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The Digi 002
The power of Pro Tools-how sweet it is
By Stephon Fraley

Lots of pieces of gear out there claim to be an all-in-one solution to hard- disk recording, but few can actually grab hold of that ring and hang on to it. Products from Digidesign, however, seldom lose their grip. From the omnipresent and nearly omnipotent professional Pro Tools|HD to the entry-level MBox, Digidesign has proven they know their way around the dog-eat-dog world of digital audio. The Digi 002 reinforces that claim. It is the most powerful computer-based recording solution available at the project-studio level. Its combination of well-thought-out hardware design, distinctive yet easy-to-use interface, and masterful control capabilities is incredible. Plus, using Pro Tools LE software ensures compatibility with any Pro Tools project.

Digidesign MX002 Digi 002
The buzz-the reality...
There was more than just a little speculation and anticipation when rumors leaked out that a new consumer market addition to the Digidesign family was on its way. I don't know what anyone else was imagining in the days leading up to the Digi 002's debut last year, but this unit far exceeds all my expectations.

The press release sent to me by Digidesign along with the latest and greatest Pro Tools LE (6.1!) describes the 002 as a FireWire-based mini studio. Well, they got the FireWire part right, but mini? There's nothing small about the 002's capabilities. Maybe they were just referring to its size, because at just 19"W x 6"H x 17"D, the Digi 002 is certainly not a space hog. Even on modestly sized desktops, there's still plenty of room for a computer monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

Hey there, good lookin'
A well-designed interface is just as much a part of the overall equation of value as how powerful the tool is. When bringing a pro-level tool in at consumer-level prices, companies sometimes make the mistake of putting ugly and cheap controls around an elegant and operable system, completely crippling the end product. Thankfully, Digidesign did not make that mistake. I love the way the Digi 002 looks and feels.

It's small but professional with a soft gray color scheme for the housing and most of the controls, and a brushed metallic faceplate for the control panel. The rounded corners and ergonomic controls are comfortable with a soft, cushioned feel that's very nice under your fingertips. The interface is well-thought-out with versatile controls for the channels, transport, options for playback and looping, and buttons that quickly call up the mix and edit windows, as well as plug ins.

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More than just a pretty face
The 002 provides you with an incredible amount of control over your recording project in a way that feels completely natural. Take editing for example. By pushing just a few buttons you can call up the editing window and manipulate the waveforms using the tactile controls right in front of you, without leaving the Digi 002.

The faders and channel strip interfaces are taken from the Control|24 control surface. The faders are touch-sensitive and motorized, so making adjustments and switching between different tracks or sessions is stupid easy. The faders also give you direct manipulation of almost every parameter and plug-in available in Pro Tools LE, an outstanding capability that you really can't appreciate until you've used it a little. It's almost like cheating.

The channel pan knobs, likewise, can be used for more than just panning. Different functions, such as send levels and plug-in control, can be selected by using the channel view buttons located just above the scribble strips. The meters above the knobs represent the knob value, but can also function as meters during playback.

The LED scribble strips are very cool, allowing you to label your tracks with handy 4-character tags. These strips are multifunctional, though, displaying all kinds of pertinent information dependent upon which mode you're in.

Even in doing something as simple as adjusting EQ, the Digi 002 shines. All you have to do is hit the EQ channel view button, select whichever track you need to adjust, then trim away.

The seat of power
The magic button, however, is definitely the navigational control interface. It's really not a single button, but the controls here are so well integrated and intuitive that it feels like you're using a single control instead of a cluster of buttons. The up, down, left, and right button array manipulate different characteristics based upon which mode you've selected. You select those modes via three buttons placed just north of the directional controls. The Bank button allows you to navigate through banks of eight tracks and Nudge is for moving through one track at a time. Zoom moves you in and out of the edit window.

Above and beyond
Just based on the combination of Pro Tools LE and the Digi 002 FireWire interface, it's definitely worth the money, but there are two additional features that push the Digi 002 to the next level of value and capabilities. The first is Digidesign's generous and wise decision to include four phenomenal mic preamps that include individual gain and high-pass filter controls in the interface. This preamp section also includes eight different balanced inputs, your choice of XLR or 1Z4" TRS, with two selectable 48V phantom power units built in.

All of the 1Z4" inputs are balanced TRS ins, which makes it even easier to use the Digi 002 for its second job, as a full-featured standalone digital mixer. With the push of a button, you can transform the Digi 002 from FireWire Pro Tools LE interface to a totally cool digital mixer. These two features make the Digi 002 more than worth the price. Just think, you'll be able to fit half your studio under your arm and the rest of it you can fit on a four-wheel hand truck. Sweet.

Features & Specs
  • FireWire connectivity
  • Pro Tools LE 6.1 for Mac OSX & Windows XP
  • Transport controls
  • 8 touch-sensitive, motorized faders
  • 8 knobs for pan/send/meter/plug-in control
  • 10 scribble strips
  • 8 analog I/O
  • 4 mic preamps
  • 48V phantom power
  • 8 channels of ADAT optical I/O
  • 2 channels of S/PDIF I/O
  • MIDI I/O: 1 IN port, 2 OUT ports
  • 24-bit/96kHz A/D/A converters
  • Standalone mode: 8 x 4 x 2 digital mixer with EQ, dynamics, effects
  • Alternate Source Input for -10dBV audio equipment
  • Headphone output
Digidesign Digi 002 Rack Factory Bundle Features:
  • Bomb Factory BF-3A
  • moogerfooger Ring Modulator
  • moogerfooger Analog Delay
  • SansAmp PSA-1
  • Cosmonaut Voice
  • JOEMEEK SC2 Compressor
  • JOEMEEK VC5 Meekualizer
  • Tel-Ray Variable Delay
  • Voce Spin
  • Voce Chorus/Vibrato

 

 

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