A coherent collection of modern porta studio solutions

Right, so it seems I’m not the only one shopping for a recording solution that isn’t a sampler. So this thread is our collected knowledge and experience of existing porta studio solutions today. Since I have none, and am still looking around, I can’t start this off with a contribution myself, but hope that anyone who’s used a Boss BR-800, one of the Zoom R-recorders or their latest L12, or any of the Tascam options, will chime in here and share their experiences.

So the topic is about -
modern porta studio solutions that you can get today - not them small handheld recorders, but proper portas
and your experience with them

A bit like a consumer’s guide, where we share advise and experience on this particular kind of gear, for anyone who’s in the market for one.

Which I happen to be :slight_smile:



Perhaps some wheels for it…

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I used to own the Tascam DP-008. It sounded good, was easy to use, and I liked the controls. The only thing I didn’t like is that it didn’t have midi and recorded in some kind of a proprietary format that required conversion (I can’t remember the details though).

I currently own a Boss BR-80. This is really geared toward guitar players and I hate the lack of physical knobs, but I love the size, sound, and ease of use. The mastering is really quite nice, and I have heard their algorithm described as tape like. I think they have really dialed it in over the year. For me, I find it best to use as a recorder on the outputs of a mixer or with something like a DT going straight into it. I mainly use it to record a live take, master it on the unit, and then just plug the SD into my computer and upload to SoundCloud. The size makes it great for traveling. I’m going to Cambodia this week and I may bring it along to record some Pocket Operator jams. It also has built in stereo mics that are surprisingly decent.

All of the tunes on my SoundCloud are DT straight into the Boss BR-80, no external processing.


Sometime after eliminating the Marconi Stille machine i looked into this as well but as far as i can see nothing fits the bill.

Portable linear audio recorder up to 96khz
16 tracks or more.
Send receive transport/midi clock
quality converters
Simple Usb file transfer of recorded files to a mac/pc
instant power up

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I’ve been recording on a friend’s Behringer UFX1204 recently and it’s great value for the money.
Plug in your instruments on top, a USB stick in the back, record. No computer required.

You can still transfer the files to a DAW later, if you need to.

Cymatic Live Recorder LR-16
recording directly to USB falsh drive or USB harddrive
recording 16 inputs in four groups: 4, 8 or 16
working as rudimental summing mixer
weird overdesigned shape but sturdy and light to carry to the gig. Wish it were designed to be an industrial half-rack size standard unit with all the controls on front so you could mount it in the rack and forget it.
straightforward and simple
decent sound quality

Odd, isn’t it? You’d think this would be a class product. And not that hard to make. And people would buy it, too.

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I’m gonna bring in @bradleyallen here, since I know he’s using the SP-303 as a porta of sorts.

Wanna share your experience here, Bradley? And would you recommend this workflow in general? Let’s assume I had an SP404SX lying around. Would that fit the bill and work as a porta, kind of?

Ok, so you record directly to the stick, then?

I guess any kind of sync is out of the question, but I gotta ask, anyway.

So let’s say I got one thing going from my Prophet-6. Bam, recorded.

Now, on to my Moog Mother 32, which is somewhere else, maybe at a friend’s. I wanna record this in perfect sync. Can’t be done on the Behringer, can it?

Interesting thread and something that I have pretty much given up on, tried a few devices Tascam DP32 might have been worthwhile had they managed to implement the midi clock properly, but it was crap, random offsets every time making line up of tracks impossible and not capable enough editing to then correct the flaws. They dropped midi clock support on the subsequent DP32SD IIRC.

The OP-1 works well if you can handle 4 mono tracks and have a USB host device.

But yeah a modern powerful hardware digital multitrack that supports midi clock would be great.


It feels a bit bizarre that the OP-1 would be the most applicable solution, if sync’s important - which I can’t imagine how it can never be. Even a guitarist and his bass playing friend must see some valiue in being able to sync a drum machine or two with a synth or three.

But I’ve looked around and that’s where I’ve ended up, too. On the other hand, the OP-1’s tape is quite versatile both when it comes to timing, sync and manually copy and paste to get things right. So even though it’s four tracks and mono, the features are in the right place.

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Unfortunately it doesn’t do overdubs in standalone mode. You‘d need the DAW hooked up to it. Guess that’s off the list then…

I really like it for situations where I‘m jamming on multiple hardware units, alone or with other people, and we just have a kind of „black box“ recording going on all the time and not worry about any computer-related stuff until later.

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It’s still a cool option for that straight-on approach you’re describing, though.

But it feels like there’s a product out there just waiting to be made, especially since the existing portas seem to sell quite well.

Yes but I think the iPad based multitrackers scared the manufacturers away. Let’s hope they get back on board.

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Yes indeed, I think the OP-1’s capability in this regard is enough for me, most of my stuff is pattern based but when I need linear less repetitive recording the OP-1 fulfills just about enough, I’d like more than 6 minutes but on those occasions I could slow down the master clock by a factor of 2 or 4 to get more track minutes at reduced fidelity.


@t3h I looked into those before, can it sync and overdub? I can’t remember as it was a couple of years ago when I looked it up, do you find it reliable/bulletproof?

A&H also did their ICE recorder but since finding out about their warranty policy I won’t buy their gear anymore.

no sync, no overdub
just a black plastic box that records its 4, 8 or 16 inputs
no problems in two years

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I’ve been close to getting another op-1 to use as a portastudio. I just wish it had more than one input. It sucks not to be able to separate drums and synth parts when recording.

I think the Allen and heath qu series looks the most promising. Bunch of different sub groups, can be used as an audio interface, you can run audio into ur daw and then right back into the mixer and it actually records every input of the mixer and the master. Unfortunately it’s over 1k and I’ve still yet to pay that much for a piece of gear.

I currently use an sp-555 and it does the job for now I guess but like mentioned it would be nice to have my different tracks separated. I’ve gotten back into using my portastudio too. Just to bounce stuff back and forth and use the pitch.

I was wondering if I got a big enough OT memory card would it work well. I’ve been seriously considering selling my DT for another OT but I think I’d regret it once we get some proper updates on the DT. I think it’s a great device. My samples are currently filled and I can’t recoes anything else in until I bounce stuff out so I’m patiently waiting for overbridge to do more stuff with it :frowning:

Yeah. I use this too. Sometimes I get hiccups but all in all it works pretty well. You can hook up an ipad and do multitasking (edit: multitracking) for example in beatmatch3

was searching a portastudio for years but could not find the “right” one so far.
had a try with the tascam dp 32 (the one with cd-burner and MIDI sync)
sound quality was not bad at all but:
too big
fx shit
MIDI sync only as master, didn´t work well at all (it worked but not very tight sync)
the option to edit tracks in daw was only true for one takes.
was ok for demo tracks in the rehearsel room with my band, but all in all
i was happy when i got rid of it.