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Digital recorders: Fostex VF160EX vs Zoom MRS1608


Gruuve

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Hey folks:

 

I currently have a Yamaha MD8 (minidisk 8 track recorder) and a Roland VS840EX (zip drive 8 track recorder).

 

The thing is that I've never been totally happy with either. The Yamaha is nice in that it pretty much functions like a tape deck plus recording board rather than a computer in a mixer's packaging. It's quite simple to operate, and it will record all 8 tracks simultaneously (important for recording a "live" performance). I don't like that it has no effects builtin, no assignable compressor built in, that it records to funky MD data disks (which are luckily still easily available). The inputs and outputs don't seem to have the dynamic range that I would expect. I bought this for the specific purpose of recording the band I used to play in.

 

Comparing this to the Roland, it seems to have better sound that the Yamaha IMHO, it has built-in effects that seem to be quite good, and has more "one-person" type of features built-in. It's really 6 mono tracks + 1 stereo track, but it has 8 virtual tracks for each physical track. The downside here is that it will will only record two tracks simultaneously (unless my memory fails me), I'm not crazy about the zip drive recording (but probably still a better idea than the MD data disks). Another drawback is that it's just not simple to operate, not at all like a tape deck + recording mixer, IMHO.

 

That said, I'd really like to have a unit that essentially does the things that each does combined into one gadget, so I'm thinking of selling both and replacing them with one unit. The Zoom MRS1608 and the Fostex VF160 seem to be about in the right price range. One of the Boss units is roughly comparable, but a little more expensive.

 

So, does anyone here have some real world experience with either of these? The Zoom seems to have better features (24-bit A/D vs. the Fostex 20-bit A/D, both have 24-bit D/A). Have anyone compared ease of operation and sound? Even though the Zoom looks better on paper, my gut almost tells me that the Fostex would sound better (used to have an analog Fostex 8 track reel machine, and it was great for it's price range).

 

Essentially, I'm looking for 1) good sound (at least as good preferably better than what I have available now), 2) ease of operation, 3) flexibility to do everything from one-man over-dub recordings (common features) to recording a whole band "live" (less common for this class of unit). Any advice appreciated. I'm trying to keep the price in about the same range as what I think I can sell the two current recorders for so I net $0 out of pocket or pretty close.

 

TIA,

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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If you can squeeze a bit more out of your budget, I'd go for the Tascam 2488 . 24 tracks @ 24 bit/44.1kHz and 8 channels of simultaneous recording. Absolutely blows away the competition for the money.

 

It's definitely next on my shopping list - with some decent mics and outboard preamps I can see no impediment to creating top quality recordings.

 

Alex

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DO NOT BUY ZOOM!!!!

 

From experience, their products suck. They are good at first, but then they started doing things they shouldn't.

 

At least I live close by to Samson Headquarters so I drop off all the crap i have for them to NOT repair.

 

They cant diagnose a problem for shit.

 

Get the fostex. No matter how much better the Zoom sounds, dont get it. It is the "Squier" or "Carlo Robelli" of Samson Corp.

 

:mad::evil:

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Originally posted by C.Alexander Claber:

If you can squeeze a bit more out of your budget, I'd go for the Tascam 2488 . 24 tracks @ 24 bit/44.1kHz and 8 channels of simultaneous recording. Absolutely blows away the competition for the money.

 

It's definitely next on my shopping list - with some decent mics and outboard preamps I can see no impediment to creating top quality recordings.

 

Alex

A friend of mine used to rep Tascam. He made a demo with the 2488. It sounded amazing, and he's technically all thumbs.

I think it lists for about $1200.

BTW, he used to rep Fostex before Tascam, and I got a VF80; it has a farely high learning curve.

He lost the Tascam line when he got Mackie back.

"Start listening to music!".

-Jeremy C

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Don't know anything about the Tascam or Zoom.

The Fostex though is really awesome. Relatively small learning curve. I spent about an hour going over the manual and had almost everything down. Sounds really good. What you record is what you get. No hissing or any extraneous noises. I even upgraded the hard drive to a 40 GB pretty cheap. Went out and bought the VF08 so that I can now do 16 simultaneous channels. My one complaint would be that it only has 2 balanced inputs. It'd be nice for all 8 of the inputs to be balanced.

I really like my Fostex. Done many a high quality recording on it.

Tenstrum

 

"Paranoid? Probably. But just because you're paranoid doesn't mean there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face."

Harry Dresden, Storm Front

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I've used the Fostex VF160 quite a bit. I don't have wide experience with decks, but I've been very pleased with it. It's easy to use; I started recording with it the first time, after only a few minutes looking through the manual. And it sounds good. Playback seems to be pretty transparent. It also has the capability to set automatic punch-in & punch-out points, which is a must for one-person recording (well, for most of us one persons!). ;) We're finishing up a demo CD with it right now, & I think the machine has done great.

 

Can't tell you which unit to buy, but I have used the Fostex quite a bit & am very pleased with it.

 

(PS A couple of years ago, the Fostex VF was selling for over $1k; in the past few months, iirc, they've really dropped the price on it, way, way down.)

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Hey Folks:

 

Thanks for the posts. I've had good luck with an old Fostex 8 track reel-to-reel deck I used to have, so I was kind of leaning toward the Fostex initially even though the Zoom seemd to have better features. I've read a bunch of reviews on the Zoom, and it appears that most folks are pretty darned happy with them. There's a Zoom MRS-1266 locally for sale really cheap (the successor of the current 1608, AFAIK), and I'm seriously considering it.

 

The machines I have now are pretty old, and the Roland VS-840EX certainly sounds better than the Yamaha, I really like the built-in amp simulation (earlier version of the whole idea), and I really like the built-in effects. Since they both compress the music down to some proprietary format, I'm figuring pretty much any of the newer boxes are going to sound better (or at least as good) as the Roland. So, I'm actually going to concentrate on price, ease of use, and built-in CD-R. Anyway, I slice this, the Zoom keeps coming up...I guess if I decide to snag this local used 1266, I should be able to sell the thing for no loss if I hate it or it's unreliable, etc.

 

I'm going to think it over some more, but that's how I'm leaning right now (might change in an hour though! ;) )

 

I tell ya, I've always enjoyed the process of selecting new gear!

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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Not to rain on your reasons, but the brand name of your old reel-to-reel or whatever has little bearing on what the digital recording toy of the same brand name is going to perform like, compared to others in the same price range. Brand names only mean so much. I'd suggest looking at some EQ Magazine reviews or looking around a little. If I was in the market for a machine myself, I would : }
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