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Markyboard Seeking Equipment Advice? Seriously?


Markyboard

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Seriously! Here's the deal. My dad is looking to replace his dual cassette deck which he uses for recording his Steinway piano at home. I hooked him up with a pair of SM81s and Tannoy monitors through his receiver a number of years ago and he's been pretty happy with this arrangement. At one point I gave him my Mackie mixer (1402) attempting to improve his work flow and sound but it was too cumbersome and he gave it back after a few months.

 

So what he wants is

1) A recorder that is no harder to use then what he has now.

2) Saves off to external media (he is not a computer person so USB storage is out)

3) EASILY allows recording in sections i.e continuing on at a later time. This is where he was using the dual cassettes to bounce but I assume any digital accommodates this much more elegantly. Question is...is it easy?

4) Lets him uses the SM81s (he likes those)

 

I suggested and showed him on line the Zoom H4/H4N, Sony PCM D50, yamaha, etc. I'm thinking being able to place one of these on the piano in front of him makes this 10x easier than always turning around to control the cassete (uggg!)

 

I'd Appreciate any experience you guys have or any other suggestions. Thanks.

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How about one of those cd recorders, for instance marantz cdr300, or Superscope. I can't tell you specific model numbers off the top of my head, but as far as I can remember, I think they are designed as stand-alone units, and are user-friendly, and designed for the computer-phobe. A vibes player I know uses one of the superscopes and is quite happy with it. I think some of them have XLR mic inputs.

 

 

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I'm a huge Sony PCM D50 fan. It has replaced my use of 81's and my Shure VP88 for live recording. It really sounds that good and is so compact.

 

I'm unclear on his bouncing use on a dual cassette. There is no editing other than dividing tracks on the Sony. I often record many things and mix and splice them afterword on my computer. Great for field sampling.

 

He could record many "takes" as it is not a linear recorder like a cassette. It can store 100's of tracks. They are automatically named (DateTimeStamp) every time you arm the recorder.

 

I'm not sure what his final product would be.

 

I've got my Sony on my desk. Would be happy to try some scenarios for you to see of it will work. PM me for more info if you like.

 

BTW, I got my Dad one of these and he records his church services and meetings with it. He also used to use a pair of 81's, a 2 ch pre, and a cassette deck. He loves it.

 

 

 

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How about one of those cd recorders, for instance marantz cdr300, or Superscope...

 

I forgot that we went down the recordable CD path a couple of years ago (can't remember the make/model). I think that's when I brought in the mixer to help him out. Anyway that also went bye bye as it just wasn't for him. Thanks for the suggestion.

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I'm unclear on his bouncing use on a dual cassette. There is no editing other than dividing tracks on the Sony...

He could record many "takes" as it is not a linear recorder like a cassette. It can store 100's of tracks. They are automatically named (DateTimeStamp) every time you arm the recorder.

 

I believe he was using one cassette as his final version and using the other to work out parts. Once he was happy with the recorded part he would transfer that to the final adding it on to where he left off. If you can string/chain files together to make it sound like one piece of music that would probably work.

 

Thanks for your assistance.

 

 

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You're a good man to help your Dad. I think it's cool that he records his playing the Steinway. :thu:

 

Tom

 

Thanks Tom. It's frustrating being a techno geek trying to help my dad who is so non-techno. When I listen to his recordings I cringe at the low quality, distortion hiss etc. and just think I got to help this man out. After all I blame him for my affliction.

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All of those mini-recorder things are far harder to edit upon than a computer. He is seriously absolutely no way going for a computer based solution? Because the simple Tascam US 122, 144, or any other major manufacturuers embodiment of the same piece of hardware could not be easier, comes with all the software needed, and can be run by a child. Once he sees how easy it is to cut and paste audio tracks (following in your stopping now/resuming later requirement) he'll never want to do it any other way. And machines like the 122 have only 2 mic/line/instrument inputs, 2 volume knobs, and a couple of switches to select what the input IS, so they are pretty much set and forget devices.

 

Just my 2 cents.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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All of those mini-recorder things are far harder to edit upon than a computer. He is seriously absolutely no way going for a computer based solution? Because the simple Tascam US 122, 144, or any other major manufacturers embodiment of the same piece of hardware could not be easier, comes with all the software needed, and can be run by a child. Once he sees how easy it is to cut and paste audio tracks (following in your stopping now/resuming later requirement) he'll never want to do it any other way. And machines like the 122 have only 2 mic/line/instrument inputs, 2 volume knobs, and a couple of switches to select what the input IS, so they are pretty much set and forget devices.

 

Just my 2 cents.

 

 

 

Thanks Bill-I'm thinking that a recorder that lets you play multiple files back to back may work. No editing per say, really just stringing pieces together so he can get a feel for the whole piece put together. I'm not sure how the gap spacing would be between files but the Zoom 4N seems to let you do this. (play all files in a folder). Even if my dad were receptive to the whole computer idea the logistics of setting one up in the living room next to the piano are unpalatable at best. I could see it now...

