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Best/Cheapest Recorder with built in CD burner in it

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  • Best/Cheapest Recorder with built in CD burner in it

    I know there a dying breed, but I don't have a good enough computer to mix stuff down, so I just thought getting the built in CD burner would be better. I need one with a drum track, and other good features won't hurt either, around the 300$ range. Anybody have any good ideas let me know

  • #2
    The TASCAM DP-03 is around $300. Its got a burner but you'll have to look in the manual to see if it has built in drums. If not go on EBay and pick up one of those Zoom 123 drum machines. The drum sound are incredibly realistic and you have like 300 presets and 100 user presets, and a couple of hundred sets. Its got a bass track too you can program if you want too.

    The unit only records 16/44 so you shouldn't expect anything better then demo quality recordings and you are limited to two tracks at a time for a maximum or 8 tracks only unless you bounce the tracks. That's the problem with stand alone recorders. They are like Analog decks. You can are limited by how many tracks they can handle.

    Truthfully though, you don't need much computing power to do it all in a computer. Allot of people think you need some screaming fast high end computer to record and mix and that's just not true. I been recording digital since 1994 when I had an old 386 running windows 3.1 with 2 2G drives. I got my first CD burner in 98 and was recording 8 tracks at a time on an old 1/2 gig single processor computer. I used that thing for close to 10 years and had no issues recording 16 tracks. Its only been in the past few years since I've upgraded and that was mainly I wanted to upgrade to newer software.

    You must be posting on this site using some kind of computer. You can find any number of older computers being sold for scrap that will do the job fine. Last computer I got was a Dual core on ebay for $25. I spent $20 for some additional memory and another $10 for a CD burner and it will smoke burning tracks all day long. Of course I did have the monitor and interface to connect to it. I also had the software to load onto it but you can download enough freeware to do anything that Tascam can do and actually blow it doors off mixing if you learn how.

    The only time I see a stand alone as being useful is for taking it to a rehearsal or something of that nature. Otherwise they are a bastard to mix on. All the menus are buried and you need the manual in hand for doing anything on them. Last time I used a manual on a computer was maybe 25 years ago when I was learning an unfamiliar program.

    That's just my opinion though. There are some people who are technically challenged, usually older guys who at best, can push a few buttons to make things work who prefer something stand alone. Not necessarily because they are easier (they quickly find out how much of a bastard they really are to use) but because they don't intend to do quality recordings.

    You should note with either system you will need good studio monitors to mix. Getting things on tracks is useless unless you have the tools to hear them properly when mixing. Headphones, computer monitors, or commercial grade Hi Fi speakers are not going to get your close to even demo quality. (take it from somebody who did it for 15 years that way and knows for a fact you cant mix that way)

    Luckily the price of some decent monitors have come down in cost. I bought a second set of monitors about a year ago and paid $200 for a set of M-Audio BX5's. The sound quality is quite excellent and I can run them at half volume an still be to loud for most mixing jobs. Alesis and others also make some cheaper ones but you go too cheap and you'll no better off then using consumer crap. The idea is to have something a step above consumer so when you play it back on other gear it will sound like it was professionally mixed.

    If you have any kind of computer at all, I'd spend $250 on nearfield monitors and $50 on an interface. You can buy 2 channel interfaces that will record at twice the sample rate of a Tascam stand alone and you will be able to record an unlimited number of tracks. I think the Lexicon Alpha even comes with a Lite version of Cubase.

    If you do get the Tascam, then get a SD card adapter for you computer (they cost $5. You can then install a DAW program like Reaper and upload the tracks to the computer for mixing. Then you can just use headphones for tracking. The differences in work flow between a stand alone and computer are to great to compare. The learning curve learning to mix on a stand alone is many times greater compared to the software based environment where you can see things work.


    • #3
      Well I'm not computer challenged when it comes to mixing, I've done it before. My buddy hooked me up with a program to record and mix tracks, but I never burned them to cd. The computer I have now has no CD drive, and is my daughters computer so I would need my own computer with a CD drive to burn it. I would really like to go the computer way, but have no idea what programs are best and cheapest to get. Plus I figured my daughter got some Beat headphones and I could use them to mix it down to hear what I got instead of getting monitors. So what do you think would be the better way to go, Recording to SD card then mixing on computer or just mixing on the recorder to cd to burn it


      • #4
        The problem with mixing on headphones is a depth issue. When you use headphones the left ear cant hear what the right ear hears. They are completely isolated from each other. When you center an image its inside your skull. When you center and image on monitors that image is in front of you and because you have two ears that triangulate sound you can judge the three dimensional depth and distance of a sound which allows you to properly create a three dimensional aural image within a stereo field.

        In painting the eyes see shadows and differences in size and color which the artist uses to create the illusion of distance on a flat plane. This is the same thing that occurs in music. You use reverb and tonal colorations to create depth in music. When you use headphones your depth perceptions are handicapped and you wind up drawing two dimensional stick figures on a flat surface. you may think you have depth but there's absolutely no way of knowing how close or how far musical sounds are from the listener. Drums can wind up being in front of vocals or guitars below bass. The ability to use headphones to make those adjustments just isn't possible.

        Occasionally you may get lucky and get things close but never optimal. I mixed with headphones for a good 12 years when I had small kids growing up and really couldn't afford monitors at that time. I'd get maybe one out of 20 mixes that sounded somewhat realistic and that's only because I'd take that mix, play it back in the car or on a stereo system, then come back and remix it again. Once I did get some monitors that average reversed itself to were I had maybe one in 20 that had a fault first go round and even that could be fixed re-tweaking things.

