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Thread: Fostex VF-16 User Review

  1. #1
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    The Fostex VF-16 has started shipping -- I received mine on 5/31. I've had it on pre-order from AMS for over 2 months (I guess my order was one of the first, hence the fact that I got it so early).

    Since I’m one of the first to receive one of these units, I feel obligated to post a review since I know a lot of people are interested

    I should mention, I’m not a professional in the music industry or a recording expert. I’m a guitarist interested in home recording and MIDI, strictly for the purpose of developing my own projects (primarily for my own edification). I’ve used a Yamaha MT-100 4 track for several years and was waiting for digital multi-tracking to reach a feature/price point that would justify upgrading. Really, I was interested in an 8-track but when I heard the VF-16 was being released at a price point comparable with other 8-track units (and with a ton more features) I decided to wait. Glad I did, because the unit appears to suit my purposes exactly.

    Okay, so here’s what I think of the unit after three days:

    POSITIVE:
    1.) The sound quality is pristine.
    2.) The programming and controls are fairly straightforward (once you get past the learning curve, see comments on the manual below)
    3.) The display is very well organized for the various functions
    4.) The on-board effects sound great (although, I haven’t had a chance to play with anything except the reverbs)
    5.) Built-in compression
    6.) EFX inserts on two tracks
    7.) Phantom power on two tracks
    8.) MIDI slave and master for computer control (haven’t had a chance to use this yet but I will be making use of it in the near future)
    9.) Trim control for each channel
    10.) Copy/Paste on-board editing with Undo
    11.) Export to .WAV – you can then load the individual .WAV files (one for each track) on you computer and edit them with Cool Edit (or whatever) then re-import them back to the VF-16. Very cool…
    12.) Optical DAT and SCSI interface
    13.) Light, compact chassis -- well designed lay-out of controls
    14.) The black chassis is a big improvement over the former white (IMHO). At least now it matches the rest of my equipment

    Plus a bunch more features I haven’t had a chance to even look at.

    NEGATIVE:
    1.) The manual is, uh – not good. Specifically, why in the world would they put the section on creating a new program (the most important factor to somebody first learning the unit) on page 59? Plus, the way it is laid out, it simply takes each one of the units sub-systems and explains in considerable detail what they do and how they operate. Fine, but this approach doesn’t do anything to help the user understand how they inter-operate and relate to each other. It took me several hours of reading the manual and playing with the unit to make my first direct recordings (I’m still trying to figure out the Buss recording mode). Call me dense, but like I said, I’m not a music professional or recording engineer, I’m a home recording enthusiast, which is the market segment this unit was developed for. So the manual should be targeted accordingly. Suggestions (for any Fostex reps out there to pass along): 1.) Include a “Getting Started” addendum to the manual. 2.) Include a chapter that does a “walk-through” of different recording scenarios (I know, there are some in the existing manual but they should be a lot better). A short video (perhaps on CD-ROM) that does a walk-through of the units sub-systems would be a huge asset.
    2.) Operation of the unit is NOT intuitive. Expect a learning curve of several days depending on how much of the feature set is important to you.
    3.) The display is difficult to read at a angle > than about 45 degrees. I propped my unit up in the back about 2 inches and now all is well.
    4.) I can’t find a way to auto-load a scene with a program. Maybe I’m missing something (not unlikely considering the manual). Hope there is a way because it’s very annoying to have to manually scroll through multiple scenes for each project…
    5.) There is an audible “whirring” from the HDD. It is not bad enough to pickup on recordings (even with the mike right in front of the unit) but it deserves mention.
    6.) The unit as it was shipped to me had slightly uneven feet (wobble). A friend at work who ordered one the same time I did (and has since received his) reported the same problem. Again, nothing major, but it deserves mention…
    7.) My unit didn’t come with a warranty registration card.

    So, to summarize, most of the negatives are fairly minor annoyances (except the manual, which could REALLY use improvement). Overall, I’m quite pleased (and impressed) by the unit. I keep discovering more and more capabilities and it has opened up a ton of new options for me.

    I hope this information helped anybody who is considering one of these units or has one on order…

    Regards,
    Chris

    Chrisr@austin.rr.com

    BTW, I’ve got a couple of pics of my unit up on my personal web space. The URL’s are:
    http://home.austin.rr.com/chrisr/VF-16_1.Jpg http://home.austin.rr.com/chrisr/VF-16_2.Jpg


  2. #2
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    Wink

    Thanks for the review!