 

Me: After you boot up...

Dad: what, I need special footwear to operate this thing?

Me: No Dad, you just want to turn on the computer and get it ready for recording. Now using the mouse...

Dad: Mouse...where?

Infestation

 

 

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Well, it would really be pretty easy to boot directly to the program. In the program, build a recording template. Showing dad how to open that template, use the familiar transport buttons, and how to save the resulting recording with its own unique name would be easy.

 

Getting people to grasp computers is mostly a matter of finding the hook that interests them. With my mom it was photography. She love to take pictures. When I showed her that there was no film, and that she could print out the pictures immediately, she picked up the ball and ran with it. Not very far, but now she can shoot her pictures, load them into the computer, print them, share them, and burn them off to CD. Pretty much all she needed. Oh, and now she uses email, and it helps her to keep in touch with her friends and relatives.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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I haven't looked at them for a while, but the first incarnations of digital recorders from Tascam and Fostex seemed to operate just like tape-based 4-tracks. I'd look at their lower end 4-track recorders.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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After all I blame him for my affliction.

 

I blame my Dad for all my afflictions.

 

But somehow I don't think they're the same ones that you inherited, Markyboard.

 

No, really. I don't mind being short. :rolleyes:

 

I just wish I could quit asking people to 'pull my finger'.

 

I should have stopped thinking that was funny four or five years ago, right? :laugh:

 

http://www.opticstalk.com/uploads/6227/Pull_my_finger.jpg

 

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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I haven't looked at them for a while, but the first incarnations of digital recorders from Tascam and Fostex seemed to operate just like tape-based 4-tracks. I'd look at their lower end 4-track recorders.

 

Yeah, that was my point about the 122 or the 144 or the 248 (which looks like a portastudio)... they work like portastudios, but use the computer for display and storage; but bring the added advantage of MIDI and software synths and a bunch of other stuff if you care to dig that deep. At the very least, you can make CDs.

 

And I'm not trying to hawk Tascam. Just happens to be a product I tried. Most of the other manufacturers make similar boxes that work in a similar fashion.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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It's really hard to argue with you guys...especially since I'm right there with you. My dad (and mom) do not own a computer. I'm sure he could figure it out if he wanted to. He was an Electrical Engineer way back when they had slide rules and such and turned management prior to retiring 20+ years ago. The thing is my dad says he does not want to spend his time on a computer even though he recognizes the benefits and even hits me up occasionally to research something for him or buy CDs etc. He has absolutely no interest in making better quality recording (soundwise), CDs etc. unless it comes for free (time wise that is). If he even hears/notices the poor quality he doesn't care. He just wants to be a better pianist. He uses the cassette player to work things out. Crappy sound, minimal fuss, but hard to argue as he's probably practicing the piano as I type.

 

Thanks for the inputs though - really not dissing you guys at all as I'm shopping for some nice preamps/eq/compressor these days. To each his own.

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Zoom H4 is really the best. It is simple, and quality is excellent. It's really made for music and the recording is in stereo. It's really popular among those recording piano.

 

Thanks- this is the one that I've been eyeing as a possibility. I'm going to try and have a look at one - probably the newer 4N version.

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I haven't researched these thins in a couple of years, but from my last look, I liked the Olympus model best. And think about output... it is a bonus if there is a digital out like USB or something, so that you can dump to the computer for editing or making a CD.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Zoom H4 is really the best. It is simple, and quality is excellent. It's really made for music and the recording is in stereo. It's really popular among those recording piano.

 

Thanks- this is the one that I've been eyeing as a possibility. I'm going to try and have a look at one - probably the newer 4N version.

 

Marky:

 

My question is what is your dad going to do with those digital files on the Zoom H4N when he actually wants to listen to them? If USB connectivity to a computer (for drag-and-drop CD burning) is out of the question (as your OP suggests), then Pops will be left with great recordings to which he has no access (unless he wants to run an analog line out from the Zoom to a cassette deck or something for transfer to a non-digital physical medium).

 

Noah

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Mark-

 

I spent mega hours researching, and eventually mucho $$$s in my quest to record my Steinway D.

 

That Sony PCM-D50 is nice. I bought one about 2 months ago. The build quality is excellent and Keyboard gave it their "key buy" award (fwiw).It sounds pretty good when you stick it on the music desk of the piano and point inwards towards the strings. I don't think the internal mics of the Sony or any of those standalone recorders mentioned are going to be of the quality of your SM81s. The BIG drag about the Sony is if you want to use external mics they KILL you on their accessories.

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/PCMD1XLR

I also bought the tripod mount which gives you more flexibility with postioning the recorder, but again, RIP CITY. With the recorder, XLR adaptor and tripod you're just under 1K. Of course the internal mics on the Sony or Zoom might be fine for his needs.

