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The Roland VS-1680

The Roland VS-1680

Roland has done it again! The Roland VS-1680 sixteen-track tabletop hard disk recording workstation should really be called a recording ‘workhorse.’ I’ve always had a small home recording system starting with a Tascam Sync-Cassette (two-track), to a Tascam Port One (four-track), and then a Tascam 488 (eight-track): all of which used cassette tapes as their media. When the new line of hard disk recorders entered the market, I sold all of my analog recording gear in anticipation of the next generation of home recording equipment. Now, for under $2500, I am back in action.

The VS-1680 builds on what Roland started out doing with its VS-880. With sixteen tracks (instead of eight) of hard disk audio recording and 256 virtual tracks, any musician or band can make professional quality recordings. The new EZ Routing function allows users to create and save various recording or mixes for instant recall. Total recording time is an amazing 808 track minutes which represents an almost 50 minute song. A large, easy-to-read graphic LCD provides simultaneous level meters, play list, EQ curves, and effects settings, as well as other information.

Before going the route of the 1680, I had debated about upgrading my personal computer and using it as my home recording studio. Now, hard drives are relatively cheap compared to the Roland, but after looking into sound cards, I/O cards and boxes, MIDI interfaces, and software solutions, I began worry about compatibility problems. The out-of-the-box solution seemed like the logical choice.

Sure, the Roland VS-1680 sounds like a perfect tool for musicians, but there are a few pitfalls. Even with sixteen-tracks, you can only record eight simultaneously. This is a compromise that bands recording live will have to deal with. Using an additional mixing board is one solution. Also, you still need microphones, effects and a monitor system to make an effective recording – as you do with any recording system.

Effects, as mentioned above, must be considered when beginning a recording project. Roland’s solution to this is two add-on cards (approximately $300 each). I recommend adding these to your system as they integrate seamlessly with the VS-1680. Roland also has a recordable compact disc attachment that is a great add-on, but not needed by everyone.

So what’s next? The Roland VS-2480? A twenty-four-track home recording device that fits in the palm of your hand? Keep your fingers crossed. But, for now, the VS-1680 is all you need to get those ideas out of your head and into a digital format. The rest is up to you…

Buy The Roland VS-1680 Now

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