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Boss Micro BR-80
• MIDI drum pattern construction kits for creating arrangements.
• Excellent amp models and effects arranged by genre and instrument.
• Eight tracks of audio, plus up to 64 “V-Tracks” for additional takes.
When Boss first unveiled the Micro BR in 2007, it was the kind of device that everyone wanted to get their hands on—a sleek, sexy, and incredibly portable hand-held 4-track recorder with effects and amp models, easy-to-arrange drum machine patterns, and an MP3 player, all in a footprint not much bigger than a guitar tuner. Last summer, Roland introduced the first top-down update of the BR, with the decidedly modernized BR-80 ($299, street), which adds a built-in split stereo mic, 8-track recording, more and better-organized effects and models, and the new eBand mode, which makes the BR-80 a handy practice tool for jamming with MP3s while having control over playback pitch and tempo. And just for the record, it’s still one sexy looking machine.
The new stereo pair of built-in mics makes the BR a worthy all-in-one field recorder, though certainly not quite to the specs of dedicated field units like the LS-100. It’s in multitrack mode (MTR) that the BR-80 really shines. With eight full tracks to play with (plus track-bouncing options and eight virtual tracks per channel), along with independent pan, level, 3-band EQ, reverb, and solo/mute for every channel, it’s unusually broad and deep for something its size. The effects and models are solid sounding, and they’re logically laid out into preset groups by both genre and instrument. I especially dug the Surf, Fuzz Rock, Liverpool, and Progressive patches. Given the BR’s practical uses, Boss has made some smart choices here, too. It was pleasantly surprising to find pitch correction and harmonization among the vocal effects, a slew of decent mastering effects, plus simulators for making your electric guitar sound like a bass or acoustic guitar. Now that’s a real-world, recording-on-the-go stroke of genius.