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Rating and Reviews: Cakewalk V-Studio 20 USB

This USB interface comes with built-in BOSS guitar effects and backing tracks! Plug in your guitar and XLR mic, connect your computer, and start recording.

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The Wow Factor
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"Doesn't Get Much Better Than This" submitted December 13, 2010

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Musical Background: Hobbyist
Music Style: Rock
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Sound: Excellent. The built-in VS preamp actually provides a healthy dose of clean gain for any mic you plug in. The built-in effects are typical Roland digital and work in most situations. Feature: For being an audio interface, effects unit, preamp, AND control surface, the VS-20 does it all. For the price there are no competing products which makes this unit a gem. My only wishes would have been for Cakewalk to make either the L or R Line input a mono input as well. Also, the ability to mix ANY two inputs in simultaneous recording instead of just the guitar input and a mic input. Ease of Use: For the included Guitar Tracks software and the VS-20 effects editor, the integration is 100% seemless. Load the drivers, plug in the hardware, and launch the software. Those were the ONLY required steps in the setup. After that it worked EXACTLY as advertised. My only reason for not marking 10 here is that using the control surface aspect of the unit under other software is a little tricky to setup. But that might just be my level of knowledge getting in the way. Quality: Solid metal chasis. Built like a light-weight version of a Boss pedal. I'd expect this thing to last a long time. The knobs and sliders feel solid and the buttons even more so. Value: For $300 you could probably buy better control surfaces, mic preamps, audio interfaces, and computer effects units. But you'd be hard-pressed to find anything that performs all of those options at that price. The VS-20 is truly unique. Manufacturer Support: Haven't had to use it. The Wow Factor: Sleek, black interface that you can take with you if needed? Pretty much as sexy as audio equipment can get. Overall: It's the center-piece of my home studio. I will be using it until I can save up for the VS-700 in a few months. Even still, the VS-20 will be my first choice in portable interfaces.
16 of 16 people (100%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"Almost great!" submitted February 11, 2011

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Musical Background: Hobbyist
Music Style: Rock, Electronic
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Sound: This unit sacrafices A LOT to include everything it offers. First up, you only get RCA main outs. So, no balanced signal to your monitors. Next, just like MOST of Boss/Roland/Edirol's interfaces you only get ONE mic preamp and one instrument input. There is also a stereo line input but the plugs don't have a mono-only single connection. If you plug an instrument into L or R line-in you only get the signal on that channel. This can be fixed from within Guitar Tracks by making your track mono but the process seems like a hassle. Next, there is NO WAY to route your output. The output signal is sent evenly to both the RCA outputs AND the headphone output. This means that if you track in the same room that you record, you'll need to unplug the monitors if you want to hear your track in the headphones without getting feedback from mic/monitor proximity. However, the quality of the recorded sound at 16-bit, 44.1KHz is good an despite some white hiss in the upper gain regions, it's pretty clean/transparent. The built-in stereo condenser mics sound amazing but pick up all handling noises from operating the unit's buttons. Feature: It is your audio interface, mixer, DAW control, and FX unit in one. It doesn't really excel at any one area but does an honest job performing for what you'd expect a piece of hardware in this price range to do. Ease of Use: The integration with the included version of Guitar Tracks is flawless. The knobs control software knobs in realtime and installation is a breeze. The recording process really can't get any easier than this. Quality: It's built from metal and the knobs/sliders are firm. Value: You won't find another product that does all the things the VS-20 can do for $300. The upcoming (2011) Zoom R8 may prove a worthy adversary but that's TBD. Manufacturer Support: Haven't needed it but the Cakewalk forums have lots of good info. The Wow Factor: Portable all-in-one unit. Overall: Some issues built into the hardware prevent it from being a '10' for the price. I would have liked to see two combo XLR and 1/4" inputs vs. one plus a dedicated guitar input. It would have added a LOT of flexibility. Also, the capability to simultaneously record ANY two inputs instead of just guitar+mic 1.
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"A Unique Gem for the Home Studio!" submitted March 10, 2014

