Purchased from: Tom Lee Music
Sound — 9
I've just been playing my Schecter C1-Classic straight into the Machine. My first complaint is that the BR-600 really isn't very loud, so if you're used to studio-style, ear busting volume, it probably won't cut it. This is easily solved however with a headphone amplifier. Some of the presets are, honestly, disgusting to me, but what do you expect with so many provided? Being that this is a digital studio, those of you Who are very picky will probably find the effects to be "too" digital, but hey, that's what this is. There are however some really nice effects. The cleans sound pretty clean, and thre is a range from slight Overdrive, to a very AC/DC like tone, to outright Nu-Metal soupy-sludge tones. There is even some cool synth effects. The vast majority of people will be able to find at least a few tones they like, and if not, you can always tweak your own. The bass simulator is a simulation. Be aware that it DOES NOT sound like a real bass. However, it is passable, especially if you stick to the low E and A strings and avoid playing more than one string at a time. There are some really neat mic effects as well, if you're a singer, ranging from simple chorus effects to whacky-ass chipmunk voices or comedic 'low and slow' filters. Pretty fun stuff. For what this thing is, I am totally satisfied with the sound. You are of course limited, however, as this is not a tube amp, so don't expect real tube amp sounds. Expect pretty good imitations. The drum Machine is a drum Machine, what can I say? The velocity-sensitive pads make for a nice "realer" sounding drum kit, however I find you really have to pound the things with your finger to get a nice loud sound, and if you don't pound it hard enough you might not get anything.
Overall Impression — 9
This is a great little device for the price. I bought it as something to bring with me to a University dorm room so I could noodle about without pissing people off. It's great for that, and it's great for spur-of-the-moment inspirations that you just have to get down right away before the moment fades. With the built in stereo mic, you could bring this thing to practice with your band (if you have one) and get some sessions down on tape. The fully functional drum Machine is a great bonus. One complaint I have is that the size of the memory card (128mb) is pretty damn insufficient. It can hold only 1 or 2 songs at a time. You can easily bounce stuff back and forth onto your computer using a USB cable to save space, but that can be a pain. I'd recommend spending the extra $20-30 buying a 1 gig card to give yourself some more elbow room, and if you like a little extra volume and don't mind laying dome some dosh for a headphone amplifier, this unit is all you'll need. Even my uncle Who has an actual studio and worked as a professional recording engineer for years likes the thing, and was considering getting one himself. It won't replace a fully-functioning real life studio, but it comes as close as you'd ever want to be for $400.
Reliability & Durability — 8
The first one of these I bought was, unknown to me, a returned warranty model. I guess the guys at Tom Lee figured I wouldn't notice. Well, I did. It was missing the bag and XLR adapter, and the panning simply didn't work. A couple phone calls and a 20 minute Drive later, I have my Brand New unit, bag and all, and I have no complaints at all. I wouldn't toss this thing around like a rag doll, but it stands up to the inevitable pounding of the velocity-sensitve drum pads without complaint. Don't step on it, though. It isn't designed to be used at gigs, and if you do use it at one, be careful with it.
Ease of Use — 9
This is Boss' 8-track digital recorder, and can be powered either by 6 AA batteries or a standard Boss adapter. It comes with a truckload of preset effects (or tones), and you can very easily edit any of the preset effects to create your own tone, and save it without overwriting the original preset. The majority of the effects are for electric guitar, but it also has a handful of effects for bass or acoustic. Another neat feature is the bass or acoustic guitar simulator, which you can use to imitate the sound of a bass or accoustic with your electric. It is really simple to just plug in and play with this Machine, and with a minimal amount of tweaking, you can create your own tones and effects. The fully functioning drum Machine on this unit totally impressed me. It has literally hundreds of drum patterns, though this is somewhat decieving as each pattern (ie. Rock 1) will have multiple variations, including Intro, Version 1, Fill 1, Version 2, Fill 2 and Outro. If you want a simple jam-along beat, you go for Version 1 or 2, and if you want to program your own drum arrangement, you can combine the different variations to create a song. Creating an arrangement might take a bit of fiddling to get the hang out, but again it isn't very difficult. Bounce tracks is easy as pie. I don't have to go into great detail about that. The mastering feature is really quite neat. It again has multiple preset mastering "effects", which you can tweak to your heart's content. The mastering is an incredibly simple, step-by-step process that your grandmother could operate with some success. Of course, just because it is easy to use does not mean you will be making great masters, and you do have to experiment and learn the tricks of the trade. Overall, this unit is great for John Everyman or Studio Steve. There is something there for everyone, and it's pretty simple to use the basic features.