Technology

Tascam SX-1

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. 6/01/2001 8:00 AM Eastern

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

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

The SX-1 offers recording, editing, sequencing, mixing andsignal processing without cutting corners. Its 8-bus, 40-inputmixer has 16 quality mic preamps with phantom power, long-throw100mm touch-sensitive faders, dynamic automation with full recallof all console functions, 3-band automated EQ (with each bandswitchable for true parametric, shelving or high/lowpass filtering)and eight sends — two are dedicated for prefader cuefunctions, the other six for signal processing. Four effects sendsroute to the onboard DSP (the SX-1 ships with plug-ins from Tascam,TC Electronic and Antares), and two route to outside devices, butall can be sent externally, if desired. The SX-1 offerscomprehensive routing (just about anything can be sent anywhere)with storage of custom user setups, but also includes a number ofstandard routing presets for typical studio applications to get theuser up and working quickly.

The control surface has a familiar look and includes illuminatedswitches above each fader for Mute/Solo/Automation functions, aweighted jog/shuttle/data wheel, recorder-style transport keys,alphanumeric data entry pad, a “center section” withdedicated keys for frequently used commands, full Studio/Controlroom/Monitoring/Talkback/Cue functions and a 4×5-inch backlitLCD that shows status and operational information, waveforms, EQcurves, etc. Eight softkeys and four rotary pots surrounding theLCD provide fast DSP, setup and edit control. An SVGA output for anexternal monitor offers large-scale viewing of tracks, waveforms,onscreen metering, automation, DSP, routing, transport and locatorinformation. Tascam chose the reliable, multimedia-optimized BeOSoperating system and a powerful graphics engine for fast“no-wait” redraws.

The internal 24-bit/48kHz recorder is based on Tascam'ssuccessful MX-2424 engine and stores 16 tracks to the internal IDEdrive. The SX-1 includes eight additional tracks for mixdown tostereo and/or surround formats, and the unit can also author MP3files. Two USB jacks, a rear panel SCSI port and front panel SCSIdrive bay provide expansion possibilities, while a front panelCD-RW drive is included for printing surround or stereo mixes, databackup/archiving, and importing sounds from audio or data CDs. Theonboard ADCs and DACs are all 96 kHz.

The onboard 128-track MIDI sequencer offers standard and steprecording, destructive/nondestructive quantization, single-noteediting, on-the-fly editing modes, accurate timing derived from theinternal sample clock, and the jog/shuttle wheel can simultaneouslyscrub audio and MIDI data. The SX-1's 64 MIDI outputs can be mappedto console channel strips; the channel strip faders and knobs canthen be assigned to output MIDI channel or custom, user-definedMIDI messages. Hardware includes two MIDI inputs (for MIDIcontrollers and MIDI Time Code) and four MIDI outputs. Thesequencer, however, doesn't offer score editing.

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

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

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

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