Does an "always recording" device exist?

I’m looking for a piece of hardware that has a 1/4 in and 1/4 out that passes through audio unaffected, but also records all audio going through to a memory device. Does something like that exist?

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I think you’ll have a few options but could help if you specify what your gear is.

For example in Eurorack the expert sleepers Disting mk4 firmware 4.1 and above has a simple audio recorder that can record as long as you have space on an sd card. I suppose you could get a 256GB card??

Edit: according to this official expert sleepers video demoing the audio recorder yes it will pass the audio straight back out. He mentions it at 30 seconds in.

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I’ve been considering designing such a recorder built around a raspberry pi and a simple looped buffer, and I suppose you would just hit “save” and the last two hours of audio would be written to disk… if there’s real interest I might put energy behind it

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I’ve always wanted to make this for TV/movies. The amount of times I’ve said “I’d love to sample that”, without going through the trouble of getting a recording…

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I’ve often thought about this too. A simple device that sits just before speakers and records everything. You could have simple detection so you don’t even need to worry about hitting record at start of a session

i seem to remember something like this has been discussed here a long time ago.
(and i think the topic also touched on hardware devices doing that).

Basically on linux a number of jack clients can be used for this purpose:

  • jack timemachine is a recorder with a pre-recording buffer of 10 seconds.
  • https://orouits.github.io/qjackrcd/ records continuously with silence detection to avoid un-necessary recording.
  • https://www.aelius.com/njh/rotter/ records continuously and discards files older than n days (we use that as the “legal audio logger” at the radio station)
  • some shell script around ecasound can do the job too

edit. i found this thread but it’s not what i was thinking about: Headless Linux Recorder

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Ask and ye shall receive: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Wiretap--tc-electronic-wiretap-riff-recorder-pedal

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This would be great. Could see a lot of interesting artistic applications of this.

4ms wav recorder is almost it, but 1/8 jacks and you would need to hit record every time you power up the system. Might need a bigger memory card as well, they promise literal weeks of recording time with a 128GB one.

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For 1/4” jacks, I believe the right side of the Chase Bliss Mood is an always listening recorder that may partially achieve what you’re looking for. My experience with it is to play through it (not engaged) and when I’ve played something I want to loop, I engage it. I don’t recall what the buffer size is, but I don’t believe it’s very large, so you’d need to engage pretty quickly after realizing you want something looped. Not what you’re looking for per se, but an iteration.

Not 1/4” jacks, but 3.5mm: Mannequins w/ does this. I haven’t completely figured mine out so I can’t provide any tips, sorry. Lol

Edited to add:
This may seem very obvious but is worth pointing out: The most efficient way to achieve this would be a DAW and interface. I’m guessing you may not want to go this route, given your question, but it could be inexpensive and locating your samples would be easiest this way.

If my edit comes across as sarcastic, I can assure you it isn’t. :slightly_smiling_face: Sometimes the most obvious solution gets overlooked so I wanted to put this out there. I am very guilty of rushing towards a complicated solution because something obvious eluded my consideration.

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“Always on” can sometimes mean extended review sessions. Human nature fights against getting it done.

I have an old cassette tape recorder with a terrific condenser mic built in. A cassette means review sessions that are set at 30 or 45 minutes, but at least you know what it’s going to be.

That said, I am very tempted by that TC Electronics pedal. Something like that that fits right on the board would be super easy to practice and perform with.

Man, this would be PERFECT if it was stereo. I just spent 20 mins looking at demos and nearly pulling a quick trigger on it. Thanks!

Then I realized I pretty much have this same functionality with a Tascam handheld field recorder. Less immediate than an always-on, footpedal-operated one like the Riff Recorder, but stereo and smart card-based. Just put it in my signal path between main out and recorder. Always a pretty good feeling to realize you have the gear you need already in the home.

Thanks for the suggestion with Riff Recorder. Still liking it immensely, might end up getting one.

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I would be super into this.

I’ve posted about something like this before: always on, a big massive loop, that your can choose to save parts of when you want. Nothing like this seems to exist.

I’ve been discussing this lately as a device prospect. Would a lot of people be interested im such a device?

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Why not just use a DAW? Typically when I’m working I just leave a recorder running on my master channel in case anything good happens.

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Not a bad idea, but curious about how much disc space that takes up. Uncompressed would be 600MG an hour? (or is it MP3, Mono?)

It’d be the same as any other device discussed here, but you’d have many gigs available. Delete if nothing interesting happened that day, or bounce to a compressed file to save space if you’re not sure.

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Sure, I’m aware of the math, hard disk space is the trickiest thing for me, recording-wise. I prefer use a dedicated disk recorder, personally. But I don’t DAW at all, really, so was mostly curious if DAW recording compressed size in any way. (lots of laptops are now SSD and the HD is much less robust in terms of available space) - pardon the tangent.

The 1010 Music Blue Box is a eurorack mixer/FX unit, but it also has a record feature that just records to the micro sd card.

It’s not a DAW per se, but you can record 6 stereo or 12 mono channels and can apply insert and master effects like you would in a DAW mixer. Oh, and it’s designed for modular so there is no need to worry about line level signals distorting.

I don’t have my DAW set up to compress recordings, but it can do so and I think you could set up preferences in a way to have a full time recorder running at lower quality rates if you wanted. I just keep a pretty close watch on how much space my recorded junk is taking up. If I record a long session I’ll try and listen through the whole thing within a few weeks to salvage whatever’s usable and delete the rest. And then a couple times a year I’ll go through all the build up and get rid of anything I know I won’t use. Most of the time I just delete the entire session after it’s over because nothing interesting happened, but it’s a good habit to keep the recorder going just in case.

I don’t have a crazy storage set up either, just a 1TB HDD and I’d say between 100-300 GB is regularly filled with DAW recordings.

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