Hands-On Review:Strum and get it- Korg D1200CD Digital Recording Studio.

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Strum and get it
Korg D1200CD Digital Recording Studio.

By Jeff Colchamiro


Fortunately for guitarists, Korg has made selecting the right hard-disk system easier with its D1200CD Digital Recording Studio. In addition to offering up to 12 tracks, with four available for simultaneous recording, the D1200CD has a dedicated guitar input and built-in amp modeling and guitar effects that sound surprisingly realistic-not surprising, considering the success of Korg's REMS modeling technology, found in the company's very popular line of Toneworks products.



Setting up the D1200CD couldn't have been easier, and installing the CDRW drive was a matter of simply popping it into the unit. The control panel features an ample backlit LCD display that can tilt to any angle for comfortable viewing, and the panel is laid out in the mixer-style format common to most units of this ilk, with faders, transport controls, inputs and all buttons and dials arranged logically.  The controls are grouped into recording, mixdown and mastering sections, and the LCD menus are, for the most part, self-explanatory. Of course, any modern recording system has a learning curve, and most users will need to refer to the manual to access the D1200CD's more advanced features. Fortunately, the manual is quite detailed and easy to follow, with lots of diagrams and step-by-step instructions.


The D1200CD

operates as a 12-track machine in 16-bit/44.1kHz mode and as a six-track unit in 24-bit/44.1kHz mode. In addition, each track contains eight virtual tracks that can hold alternate takes and be utilized for submixes. (Submixing has the added benefit of freeing up internal effects for more recording chores.) The unit does not employ data compression, which means that the sound you put into the D1200CD is exactly what you'll get out of it. And with four tracks of simultaneous recording, the D1200CD makes it easy to track a small combo, or a full drum kit, live. As for storage space, the unit has a 40-gig hard drive-enough to hold roughly 10 hours of music in 16-bit mode.


In addition to its dedicated guitar input, the D1200CD has four balanced 1/4-inch TRS line inputs and two XLR inputs with mic preamps and phantom power. Each of the mixer's input channels has a pan control and a three-band EQ with sweepable midrange. To make the package complete, Korg has outfitted the D1200CD with 128 insert effects that can be used on individual tracks (up to eight per track), 32 master effects that can be added to the mix and 32 "final" effects that help punch up the finished product. What's more, each of the effects can be edited and saved. The D1200CD also features excellent nondestructive track-editing capabilities and 100 scene memory locations in which fader, EQ, pan and effects settings can be stored to create automated mixes.



Of course, the D1200CD is designed with guitarists in mind. To that end, I grabbed a Les Paul and set about discovering the unit's sonic possibilities. Pressing the modeling button brought up easy-to-follow menus on the LCD that offered a variety of sounds. From here I was able to select amp and cabinet models, and adjust settings for drive and tone. Because Korg has designed the D1200CD for guitarists, the company has wisely included a trio of honest-to-God, player-friendly knobs with which to assign modeling effects. Most of the simulations were accurate, and those that weren't still produced very good sounds. I particularly liked the "Brit Stack" and "US Hi Gain" tones. The D1200CD also has built-in user-editable effects and simulators for bass guitar and microphones.



The D1200CD has S/P DIF I/Os for digital interfacing and a USB port with which song data and .wav files can be transferred to and retrieved from a computer. Alternately, you can back up data and audio files using the built-in CDRW drive. Better still, use it to burn audio CDs of your finished songs, a feature that makes the D1200CD a true all-in-one digital studio and production tool.


The Bottom Line

The Korg D1200CD packs in all of the standard digital studio features and also has some excellent add-ons aimed at guitarists. If you're looking for an all-in-one 12-track recorder, plug your guitar into one and check it out.


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