By Ralph Sappington, courtesy of {{Christian Musician}} Magazine

Editor's Note: This year's NAMM millennium convention didn't really break a lot of new ground technologically speaking, but it did push forward the existing technologies and continued to make things more versatile and affordable for musicians. That point is respectable enough. This month's articles (part one) will cover acoustic guitars, studio/home recording systems and a high-tech overview of where things are going. Next month we'll feature bass guitars, keyboards, electric guitars and drums in part two of our special report.

As most of you know the digital recording revolution has brought music production out of the major studios and into the bedrooms of musicians across the country. We are now free (well not free but cheaper!) to record when and where we want. At this years NAMM show we took a look at some of the products that will make it possible for you to put those songs down for posterity!

Let's start with one of the companies that first brought recording home, Fostex. You now can have a multi-track cassette in see-through colors to match your i-Mac for under three hundred dollars! The X-14T has a built in mic and comes with a pair of headphones so you are ready to record! Now if you're ready to move up to digital, Fostex still can get you recording for under one thousand dollars with the FD-4/4.0. This is a four track digital recorder/mixer with a 4.0GB hard drive. Or perhaps you need eight tracks; well you can get the FD-8/8.4 for only $1,199.00. Fostex has systems for just about every need right up to the D-1624TCB sixteen tracks, twenty-four-bit rack mount system at $4,615.00.

Yamaha always has been on the cutting edge of digital recording with the O2R recording console and the new AW 4416 Professional Audio Workstation is no exception. This is a complete studio with a 64GB hard drive and O2R mixing console inside! This is a 16 track, 44-channel multi-track recorder and with 24-bit you can have up to 16 tracks simultaneous recording and playback. Choose Manual or Auto Punch I/O, and since you can record up to 8 virtual tracks for each of the 16 tracks, you always have the material on hand that you can mix down to the available stereo master tracks. You can interface with ADAT, Tascam, and AES/EBU systems and you can record directly to a CD-R with the optional interface. The AW4416's Sampling Pad section features eight trigger pads with two banks, a total of 16 sounds, to choose from. In all, there's a total of about 90-seconds of sampling time at 16-bit/44.1kHz resolution. Sampling pads can be assigned to any channel input of the mixer section. What's more, you can assign a phrase from a track of the HD, or CD-ROM, CD-DA or via SCSI, either WAV or original file format. Editing on this system looks to be user friendly and easy to learn. Any way you look at it this is an exciting new product.
Akai Musical Instrument Corporation has a 12 track digital recorder with a 10GB hard drive capable of recording 32 hours of material that retails for $1649.99 and a 24 bit 16-track unit for $2695.00! Both the DPS12i and the DPS16i are professional quality recording studios in a small footprint package. Patching is quick and simple, you can record guitars and basses directly into both units without a direct box and mixing on these units will be a breeze.

Tascam, another early leader in home recording, is introducing the MX-2424 at a list price of $3999.00. This 24-track, 24-bit hard disk recorder offers 50 minutes of recording across all 24 tracks. Recording time can be extended by adding more drives. This rack mount unit has true random access and editing functions are on clearly labeled front panel buttons. Tascam's DTRS format, already in use in studios, post houses, and on the road the world over, is now available in 24-bit format. The DA-78HR ($3199.00) and the DA-98HR ($6999.00) offer 8 tracks of 24-bit recording, up to one hour and 48 minutes on a standard Hi-8 tape. These machines are also fully compatible with all existing DTRS machines. Both generations of DTRS machine will lock together seamlessly, and the new HR machines can play back 16- or 24-bit tapes. Both machines have I/O for word clock, SMPTE and MIDI; the DA-98HR also features video sync and eight channels of AES/EBU I/O.

Alesis has the popular ADAT format covered with the LX-20 and XT-20 machines. Both the XT-20 and the less expensive LX-20 are 20 bit systems and are now industry standard products. They are compatible so you can upgrade your existing ADAT studio and add tracks without dumping your old machines!

Mackie is in the mix with the new HDR24/96. The HDR24/96 combines a high-precision recording system with intuitive editing software - just plug in an SVGA monitor, mouse and keyboard directly into the rear panel ports to start slipping tracks and making crossfades. You store your work on pull out Kingston format IDE hard drives so switching projects will be easy and inexpensive, a 20Gb drive will sell for around $200.00. Mackie will announce list prices in the near future and they are promised to be, in Mackie style, way below other systems that compare feature to feature.

Roland has several products that will change they way you record! First, the VP-90000 Variphrase Processor. With this unit multisampling is a thing of the past, you can play a single sample across the entire range of keys and retain the original instruments tone, envelope and tempo! The VP-9000 can instantly match multiple audio phrases with different keys and tempos and it will even add swing to a straight drum loop. Roland has also designed a digital studio for guitarists! The Boss BR-8 is a self-contained studio that has the power of a larger unit but a price tag you won't believe! Watch for a complete review in a future issue of Christian Musician.