Thomann's Cool Online Guides: Portable Multitrackers

3. Types of Multitracker

Back in the day, the equipment needed to record and mix even the most basic compositions filled a modest sized room. With modern day developments though, it’s now quite possible to cram this and much more into a unit no bigger than a biscuit tin. Multitrackers or ‘portable studios’ offer very different features from one model to the next, but for the purpose of this guide we’ll attempt to split them into four basic categories:

Ultra-Compact Portable Multitracker

These are the smallest and most portable multitrackers around, generally aimed at guitarists and songwriters. Their compact size normally limits the amount of tracks to around four, but built-in features such as drum machines, amp-modelling and effects make them perfect mobile idea-pads. Battery power makes them truly portable - great for the roaming song writer. Audio is typically stored on removable memory cards, which means your compositions can later be transferred to a computer, ready for burning to CD.

Zoom PS-04 Palmtop Studio for Songwriters on the Road

Compact Multitracker

Offering up to around eight tracks, and greater storage space, the compact multitracker is commonly used by small bands for demo recording. Audio is recorded to an onboard hard drive, and more often than not, a built-in CD burner allows you to master your mixes directly. Although these models feature up to eight tracks of audio in total, they are often limited to recording just two tracks simultaneously, making them less than ideal for recording drum kits or band rehearsals. However, their relatively compact size and increasingly useful feature list make them a good choice for the songwriter wanting just that little bit extra. Effects, basic editing and mixing tools are usually included.

Boss BR-900CD Compact Multitracker

Semi-Professional Multitracker

With the ability to record up to eight tracks simultaneously, it’s possible to record a full drum kit, making the semi-professional multitracker suitable for serious band recordings. Units come loaded with large internal hard drives, a multitude of built-in effects and signal processing, increased I/O for connecting peripherals, and CD burners for mastering. With a total track count of up to sixteen, together with the option of often hundreds of virtual tracks, it’s going to take a while before you are limited by the boundaries of one of these machines.

Yamaha AW1600 Semi-Professional Multitracker

Professional Multitracker

These are the most feature-loaded multitrackers, offering 24 to 32 audio tracks, with professional mic pre-amps and phantom powering for studio condenser microphones. A massive selection of built-in effects and signal processing power enables them to claim to be a real studio in a box, and a plausible alternative to the traditional studio setup. Some models even allow all the inputs to be re-used at the mixdown stage – great for adding external outboard FX and/or sequenced MIDI instruments.

Korg D3200 Professional Multitracker
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Portable Multitrackers overview

Arturia DrumBrute Impact Daslight Light Rider Wifi DMX Interface Gator iMac 27" Tote Bag Arturia KeyLab MkII 61 Black Korg D1 Aston Microphones Swift Audient iD44 EQ Acoustics Spectrum 2 L5 Tile Black Universal Audio Apollo Thunderbolt 3 Card Cameo Studio PAR DTW IK Multimedia UNO Synth Presonus Studio 1810
(1)
Recommended
Arturia DrumBrute Impact

Analog drum computer; 10 sounds: Kick, Snare 1, Snare 2, Tom Hi, Tom Low, Cowbell, Cymbal, Closed Hat, Open Hat and FM; 64 patterns with up to 64 steps each; accentuation and switchable color tone coloring per instrument and step;...

to the product
€299
Recommended
Daslight Light Rider Wifi DMX Interface

Daslight Light Rider Wifi DMX Interface, Tablet-based DMX control, intuitive operating concept allows quick access to all functions and simplifies use, free App "Light Rider" for iOS, Android and Amazon Fire Tablet, perfect for DJs thanks to beat synchronization via...

to the product
€277
Recommended
Gator iMac 27" Tote Bag

Nylon bag for 27" Apple iMac Good hold and protection with adjustable foam blocks and hard-panel reinforcement in the front cover, Foldable sun and dust protection, Double zipper, Cable bag inside, Outer accessory pocket for keyboard, mouse, SD cards...

to the product
€134
Recommended
Arturia KeyLab MkII 61 Black

Arturia KeyLab MkII 61 Black; USB Midi-Keyboard with 61 Keys; velocity and Aftertouch; 16 RGB-backlit performance pads; 9 fader, 9 rotary knobs, LCD-Display; Category Function; Pitch- and Modulation-Wheel; Chord and Transpose Function; Transport Buttons; Connections: 5 Expression Control Inputs; 4x...

to the product
€499
Recommended
Korg D1

Digital Piano 88 Keys weighted RH3 keyboard (Real Weighted Hammer Action 3), 5 Sensitivity curves, Stereo PCM sound generation, 120 Voice polyphony, 30 Sounds, 30 Demo songs, Key-Off simulation, Damper resonance, 3 Effects, Metronome, 2x Line out 6.3 mm...

to the product
€575
Recommended
Aston Microphones Swift

Aston Microphones Swift; Universal Mic Mount without Rubber Bands; fits Mics from 40 bis 60 Diameter; two quick release spring clips; made of Aluminium, grade glass-fill nylon polymer and medical grade latex ("ShockStar" suspension); Dimensions: 145 x 60 x 170...

to the product
€55
(1)
Recommended
Audient iD44

20-in / 24-out desktop audio interface Fully metallic desktop housing, Control knobs made of solid, hand-milled aluminium, 4 Class A Audient console mic preamps, 60 dB gain, AD / DA converter of the highest class, 2 ADAT inputs and...

to the product
€568
Recommended
EQ Acoustics Spectrum 2 L5 Tile Black

Acoustic Absorber Material of the absorber's core: 100% polyester with textile cover, Very robust, Non-allergenic and doesn't contain irritants, Odour-free, Good efficiency in the medium and high frequency ranges, Wall and ceiling mounting is possible with the flexi-system (hook...

to the product
€163
Recommended
Universal Audio Apollo Thunderbolt 3 Card

Universal Audio Apollo Thunderbolt 3 Card; Expansion Card for Apollo Rack Interfaces; two Thunderbolt 3 Ports, 5 W bus power for all connected Thunderbolt 3 peripherals; up to 40 Gbit/s; System requirements: macOS Sierra/High Sierra or Windows 10 with Fall...

to the product
€499
Recommended
Cameo Studio PAR DTW

White light LED PAR With variable colour temperature and dim-to-warm function, Professional LED PAR for use on theater and drama stages or for object lighting, Dim-to-warm function ensures a dark orange light colour in the low brightness range by...

to the product
€325
(5)
Recommended
IK Multimedia UNO Synth

Monophonic analog synthesizer with step sequencer, arpeggiator and effects section Classic setup with 2 VCOs and noise generator, multimode filters, amps, 2 envelopes and LFO, Waveform VCOs Triangle, sawtooth and variable pulse width rectangle, Multimode filter with 12 dB...

to the product
€229
(1)
Recommended
Presonus Studio 1810

18 x 8 USB 2.0 audio interface 24 bits / 192 kHz, 2 front combo inputs Mic / Line / Inst (XLR / jack), 2 front combo inputs Mic / Line (XLR / jack), 4 XMAX Class A mic...

to the product
€399
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