IT’S AN INTERFACE, IT’S AN EFFECTS BOX, IT’S A CONTROL SURFACE
By Mike Levine
Since Roland acquired a major stake in Cakewalk, the two companies have developed products together using Roland’s hardware experience and Cakewalk’s software savvy. The combination of the two has resulted in products such as the V-Studio 700, a comprehensive hardware/software recording system. The V-Studio 20 is less ambitious but is still an intriguing product. It combines a USB audio interface that has some control surface functionality and Roland’s VS-20 Editor software, which lets you access the unit’s BOSS COSM modeling effects for guitar, bass, and vocals. Cakewalk’s Guitar Tracks, a guitar-oriented recording software (Win), is also included.
IT’S THE HARDWARE
Fig. 1: The hardware component of the V-Studio 20 features audio interface and control-surface capabilities.
The V-Studio 20’s hardware component (see Fig. 1) is a plastic-housed unit that has dimensions of 11.8 × 5.7 × 2.2 (WxDxH) inches. On its face it has eight small faders, each with a corresponding Track Select button. It also has transport controls. Each fader’s throw is less than 2 inches, but they have a decent feel—not too stiff and not too loose. The plastic construction makes the VS-20 lightweight and therefore easily portable, although likely not as durable as a metal-housed unit.
On the left side-panel, the VS-20 has a USB port, RCA output jacks, a Foot Switch input (for remote control of record and playback with an optional footswitch), an expresion pedal input, and a ¼-inch headphone jack. The right side-panel has an XLR mic input (phantom power is switched on and off in the VS-20 Editor software), a pair of ¼-inch line inputs, and a ¼-inch hi-Z guitar/bass input. A pair of mics in a stereo configuration is built into the unit, with one mic on either side of the back part of the front panel.
Other front-panel features include an Output Level knob that controls the headphone and main outs, an input control, and switches to activate the various inputs, turn on and off the COSM modeling, and change COSM patches. The DAW output controls the sound of tracks playing from your DAW, while the Direct Monitor knob controls the level of input source that you’re hearing.