Roland VS -880 with Audacity

I have a Roland VS -880 digital 8 track recorder that has 8 tracks and xlnt sound and an easy to use mixer. It’s difficult to edit - cut, copy, paste, creat loops etc. I would rather do that in a s/w program. It has analog & digital outputs in 2 channel stereo or mono. Can I use audacity in conjunction with the VS-880 to simplify the process? It doesn’t seem I can import Audacity tracks in the VS-880 or if I record multiple tracks on the VS-800, I would have to import them into Audacity one track at a time which means I could’t mix the tracks first on the VS-880?? Or is there a better choice of s/w (ease of use & flexibility) that you would suggest? (I have a Dell laptop running Windows XP with a Soundmax integrated digital audio interface).


I have a VS-840 in a cupboard somewhere, it comes out occasionally for a jam but other than that it’s pretty much redundant these days since I moved over to a laptop studio. As you say moving tracks between the PC and the VS is a pain, as you need to play tracks two at a time (panned hard left and right from a stereo out). In the recent past I’ve only done this as a one way process, transferring old tracks from the VS and a Tascam 244 (yes, I’m that old!) to the PC for working them up in the digital domain.

What I have done on occasion is play with the metronome on the VS so that I could later MIDI synch it to the PC to add soft synth tracks to those on the VS. Alternatively I’ve created drum tracks on the PC and transferred them to the VS, again using MIDI synch to keep a timing reference. However Audacity doesn’t have MIDI functionality so this would involve moving to another app. Oh, and the purchase of a MIDI interface for the PC.

Speaking of which, the other potential weak link in the chain is the audio capabilities of the onboard soundchip on your laptop. I’ve been taken to task for saying this in the past, but IMHO these are only any good for going “ping!” when you have mail and not up to the task of serious audio work. Some laptop chips (including mine) are bad for picking up hard drive and CPU noise. I would recommend you look at a USB or Firewire audio interface - even the cheaper ones are a vast improvement on nasty laptop soundchips, but as ever you get what you pay for. I picked up an end-of-line Edirol UA-3FX for buttons a couple of years ago and it does what I need.

As for other software, I love Audacity as an audio editor and use it extensively for preparing loops and samples, fixing glitches and so on, but I tend to use other apps for actually putting my music together. Some users around here do great work creating entire songs exclusively in Audacity, but I tend to use a lot of VST instruments and real-time VST effects, neither of which are handled in Audacity. While Audacity makes a great job of emulating the kind of multi-track environment you’re used to with the VS, I find that the loop-stretchingsynching, real-time VST and mixing capabilities of other apps are better suited to my needs. I use the fairly modest Cakewalk Project5, although you could look at any number of alternatives from the free Krystal Audio Engine to the shareware Reaper, right up to the big boys like Sonar and Cubase.

I hope this is some food for thought :wink:

Thanks for the information. My VS-880 has been sitting around for a while and I got the bug to record some new material (solo song writing, multiple guitar & vocal tracks with simple bass & drums). I used to do everything on the VS-880 and then dump it into a PC w/cakewalk Pro Audio 9 with a decent soundcard and then save it as an MP3 file and burn CD’s. The PC is old, the s/w (Pro Audio) is discontinued, and I don’t like editing (cut & paste a chorus, punch in/punch out corrections etc.) with the VS-880. I don’t really want to use my laptop which is a couple of years old now as well. As I look at new gear, I’m just wondering if I should forget about using the VS-880 as well? It’s biggest plus is I know how to use it.

Depending on your budget, I’ve been using a Yamaha AW1600 recently and have found it very good. It can record 8 channels simultaneously, has built in effects, dynamic processing, and lots more, and can export via USB. The down side is that it costs about $1000 US.