For discussion about setting up your studio and advice on the gear and equipment within it.
By Jamon Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:02 am

JJOS has audio tracks, which makes the MPC a multitrack recorder, but you're limited to 128MB, which is 24 minutes, which is 8 straight tracks for a 3 minute song, or 4 tracks for a 6 minute song. If you just record the tracks for each segment, like verses and chorus, and repeat them, then you can make it work. But sometimes that sounds too repetitious. Plus sometimes it's just fun to hit record and play for as long as you want, being able to overdub on top of that without worrying about filling your RAM.


There used to be more current options available for multitrack recorders with MIDI sync capabilities. Akai even made one, the DPS24 MKII, which could record up to 24 mono tracks of 24-bit audio at 48 kHz, or 12 at 96 kHz. That was released in 2006, so you'd think by now we'd have 32-bit recorders at 192 kHz with 64 tracks or more, and we do, but they're on Windows and OSX. For people who want to record with dedicated devices, there's only one multitrack recorder released this year with MIDI.

The Tascam DP-24.



It records 24-bit at 48 kHz, but only 12 mono tracks, 6 stereo. In many ways it's a big step back from older gear. But it's new, and records to SD card, with a fresher looking interface. If you look at the online music stores, the only other multitrack recorder for sale new with MIDI is the Boss BR-1600. But that's only 16 tracks, 8 mono, and is from 2004, yet still costs $1,500. The DP-24 is $600--800.

I bought one. I'll be curious to see how it works with MPC2500 + JJOS. Unfortunately, although it has MIDI in and out, the firmware seems to be setup to only allow generating MTC or MIDI Clock, not following it. But it seems to be able to respond to incoming MMC commands, so maybe with the MPC set to follow MTC, and send MMC, then you can at least get the MTR to rewind and play from the MPC. But the DP-24 doesn't have varying tempo, so you're stuck at a fixed rate.

It doesn't seem very ideal, but it's this, or used discontinued gear that has fans and spinning motors. Hopefully the Tascam DP-24 doesn't have any moving parts, besides the CD-ROM drive, which I would've preferred they left out. We'll see. If it syncs well enough, at least it makes it easier for mixing in some longer straight audio tracks.

For people who "track out" from the MPC, it does record 8 tracks simultaneously, and then you can EQ / pan / level them, and there's an internal send effect, and you can route one or both sends out the back panel and into some external effects. Probably most people would prefer to record through audio interface to PC and mix there, or mix in the MPC and record the internal master, assuming they have enough RAM free.

I should get my hands on it tomorrow, so if anyone has any questions I can try to answer. Besides the MPC2500 + OSXL I have an MPC500 I could experiment with. Maybe someone else here has one and knows how well it works with syncing to MPC.
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By Coz Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:11 am
Ian Canefire is the man who's into these sorts of things.

For me they are way too limiting but I can see the appeal of them.
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By Coz Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:39 am

16, 24 or however many tracks is not enough for how I work. I also generate a lot of ideas from chaining plugins together, and those sorts of units are limited in the effects department.

10 years ago I would have been all over something like this, but I'm way too far down the DAW path to even consider having one.
By Jamon Fri Aug 17, 2012 3:15 am
Yeah, I used to do that. It's like the the difference between a Magna Doodle and Wacom tablet with Photoshop. The nice thing about it though is it makes things more hands-on. Dragging VSTs, adjusting endless parameters, is like programming, and you end up spending hours in the same position staring at a screen.

For me personally, I already do that way too much for other things. It's nice to plug in actual cords, and feel like you're free to move around a bit. Instead of dragging in an effect, you plug something in, turn some knobs, move some sliders, push some buttons. You end up having to move around more, so it feels like you're doing something. It becomes more performance than programming.

There's hardware control surfaces, but there's too much variation within the software, so unless you limit yourself to one setup, they don't match up quite right. With dedicated devices, they do one thing, and always will, so there's nothing to setup, no buttons to map. If your primary focus in life is making music, yeah, it's probably too limiting. But if it's more like playing with toys for you, then it's a bit more fulfilling to feel toys in your hand than imagine them in a virtual world.

I don't even make music anyways, just buy toys. Musical toys are neat because they have flashing lights and make sounds when you touch them.
By JVC Fri Aug 17, 2012 3:27 am
I see that there is market (although I think it is shrinking) for MTR like this. Dedicated hardware always have advantage over PC based DAW; simple to record, and it works when you want it, and dependable (I think). It has all the knobs and faders, and it is great for recording live band (it looks like it has 8 input channels, so I think maximum of 8 channels can be recorded at same time?)
And I think it is possible to import the recorded tracks to your favorite DAW.
I think this MTR can be still useful for DAW users.
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By Coz Fri Aug 17, 2012 3:41 am
Jamon wrote:There's hardware control surfaces, but there's too much variation within the software, so unless you limit yourself to one setup, they don't match up quite right.

