« this was a "10/10" in 2004; in 2012 it's a "1/10" »Published on 08/07/12 at 09:28
No installation worries here as the unit is self contained. The scrolling functions would be a bit painful to learn, but the optional VGA output allows an interface which is way more intuitive than the included small screen. Many people knock on the manual, but I found the information to be very organized…though it is extensive and massive. The DVD manual is ok; I watched it once and never again. If you ever used any vs type machine from Roland- like the 880, 1680, or 2400- then you’ll jump right into this unit seamlessly.
Brand new these units came stock with a vs8f2 effects card. Decent sounds available, from delays to reverbs to mastering compressors- pretty much anything you would ever need. The only poor sounds were from the COSM guitar sims, which I found unusable. The real problem is the number of times you can use it: if you’re using inserts, you are quite limited. Post fx is more plentiful, so one can put reverb on every track if desired. It’s almost a necessity to upgrade by installing additional fx cards, up to 4 total. The vs8f3 is a step up in quality, and the 3rd party plugins are a huge step up. These are becoming more scarce as production stopped a few years ago, but if you are staying in the box, this is a great toolkit to acquire. Best scenario may be to find a vs2480 used, forget finding the fx cards (because they are scarce and expensive) and utilize the vs for tracking knowing that you can bring it into a cpu for mixing and fx. This strategy makes the unit good bang for your buck in terms of tracking 16 at a time relatively cheap.
Best thing is the stability- this unit is much more stable than most pc and will not embarrass you by crashing and losing data. It is a rock. The 16track capability is wonderful. Negatives include load up time- saving and recalling projects takes waaaaay longer than any modern day cpu DAW. The extra components- if you can even find them- are pricey. You will need the special cables and interfaces to be able to transfer 16 tracks at a time into a pc. Otherwise you’re stuck with 2 at a time through spdif, which is totally horrifying. I believe the capability to add PC/Mac interface was available at the time of production, but Roland attempted to keep their system isolated from the rest of the world’s DAWs. This philosophy killed the platform, as technology and musicians gravitated towards universal DAWs which are easily transferred.
This was a great value 8-10 years ago, but now (even used) one may be advised to look elsewhere. There are too many issues trying to bring the projects onto DAWs to allow collaboration. The one application which may still be useful is in recording live performances: the unit could be setup at rehearsal or live shows pretty quickly and the results are fairly good. For a long time I praised the vs platforms, but I have since migrated…if you can find one used and cheap cheap, give it a shot- but don’t pay close to the thousands that it originally cost.
Bottom line: this was a "10/10" in 2004; in 2012 it's a "1/10"