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MGR/Daniel Tolson, Memphis, TN 12/04/2002

Fostex VF16 : MGR/Daniel Tolson, Memphis, TN's user review

« Fostex VF-16 16-Track Digital Recorder »
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I bought this unit as an open-box special at a local music store here in Memphis, Tennessee. I paid $699 (pre-tax) for it. Because it was a display model, it came without a box, manuals, or even a power cord. It took me all of 5 minutes to find a spare AC cord around the house and to download the user manual from Fostex's web site. Having previously owned the Fostex FD-8 as my first recorder, I knew that the Fostex would be a good unit to expand my studio with.

This recorder is VERY simple to use. Of the handful of digital recorders that I have used, this is by far the easiest. The manual is fairly straightforward in explaining how to use the different features of the machine, and makes perfect clarity of how to set it up to do simple records. If you want to get more in-depth, just find your topic in the index, read the material, and jump to the recorder. It couldn't get too much easier. Although I'm not the style police, I think this is a good-looking unit, too. The layout is very clear, and all of the most commonly used inputs, buttons and knobs are easily found on the compact front panel.
Also big plusses of the VF-16 are the fact that it includes two phantom powered XLR inputs, therefore reducing the amount of equipment required to set up and record a quick tune before it gets forgotten. Noise is a thing of the past with a very low noise floor. One thing that I have grown to love is it's on-board effects processors. Yes, that's plurar. Unlike my previous FD-8 (8-track knob-turner's dream), the VF-16 brings two effects processors to the table. These can be added to the recording permanently, or after the recording just to get an idea of how you want it to sound. Dial in as much or as little as you want to give your drums, vocals, or other sound sources that ambience of an ideal room without having to record in a million-dollar studio. I could go on and on, but im sure the site could run out of space.

Not much... I do a lot of moving around with my gear, and there have been two or three times that a knob or fader has come off, but they easily re-attached. The smallish 5 gig hard drive doesnt hold but a few hours of my recordings (but to be fair, I record 8-20 tracks per song..). It is easily upgradable though, and with the price of today's EIDE hard drives, you can bump it to an 60-100gb hard drive for chump change, and still end up with a big savings over other units. Aside from that, a more vivid, larger display would be cool, but the one it has does fine. My last complaint, although minor, is that you can't process compression and effects on the same channels. The VF-16 offers compression on two channels at a time, but you have to sacrifice your on-board effects to do so. That's not a big issue with me, since my final mixes take place on the PC where I can do virtually anything.

This thing is built almost like a tank. I say almost because of my experiences with the knobs and faders popping off. I haven't found a case that is made especially for the VF-16, but that may be in part to its durability.

This is my second digital recorder, and definitely my favorite of all that I have used. The learning curve is just barely steeper than that of self-explanatory. The features of this unit are great. It has enough inputs to record a complete band live without having to go back and re-record someone that you left out. Effects, compression, phantom power, EQ, non-destructive editing, internal hard drive, and other features makes this a self-contained studio. Theoretically, you could buy a microphone and a CD-burner, and make a complete recording. This is also a great unit for the beginning recorder. I strongly recommend it.

This review was originally published on http://www.musicgearreview.com