3 Reasons To Love Recording Workstations

The R16 is the portable and powerful multi-track recoder/controller from Zoom that's perfect for every step of the recording processThey are basically an audio interface that can record in addition to converting. They’re pricier than just an audio interface or a PC standing alone, but recording workstations have several benefits that make them a good option for many home recording artists.

They’re also know as studio-in-a-box systems (SIAB), and have only been around since the late 70s, but despite their odd appearance – here’s 4 benefits (and recommendations) of recording workstations.

The What

To begin with, it’s important to know what exactly workstations are. They are a mixer, processor, effects, and recorder all thrown into one package. Normally a studio might have a mixer that is processed by and interface and recorded by a PC or Mac – but a workstation does it all.

They’re not as popular mainly because they don’t do one role really well, and they are a bit pricey, but there’s many benefits, and the price isn’t as much of a factor if you’re not looking for specialized equipment roles.

1. Portable

When you have a mixer, and interface, and a computer (especially if it’s a desktop) – it can be pretty tough to lug everything to an on location recording.

You might could pull it off with a portable interface and a laptop – but the you might be losing some analog mixing.

Since a workstation is all in one – literally a studio in a box – you can do a full recording session in a friend’s garage, your living room, a gym, outdoors – wherever – fairly easily (some even run on batteries)

Not to mention that the space consideration could help out in a permanent home recording studio since everything is integrated with fewer cords strung out everywhere.

2. Plug And Record

For anyone who doesn’t want to spend hours learning PC/Mac mixing and recording – or just loves the analog feel of mixing and recording with physical buttons and knobs. Recording workstations do it all digitally, but with analog controls.

Most record directly onto some sort of removable media, such as SD cards – so you don’t even need to worry about hard drive space. As a bonus, most of the modern ones will connect to a PC/Mac to provide some computer functionality.

So a recording workstation will help if your a musician who just wants to get started. With a workstation, you can just plug it up and go.

3. Convenience And Simplicity

With recording workstations, everything you need is right there, at your fingertips. The controls are intuitive and easy to use.

Most have multiple inputs and outputs. Everything is integrated, so you know that all the connections are compatible. And, it’s easy to store, even in the most cramped apartment.

You don’t have to worry about crashing your PC/Mac or running the wrong cord connecting everything – just focus on the music.


“So why doesn’t everyone get a recording workstation?” Well, there’s a few reasons.

  • It’s expensive upfront and expensive to upgrade.  If you have separate mixer, interface, etc – then you can upgrade cheaply if a new one comes out – not to mention that you can piece together a studio slowly on a smaller budget if you go piece by piece. You can get started with basic mixer and build up. Workstations are the whole hog at once.
  • Loss of control. Some musicians like having a separate mixer, interface, PC/Mac so that you can have tighter control on your recording – not to mention the use of powerful software.


Workstations come in two flavors – one records directly on the disk (pricier) and one records onto a removable media that you can transfer to a PC/Mac.

Check out Recording Workstations at zZounds (our recommended retailer, based on lowest prices, best service, and free shipping)

Did you find this article interesting or helpful? Never miss an article – subscribe to HomeMusicGear via Email Subscription | RSS | Twitter