Sunday, February 27, 2011

1995 & 2007 Mackie CR1604

Like a few things I have posted about on this blog, the Mackie CR1604 is an item that I ahve owned twice.
The first time was shortly after inheriting some money as a teenager, and it cost around $3k at the time.
I used it with a minimal rig of one Alesis ADAT, a Digitech TSR12 and a few Shure mics. That was about it. This combination worked for me, I had little experience with effects and my main goal was to be able to record bands and my own stuff. And that is what I did.

In the town I grew up in, there was little to do for under 18's that didn't involve watching movies on VHS, loitering at the local shopping center (a worldwide phenomenon I understand) or petty crimes. There were two other things available for a time in the early 90's and that was to hang around a two bit guitar store and subsequently join a band.

This was the height of the post glam/hair rock era of the 1980's. Grunge was all over the radio and if you were a serious guitar player, metal in all of its forms was the way to go to get your chops up (a recent visit to a guitar store tells me that metal is still vogue). Most of us were decent players, probably because none of the girls were interested in dating us until much later on, so we had plenty of time to practice. I was probably one of the least talented of the bunch. But I was keen to capture our sounds for posterity!

So much for posterity, I've lost all but one recording and that was recovered from a copy of a copy of casette! Maybe one of the guys from the other bands have 'em, but I've lost touch over the years.
The first time around, we tried recording in my mothers lounge room. Unfortunately the neighbours objected to this and ended up calling the police (these were neighbours who were fond or revving their engines and driving back and forth in their driveway. Injustice!). After that incident, we'd pack my gear into some friends cars and lug them to wherever my band or my friends bands were playing. I don't think we actually did that many recordings though, but that was one summer which was a heck of a lot of fun.

I ended up selling a lot of my gear off because I had the analogue bug and wanted to record on reel to reel.
A very bad decision, but lessons were learned the hard way.

If anyone reading this knows what I'm talking about, please feel free to contact me. I'm not going to reveal names though, in the interest of privacy. The town was close to the nations capital, but across the border.

Jump to the present day, or at least a couple of years ago.

I'd been looking for a 2nd hand 1604 for a long time after I got back into playing and recording. It took a couple of years, but I eventually picked one up from ebay for under $200! There was a slight problem with it.
The master fader had one knob that would fall out of the slider it was attached to. No big deal, I just glued the left and right channel together and it works the way I want as a stereo pair.

This time around I have a computer recording rig. The mixer acts as an interface for the M-Audio Delta 1010lt (the cable version, not the breakout box version). So far I've been getting some high quality results from the board. Compared to running a sound source directly into the soundcard, there is a little bit of hiss, but nothing significant and no real colouration of the device itself on the recordings. If anything it warms things up a little with some minor distortions. I don't recall this from the first one I owned, so maybe its down to the age of the machine as it's definitely of the same era as my old one.

If you can get one for under $500, it's well worth it. Though for that price you might be lucky enough to score a VLZ model which has quieter preamps and more headroom. Essentially they function the same and I'm no pro so a little noise doesn't bother me (note: the noise experienced is nothing compared to some of the cheaper brands out there and only really noticeable at high gain levels on the inputs and monitoring via headphones).

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