Apple: turn your Mac into a recording studio

Take a USB or FireWire-equipped Power Mac, combine it with Tascam or MOTU, and you have a studio up and running for under US$800.

Tascam has just delivered a recording setup for your Mac, in the form of a 14-inch wide USB-ready mixing console, according to an Apple Hot News story.

The console is like a mixing board, but with 24-bit audio converters, 32 channels of MIDI I/O, two XLR mic inputs, two 1/4-inch inputs, EQ, gain and pan controls, and remote controls for the most used functions of a digital audio workstation (DAW) software program. The US-428 requires no internal card, and it's portable enough to run with an iBook or PowerBook, for a mobile recording setup, the Apple Hot News story said.

Naturally, you'll need MIDI or audio software to take advantage of the US-428. However, you can download either ProTools Free, or Deck LE, which BIAS offers free to US-428 customers. Or, if you prefer to use another program, like Emagic's LogicAudio, or MOTU's Digital Performer, you can get drivers for these programs from the Tascam site, according to Apple. What's more, Tascam also offers free sample setup environments for several of these DAW programs on its Web site.

If you prefer going the FireWire route instead of USB, MOTU offers such a solution. It's 828 for FireWire is a single rack space audio interface that offers eight channels of ADAT optical digital input/output (switchable to S/PDIF optical), RCA S/PDIF, 8 channels of balanced 24-bit analog input/output, mic pre-amps and an ADAT SYNC input for sample-accurate synchronization. Plus, the 828 provides CueMix Plus no-latency monitoring of live input with a separate front-panel volume control that can adjust the monitored input signal.

Like the Tascam product, it doesn't need a PCI or PCMCIA card. It comes with an ASIO driver for compatibility with all major DAW software. It also includes AudioDesk -- an audio workstation software package exclusively available for the Mac. AudioDesk lets you record, edit, mix, process and master audio projects, and includes PureDSP for time-stretching and pitch-shifting, plus dozens of additional real-time, 32-bit effects plug-ins. The whole 828 package is $795. Like the Tascam, if you purchase the 828, you can upgrade to Digital Performer at a discounted price.

By the way, the 828 doesn't have MIDI I/O -- but $79 will get that for you in the form of the Fast Lane, a professional MIDI interface for your home studio. But the benefit of having multi-compatible ASIO drivers for the 828, and a device from a company that makes its own software and hardware, may make it worth the extra change -- especially if you've got a FireWire-capable machine, said the Apple Hot News story.

This story, "Apple: turn your Mac into a recording studio" was originally published by PCWorld.

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