by Ralph Sappington, courtesy of {{Christian Musician}}


It's snowing here in Montana. Looking out my front window and getting depressed about snow covering the lawn that I mowed and watered two days ago, I spot the UPS trunk. Now if there is anything that can lift the languid melancholy of a spring snowstorm (sorry I just got the new Steely Dan album) it's getting a package from UPS. Ripping open this one, I find the BR-8 Digital Recording Studio from Boss. The first things I am struck by are the compact size and attractive design of the unit. The mixer is front and center, and an easy-to-read display is right above it; the other controls are also well marked and accessible.

Opening the manual, I discover that in order to record anything I need a Zip disk. If you purchase one of these units at a music store, be sure to pick up several Zip disks on the way home (make sure they're the 100 MB versions). Following the well-written manual, I initialize a disk and grab my guitar. I'm ready to record. Using the onboard digital tuner I tune my Danelectro Convertible - I'm using the one with the Blue Burst finish to recover that spring time feel - and proceed to find an effects patch I like from the variety of guitar effects and amp simulations in the BR-8. I decide on a patch called "Texas" that reminds me of Stevie Ray. I then set up a beat and tempo using the rhythm guide that will help me to sync all of my tracks. Now I'm ready to record.

The BR-8 has eight tracks to choose from and each track has eight virtual tracks, making it a sixty-four track recorder. You can play back any eight tracks at one time, so mixing different takes is not a problem, which makes this one powerful unit. I hit record and lay down a rhythm guitar track. Without putting down the guitar, I then dial up the bass simulation patch and lay down my bass track. I'm now getting carried away as I put several lead guitars parts down, each with a different amp and guitar sound. I'm overdubbing, punching in, cutting together takes, and changing patches after the track is recorded; all of this with very little use of the manual. All of the features use icons to point you in the right direction, and the menus are well organized. I mix the song down to my DAT recorder and start a new tune. I found that I could save two songs on a Zip disk (this depends on how many tracks you use for each song). Zip disks are inexpensive so the storage medium isn't an issue.

After several hours my wife came home to find me still poised in front of the BR-8, happily living out my rock guitar fantasies on track after track. I had beat the snowstorm blues - until she pointed out that the sidewalk needed to be shoveled.

Later that evening I did an AB test with tracks recorded on the BR-8 and a favorite CD. Honestly, I could tell the difference, but I was still very pleased with the overall sound of the BR-8. This is the ultimate tool for the singer / songwriter to compose, arrange and produce good quality demos wherever you are at the moment. Solo artists can use the BR-8 live as a back-up musician, and worship leaders will find the portability and power of the BR-8 useful as a recording device and to reproduce tracks for worship and special music.

The specifications of the BR-8 are impressive: eight tracks (each with eight virtual tracks), two tracks can be recorded at one time, and any eight tracks can be played back simultaneously. Zip disks can be used three different ways: 100 MB for one track, standard fifty minutes for multi-track recording, or LV1 60 minutes for live recording and LV2 75 minutes at a lower recording rate. The sample rate is 44.1 kHz and the signal processing is 24 bit, 20 bit for line and simultaneous conversion. The BR-8 can be synced using MIDI and it has optical digital outputs.

You can get all of this for less than $900.00. If you are still using your trusty cassette multi-track, or have been waiting to go digital, now is the time. Trust me. With the BR-8, I even forgot it was snowing outside.