Recording multiple tracks

looking for a recomendation

I have been using n-track for a while now, but to mix down tracks recorded on a Fostex MR-8.
I recently played with some friends and brought along my laptop to record some things for fun, (I just ran the monitor feed from my mixer to the mic input on the laptop and recorded drums, vocal, guitar everything on one track. It worked better than I anticipated, because for such little effort the sound quality improved over what I typically record and mixdown with n-track.
Now I am wondering if I wouldn’t be ahead of the game to ditch the fostex, it would be great to be able to record more then two tracks at once and not to bother with the transfer operation than goes along with it.
Can anyone recommend a cost effective sound card, usb, or firewire solution for a laptop, compatible with N-track and capable of recording at least 4 tracks at once.

- First of all you need a quality lap top with good firewire card.
- Secondly you need to optimize your lap top in a way it doesn’t screw up your system doing things you don’t want it to do. It’s better to use the lap top only to your audio work than to use it as your family’s kenwood multitask machine.
- Thirdly you need a firewire interface that works well with your laptop
- And you might want to have a separate hard disk for audio

I spend two years to get it right the hard way. Now I have M-audio fw1814, Hp laptop and lacie hard disk (usb2.0).

Laptop system isn’t cost effective (you’re always loose power compared to desk top) but it’s portable.

Fire Wire Card (I have never used it) is Texas Instruments OHCI Compliant IEEE 1394 Host Controller, is that good?

Laptop is my work computer Dell Latitude D510 80Gig hard drive, 1.7MgHz Processor and 500 MB of Ram, I use it to make CAD Drawings for work, Email, Internet, Music, If I am recording I fool with nothing else.

I do have a small external hard drive for storage.

Depending how much free space on your HDD and the speed of it, it may be ok.

Ideally you want a 7200rpm drive. If it is 5400rpm you may be able to get away with it, if 4200rpm might be a bit slow…
The higher the speed the more data you will be able to stream simultaneously (ie. the more tracks you will be able to record and playback simultaneously).

You may also want a bit more RAM for mixing depending on how many plugins etc you plan on using…

Your Fostex tracks are probably 16 bit.
If you get a firewire card you may decide to go up to 24 bit recording. This will require more HDD space and also more throughput from the HDD.
Just something to think about… you can always stick with 16 bit if it becomes an issue…

How can determine HDD Speed, It is not listed in the properties, incidently I have used approx. 20GB of the overall hard drive space. (80G)

On a desktop it’s a common practice to use a secondary drive to record to, so that the data will flow uninterrupted by program and operating system housekeeping. Same with a laptop; you use an external secondary drive. And firewire was designed to daisy-chain such devices.

With my XP laptop I use motu828mkII firewire interface and an external 7200rpm GlyphGT050 firewire drive to record to. Works great with ZERO problems.

your harddrive is most likely 5400 rpm and possibly 4200. you have to pay out for a 7200 rpm on a laptop, and it’ll help suck down batteries for you :)

as far as not using the laptop for anything else, that’s not necessarily true. Set up two user accounts, one for recording, and one for general use. Also, create two hardware profiles. By doing so you can turn off components you don’t need during the recording session easily while allowing your other profile to still have those features (such as a wireles LAN)

I also recommend a firewire soundcard and USB harddrive. You could use a firewire drive too, but then your audio is going in and out on the same controller and could slow it down. DON’T buy a USB audio interface, they are known for troubles with popping and clicking.

Depending on how many tracks you want to record, M-audio makes some great firewire interfaces for not much. Presonus also has the firepod which gives you 10 inputs/ouputs, 8 with preamps.

or course if you start going this route, you don’t actually need your fostex.