We hear a lot about studios in software, but the “studio in a box” concept lives on. Yamaha’s new portable digital audio workstations integrate a mixing console, recording, effects, and mastering — and they hook up to USB 2.0, so Yamaha’s clearly thinking of these as companions to your computer, not replacements. You can check out the press release, but here’s the basic scoop:

The AW1600is an 8-input, 16-track portable studio with 24-bit recording, Pitch Fix for correcting vocals, a loop sampler, and lots of effects (including guitar effects.)

The AW2400 is a more tricked-out sibling to the 1600, with motorized faders, 24 tracks of playback, and expansion.

Both feature a 40G hard drive, CD drive for burning your CDs, and USB 2.0 for dragging tracks into your computer. While I’m pretty loyal to my computer setup, I have to admit there’s a certain appeal to toting an integrated, dedicated recording to grab multitrack audio of the band instead of lugging (and booting) a computer and interface/mixer/console. And there’s a lot of value in these for the price. What’s your preference? Any hardware workstation lovers out there?

Pricing/Availability: US$1495 (AW1400) / $2495 (AW2400), fall 2005

CDM 5 words: Sometimes you still want hardware.