Cakewalk’s V-Studio 100 wears many hats, but one says “mixing machine.”
Yes, we’ve figured out that the state of the economy is even more annoying these days than a late-night celebrity gossip TV show. So we like to reviewproducts that have multiple purposes—like if the same box you use live to mixyour guitar rig or keyboard setup, or useto play backing tracks, can be the same box that serves as a DAW controller andprovides plug-ins for mixing. Well, theV-Studio 100 is that kind of box, and iteven accommodates laptop fans.
We’ll concentrate on the DAW/mixingaspects, but let’s at least mention theother functions. The V-Studio 100 is across-platform, 8-in+mix/6-out USB 2.0 audio interface with guitar input,two XLR inputs, two 1/4" TRS ins, andresolution up to 24/96kHz. It’s also adigital mixer with eight ins, two outs,and headphone out, as well as sixchannels of onboard, hardware DSPbaseddigital EQ, compression, andreverb. And, it’s a portable recorderthat records to SD card while alsoserving as a portable juicer for servingup refreshing fruit smoothies. Okay,well maybe it doesn’t do the juicingthing, but it does do everything else.
The key to using the V-Studio 100 as acontrol surface is that it works with anyprogram that speaks Mackie Control(i.e., just about everything, includingAcid, Live, Sonar, Logic, DigitalPerformer, Record, etc.). For tactile control,the V-Studio 100 has a 100mmmotorized, touch-sensitive fader, fiverotary encoders, 11 general-purpose buttons,programmable footswitch, and transport buttons. You can switch thecontrols among tracks and buses, withthe fader and some of the knobs servingas a basic channel strip. There’s alsoan LCD screen that can switch betweenshowing levels, or displaying what canbe controlled with the various knobs.
Of course a single-fader solutionisn’t as comprehensive as somethinglike a Euphonix Artist Series controlsurface or Cakewalk’s own VS-700Cconsole, but in use, moving among operations is surprisingly fluid. Wherethe single-fader approach works bestis when you’re tweaking a mix ratherthan starting out. My preferred workflow is to set up a rough mix on the onscreenfaders with the mouse, thenswitch over to the control surface faderto optimize one track at a time.
The V-Studio 100 comes with its ownDAW software, Sonar VS (Windowsonly;it’s similar to Sonar Home Studio7 with some Sonar 8 elements thrownin). The software bundle also includes several independent cross-platform plug-ins, including the VX-64 VocalStrip, Channel Tools, Boost 11 Maximizer,Guitar Rig 3 LE, and several virtual instruments—StudioInstruments suite (drums, bass,strings, keyboard), Rapture LE, andDimension LE. So what does this haveto do with mixing? Well, if you’reusing Sonar VS or other Sonar variants,the V-Studio 100 recognizesCakewalk’s ACT (Active ControllerTechnology) protocol. This brings outvarious signal processor and softsynth parameters to hardware controlsthat you can re-assign at wi...