    Does anyone know where on the web is there any information on the specs of the vf-16? I've seen an article on harmony central about the vf-16 at the Winter NAMM event, but I have found nothing besides that. Musicians Friend has a little paragraph about it but I'm looking for more than that and the Fostex web site has nothing on it that I could find. Thanks

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    Wink

    I've been looking at this thing since I first heard of it (about two weeks after I got my FD-4). I'm pretty convinced that my next recording upgrade will be to a 16 track recorder. I'm gonna skip the 8 track because I want more ability to record stereo keys, guitars and drums and not have to mix them together too soon. My question is what is the recording specs. Is this a 16 bit/44.1 kHz recorder or higher? I've been happy with that mode on the FD-4, but I wouldn't mind going to a 24 bit/96kHz mode. Any information to shed some light on this would be nice (the Fostex site doesn't have this info yet).

    Peace, Jim

    P.S. Chris, thanks for the review. Bad Manual, What's new?

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    Arrow

    Jim,

    Did you see the review at this site. It does have a few specs there that might help.
    http://www.scvlondon.co.uk/fostex/vf16.htm
    Here's another http://www.jessewalsh.com/PR_Pages/Fostex/VF-16.html
    Later
    Bruce


    [This message has been edited by bbbmusic (edited 06-06-2000).]

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    Unhappy

    Thanks Chrisr, for your review.

    I just got a new Musician's Friend (if you have money) catalog and first heard of the VF-16 yesterday.

    I have searched the Web but all that is out there is the same Fostex press release repeated by a hundred sites.

    My questions:

    1. Did it come with a Hard Drive? How big?

    2. Has Spdif I/O? Coax or optical?

    3. Could you list what effects are available?

    I assume it has the usual reverb, Chorus, Phaser, Flanger, Delay? what about pitch shift, guitar amp simulations, Vocoder or other weird effects?

    Thanks again,

    Bill the Lame Old One

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    Question

    I'm also intrested in getting a VF-16.

    Do you know if you can use (EQ, compress, add effects, etc...) the 8 inputs and the 16 Digital channels at the same time during mixing?

    How many of the channels can you compress at the same time?

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    can the VF16 mixer be "automated" in any way (i.e. scenes or midi-controlled movements)??
    cheers.

  8. #8
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    I've put up a (VERY) small web page with a few scanned pages from the VF-16 manual which should answer some of your questions. The URL is:
    http://home.austin.rr.com/chrisr/VF-16.htm

    It's amazing to me that Fostex hasn't released any more info on this unit or made the manual available on their web site -- so it's up to end users like us to share the information.

    If there's anything specific anybody wants to know that I can scan out of the manual, I will, but please be specific, the manual is 118 pages long and I don't want to scan the whole thing

    Oh, somebody asked if it came with a hard drive -- yes, it comes with a 5G HDD which is good for 1 hour of 16 track recording. Because of the way the unit uses disk space, this will last considerably longer if you don't use 16 tracks on every song. I think Fostex has certified HDD's up to 31G which should give you up to what, 6 hours? My God...

    I'm digging my unit, it's a definite keeper.

    Chris


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    Oh yeah, the EQ rocks, Hi-Mid-Low on every channel with sweepable crossover points. Same for EFX. The compression is unfortunantly, only available on two tracks, 15 and 16 (I believe). Haven't had a chance to try it yet. You'd probably be better off with an off-board compressor though...

    Chris


    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by LeoT:
    I'm also intrested in getting a VF-16.

    Do you know if you can use (EQ, compress, add effects, etc...) the 8 inputs and the 16 Digital channels at the same time during mixing?

    How many of the channels can you compress at the same time?
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


  10. #10
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    Unhappy

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks a lot for posting the info on a web page!

    I was interested in the effects, and that page you posted shows the 28 effects for EFF1, but it says there are 38 effects presets for EFF2 on the next page.

    Could you scan and post THAT page also on your web site?

    The page you posted says that 28 of the 38 effects are the same as EFF1, so that means there are 10 other effects available.

    I was kind of disappointed that the 28 effects in EFF1 were all REVERB and a few REVERB + DELAY.

    I was hoping also for CHORUS, FLANGER, seperate DELAY, PHASER, and PITCH-SHIFT as well!

    Thanks again,

    Bill Parker

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