Portable Workstations

Although hardware-based digital-audio recorders get smaller and more feature-laden with each generation, many recordists still shackle them to home studios. Why? These babies are made to move, and adventurous types can transport them to rehearsal spaces, live gigs, and band mates’ homes to lay down tracks. The six machines shown here can get you goin’ mobile, but keep in mind that each manufacturer makes several models, so check out their Web sites to find the best portable recording solution for you.

Korg D4

A 4-track powerhouse with XLR and 1/4" inputs, amp/cab models, drum grooves, and multi effects—all housed in a box that’ll fit in a sandwich bag. $399 retail/$349 street. korg.com

Boss BR-900CD

Eight tracks, amp models, drum patterns, effects, pitch correction, USB, and a CD-RW drive make this a winner if you want to burn rough mixes for your band after each session. $799 retail/ $695 street. bossus.com

Tascam DP-01FX

Two XLR inputs with phantom power allow easy use of condenser mics, eight tracks, effects, and USB for transferring mobile sessions to a computer workstation. $649 retail/$499 street. tascam.com

Zoom PS-04

Pop this 4-track mini in a coat pocket, use the built-in mic to track basics (or use the onboard drum machine), and plug in for overdubs (with effects). $359 retail/$199 street. samsontech.com

Fostex VF80EX

Mastering tools, a CD-RW drive, an XLR input with phantom power, effects, and amp models pump up this compact 8-tracker. $899 retail/ $599 street. fostex.com

Yamaha AW1600

Great for tracking bands, this eight-input (all with phantom power) 16-track deck offers effects (including pitch correction), USB, and a CD-RW drive. $1,499 retail/$1,099 street. yamaha.com