As the others have said, go for a MCU if you can afford it. If not, use a BCF2000 in MCU-emulation mode. Don't consider anything that can't fully (or almost fully) emulate a MCU. I don't know how comprehensive the Tascam's MCU emulation would be.
Also, note that only Acid and Vegas are really useable with external control surfaces - Sound Forge does not really have any external control capability.
just posting back to say ive gotten the unit.. haven't had a chance to do much with it in terms of testing it out as DAW controller, but as a recording device it is SLICK!!! its so small, light, low profile.. only 343 on ebay brand new! runs off batteries (if you ever do field recording) very intuitive, was recording right out of the box, everything was very straight forward, you can do alot on this bugger! panning and eq was a batter of hitting two buttons. there is lots of EQ adjusting available, you can record WET or DRY with effects.. very nice.. their is a tuner built in, along with a metronome. you can move tracks in seconds... records to SD, comes with a USB cable, has a HOST usb port on the side (for moving files to thumb drives back and forth) can slave two together..
i am very impressed with this...
i did try recording directly to the computer using vegas, and it worked just fine.. i had 8 separate inputs... (you must install their AISO drivers first)
i like it so much, i bought another! (backup, or slave it with mine, or give it a a sibling!)
ill report more as i play with it more
Hey, thanks for all the input. I didn't expect that. Yes I wanted to get a Mackie Universal, but i think they are discontinuing it. My second choice was Tascam 1882, but they are also dicontinued, and I would then worry about support. I don't really care for the quality of Behringer. I have a Ultra Gain (8 pre) by Behringer and they sound harsh (alot of EQ'ing to get a good sound). My Presonus pre's out perform it by far. I also have a Behringer amp, which has low quality DSP's. The price is right with Behringer, but you do sacrifice quality. I am kind of leaning toward the Alesis Master Control, but I don't know if they have the Vegas inlay like the Mackie does. Anyway, I am a little thick when it comes to control surfaces. If the surface is connecting thru MIDI or USB, firewire, etc, then unless you are actually using inputs from that surface then there really isn't a risk of poor sound quality, right? So it really shouldn't matter if it's a Zoom, or a Behringer, or whatever. But, The Mackie, Tascam, Alesis, higher priced units would give more control over all. I am watching Ebay daily, and I do see some deals on there for Mackie surfaces and Tascam. I am selling my mixer to get a surface. The mixer (soundcraft M12) I used for FOH for the band, but alas the band is no more (not unusual). So now I can concentrate more on my own stuff. Do you think it would be unwise to get a unit that they are going to stop making?
There are never any "updates" on the MCU so it is what it is. There are a ton of them out there and they'll be around for awhile at least. For Mackie gear there are also a lot of repair techs in most larger cities if you need happen to need it - and the MCU isn't all that large so shipping it to a tech isn't a major ordeal. If they are being discontinued, then you are likely to get a decent deal somewhere. I personally wouldn't worry about it.
In terms of the BCF2000 control surface, I think comparing it to the other Behringer units you mentioned is like apples and oranges. The BCF is actually one of B's best products and is certainly a no brainer for the money. Several Vegas/Acid users have them and it is popular enough that Sony created a white paper and posted it on this site (Downloads > White Papers).
The Alpha Track, or some other single fader control unit to be able to ride audio levels with my left hand. WHY oh WHY can't it be done? I know I've heard from Sony that it won't work with Vegas because of midi issues or something like that...but OH I WISH!.
My Mackie MCU (connected via TB Santa Cruz MIDI ports) when in Track (not Automation) mode, seems to cause the cursor to not flow freely - steps in maybe 1/2 second increments. Flip the Automation button and everytnhnig goes smoothly.
I must try it on my MIDISport 4 x 4 interface to check if it is in fact MID interface or driver related.
OK - swung my controller over onto MIDISport4x4 and the problems went away. Last night the MCU wasn't even recognised thru the Santa Cruz (!) , so it would seem MIDI ports are not necessarily the solid beasties I had assumed.
Maybe the o/p has access to some different MIDI ports to prove that dodgey MIDI isn't his problem ?
been using the zoom recently mostly to just digitize old reel to reel stuff (and old four track recordings)
got it working as a control interface in acid just fine! i just used it briefly, have lots more playing around to do, but it worked great, very responsive, it was great closing my eyes, and just using my fingers on the levels! and changing multiple tracks at one time! oh i like it! this little zoom r16 is great! i highly recommend it to anyone who does recording or video/field recording! i am very impressed so far!
it was a (very) old TEAC...
its nice being able to preserve it with this thing! (i could have easily hooked it up to my computer and ran it out stereo, or 1 track at a time.. but with this it is so slick! i connect line out to line in, create a new project, and hit record... keeping all tracks separate. with the four track it was great, im now onto capturing all my old 8 track music... recorded on a yamaha MD8 (data MD)... this will be a life saver! i love being able to preserve this, archive it... and be able to edit it further in vegas/acid!
i highly recommend this (i do not work for samson/zoom!) i am just very happy with the product!
i have not used it with batteries yet.... i imaging battery life will be pretty good.. takes 6 AA batteries... and records to SD discs... not much power consumption...