By John Bonfield in Los Angeles, CA
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Musical Background: Playing Guitar for 45 years. DAWs for 10 years. Create music for
Music Style: Blues, rock, neoclassical.
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Sound: The preamps are clean and have decent gain. The built in mics are surprisingly good, but they are very sensitive to noise from touching the unit. Feature: Most useful for me are the faders which can control up to 24 DAW tracks,, and the transport controller. The COSM guitar effects are superb. Ease of Use: Easy to set up, and fairly easy to figure out. The only challenge for me was somewhat obscure setup screen, but I soon got it sorted. Quality: Solid feel, metal chassis. Value: At $179, the V Studio 20 has to be one of the greatest deals available for home studio enthusiasts. Manufacturer Support: Haven't used them, but the breakup of the Cakewalk/Roland partnership may make customer support more difficult. The Wow Factor: i think my VS 20 looks very cool on my desktop workstation. Overall: The V Studio 20 is a unique, highly affordable music production tool. The combination of an audio interface, mixer/control surface, and great guitar and vocal effects in a single good looking package has been invaluable to me.Setup was easy, as was the learning curve. The integration with the included Guitar Tracks software is amazing. i use it regularly for simple jam session projects. My main use for this device, though, is as a mixing and recording controller with Cakewalk Sonar X3 Producer, where it works flawlessly.Cons: Turning on phantom power requires opening the COSM software and navigating to an obscure setup screen and clicking a tiny red button. A simple physical phantom power button on unit itself should have been used. I also miss not having a second mic input, but the many advantages of this unit far outweigh these shortcomings.The VS 20 was already an incredible value at $299, but since Roland and Cakewalk have split up the price has plunged to $179! I am going to by a second unit to use with my laptop away from home.
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"Yahama DGX 505, CakeWalk Home 8.0, Laptop, and VS-20/Tracks 4;" submitted April 22, 2014

By Joe L in Traverse City, MI
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Musical Background: A professional studio musician on a budget playing a variety of instruments and vocals playing out.ls
Music Style: Country, Blues, Christian, Jazz Imitation, Rock...
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Sound: It sounds great and has an immense variety of choices with no white noise from the box which is USB connected to the laptop until the laptop or outputs from amps are input to it. All sound support has to come from the box to keep a clean sound. Feature: The effects and clean recording is by far the best feature with all the controls accessible with a laser mouse hanging from a belt and activated by a trouser leg. It can import my written score to the MIDI Backing Track or export recorded analogue audio to Cake Walk 8.0 for writing score in Real Time Sync or edit the length or pitch to make it fit. Ease of Use: It produces great sound once it is installed, and records easily by step by step procedures. The learning curve depends on previous experience, but it is easier to just push buttons to find out what they do in a new file that you do not mind having mistakes on. F1 or the Help button usually gives related information to the buttons being activated at the time. pushed. It makes an instrument sound professional. Quality: It got yanked on to the cement from 24 inches and seems fine, but that will be unlikely to happen again. I have equipment made from plastic that is many years old still working; I will guess thirty years under normal use. Value: It seems worth the selling price, but the economy has made it unaffordable at that price and why I jumped on the opportunity even with funds being short. Manufacturer Support: There is a lot of support from many sources, but I did not use them much, since the problems were mostly form the variety of equipment types and their age. How to videos are the most helpful in general for blind procedures. The Wow Factor: It is a good product in its' controls on the unit in live performance where a laptop within view could produce an issue. The programs make it so there has to be a good view of the screens to keep from mistakes which in live performance need to be kept in check. Overall: With a program from 1998, a lap top with Win98 (no more support), and keyboard from USB 2.0 it was quite a study from all the support manuals and a book on basic MIDI except for the step by step procedures it took about 3 days to get enough experience to be able to transfer files for writing score and importing and exporting the variety of file types, get the equipment to communicate properly, and being able to use the editor through the laptop for live performance. I have taken notes but will not have enough time to organize them for posting for others to use.
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"The Best Recording Control Surfaceand simple DAW software!! Excellent Buy!!" submitted March 4, 2014

By hadzimurad u in N Hollywood, CA
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Musical Background: Audio tech Engineer
Music Style: Blues. Musical studio software and hardware customization.
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Overall: .Thank You so much!! ZZounds never disappointed me on this Interface. I bought this, test the Cakewalk hardware and the Guitar Trak4 Software. All works well as expected since I got used the SoNAR X1 LE before. All 32 traks functions well beyond imagination. The online Demo video and instructions well compiled by Roland USA. Buy this if you start recording and do not know which DAW is good for your computer skill level. A great Starter from Roland and Cakewalk. ZZounds always has the best online price for my STUDIO instruments and electronis. Thanks again.
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"Cakewalk V Studio 20 USB Audio Interface Purchase Experience." submitted March 25, 2014

