The Little Engine that Could

E D I T O R ' S N O T E click to learn about the: KORG D1200CD ROLAND VS-2400CD YAMAHA AW16G Recording musicians and personal-studio owners have plenty


Image placeholder title

click to learn about the:



Recording musicians and personal-studio owners have plenty of choices when it comes to digital-recording devices. For example, you could buy a rack-mount hard-disk recorder, a modular digital multitrack tape deck, or a computer with audio interface and recording software. Each of these solutions has distinctive advantages and disadvantages, and there are legitimate reasons to choose any of them.

But if you want a combination of ease of use, good basic—and in some cases, amazingly advanced—recording features, a physical mixing surface, straightforward connectivity, complete portability, and great value, nothing beats a portable digital studio (PDS). These devices combine a mixer, digital recorder, and effects into a single unit that is easily transported and that is far more reliable than most laptop computers. This marriage of essential features, portability, and reliability makes the PDS ideal for recording live performances and rehearsals, a prime choice for songwriting, and an excellent centerpiece for a personal studio. All you need are powered speakers, your instruments, one or more microphones and stands, and only a few cables, and you are ready to rock.

Portable digital studios may be relatively small in size, but like the Little Engine That Could, they can accomplish great things. They are generally extremely easy to use, allowing you to get the job done quickly. And if you need more power to get your project over the mountain, you can usually get it. Some portable digital studios offer extensive waveform editing within the unit, allowing you to do professional-style edits. In addition, many of today’s portable digital studios (including all three units discussed in this supplement) can export WAV files, and some can connect directly to a Mac or PC, allowing you the best of both worlds. Furthermore, all three of the portable digital studios presented in this supplement include CD burners, so you can take a project all the way from conception to a CD submaster that is ready for replication. On the other hand, if you don’t need all those features, a less complex PDS might be just the ticket, offering the ultimate in ease of use.

Although several companies make portable digital studios, three have become the clear leaders in the field: Korg, Roland, and Yamaha. Each of these well-established companies offer a distinctive line of digital recorders, giving musicians a choice not only between different design concepts but also several different models within each basic design approach. With all these options, you are highly likely to find just what you’re looking for in a PDS.

Can you make a high-quality recording with a PDS? Like the Little Engine That Could, if you think you can, and you are willing to give it your best effort, you surely can do it.