Studio Gear: Korg D32XD 32 Track Xtended Definition Digital Recorder
Author: Sam Airy
We live in exciting times. Recording and producing music has never been easier or more affordable. Over the last couple of years the prices of integrated digital recording studios have plummeted to around half of what they were. And now, features found only on the very best studio consoles and digital recorders are finding their way into those of the bedroom rock star. I am, of course, talking about the new Korg D32XD.
This is an integrated hard disk recorder and mixer that will allow you to complete the entire recording, mixing, mastering and CD burning process in a box. The D32XD has selected some pretty amazing technology from many of its contemporaries and created a turnkey music solution.
There have, of course, been many such workstations over the last two decades. The important thing with the D32XD is to remember that this is not just another model in a series, but is one of the very best workstations of its kind available today ,integrating many industry standard features.
To me its most striking feature is the large LCD display. This is a touch screen 320 x 240 pixel 4-level gray scale monitor that is used to great effect by Korg. It comes with the usual contrast control, and can also be angled to the user's taste. The other really obvious feature is the row of glistening motorised plastic conductive faders. Once the exclusive domain of large format consoles, these become active the moment you touch them and can be used to achieve both snapshot and dynamic automation. It is worth noting that many of today's top computer-based digital workstations have gone to considerable trouble to provide add-on physical control surfaces with exactly this range of features.
The 'XD' stands for 'xtended definition' and refers to the uncompressed 16 / 24-bit recording/playback with 96kHz / 48kHz / 44.1kHz and 64-bit internal processing making this an industry standard device. Out of the box you can record 8 tracks immediately. This is achieved via either 8 XLRs with phantom powering for mic-level recording or 8 jack inputs for line level.
With the help of the AIB8 card an additional 8 channels of analogue input can be found. With 32 discrete tracks and up to eight takes per track, combined with stereo master tracks, each with the ability to make eight independent mixes, a total of 272 tracks can be recorded. In all there are 56 inputs and 14 busses and 27 high quality effects. The D32XD ships with a 40GB internal drive and CDRW.
All the usual ports are found on the front and rear. Especially useful in the front section are the guitar input and two independent headphone jacks with their own volume controls. At the rear there is also room for an 8-channel ADAT I/O board (the DIB8) which features light pipe and word clock BNC connectors.
However, the real magic lies beneath its surface. For those contemplating recording drum patterns from your drum sequencer you may wish to audition Korg's 245 drum loops first. These are based upon PCM samples and allow you to create everything from click reference tracks to entire drum performances without the need to record live drums or the need to use up any audio tracks.
The base model at $5999 comes with only 8 inputs which is almost certainly one of the reasons why Korg was able to ship the unit at this low price. Unfortunately, an unsightly blanking panel marks the position where the additional 8 inputs would be located. Ever sat in the driver's seat of a car that wasn't the fully optioned model? You know, where half the dashboard switches and dials are blanked out by pieces of plastic. Now imagine that all these switches were covered by a single plate that was a different shade to the rest of the dashboard as a constant reminder that you didn't have enough cash to go all out for the top model. If this were true you'd be sitting behind the wheel of a Korg D32XD.
But the way I see it, Korg have actually done me a favour. With the D32XD I'm in the music production business for less than six grand, but now I need to move to the next level. The reason for this is for any serious recording you are going to need at least 8 tracks for drum recording alone and then more for any other instruments you decide to track during the same take. In effect, Korg are just pointing out something that I should choose to do at my earliest convenience. However, for the serious engineer you need not only those additional 8 inputs (via the AIB8 card) but also the eight compressors (using an ACB8 card) that you can strap to them. For me this is the best feature of the entire desk and the one which sets it apart from just about every other competitor in this class!