Hands-On Review:Raising 8-Track Standards

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Roland VS-840GX & VS-890HD

At the dawn of the days of digital, Roland was on the cutting edge of recording technology. And they're still delivering the best and most advanced digital recording equipment for the lowest price possible.

VS-840GX - effortless takeoff

In these days of techno-tyranny, it's easy for an artist to forget that it's no shame to be shy of digital complexities. The VS-840GX is designed with the pure musician in mind. The same basic techniques you used on that analog clunker of yore will get you up and running. You basically just plug in, set your levels, hit record, and do your thing.

Four tracks, simultaneous recording

Most affordable multitrackers (both digital and analog) limit you to two tracks of simultaneous input. That's OK if you're recording alone. But there's just no way to replicate the subtle interplay of live musicians playing together. A two-input machine can handle you and a buddy at once, but you're each limited to a mono input. The VS-840GX transcends this limitation and doesn't leave you alone in your basement. You can bring in up to three friends (plus yourself) and give everybody their own track for total control of the final mix. With 128 virtual tracks to play with, this unit is fully equipped to make top-notch demos of your four-piece band.



Expansive effects

You'll want to lay down those first tracks dry to avoid reverb buildup later. But you can use the VS-840GX's onboard digital effects - studio reverb, delay, chorus, multi-effects, amp models, and a bass simulator - to provide rich, flexible tonal enhancements.

Pro-quality editing and mixing

The VS-840GX offers all the cut-and-paste options you expect from a high-end digital multitracker. In the final 8-track mixdown, you can pick and choose specific parts from your 128 possible virtual tracks. And you get some truly professional touches, including COSM speaker modeling.

Extreme connectivity

Everything is stored on a 250MB Zip disk, so you can pop projects in and out. The VS-840GX comes with a JamTracks Zip full of prerecorded songs you can jam to or incorporate in your own mixes. It's even compatible with your PC and can convert your audio files to .WAV format. This allows you to send tracks to your computer for burning CDs of your music.

VS-890HD, the big guy

Four years ago, Roland's VS-880 set a new standard for 8-track digital workstations. Now the VS-890HD is raising the bar once again. It retains all the features of the VS-880 and VS-880EX V-Studios and adds a number of new features to make it the most high-powered digital 8-track available. These include 24-bit sound quality, a new mastering section, dedicated CD mastering menus, and the ability to record CD image files and store them to the internal hard disk with your songs.

Miraculous mixes

One feature of the VS-890HD takes a giant step beyond any other digital 8-track - its built-in 16-channel mixer. It allows you to control all eight playback channels, plus up to eight simultaneous external inputs with EQ on each channel. Any channel can be sent to either of the two effects processors or to two aux busses for routing to external effects. Two digital inputs and two digital outputs can be used to feed DS-50a and DS-90a Roland nearfield monitors or other gear with digital inputs. Better still, all channel settings, routings, and effects settings can be saved to one of eight scenes for instant recall. The VS-890 is the only digital recorder in its price range that offers real dynamic mixer automation.

Even more effects

The VS-890HD also raises the bar with world-class effects. Its two built-in 24-bit effects processors include reverbs, chorus, flanger, phase shifters, vocoder, and more. Its COSM system features guitar amp modeling, microphone modeling, speaker modeling, and a Mastering Tool Kit. Since these effects are all fully integrated into the VS-890, you never leave the 24-bit digital realm.

Graphical editing on your MAC or PC

Another unique feature of the VS-890HD is Emagic®'s MIDI sequencing and graphical editing software, Logic VS, which comes free with each unit. Turn your Mac or PC into a full-blown, graphical VS editor. See all of your VS tracks in full waveform view; cut, paste, move, and copy your phrases using a mouse; control and automate your mixes; and even draw in volume changes graphically! Logic VS also is a MIDI sequencer, so you can integrate your VS audio with your MIDI tracks. And for even more good news, your audio stays inside your VS-890HD, so that you aren't bogging down your computer's CPU or compromising your audio in a noisy computer environment. Logic VS lets you have the best of both worlds: pristine, totally reliable audio recording and mixing along with 24-bit dedicated effects in your VS-890HD, and great graphical editing along with MIDI integration on your Mac or PC. It's never been a better time to be a musician!

Your time has come

If you've been waiting for a digital multitracker that offers full-range studio capabilities and perfect sound for a great price, your wait is over. Use Musician's Friend's purchasing power to help you realize your digital dreams with the best deal you'll find anywhere.

Features & Specs



  • 8 tracks x 8 V-tracks x 2 banks for 128 V-tracks
  • 8-track playback
  • 4-track simultaneous recording
  • Max of 200 songs per disk
  • Hi, Mid, Low EQ
  • 4 recording modes
  • AD conversion: 20-bit, 64 times oversampling
  • DA conversion: 20-bit, 128 times oversampling
  • Internal processing: 24-bit (mixer section)
  • 44.1kHz, 32.0kHz sample rates
  • .08% or less total harmonic distortion


  • 8 tracks x 8 V-tracks x 2 banks for 128 V-tracks
  • 8-track playback
  • 8-track simultaneous recording
  • Max of 200 songs internal memory
  • Hi, Mid, Low EQ on 8 channels
  • Hi, Low EQ on 16 channels
  • 6 recording modes
  • AD conversion: 24-bit, 64 times oversampling
  • DA conversion: 24-bit, 128 times oversampling
  • 48.0kHz, 44.1kHz, 32.0kHz adjustable sample rates
  • .006% or less total