 

Richard mentioned the Marantz CD recorder. That might be another option for your dad. I used the CDR-300 and I'm still using it although bypassing the front end completely. He wouldn't have to mess with Digital files. He'd have a CD to give to his friends or he can just load it into the computer and make MP3s or whatever. This is a newer Marantz

http://www.d-mpro.com/users/folder.asp?FolderID=1810

 

Superscope now took over support for the older line (my CDR300) and from what I've been told, this dual well CD recorder is the only one still being manufactured based on the older Superscope/Marantz format.

http://www.superscopetechnologies.com/products/PSD340/index.shtml

That's a lotta dough for a CD recorder. Although both the DM-PRO/Marantz & Superscope have the XLR inputs and phantom power to drive those Shures.

 

Tascam just came out with a CD recorder that also features the internal mics, XLR inputs and phantom power. Don't know how it sounds though.

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/BB1000CD

 

This guy might be worth checking out. He's into Acoustic music and also does mods on some of these recorders that he sells. He was nice, knowledgeable and gave me some helpful advice. I almost bought a modded Edirol R44 from him.

http://www.oade.com/index.html

 

One other thing, your Dad is not alone in wanting to just hit RECORD and go when recording an acoustic instrument. Aside from yours truly here, there is a very sizable sub set of folks spending from $200-500 on the Zoom, Sony, Olympus, etc. to $1600-2000 on the Tascam DV-RA 1000 HD (my probable next purchase), Alesis HD24 XR to $1875-5000 on the Sound Devices recorders to 8K on the 8 channel Radar V and Nagra VI recorder.

 

Like a lot of things, it depends on budget and how crazy you wanna get with this stuff.

 

 

 

 

 

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I like the Zoom H4 a lot. I use it for scratch recordings of full-band writing sessions in a rehearsal studio, and it's perfect for that for me. I, too, wanted something that required very little work. In the past I would record these sessions, and then come home to a massive chore -- getting the recordings shared to other people. With the Zoom it's super simple -- but I use a computer to do it. (Grab the mp3 files off the zoom, then upload them to divshare.com.)

 

It does have playback capability, and so it may meet your dad's needs as is.

 

The sound quality is stunning for the price, and it does have XLR inputs.

 

--Dave

Make my funk the P-funk.

I wants to get funked up.

 

My Funk/Jam originals project: http://www.thefunkery.com/

 

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Noah

 

Noah- am I missing something here? Can't you just run the analog out (headphone/line jack) to a receiver input and listen to your files with the Zoom only? Just like he does with an analog cassette deck? In other words no transfer of files, just record and play back right from the Zoom (or other digital recording device).

 

Thanks.

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It does have playback capability, and so it may meet your dad's needs as is.

 

The sound quality is stunning for the price, and it does have XLR inputs.

 

--Dave

 

Ahh - sound like I got my answer. It's the XLR inputs that make this appealing on first glance.

 

Thanks Dave

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One other thing, your Dad is not alone in wanting to just hit RECORD and go when recording an acoustic instrument. Aside from yours truly here, there is a very sizable sub set of folks spending from $200-500 on the Zoom, Sony, Olympus, etc. to $1600-2000 on the Tascam DV-RA 1000 HD (my probable next purchase), Alesis HD24 XR to $1875-5000 on the Sound Devices recorders to 8K on the 8 channel Radar V and Nagra VI recorder.

 

Like a lot of things, it depends on budget and how crazy you wanna get with this stuff.

 

Thanks for all the suggestions Dave. I'll check them out in more detail this week. I hear you on the Sony. It would probably be my choice but as with the Olympus, I'm concerned with signal levels into the unit from the SM81s since my Dad has no front end mixer/preamp.

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Noah- am I missing something here? Can't you just run the analog out (headphone/line jack) to a receiver input and listen to your files with the Zoom only? Just like he does with an analog cassette deck? In other words no transfer of files, just record and play back right from the Zoom (or other digital recording device).

 

Thanks.

 

Sure, but I assumed (incorrectly, it seems) that your dad ultimately wanted some type of physical medium on which to house the recordings for portability (either cassette or CD). If that's not the case, then you're absolutely right that the Zoom should do precisely what you describe. For that matter, I suppose you could record them onto cassette that way as well (through the home stereo).

 

Noah

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Sure, but I assumed (incorrectly, it seems) that your dad ultimately wanted some type of physical medium on which to house the recordings for portability (either cassette or CD). If that's not the case, then you're absolutely right that the Zoom should do precisely what you describe. For that matter, I suppose you could record them onto cassette that way as well (through the home stereo).

 

Noah

 

Yeah - I should have mentioned that my dad's worried about his cassette player dying. As far as I know he just wants external storage to save or at least off-load his work at some point. I now realize that these mini recorders only record to the SD card and there is no back-up. May or may not matter to him. Anyway if Levin's carry's the Zoom I'll be up there this Saturday. Care to join me?

 

 

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I don't know if time constraints would allow you to, but you could take on the project of offloading the contents of the SD card(s) once in a while for your dad, perhaps even burn them to audio CDs. I suggest this because it seems to be beyond what he is capable/willing to do, but after a while he'd either have a pile of cards or run out of space.

 

(this is if you get him the Zoom)

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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