Roland VS-1680 V-Xpanded
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Roland VS-1680 V-Xpanded

VS-1680 V-Xpanded, Digital Multrack-studio from Roland in the VS series.

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RickD 04/14/2008

Roland VS-1680 V-Xpanded : RickD's user review

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- What connection types are there(analog, digital, MIDI)?
Inputs: 2 XLR, 6 TRS jacks (that's symetric...), digital SPDIF coax & optical (Toslink, not ADAT), RBUS (Roland proprietary interface that allows for the addition of various expensive boxes...such as extra analogue inputs or ADAT), MIDI in and out if i remember correctly.

- what is the sampling rate (bits/kHz)?
Good question. The machine is 24 bits, they say, but the converters are only 20. BUT this gives you extra headroom at mixdown, i think. No higher than 48 khz, but you can go down to about 32 khz, which can be useful to create different pitches without the use of a pitch-shifter: record at 32 and playback at the regular 44.1 or 48 and you get that funny high-pitched voice you used to get when playing an LP at 45 RPM.

- What storage format is used (ZIP, MiniDisc, hard disc...)?
2 GB internal IDE hard drive. Now you think that's small, it isn't. You can record a whole album with virtual tracks and still have space left. If you want, you can replace this drive with a 40 GB i believe.

- What types of synchronization are supported?
You cannot set the SPDIF to use external or internal clock: so if you can't set the device you're connecting to digitally you can end up having problems. For example, if you use a TC Electronic G-Force as an effects loop, you can't do that digitally unless you add a third device in the loop, or the VS will try to lock onto the G-Force while the G-Force is trying to lock on to the VS. I added in a Minidisc player with optical and coax inputs and it worked fine.
As far as pure synchro goes, you have MIDI and i think various modes exist in the menus but i never needed them so i can't remember.

- How many tracks can be recorded/read simulaneously?...
8 in compressed modes, 4 in linear mode. However, the Roland compression is a 3 to 1 lossless compression-decompression so i'm not sure there is much point in using the linear mode. Use 'MTP' mode.
You can playback 16 and 2 mastering tracks exist, so you can bounce these 16 to a virtual couple of extra tracks.
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You have 8 outputs on RCA connectors that can be used as direct outs. You can freely assign signals to these, and you can send what you want to pretty much any track or output too. Same for the monitor outs and headphones. It's a powerful mixer.
I put 8/10 cos the analogue outs are not symetric (which they are on the 2480), and that's a shame. Also, would have been good to have 2 digital ins that can be used at the same time, here you must choose between optical and digital.

UTILIZATION

- Is the general configuration/setup simple? - Is the manual clear and sufficient?...
Takes some getting used to, hardest thing to understand is the routing (as for the 2480...which works differently again, eeek!).
But the manual has a very clear, step by step approach, so you can't go wrong.
Overall, it's an easy machine to use, i find.

- Are the typical functions easily accessible?
Yup. One button gives you access to input or channel settings. Other features also have dedicated buttons.

SOUNDS

- Are the A/D and D/A convertors transparent?
Sound ok to me! I usually bypassed the pres and A/D's though, and came in digital. That does definitely improve the sound if you're using some high-end piece of gear to do it with...
I'd recommend a high-end pre and compressor with a digital out.

- are the effects and filtres good?
The EQ is not so efficient or nice, but the onboard effects (optional with the VS8F-2 and VS8F-3 cards -- the latter takes third party VS plug-ins) are very useable.

- Are the dynamics respected?...
You've got to be careful not to reach that 0dB mark, of course, but if you avoid that then all is well, and you can make some very decent recordings indeed.

OVERALL OPINION

I used it for about 7 years and just moved up to the 2480.

Best thing? Portable, reliable, NO LATENCY!!! Go find that with a PC...call me in a 100 years when you've found something... ;-p
Can be used as a control surface for a PC too...although the faders are not motorized...

It's a complete box that will do everything. Probably the best 16 track portastudio ever.

Worst thing? The software is obsolete compared to PC's...you can't use a proper screen like on the 2480...or a keyboard or mouse...
The options are too expensive...

The price when new was about £2000 / 3000€. That was with the external CD burner (which you desperately need) and a couple of effects cards, ie complete. That was not cheap, but was the best value at the time. Now second hand the machine is an amazing deal, and definitely worth having as a first. It's cheaper second hand than my 8 track cassette machine was when i got one, about 10 years ago!!