98HR and 5 DA-78HR...

only problem I ever had with this setup was when the Lithium batts start to go they tend to lose settings and revert to Machine 1 defaults....when you need to lock 6 machines and they all decide they want to be "No.1" you are ****ed.

get your older machines retrofit with the new battery holders.....

peace john
Old 20th December 2002
Gear Nut


I have been tracking a live festival for the last four years. Two gigs per day for five days. Ended up with around 80-100 ADAT tapes at the end of it all.

I would like to bring my PT rig but there is something sollid and stable about having tape. You eject a batch, load up and keep going. If something goes wrong (nothing ever has - keep the MDM well serviced) then you don't loose the whole damn session.
You have something in the bag.

Of course 16 Bit etc. is not ideal but....

Old 21st December 2002
Gear Head

Live recording was what got me involved with the Radar to begin with. My requirements were reliability first sound quality second. The Radar definitely nailed it on both of these counts.

This is without a doubt the most reliable recorder I have used. There is no way I would ever consider taking my daw on the road. tut I had a lot of people recommend laptops but this never made any sense to me. I have to hand it to you guys who are brave enough to go this route.

The latest Radar Nyquist comes with 2 hard drives and rumor has it that upcoming versions of the software will allow me to record to two drives simultaneously. This is cool and exactly what I need for live gigs.

One little feature that I discovered about the Radar that even iZ doesn't promote is the ability to do drive spanning. I discovered that if you have multiple drives and the first drive gets full, the Radar will automatically beginning recording on the second drive.

Old 21st December 2002
Gear Addict

Just recorded a show Saturday straight ProTools HD.
32 tracks - 24/96 All to one Firewire drive.
All rackmounted except the LCD.
No problems what-so-ever.
I rolled it in, inserted my splitters between the mics and the house snake & plugged my two multipins into the rack. Simple.
Sounded good - except for some of the singing that is.
Old 22nd December 2002
Lives for gear
hollywood_steve's Avatar

record live

So far, its all been straight to SV3800, live to 2. And its worked out great. Good mics, good preamps and those "horrible" DAT recorders can still equal a decent recording. And capturing the entire performance on two mics is the most fun part of recording, for me anyway.

but there is a Radar just peeking over the horizon (not my doing, but I'll be very glad to give it a go)

[email protected]
Old 22nd December 2002
Gear Maniac

I had a lot of people recommend laptops but this never made any sense to me. I have to hand it to you guys who are brave enough to go this route.
Hmm, not sure what you find doesn't make sense. I've done a few shows now with a Titanium Powerbook and a Magma chasis. It's worked great. Backup has been to a FW drive.

On 2 track live stuff I use the same system and run a Masterlink simultaneously.
Old 22nd December 2002
Gear Head

Tube it is not that you can't do live work on a laptop. Obviously its technically possible but when I am getting paid to do a job reliability is number one priority.

Desktop computers are inherently unreliable and that is fact of life that most of us live with. Now can you minimize this reality, of course. Build a clean machine with no other software installed. Make sure all patches and updates are made to the operating system, do not install ANY plug-ins and make sure you have the most reliable versions of all drivers.

But I speak from 18+ years experience in software development that every piece of hardware, software, driver, plug-in etc. adds a new variable to reliability. A poorly written driver or plug-in can cause all kinds of problems. When we released new versions of our software even the slightest change required a complete re-testing cycle. Every version of the software had to be retested with the new drivers, patches, updates etc. We had a entire lab just to do burn-in and testing and this is an extremely difficult process and catching bugs are not an easy task.

So my point is this... desktop computers are wonderful tools. Their greatest strength is the versatility and flexibility. One minute your laptop can be a digital recorder tool or audio editing system and the next a word processor or graphic workstation. BUT there greatest weakness is they are so versatile and flexible. Desktops that can be word processors one minute and audio recorders the next are not the same thing as professional dedicated audio recorders that are built to specifically to do multitrack recording.

Some people will say "yea but they are both computers". I would argue that they both have CPU's but that is where the similarity stops. It took me all of 15 minutes with my first Radar to realize that this was a professional audio system that just happened to have a computer in it. In fact you even forget it is a computer at all. There is no front panel, no mouse and you do not need to plug in monitor if you don't want. It was totally different than my daw which is a computer that also happens to do audio. Every time I fire up the daw there is NO doubt this thing is a desktop computer.

A few months ago iZ announced a completely solid-state hard drive for the Radar. This is a non-mechanical high speed memory system that retains its information after the power is removed. I forget the exact specs but it was rated at some incredible meantime between failures and would last for many many years. They were demonstrating it at a show by taking it out of a machine and throwing it across the floor, then taking it and plugging it back in and hitting play.

Now this puppy is not cheap but the entire point is it is reliable. When I am getting paid to record a live event there is no Take 2. The company doesn't care about drive failures or what software I am using. If a company is hired to record a major concert and they lose the recording, they could buy a dozen laptops for what it cost them. This says nothing about reputation and future business they might lose.

So lets be clear, I am not saying it can't be done, I am just saying that live gigs are stressful enough and worrying about backup tapes and desktop computers is not some thing else I like to add to the equation. heh

Old 22nd December 2002
Gear Maniac

I guess it's all a matter of experience, what kind of you've had and what kind you're looking for.

I too have been in the computer/software biz for 18+ years, as well as having worked in recording studios for over 25 years. I do both nearly every day.

I do optimize the operating systems on my computers and minimize everything that goes into them, sticking to just what's neccesary. That's only common sense.

Once PT is released for OS X I'll make the move to HD. I have several Macs running OS X that haven't crashed for months at a time. My brand new XP Pro box tanks about once a week. (Believe me I don't want to start a platform debate, that's futile at best).

I'm totally comfortable working with a laptop for live gigs and always work that way. As the new RADAR system comes out I'll be one of the first in line to give it a go.
Old 1st January 2003
Lives for gear
I use PT HD2 and am very happy with it. I have a road system which is racked up and ready to go with 36gig scsi removable drives and I backup to VXA tape or firewire drives (or both!). It's really handy to just pull the drives out and pop them into the studio system for mixing/editing. Also, the Sync I/O box it great for locking to house sync. If it's an important gig I also get 2 radars just in case. I regularly record 48 tracks, split across two drives and this seems to be work well.
Happy New Year to you all.

Old 5th January 2003
Gear Nut
gregrw's Avatar

I'll add another thumbs-up for the DA-78hr. Tape works for me. Computers don't. I've said elsewhere that my tape machines have never ever ever ever said "This program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down."
Old 7th January 2003
Lives for gear
TinderArts's Avatar

Originally posted by NYC Drew

-with acquisition of additional A>D's, will need
a) clock generator
b) clock distribution.
Currently looking at Nanosyncs & Nanoclock...any suggestions?

NYC Drew
Drew, get the Nanosyncs and a Brainstorn SR15+ Distripalizer. (Kooster will vouch for the SR15+!) The Nanosync will be much more versatile than the Nanoclock, especially when you work with video.

Old 7th January 2003
Lives for gear
jwh1192's Avatar
another thumbs up for the brainstorm...
Old 7th January 2003
Super Moderator
Remoteness's Avatar
Yeah, the SR15 is a key item in every film or teleproduction production we do. We got one in each truck plus a few portable units.

One of our portable racks has an SR15 feeding TC to a Sony TC video burner, a Sony DSR1500, a Tascam DA98HR and DA60MKII.
It's a great way to distribute, reshape, analyze SMPTE TC...

Oh, and the device can strip pilot tone from the TC signal or AC mains....


...It's some of that old school stuff. heh
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