Review: Belkin TuneStudio 4-Channel Mixer

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I like to think of myself as a bit of a musician. I enjoy belting out a good tune now and again and have even been known to gig professionally (back when I was 16 in high school and thought I was Bob Dylan. This, friends, is what prevented me from getting laid until age 20.) I’m no pro by any means.

Luckily, Belkin’s TuneStudio is not for pros. It’s for mid-level amateurs who know they need XLR inputs and a good recording medium but don’t want to have to think about phantom power, levels, or multiple inputs.
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At its core the TuneStudio is a four track mixer with 2 XLR/stereo jacks, 1 set of mono jacks, and 1 set of RCA jacks. The XLRs have phantom power which is explained here. It’s basically a way of reducing noise on dynamic microphones.

You have mono-jack left and right outputs as well as a unique USB-in audio port that your computer can use as an output. There is a 3-12 dB noise reduction switch with compressor (umm, yeah) and a number of equalizers and level set-ups for the four channels and the out put. Bottom line: buy a few nice mics, connect an amp or two, rock out. The TuneStudio is designed mostly for recording live music so you and your band can record a few things with this, provided your band consists of no more than four people and ideally consists of only two people.

So what can this thing do? Well, the real draw is that it records at fairly high quality directly to a 5th generation iPod with firmware v1.2.1. The TuneStudio turns into a voice recorder and pops up on your menu. You can record in low and high quality (16-bit, 44kHz) and then drag your recordings off of the iPod in iTunes.

This device is ideal for podcasts and beginning singer-songwriters. With two good microphone inputs and a few alternate inputs, you can record a fairly nice live set without fuss and much extraneous noise. The direct-to-iPod recording is excellent and quite useful, offering almost unlimited storage and an easy way to access that storage once you’re done recording.

At $249 there aren’t many cheaper four track recorders out there with the same feature set. MusiciansFriend had quite a few in the range and even a few on sale but only a few that match this device. Seamless OS X support, USB-in, and an understated elegance make this a nice package for beginners and gigging musicians alike.