Tascam SX-1

Jun 1, 2001 12:00 PM, BY GEORGE PETERSEN


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Two weeks ago, at AES Amsterdam, Tascam unveiled the SX-1, a single-box unit designed for pro and project studios, broadcast and film/video post-production. Retailing at $8,999, the 24-bit SX-1 features a 40-channel digital mixer, 16-track disk-based recorder with waveform editing, DSP plug-ins, MIDI sequencing, extensive A/V sync capabilities and multiformat mastering.

There are other stand-alone, no-computer-required DAWs on the market, but according to Tascam's international product development manager, Mike McRoberts, the SX-1 is “an entirely different animal. It's the first affordable, all-in-one solution designed for the demands of pro-quality music and post-production.”

The SX-1 offers recording, editing, sequencing, mixing and signal processing without cutting corners. Its 8-bus, 40-input mixer has 16 quality mic preamps with phantom power, long-throw 100mm touch-sensitive faders, dynamic automation with full recall of all console functions, 3-band automated EQ (with each band switchable for true parametric, shelving or high/lowpass filtering) and eight sends — two are dedicated for prefader cue functions, the other six for signal processing. Four effects sends route to the onboard DSP (the SX-1 ships with plug-ins from Tascam, TC Electronic and Antares), and two route to outside devices, but all can be sent externally, if desired. The SX-1 offers comprehensive routing (just about anything can be sent anywhere) with storage of custom user setups, but also includes a number of standard routing presets for typical studio applications to get the user up and working quickly.

The control surface has a familiar look and includes illuminated switches above each fader for Mute/Solo/Automation functions, a weighted jog/shuttle/data wheel, recorder-style transport keys, alphanumeric data entry pad, a “center section” with dedicated keys for frequently used commands, full Studio/Control room/Monitoring/Talkback/Cue functions and a 4×5-inch backlit LCD that shows status and operational information, waveforms, EQ curves, etc. Eight softkeys and four rotary pots surrounding the LCD provide fast DSP, setup and edit control. An SVGA output for an external monitor offers large-scale viewing of tracks, waveforms, onscreen metering, automation, DSP, routing, transport and locator information. Tascam chose the reliable, multimedia-optimized BeOS operating system and a powerful graphics engine for fast “no-wait” redraws.

The internal 24-bit/48kHz recorder is based on Tascam's successful MX-2424 engine and stores 16 tracks to the internal IDE drive. The SX-1 includes eight additional tracks for mixdown to stereo and/or surround formats, and the unit can also author MP3 files. Two USB jacks, a rear panel SCSI port and front panel SCSI drive bay provide expansion possibilities, while a front panel CD-RW drive is included for printing surround or stereo mixes, data backup/archiving, and importing sounds from audio or data CDs. The onboard ADCs and DACs are all 96 kHz.

The onboard 128-track MIDI sequencer offers standard and step recording, destructive/nondestructive quantization, single-note editing, on-the-fly editing modes, accurate timing derived from the internal sample clock, and the jog/shuttle wheel can simultaneously scrub audio and MIDI data. The SX-1's 64 MIDI outputs can be mapped to console channel strips; the channel strip faders and knobs can then be assigned to output MIDI channel or custom, user-defined MIDI messages. Hardware includes two MIDI inputs (for MIDI controllers and MIDI Time Code) and four MIDI outputs. The sequencer, however, doesn't offer score editing.

Audio interfacing possibilities are extensive, including 16 balanced XLR mic/line inputs, 16 balanced ¼-inch TRS line inputs, TRS inserts on each analog input, eight channels of ADAT Lightpipe I/O and two stereo S/PDIF I/Os (with sample rate conversion). Three expansion slots (using the same card format as Tascam's DM-24 digital mixer) are provided and accommodate additional I/O in TDIF, ADAT, AES/EBU or analog formats. But beyond simple I/Os, the SX-1's open-card structure means future cards (Tascam or third-party) could possibly include DSP for additional horsepower or effects.

Connections to the outside world are numerous. The SX-1 can cascade to Tascam's DM-24 digital console for more input channels and interfaces; sync support includes LTC SMPTE timecode chase, video sync and Sony P2 serial control; and a 100MB Ethernet jack allows fast transfers to networks and other workstations.

The SX-1 retails at $8,999 and is slated to ship this summer.

Tascam, 7733 Telegraph Road, Montebello, CA 90640; 323/726-0303; www.tascam.com.

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