        Even if you only have a Hi Fi system connected to an interface you can at least test the musical depth. Most stereos have an auxillary input for connecting a Tape deck, CD player or external EQ you can use to plug into the interface. Computer monitors would need an adaptor, usually a 1/8 stereo to two 1/4" jacks so you can plug them in. These wont have the right frequency responses however. Studio monitors have an ultra flat frequency response so any EQ changes you make will be 1:1. Computer monitors and Hi Fi gear hype the highs and lows to make music sound bigger then it actually is so your music winds up sounding small and claustrophobic using them. Like I said its still better then nothing until you can afford the basic tools.

        Software is your least of worries. you can download several free DAW programs that will do the exact same job as your high end ones. You may have to work a little harder getting things done because some of the paid features aren't available but even those aren't needed till you're well past the learning curve. You can also visit sites like KVR and download thousands of different effects and virtual instrument plugins. Even with my own system where I have all kinds of software I purchased, I still use a good 50% free plugins. Some I just know well having used them so long and can get results. Others are just that good where there's nothing out there can replace them.

        Not having your own computer is a biggie however. I can see where a stand alone appears to be a short cut. A cd burner is no big issue. You can buy one here for $13

        Back when I first started I paid $250 for a burner that burned at 2X. An external drive can burn at 24X now.
        The thing is you will still have to move your mix to a computer to master it and get its volume up to commercial levels. A stand alone may have limiter to pump the mix up before burning to a CD but there is a huge issue there which can be a black hole. One a computer you can do a mix down and test the mix for phase, Frequency response and DB levels before you apply some mastering effects then burn a CD.

        A stand alone wont have those tools, just some meter levels and your ears. Even a pro whose been doing it all his life would not be able to get optimal sound on a stand alone unit without using some kind of external comparison to make judgments. You may think what you hear is good enough to get a good recording but after several hundred attempts to get it right, you'll eventually discover that the unit lacks essential tools needed to do a professional job. This is why I said first off the units may get you some demo quality recordings. They can be handy writing songs and jotting down ideas you'll want to record professionally at some point.

        Its also why I said, moving the tracks to a computer for mixing is your best option. You can then run some essential tools like audio analyzers, phase and DB checkers to help you overcome some major obstacles. You're going to need those especially if you don't have studio monitors to use as a baseline for your ears.

        There's a whole lot more to this of course. If you were to ask me about a stand alone 20 years ago I would have raved about their abilities. knowing both at this point, I have to lean towards the tools that will do the best job. I have several friends who invested heavily in stand alones thinking they could make professional recordings but without professional guidance they failed to achieve their goals. Its wasn't that the gear couldn't do the job, it was their inability to learn to use it optimally. Often times they could record decent performances, but couldn't get a decent mix. They'd bring me the recorder with the unit and I'd upload the tracks to my computer and within and hour had a high quality mix happening. Once they saw it done then they understood what they were missing to get the job done right. Even my one buddy who had a solid analog background recording to tape and did wonders recording to a stand alone was impressed enough to sell his unit and switch to a daw.

        Again, it comes down to your goals. If you're into writing music or just wanting some feedback on what you're doing a stand alone can be good enough for that. If you're wanting to make CD's to distribute to your fans then the quality you will achieve will most likely hurt you more then help. People don't know how difficult it is to get a good recording and expect at least a minimum quality on a CD. Getting them to listen to even a high quality recording is like pulling teeth.


        • #5
          My favorite one of all time is the Roland VS-2000CD. It has a built in CD burner, but what makes it so awesome to me is the ability to connect a mouse and computer monitor to it. That way you have a stand alone digital recorder with ability to see and interact with it like a PC. I must say to be able to do this the recorder must have a certain "card" installed. Roland hasn't made them for a while, but I have seen them on ebay sale for $400.00 with the card installed.
          James Shannon Bussey & The Drunk Thirsty Cowboys


          • MDMachiavelli
            MDMachiavelli commented
            Editing a comment
            I agree with what you say for the most part, I just thought I would throw that one out there for dicussion. I really liked it and it is the only stand alone I know of that has ever offered that capability.

            Only thing I really think differently about is saying that it is more like a DAW. I think it is definitely more stand alone than DAW, it just gives you the monitor capabilities that a DAW does, and to me that is what makes it unique and worth mentioning.

          • WRGKMC
            WRGKMC commented
            Editing a comment
            I used the term workstation loosely there. A workstation usually has a fine tuned system for a specific job.
            I suppose terminal might be a better term but terminals require a connection to a main frame and its only given certain rights to access material on a main frame.

          • MDMachiavelli
            MDMachiavelli commented
            Editing a comment
            I gotcha, like I said the uniqueness of it was really the main reason I mentioned it.

        • #6
          A great sounding and powerful unit is the Yamaha AW4416 however it does not have a built in drum machine. It does have MIDI and Song Position Pointer so it's easy to sync up to a drum machine without using up any tracks.

          They are quite cheap now for what they are because the built in CD burner is very slow by today's standards.
          Every worm, every insect, every animal is working
          for the ecological wellbeing of the planet.

          Only we humans, who claim to be the most intelligent
          species here, are not doing that. ~Sadhguru


          • #7
            The cheapest would be the computer you already own. Sorry couldnt resist...
            Stupidity in of itself is a fine art.