Updating my recording system in the bandroom

It’s been a bit longer between posts for me due in part to my research on recording equipment for my bandroom. I bought my recording equipment in 2001, when the school opened, and am looking for a way to make it easier to take advantage of “teachable moments” in rehearsal by upgrading my recording hardware.

Currently, I’m using a Sony CD burner with a dbx digital microphone preamp and two earthworks microphones. All together, in 2001, this “state of the art” recording system cost upwards of $4,000! Now, it is just inconvenient and clunky…

Here is my delemma in a nutshell- do I go with hard disk recording on my laptop with a firewire interface or do I get a stand-alone system? CD or HD? Software or Hardware? How about a flash recorder? $4,000 today allows me to look at a dizzying array of options, but perhaps the best news (esp. for my principal) is that I think I can get a really fine solution for less than half of that!

Currently, I am looking at the Edirol R-09 flash recorder. This would allow me to have a high quality recording system that fits into the palm of my hand using capable, built-in electret condenser stereo microphones . In a matter of seconds, I could capture a high-definition recording of my ensemble and transfer it to my laptop via the usb bus. The only drawback is the external microphone input- it will only accept a 1/8″ stereo mini-jack microphone, which limits my options for upgrading the mics and precludes me from using my high-buck earthworks mics.

Whatever I decide, you can bet that I will be consulting with Sweetwater Audio  before I do anything.  If you haven’t heard about this company, let me be the first to heartily recommend them.  They do business a bit differently.  The first time you call you are assigned a personal representative that will get to know you, your equipment, and your needs.  He or she will then be your contact for the entire duration of your business relationship.  David Hess, my representitive, not only knows what kind of technology I have, but also my personal preferences and can recommend items based on what he thinks would be of interest to me.  Best of all, Sweetwater will interface with what you currently have- not try to sell you an entire warehouse of equipment because they need to meet a quota.  This is truly unique in the industry.

If you do happen to call on Sweetwater, please mention my name (Owen Bradley) and that you heard about them on my blog.  Another nice feature to their service is their loyalty to customers.  While I won’t recieve a bonus check, I will get a nice thank you card from David and Sweetwater for the referrals- it is just a nice way of doing business!

I plan to blog about my purchase process, the uses of recording in the music classroom and the philosophy behind my decisions (along with some useful techno-jargon) in later posts.  For now, I think I’ll go back to evaluating the pros and cons of different options….if you don’t hear from me in a week or so….send out the virtual search party!

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