4 Channel Input to PC Suggestion

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wiztom

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This is what I am trying to do: I am trying to record quadraphonic, (not surround), in its original format, to flak files in Audacity. Much of the media I have is getting pretty dated and I would like to preserve it in its original state for later playback.
I have two quad tape decks, a turntable with Shibata stylus, a Sansui 9001 for decoding and 4 Pioneer 100s for playback. They all work fine. I am familiar with all of this equipment, and know how to use it.
My stumbling block seems to be at the PC level and Audacity. Either this is the wrong way to do this, or I am just not savvy enough to figure it out. Windows only wants to recognize stereo input and I believe Audacity wants to somehow use two separate stereo channels. I think I am over my head at that point. Is there a better or easier way to preserve the quad content to digital? Possibly someway to bypass windows or some other combination that easily works?
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After corresponding with Jon Urban, he suggested that I post for suggestions for a 4 channel audio input card. He suggested a firewire card and Motu, but said there may be other solutions. I am using Windows 10 64bit and a new computer with no firewire ports.

Thank you for any input
 

quadsearcher

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USB audio interface, four (or more) channels. It helps if it has both 4+ inputs and 4+ outputs for live monitoring.

Like any audio, there is a range of quality/cost. I'm in the same boat choosing an interface. I keep thinking about a Tascam or Zoom for $500+ for four or maybe six channels. But I have no experience with them nor personally know someone with one, and they do not usually have 4 or more outputs for live playback of MultiChannel files to check playback before burning. I have used a two channel Marantz made for field recordings (board meetings), it was finicky to use and recorded to SD card that could be transferred over USB. I suspect all the hand held or camera mount versions are similar.
The top of my range is something like an RME UFX at $2.5K (pro gear) but I wouldn't have enough use for it to justify that.

Right now I'm in front of a donated Motu 828MKII firewire interface that barely works, it has clicks in audio unless I take the top cover off for ventilation. The thing is 20 years old or close. Using an old Vista PC that has firewire. The system works but now I'm in the learning curve of a Digital Audio Workstation like Audacity, except I'm using Reaper for a DAW this time, it has the paired channel assignments most DAWs use. I have no idea why someone can't make an audio interface that simply records each input channel to an output channel without calling 1,2 a stereo pair, 3,4 another pair, etc. Doesn't any programmer remember the concept of 1, 2, 3, and 4? It takes a lot of patience for me to work around that.

If I recall correctly, the Motu828MKIII has USB output. Eight analog inputs, eight analog outputs. If so, that might be a middle of the road solution without adding a firewire card to the PC.
I'll add that for me, a Motu and Audacity are a little simpler to use because they have less complex options.

Oh, and i find it simpler to call two channel as stereo, and multichannel (more than two) as surround. Quadraphonic is four channel surround. 5.1 is six channel (really five channel surround with a subwoofer [oversimplifying] , but technically it takes six channels to record). Just my preference because some people cringe at "quadraphonic" (not here of course!).
 
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quadsearcher

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You have two four channel open-reel tape decks? Wow. I have trouble keeping one going. Do you have quadraphonic tapes to play? Retail or home recorded?
 

jimfisheye

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This Tascam is a good price and would be similar quality to those older MOTU units. Also any discussion about fidelity would pretty much only apply to the mic preamps. The line level ins and outs are going to be pro. The converter quality might be the other part. Maybe these units (MOTU also) are still in the group that sound better at HD. As opposed to the next level up where the converters sound just as good at SD as HD.


Anyway, that or those older MOTU units would be around this price. You would have at least 8 nice balanced outputs for up to 7.1 output. So you'd be getting a pro system output device at the same time.

RME or Apogee are the next level up. Price shoots up.

There's absolutely no requirement to use pci card devices either. Especially for just a handful of channels, USB is just fine. (You'll be good up to 32 channels both directions.)

If you want to get a firewire connecting interface instead of USB though, a thunderbolt to firewire adapter will just work.

Just like with any multi function product, there might be a couple inputs and so forth you don't need. The point is the I/O you do need, the pro quality, and the prices aimed more at musicians than doctors.
 

wiztom

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You have two four channel open-reel tape decks? Wow. I have trouble keeping one going. Do you have quadraphonic tapes to play? Retail or home recorded?
Yes I have a Tascam 34B and a Teac A 3340S. Both of them are in reasonable condition and perform well. I have several 4 channel discrete factory tapes and a few home recordings made from other tape sources, (not records). I also have "many", (more than 15), 4 channel discrete and SQ records. There are more records than tapes available, which means you have to clean up the records sometimes. This modest collection has taken some time to gather.
 

wiztom

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This Tascam is a good price and would be similar quality to those older MOTU units. Also any discussion about fidelity would pretty much only apply to the mic preamps. The line level ins and outs are going to be pro. The converter quality might be the other part. Maybe these units (MOTU also) are still in the group that sound better at HD. As opposed to the next level up where the converters sound just as good at SD as HD.


Anyway, that or those older MOTU units would be around this price. You would have at least 8 nice balanced outputs for up to 7.1 output. So you'd be getting a pro system output device at the same time.

RME or Apogee are the next level up. Price shoots up.

There's absolutely no requirement to use pci card devices either. Especially for just a handful of channels, USB is just fine. (You'll be good up to 32 channels both directions.)

If you want to get a firewire connecting interface instead of USB though, a thunderbolt to firewire adapter will just work.

Just like with any multi function product, there might be a couple inputs and so forth you don't need. The point is the I/O you do need, the pro quality, and the prices aimed more at musicians than doctors.
This looks good to me. I like Tascam equipment, I like Sweetwater and the price is in the ball park. Thanks for a killer suggestion!
 

jimfisheye

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This looks good to me. I like Tascam equipment, I like Sweetwater and the price is in the ball park. Thanks for a killer suggestion!
You're welcome!