By Michael Kegg in Orange, CA
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Musical Background: I have been playing music since I was a child.
Music Style: Hard Rock
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Overall: I ordered two Cakewalk V Studio 20 USB Audio Interfaces at a great price, and received them in perfect condition, promptly on the day FedEx tracking said they would arrive. I have no regrets, it’s a great product. After I made my purchase the price went down, and zZounds cheerfully refunded the difference promptly to my credit card. It was the perfect customer experience, knock wood, and I hope your experience and my possible future purchases go as well. Thank you very much.
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"I'm sold on zZounds and their excellent customer service." submitted April 13, 2014

By Carson A in Kailua, HI
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Musical Background: Getting back into guitar after 30 years
Music Style: Varies--classical to rock
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Overall: Since the Roland/Cakewalk V-Studio 20 has apparently now been unofficially terminated from production--which is a shame--this review is more about zZounds. The VS-20 was put on sale for $40 less about a week after I bought it from zZounds, but when I emailed them for a rebate based on their "price match guarantee" they immediately responded that I could expect the rebate to show in my bank account in a few days, which it did. I'm now very enthused about zZounds, and will start my online shopping for music relayed equipment with them first, from now on...
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"Cakewaalk V-Studio 20" submitted April 21, 2014

By Randall McDade in Lighthouse Point, FL
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Musical Background: Guitar 20 Plus years
Music Style: Classic Rock Country Rock
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Overall: The cakewalk V-Studio 20 is a great music studio that produces a wide variety of sounds for your home studio. A great value for your money.
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"Cakewalk still rules when it comes to ease of use!" submitted April 21, 2014

By Ted K in spanaway, WA
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Musical Background: guitar for 25 years. play semi pro.
Music Style: Mostly metal
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Overall: It just cant get any easier to have great guitar sound in an easy to master interface!
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"Buyer Beware" submitted March 24, 2014

By G F E in New York, NY
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Musical Background: Play guitar, bass, harmonica, flute, keys, and I've gigged with bands and as a solo performer.
Music Style: alternative rock, blues, ballads
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Overall: I'm not reviewing the interface, which I haven't bought (I have an M-Audio Firewire 400 interface). I'm just writing to warn you about my experience with Cakewalk Guitar Studio. The manufacturer didn't bother to mention that if you uninstalled the software and reinstalled it, all your saved song files would be rendered useless. That's right -- if you labored over a song and tried to load it after the reinstall, it wouldn't load. Nice of the ___s at Cakewalk to omit mention of that in the documentation. I lost two years' worth of songs, some of which consisted of over ten tracks, with guitars, bass, keyboards, virtual drums, and five-part vocals. I had saved all of them in the Guitar Studio format; but only the ones I'd converted to MP3 files were usable after the reinstall. Maybe they've remedied that incredibly screwed-up feature of their software; but if you have any glitches with the software and are considering a reinstall to fix them, just make sure it won't cost you all your work. I'm not giving Guitar Studio only one star across the board, because it was easy to use and had good features. But when you lose hundreds of recordings, it's a struggle to be kind to the company whose negligent documentation caused that kind of a loss. I've long since switched to Power Tracks for my recording. It's an amazingly full-featured program at an unbeatable price (it's written by the folks who produce Band-in-a-Box). And, no, I don't work for that company. It comes out of Canada, I believe; while I'm just an American customer who appreciates Power Tracks' intuitive design and ease of use, and that I don't lose my songs when I do a reinstall of their program.
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"Buyer Beware" submitted January 5, 2013

By James Y in Lincoln, CA
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Musical Background: Pro
Music Style: all
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Overall: Windows 7 drivers uninstall will hose your computer. WIndows 8 drivers came out months later than the OS and all I can hook to is the editor (soft boss foot pedal) . If you do try to install the drivers on any computer make sure you have a back up. Do not follow the uninstall prompts, if there is an install issue. After this experience and this includes the poor support, I would not buy another Cakewalk or Roland product.
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