The U8 comes at a time when recording into a computer seems so non-tactile... operating the "tape deck" and punching in with a mouse doesn't quite work for me in the music making/recording process. The U8 collects all the outboard gear needed for hard-drive computer recording in one small place: 20-bit A/D and D/A converters; line, mic, guitar level inputs, digital outputs to DAT or CD-R; MIDI interface; 8-track mixer and transport controls. You can mix up to 8 digital audio tracks and 16 MIDI channels and use any of the 100 different built-in digital effects. Roland throws in Virtual Sound Canvas, a software-based synth but I had the most fun with Cakewalk's Pro Audio 9 running on a PC and the U8 running as the "front end". The U8 connects to your computer via a simple USB cable and there is no additional hardware to buy to get going.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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