Up in the sky: it’s a Zoom! It’s a 4-track Portastudio! No, it’s a CompactFlash-based 4-track recorder from Korg.

Yes, the march of CF-based recorders continues. Hot on the heels of last week’s look at sub-$400 recorders, here’s another one — with a twist. The Korg D4 is a “complete portable studio,” not just a field recorder. Basically, it’s a four-track with built-in mic, metronome, drum patterns, effects, mic/amp models, MPEG-1 recording and USB out. Here are the full specs:

4 tracks simultaneous recording, 32 virtual tracks

1/4″ and XLR inputs for line, guitar, or mic

Low-quality (to save space) or high-quality MPEG-1 (audio layer -2) recording (sorry, no uncompressed recording)

93 guitar, bass, drums, amp and mic simulations

4-band EQ, chorus, phaser and flanger FX

Full editing with a push/turn knob; Punch-In/Out, Bounce, Copy/Paste, Delete and Time Compression/Expansion

Built-in mic; tuner; metronome

Audio rhythm patterns (32 metronome and 55 rhythm patterns) including 8 beat, 16 beat, Rock, Funk, Hip-Hop, R&B, Jazz, 3/4, 6/8, 5/4, 7/4 and more (7/4 time? Excellent!)

Analog audio outs plus USB (sorry, no digital in/out)

So, in other words what you get is a lot of tricky extras; it’s mainly a songwriting/4-track and practice tool. That’s all fine and well, but I’d be much happier to lose all the extras and stick with digital ins and outs and lossless uncompressed audio recording, like on the other recorders we’ve looked at. But if these extras do appeal to you, it’s a great bargain. It’s either the world’s tiniest portable digital studio, or the world’s most tricked-out metronome. You be the judge.

Pricing/Availability: List US$399, available this month.
Korg D4 Product Page