Boss BR-8 Review
There are a lot of products out there claiming to be the coolest thing to grace guitar players (bass players, singers...) since aerated bread. Often, it's true except for one minor detail; you have to mortgage your house to be able to afford them. Boss (Roland Corp.) makes quite a few claims about it's latest entry into the "digital recording for guitar and bass players" market, the BR-8. After working with it, I have concluded that the Boss BR-8 is that it is probably the best studie and practice tool to arrive in years, possibly ever.
Click the picture for a more complete description of the BR-8's capabilities from Roland's website.
One of the things that makes learning to improvise difficult is that most people don't get much opportunity to play over chord progressions. Conventional tape recorders are of little help because they provide no means of combining the recorded music with the instrument sound as you play. 4 track tape recorders are better but require that you have a drum machine and other instruments to simulate the full band experience. The BR-8 Solves these problems by combining a full functioned 64 track (eight can play at once) digital recording console with effects, modeling technology and drum/rhythm machine into one, easy to use unit.
As a guitarist, I find the BR-8 to be my ideal companion. It's COSM (composite object sound modeling) technology can make my musicman (three single coils) guitar sound as though it is plugged into anything from a giant stack to a pint sized combo amp. Not only that, it actually mimicks the signal of humbuckers or even an acoustic guitar or bass! Does it work? You bet it does. Just listen to Matt Smith's lesson on modes. The mode demo/jam-along tracks were made in minutes with nothing but my trusty guitar and the BR-8.
That's just the start! It also has tons of drum rhythm tracks which can be combined to play back in any order along with the recorded tracks. It has all of the distortion and digital effects a guitarist could ever want and all the reverbs, delays and harmonizing to make vocals blow you away. It can even make Barry White sound like a woman! That's right, gender bending that has to be heard to be believed! With all this processing power, it's easy to forget that the BR-8 is, at it's root, a digital recorder.
The BR-8 is capable of recording up to 64 tracks of high resolution digital audio although it is considered to be an 8-track machine. The reason is something called "virtual tracks." Each of the eight tracks is made up of eight virtual tracks. Only one virtual track per actual track may be played at a time for a total of eight. Virtual tracks are a powerful tool, however. Virtual tracks let you record several "takes" of a phrase, part or idea and later audition each before deciding which to keep. Creative bouncing of tracks and virtual tracks gives you the capabilities of a much larger (and more expensive) machine.
In short, the Boss BR-8 is nothing short of amazing. Never before has so much capability been stuffed into such a small, inexpensive box. Check one out. If you're like me, you'll think it's the best musical purchase you've made since that first guitar!