The Multitrack Recorder reminds me a bit of Mark Twain…
Back in 1897, the New York Journal incorrectly reported that the American author had died. In response, Twain published a response that stated wryly, ‘The report of my death was an exaggeration’.
The multitrack recorder has been the victim of a similarly premature death-knell for some time. And yet, a decade or so on from those initial predictions of the portable studio’s downfall, they’re still here and still being put to good use by musicians everywhere.
It’s been around forever (for many readers, their entire lives), but the multitracker just won’t give up.
Why do people still use them when they could use a computer-based rig?
Here are 5 good reasons…
1. OSX? Windows 8? Just switch on, and record…
‘Convenience is the mother of invention’, some say (and ‘necessity’ sometimes…), and when it comes to making music, they’re absolutely right.
Whilst a computer studio might offer more in the way of functionality, there is something so immediate about switching on a multi-track recorder, plugging in and playing, it immediately makes a computer-based system seem a bit inconvenient by comparison.
With no compatibility issues, OS problems, or software updates you can just get on with recording.
Plus, there’s no Internet or Facebook to distract you either… 😉
2. It does what it says on the tin…
Have you ever been at a crucial point of a complex recording project when you hit the limits of your computer’s capabilities? What follows is a process of freezing tracks and switching off effects to free up enough resources to continue.
Whilst a multitrack recorder may not be able to match up to the dozens of tracks a computer based studio is capable of, it states exactly what it is capable of from the outset, and will do it without complaint.
As a result, you can plan how to use resources before a session, and expect no nasty surprises when it comes to recording.
3. They pack a huge, feature-packed punch
Long-gone are the days when £400 would buy a tape-based 4-track, with no effects, and plenty of hiss. Nowadays for £300, you could get the 16-track Zoom R16, or the feature laden Boss BR-800 with 8-tracks, onboard guitar FX, stereo condenser microphones, built-in drum machine and more… perfect for singer songwriters.
4. Burn tracks without looking at a computer screen
When making music, your ears should be your only reference. When using a computer, the screen and the visual representation of your project can distract you from just, well, listening.
A multitrack recorder removes this tendency. Plus, bigger devices such as Tascam’s DP24 and DP32 offer a complete solution that allows the user to record, mix and master to CD, all on a single device, without a computer in sight.
5. If you want to work on a computer, you can…
There are, of course, some things that the multi-track recorder can’t do (plug-ins being the most obvious). Thankfully, most are designed such that working between a multitracker and a computer –based system is straightforward.
Nearly all have USB connections that will at the very least allow the user to transfer recorded audio so that you can import it into the software of your choice. Many (such as the Boss BR-800 or Zoom R16 or R24) will even function as multi-channel USB audio interfaces.
This means that, if you prefer, you can use them to record directly into software on your computer.
So there we are: the multitrack recorder- the Chuck Norris of the music world.
Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.