The power of the recording section is governed mainly by the amount of storage space available, and of course the maximum track count - as discussed previously, there are models offering anything from 4 to 32 tracks, and most machines offer additional virtual tracks. Virtual tracks are designed for recording various takes of the same track, and can be invaluable when laying down a vocal or guitar solo for example, giving you the ability to audition various takes at the flick of a button. If youre feeling adventurous, you can even edit together multiple virtual tracks to get the perfect result. Some models offer over 200 virtual tracks, which is all very well, but as with real tracks, they need storage space, and youre still limited to the maximum amount of record and playback tracks at any one time.
Most of the controls found in the recording and mixdown section are similar to those found on a regular mixing desk - faders, EQ, mute and solo, although in order to keep costs down, many functions will be accessed via the graphic display rather than the traditional control surface.
As with all studio equipment, its a good idea to allow for future expansion. An eight-track that only records two tracks at a time may be sufficient for now, but will it be enough in six months or two years time? It can be frustrating to have to trade in your gear because youve outgrown it after only a short while, especially if youve just become fluent in its operation.