Now that you have finally decided that you want to set up your home studio, you may be wondering how to go about selecting the best multi-track recorder because there are so many brands and types to choose from; it may seem quite overwhelming when you realize that you have to click that “order” button. Well, you have come to the right place; this article will help you figure out all the important things that you should look for in a multi-track recorder.
Outside of your budget, there are several features that you should pay attention to when deciding on which multi-track recorder to buy. Here are some of these important features that should determine the multi-track recorder you decide to purchase for your home studio.
Type of multi-track recorder
There are 3 main types of multi-track recorders, and the one you choose largely depends on why you will be using it. Of course, there will be a wide price range for them as well, since some will offer more professional functions than others. Here’s a look into these 3 categories to determine which type will be best for you and your home studio.
Record-only multi track recorders
If you need to record live sound and you do not want to interfere with the recording, this recorder is perfect for you. Although it may not seem very relevant to a home studio setup, you may be able to use it to record intros, outros and other sound bites that you want to include in your music.
If you are working with a solo musician or a very small band, you really do not need anything fancier than this. These recorders do not usually have more than 8 channels, so they are pretty basic. In many cases, they even come with features so you can edit sounds. Note that if this is all your budget will allow, but you need to record more tracks, you can always record them after. So, you are not really limited to just 8 tracks.
If you want something more professional, this is what you should be looking at. It also means, however, that you will have to spend more money to get it. These workstations are alternatives to the computer-based productions but they are often so much simpler to use. They tend to have really great editing capabilities, and their audio quality is much more professional than the other 2 types of recorders.
Number of tracks
This is a very important feature to look for. It can severely impact your recordings especially if you want to record many things at once but you don’t have enough tracks to do so. It is common for multi-recorders to record a maximum of 8,16, 24 or 32 tracks. Try not to select one that has a maximum track number that is very close to what you expect to use; it is always better to select something that can record more tracks, just in case you need to increase the number of tracks that you use.
Multi-track audio tends to take up a lot of space so having lots of storage is very important. Some multi-track recorders will allow you to record to external storage devices. This is very useful since you can quickly run out of space. You may also look for models that allow you to increase the storage space that is associated with it.
Sampling frequency and bit rate are very important here. Usually, the higher the number, the better the audio quality is and the more professional the recording will sound. Bear in mind that 16 bit/44.1kHz is the standard value for CDs and professional recording requires a standard of 24 bit.
Inputs and outputs
Make sure that the multi-recorder you buy can handle all the plugs that you plan to put into it. If not, you may end up buying additional plugs to convert the connections that you already have. Some of the most common inputs or outputs to look for are USB, RCA, MIDI, balanced, unbalanced, TRS and more.
If you are going to be recording, chances are you will be mixing too. Not every multi-track recorder comes with a mixer; however, you may get better value for your money if you purchase the 2 together. If you do not want to purchase them together or the multi-recorder that you like does not include a mixer, you can always purchase them separately. When purchasing the mixer, inspect the meters, knobs, faders, sends and EQ. Determine if they are things you could get used to using.
Whenever you are purchase a product, always check to see what additional features you can get. In this case, you can look for features such as an onboard CD burner, built-in effects processor, instrument sounds and internal MIDI sequencer. Don’t forget to inspect the layout carefully to see how easy it will be for you to get adjusted to its layout. Some multi-track recorders are easier to use than others, so look out for that too.
Your budget plays a very critical role in the type of multi-recorder that you will be able to afford, and it will have a great impact on the features that your device has. However, if you realize that your budget will not allow you to purchase a recorder that has all the features you need, it is time to determine if your budget is realistic. You may have to adjust your initial budget, but this is nothing uncommon.
Make sure that you do not purchase a multi-track recorder that you will have to replace in a short time because it cannot cater to your needs. This is why it is important to get something that can do a bit more than what you need right now. Leave some room for growth. Once you do that, you should have no regrets about increasing your budget.
Now that you have all the information you need, have fun in the selection process. All the best on your journey to finding the best multi-track recorder for your home studio!