Are multitrack recorders any good?
It is true that if you wanted to, you can use your PC (Windows or Linux) or Mac to record multitrack audio completely for free using Audacity. That app may be ugly and not the most user-friendly thing in the world, but hey, it's free.
A problem when recording to the PC is that it's tough to get your guitar tone to sound right, and this is especially true if you use pedals. If using a Line 6 POD, then sure, you should be able to get a good sound when plugged in direct to your sound card, but with pedals it's not easy. Typically, pedals when connected directly to a computer sound very "buzzy" and there's not much you can do about that.
What's a multitrack recorder?
These are standalone devices that can record multiple tracks of audio, which some of you may call "layers", as in you "lay down" one track, then lay down another, and so on. Multitrack recorders are completely self-contained and do not require a separate computer to operate.
There are a few distinct advantages to owning a standalone multitrack recorder.
You can take a multitrack recorder almost anywhere. It goes where you go. You can't do that with a PC, and even if you have a laptop, it's not like you want to lug that thing around whenever you want to record.
A standalone multitrack recorder is the easiest way to record your band. Bring it along to practice, plug in, mic up and start recording.
Yes, it's a studio!
Today's portable multitrack recorders are stuffed full of features that used to cost many thousands of dollars. Built-in effects, filters and a whole bunch of other cool stuff.
I know of no multitrack recorder that doesn't have PC connection options when you need to export audio, so it's there when you need it.
Here's a few multitrack recorders you can check out
- Boss Micro BR-80 - One of the smallest multitrack recorders you'll find. The only real drawback is that it's mainly made for guitar players and not recording full bands, but if you write a lot of riffs, you'll love owning this.
- Korg Sound on Sound Unlimited Track Recorder SR1 - This is also a small-sized multitrack recorder with unlimited overdub capability, and has tons of effects and drum patterns as well that a lot of people like.
- TASCAM DP-008 Portastudio - TASCAM and its PortaStudio line has been around for a very long time and almost wrote the book on how portable multitracking should be done. Years ago I used to own compact cassette-based Portastudios, and they were great. TASCAM is still holding up the tradition with modern digital models like the DP-008.
- Zoom R16 - Not cheap, but worth the price. Very friendly operation, easy menus and one of the best for recording bands with.
- Boss BR-800 - The big brother to the Micro BR-80. Sort of complicated to use, so read the description carefully before considering this one - but it's a powerhouse.
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