Home (amp tone and effects placement)

Guitar Player magazine, page 93, February 1998. (U.S.A.):

"Cassette multitracks are totally groovy for sketching out ideas and making demos, but if you really want to upgrade your audio-production chops -- and the quality of your recordings - you should investigate digital machines. These beauties have never been more affordable, and the price/performance ratio is astounding. Here's a brief survey of some digital wonder boxes.

Desktop workstations. Integrated mixer-recorders are perfect for crowded bedroom studios. ... Roland VS-840: 12-channel mixer, 8 audio tracks and 64 virtual tracks (compressed)... onboard effects, $1,399.

MiniDisc desks. Often hyped as the "replacement" for cassette multitracks, MiniDisc recorders offer four tracks of digital audio, random-access editing, and a uniform interchange format that lets collaborators swap discs back and forth, even if they own machines from different manufacturers. However, the digital audio is data-compressed, which can subtly affect high-end response. Sony MDM-X4: 6-channel mixer, ... $1,250.

Modular digital multitracks. These 8-track decks are embraced by music and film sound professionals... Akai DR8: Hard disk, internal 16-track mixer, $1,995."

"[MiniDisc's] digital audio is data-compressed, which can subtly affect high-end response."

At first I thought Guitar Player claimed that MD had "reduced bandwidth". Actually, they say the high-end response is subtly affected - which is a more open statement. "Response" is a general term. Based on my and Eric's nth-generation MD copying tests, I agree that MD compression can subtly affect high-end response; the rapid phasing/fluttering I've heard, and the less common other artifacts, sound like they occur in the treble, not the midrange or bass. Multi-generation degradation is highly relevant to the recording studio, where a passage usually needs to be copied several times in the course of mixing. In many cases, by the time a recorded guitar note reaches the ears of a regular listener, it's been copied 4 or 5 generations during mixing, mastering, and duplication. Recording and mixing songs is hard work and is time-consuming, so you want good, rewarding results. With this many generations of lossy compression, the sound is compromised audibly. Lossy compression doesn't have much of a place in the recording studio, given that uncompressed hard disk recording is available. Still, 5 generations of lossy compression sounds far better than 5 generations of cassette tape (or wax cylinder). As with MD decks, a big problem is price. The gear is premium priced: $1200, to replace a $600 Tascam 4-track? And the sound still falls short of hard disk recording? I'll wait, or look around some more.

Amptone.com ultra gear-search page

Home (amp tone and effects placement)