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Product Review: V-Studio 100 From Cakewalk

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Not so many years ago a studio was either a place that you had to beg, borrow, or rent for so much per hour where you and your crew would lay down some tracks in the hope of getting someone to listen to your work. Back then it took a lot of space and a lot of equipment. Today it comes in a package not much bigger than a portable DVD player.

The V-Studio 100 is a portable music production studio from Cakewalk. It enables musicians to create, record, produce, and perform music with or without a computer. Its purpose is to provide the most essential tools for producers and performing musicians in a compact and affordable package.

V-Studio 100What do you need to run V-Studio 100? Well first off, it serves as a standalone unit that you can take on the road and record directly into a SD-Card wherever you like without having to lug a computer around. For this all you need is power and an SD-Card.

If you want to work with a computer, these are the requirements:

  • Windows XP (Home/Professional SP2 or later), Vista and Intel Core Processor 1.5 GHz or higher
  • Mac OS X 10.4.11, 10.5.6 with Intel Core 2 Duo Processor or higher
  • 1 GB RAM (2 GB Recommended)
  • 1024 x 768 resolution or higher
  • 8 GB of hard drive space
  • MIDI Interface
  • a USB Port
  • DVD-ROM drive for installation

So what do you get with Cakewalk's V-Studio 100?

An Audio Interface that gives you 10 in (8 in + 2 mix) and 6 out with 24-bit/96kHz audio quality recording ability and an easy to work with solid interface. The breakdown is like this:

  • Inputs 1 and 2 come with XLR microphone jacks and ¼" TRS balanced input jack. Input 1 has a Hi-Z button if you are connecting to a guitar or bass. There are also knobs that you can adjust the input sensitivity.
  • Inputs 3 (mono) and 4 are balanced dedicated ¼" TSR jacks.
  • Inputs 5 and 6 are stereo RCA jacks.
  • Inputs 7 and 8 are S/PDIF digital input that supports 24-bit/96kHz signals.
  • Dual Foot Switch input that you can connect a footswitch to.
  • MIDI Input switch USB MIDI interface.
  • Outputs 1 through 4 are balanced channels through a ¼" TRS jack.
  • Outputs 5 and 6 are RCA pin output jacks.

A Compact Control Surface that gives you all of the basics – transport controls, mute, solo, arm, and the channel fader. What is really cool is that this is a motorized fader that it is touch-sensitive so that it can move in response to the volume of the current strip, but if you want absolute silence, there is also an option to disable the movement.

V-Studio 100The V-Studio 100 control surface integrates nicely with SONAR VS Software, but through the Mackie Control Support you can use other DAW software to handle the load. When you are in Active Controller Technology (ACT) mode you will have more advanced control with the SONAR software. All you have to do is press the ACT button and you will be able to control the parameters of plug-ins that support the ACT function.

A Mixer that is ideal for the mixing of small bands, solo musicians, and in home studios. You have four types of reverb, six channels of equalization with a LCD plot, six channels of compression with threshold and compression meter, and a meter & FX display on the LCD.

The mixer works in two modes. First when it is plugged into a computer it acts as both an audio interface and a mixer, and then if you want to take to a gig and not connect to a computer then it acts more as a stand-alone mixer that you can use to control reverb, compression and EQ to mix your vocals and other instruments. You can even record a mix of your set to a SD card to work at your computer at a later time.

A Wave Recorder that comes on automatically when you turn on the V-Studio 100 without connecting it to a computer. When you put in a SD or SDHC card (up to 32 GB), you can record the stereo mix of whatever is plugged into the mixer. This is ideal for recording at gigs and on the road where hooking up a computer is impractical.

With the Wave (SD) recorder you get two channel wave recording and playback. This means that you can record your rhythm track and then, while playing it back, record your lead track. You can transfer audio to and from any computer that has USB, there is a dedicated playback volume, and it even has a built-in metronome.

A Software Production Pack that gives you not only a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) that is based on Cakewalk's SONAR Producer that contains everything that you need to start recording, editing, and mixing music and audio (Win), but a whole host of effects and virtual instruments.

V-Studio 100The VS Production Pack contains the following products:

• VX-64 Vocal Strip – is a seven-stage processor designed specifically for shaping and sculpting incredible sounding vocal tracks. The steps included are:

  • Input – simulates a tube pre amp
  • De-esser – removes sibilance without smearing.
  • Compander – vocal compressor with an expander to reduce unwanted background noise.
  • Tube EQ – for adding character ranging from subtle warmth to intense heat to the vocal.
  • Doubler – advanced doubling effect providing the quality of actual re-tracking.
  • Delay – preset delays useful for vocal tracks with tempo sync.
  • Output – provide saturation control with a built in soft-clipping filter.
  • Order of processor stages is user definable with click & drag reordering.

• Native Instruments Guitar Rig 3 LE – built on the latest guitar amp modeler from Native Instruments, you get 3 amps and cabinets, 11 effects, tuner, metronome, and over 50 presets.

• Boost 11 Peak Limiter – gives your tracks radio-ready punch through transparent peak limiting and volume maximization without additional coloring of the source material. Boost 11 employs a "look-ahead" limiter and PDR (Program Dependent Release) to provide professional results with a simple interface.

• Channel Tools Stereo Processor – provides easy and powerful control over individual placement of the left and right channels anywhere in the stereo field. Ideal for adjusting L/R channel placement, gain, pan/width, and phase; also provides a widening or narrowing effect to stereo recordings through adjustments to mid-side gain.

• Cakewalk Studio Instruments – a collection of four virtual instruments that provide a fast and easy way to create backing tracks using a photo-realistic, interactive user interface. Instruments include a Drum Kit, Bass Guitar, Electric Piano, and String Section.

• Dimension LE Virtual Instrument – a streamlined version of the acclaimed Dimension Pro instrument from Cakewalk. Dimension LE features over 400 sound programs, ranging from bass, organ, and electric piano samples to cutting-edge synth sounds, rhythmic grooves, and a special edition of Garritan Pocket Orchestra.

• Rapture LE Software Synthesizer – is a special version of the award winning Rapture wavetable synthesizer. It includes over 200 programs and hundreds of oscillator shapes. Rapture LE is perfect for performing the modern synthesized sounds igniting today's pop, dance, and electronic music.

V-Studio 100Cakewalk's V-Studio 100 is a really fun product and I like both the simplicity and the quality. They have put together a complete production package that has recording, high quality vocal processing, along with a whole host of add-ons for instrumentation.

What really makes this nice is the compact, out of the box package that you can either interface with your computer and favorite DAW, or you can use it in the studio, in the garage, or on the road. It has everything you need!

The setup to interface with your computer is very easy and straightforward. Install some drivers, install the software and you are pretty much up and running. If you are new to some of the software, it may take a bit to get around, but the applications are truly worth it.

While some may balk at the price of $699 as being a bit steep, and for a struggling musician it may be, for the V-Studio 100 being a one-stop shop, I think it's worth it to not have to piece together a complete kit. If you are looking for a portable digital multi-track recorder/studio you can carry in one hand, then look no further than the V-Studio 100 from Calkwalk. I highly recommend this product.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
  • calaverasgrande

    I’m sorry, the article kind of glossed over the Mac issue. How does it function with a mac? Does it include any audio apps?