I'd be inclined to shop for an interface with at least 6 channels of output to be 5.1 ready. The price difference between one of the little 4 output units vs 6 or more is small. And since that would make or break using it for your system output, it's not very reasonable to entertain less than 6 outputs. The almost certain upgrade of your DAC output stages with such a unit should help justify the purchase! :D (I try to shop for bang for the buck like that.)

Here's something to consider.

Those of you who bought open reel decks back in the day were kind of shopping more at a recording studio store than the usual consumer hi-hi shop. I believe my suggestion to shop like a recording musician today lines up more with that! And you know how there's often a "high end" version in the consumer shop that ends up costing 3x the professional product and has a couple features that maybe approach the pro end quality? That Tascam probably has DACs that you would need to pay $3000 to get in a consumer AVR.

Sweetwater, B&H Photo Video, and Newegg are big consumer outlets that still seem legit and I still trust FWIW.

PS. The balanced/unbalanced line inputs and outputs on these devices are made to be wired unbalanced (short pin 3/ring to pin 1/sleeve) to connect to unbalanced gear. Interfacing with other consumer unbalanced equipment is not a problem. And then you have the balanced option there for that happiness and light when you can or need to use it.
 

quadsearcher

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This Tascam is a good price and would be similar quality to those older MOTU units. Also any discussion about fidelity would pretty much only apply to the mic preamps. The line level ins and outs are going to be pro. The converter quality might be the other part. Maybe these units (MOTU also) are still in the group that sound better at HD. As opposed to the next level up where the converters sound just as good at SD as HD.


Anyway, that or those older MOTU units would be around this price. You would have at least 8 nice balanced outputs for up to 7.1 output. So you'd be getting a pro system output device at the same time.

RME or Apogee are the next level up. Price shoots up.

There's absolutely no requirement to use pci card devices either. Especially for just a handful of channels, USB is just fine. (You'll be good up to 32 channels both directions.)

If you want to get a firewire connecting interface instead of USB though, a thunderbolt to firewire adapter will just work.

Just like with any multi function product, there might be a couple inputs and so forth you don't need. The point is the I/O you do need, the pro quality, and the prices aimed more at musicians than doctors.
Fantastic price. Thanks!
I've read that some have trouble with MOTU FW to Thunderbolt. For the price of the Tascam, I'd like to get out of the FW world.
 

JonUrban

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I'd say that the Tascam USB interface is the ticket! Looks great for doing just what you want to do, and have expansion capability to record in SACDs and DVD-As as well
 

J. PUPSTER

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I'm using this one- MOTU UltraLite-mk4
*just wish their software was better, connects via USB browser (Chrome...)

 

par4ken

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Nobody here suggesting multi-channel PCI sound cards. The last time I looked you could find deals on Delta 44 and Delta 66 cards on eBay. I got my Digigram (8-channel) card with the interface cable for about $300.
 

par4ken

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That is an option, however it appears it requires a serial port/cable and Windows XP. That's a no-go for my setup.
Works fine on Windows 10 and they don't use use a serial cable. Both cards do have an interface cable, to connect the inputs and outputs. The Delta cards have a junction box with 1/4" jacks, you just use adaptors to convert to RCA inputs/outputs. The Diagrams cable runs to XLR connectors that again can easily converted to RCA's via adaptors. If your using a laptop instead of a desktop then you are correct that my suggestion won't work!
 

jimfisheye

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I don't know where the notion that pci connecting audio interfaces are superior to USB/firewire/thunderbolt connecting models comes from. There were more pci connecting interfaces earlier on. These usually connected to an external box just like the USB/firewire models but with a proprietary cable from their pci card. Both MOTU and RME had their versions of these. MOTU might still sell those.

The other end was the polar opposite with the Sound Blasticator style cards. Ratty cheap. You hear interference from the computer data signals near it and everything! Fine for Youtube videos and mp3s.

Nowadays with USB/firewire/thunderbolt options being common and with desktop/tower builds being less common there just aren't many pci card audio interface options. The high end proprietary connection thing has run its course and those companies make USB/firewire/thunderbolt models now. The 'lowly' USB 2.0 connection turns out to be plenty resilient for this. The cheapness end of these products are all USB now.
 

Sonik Wiz

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Works fine on Windows 10 and they don't use use a serial cable. Both cards do have an interface cable, to connect the inputs and outputs. The Delta cards have a junction box with 1/4" jacks, you just use adaptors to convert to RCA inputs/outputs. The Diagrams cable runs to XLR connectors that again can easily converted to RCA's via adaptors. If your using a laptop instead of a desktop then you are correct that my suggestion won't work!
Like you I am rather fond of my M Audio Delta set up:

DELTA 1010.jpg


Mine is the 1010. Rock solid no probs & you don't have to use a browser interface to control. Rather long in the tooth, that one is, but the AKM convertors were so high quality I don't feel cheated. And it has SPDIF In/Out. When I capture analog LP's to digital I use the A/D convertor in my Anthem Pre-Pro & send 24/48 to SPDIF in on the 1010. I remember seeing a "making of" documentary with Alicia Keys. She was doing a lot of the album at home & right there in the back ground was a pair of Delta 1010's. I felt I was in good company.

I agree with Jim there is no reason to support PCI cards are superior to USB interfaces. USB is certainly the trend. But about once a year I look around & see what's affordable & friendly to use I don't see as much suitable for the quad enthusiast, or at least my purposes. It makes me very glad I have what I have. I'd point out that Delta 1010's are a bargain on E Bay. That's where I got mine some time ago & its been a gem. Just make sure you get the PCI card, the break out cable, & the rack mount box oe it will be unusable.
 
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