I use the CC121 controller with Cubase which works well.


It's got all the basics - Transport, scrub, pan, assignable zoom controls, metronome, motorised fader, EQ knobs, channel buttons that cover all the essentials etc.

Clicking around with a mouse is NOT what I want to do with any DAW, but at some point you inevitably end up doing that to some degree.

My 4K serves me well for pure hands-on control with buttons for every function and Cubase handles everything else.
By Jamon Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:40 am
Looks nice enough. I'd consider a PC software controller if it were possible to do everything with the PC monitor off, where using mouse is optional. With touchscreens becoming mainstream now, something like that might be more likely to be developed soon, since you could just output a good portion directly to a sub-screen, and not have to map everything to a button because touch could handle some of it. You'd still have lots of hardware controls, but they'd be dedicated to stuff that is predictable and won't change, leaving touch for the squishy stuff, like x/y modifications of complex plugin parameters.

But still, it's not as enjoyable. Software is just too soft. It floats, bends, and is so far away. It doesn't have to be. But the current windows paradigm is that way. I'm on a PC right now. But in front of me is a MPC. It's on, lit up, and ready to go. It has no notifications popping up, or windows to move around and get hidden. I don't even have to alt+tab to bring it to focus. I can be typing this, and just his play, and there's sound. If I had the same thing in software, I'd have to bring that window up, and then I could press play on a controller. I could have a dedicated PC setup for it, and then it'd be always ready to go, except some things still require mouse, keyboard, and monitor, so sometimes I'd have to go focus on that and fiddle around in that GUI world.

With something like the DP-24, it's more predictable, and firm. You hit play, it's playing, and that's that. Everything is there, self-contained, in a hard form, no moving parts like cooling fans (I hope). You don't have to turn the monitor on, or reach for the mouse, or adjust ASIO buffer size to compensate for the overload of plugins everywhere, that each have their own floating window with completely different designs. It's like how recording photographs with a webcam or smartphone isn't as enjoyable as using a dedicated camera. It works, but it's virtual, and it's just nice to have a dedicated machine that is setup in a predictable way to do nothing but take pictures.
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By Chaos Fri Aug 17, 2012 6:12 am
I changed up from Logic Studio to a Tascam DP-008 with a mixer and I couldn't be happier. I don't have to worry about "will this new plug-in make me drinks and complete my life goal for happiness" and since every mix gets burnt to "tape" I don't get into the trap of endlessly screwing with EQ, level, compression etc...

I stare at computer screens all day long for work and it was seriously killing my desire to do anything with music.

Logic Studio <-- :fku:
Tascam DP-008 <-- :smoker:

(caveat: people who have less ocd than me probably mesh fine with software)
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By dabmeister Fri Aug 17, 2012 1:44 pm
Most of this new generation of folks missed out on the hardware only era. Meaning that back in the day, everybody's only option was to use hardware tape based recording media.

There wasn't any option to go direct or instantly to a certain point in your song like we have now. Neither was there an abundance of plugins to use. Rather, your only option was hardware only effects.

So for those of us that have experienced what life was like before computers or digital recording, we welcome this new era of having everything you can imagine at your fingertips. IMO, a daw computer coupled w/ an expanded control surface & multiple I/O audio interfaces, will always dwarf an all-in-one box in terms of options & expanded capabilities.

It's those moments where you might get hired to record a band or a vocal ensemble/choir, and don't want to be caught short not having the neccessary gear to get it done.

note: If your desire is to live life as a bedroom artist, then by all means, make the purchases that you feel is right for you.
By Jamon Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:56 pm
No doubt the audio software explosion is wonderful, and if that were my focus in life I'd have a studio with huge screens, touch interfaces, mixing and transport controllers, MIDI keyboards, pads, etc. But that is a setup best for engineering. For playing around, even acoustic instruments from forever ago are better in many ways.

Tascam DP-24 is $550 at Amazon. That's a low price considering it's $750 most everywhere else.
By Jamon Sat Aug 18, 2012 12:08 am
I don't know how those work, but this one's knobs for things like pan, send fx, eq, move in 24 steps. So to do a full pan from left to right, you have to keep re-turning it like 7 times sometimes, 10 times another, 14 or 15 another, depending on what kind of grip you get, and they're situated kind of hard to really grab and turn. That's ridiculous, the whole point of knobs is to be able to grab and turn, as in, turning once for a sweep from min to max, not breaking out a socket wrench and trying to tighten the thing over and over.
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By Coz Sat Aug 18, 2012 2:19 am
Jamon wrote:I haven't gone through everything yet, or tried MIDI sync to MPC, but there's lots of design mistakes in this DP-24.

The person who decided to put the jog wheel top right needs a slap!