Akai DPS12 Digital Personal Studio (part 7)
Sampling Rate: The DPS12 offers three sampling rates: 48kHz, 44.1kHz and 32kHz. Obviously the higher the sampling rate the faster disk space is eaten up, although the highest rate offers a high frequency response extension up to 22kHz rather than 20kHz at 44.1kHz sampling. Obviously the digital mixer only has so much horsepower and you will find that EQ facilities are limited at 48kHz. Digital sync is also available from this screen, which should be selected when recording from a digital source.
Beat Map and Tempo Map: If you are using the bars and beats option rather than timecode clock then you will need to set a tempo map, and perhaps a beat map too. Changes in tempo are allowed and can range between 30 and 300bpm (I suppose the latter is for Thrash Jungle!). The meter can range between 1/4 to 32/32.
Foot Switch: All multitrack recorders should have a punch-in footswitch socket and the DPS12 indeed does. It can also be used for just about every other control surface function, including soft keys.
MIDI: The DPS12 has few MIDI functions and therefore it is perhaps justifiable that there are only two MIDI sockets. The function of the IN/THRU socket is set here.
LCD Contrast: Adjustable as you might expect. The LCD is wonderfully bright compared to most others I have seen.
Other: The only two other functions are Meter Pre/Post fader and the number of Undo steps possible. One is a good choice here, but you can have up to 250 if you really want to, and can afford the disk space.
Physique - Compact but Well-Muscled
The Akai DPS12 is smaller in real life than I imagined from early photos. Small and light enough to be easily portable and it’s so cute you’ll want to give it a cuddle! The six main analogue inputs on balanced quarter inch jacks are on the top surface near the back, which is convenient but puts ugly cables on display in a more permanent installation, particularly since the sockets are angled forward slightly. The remaining inputs and outputs are on the rear: master analogue out left and right (phono), auxiliary sends A and B (phono), digital optical stereo in and out, MIDI IN and OUT/THRU, SCSI (half pitch connector), footswitch (quarter inch jack).
The control surface is quite sparsely populated since the mixer is digital and most of the operations are carried out through the cursor keys and jog/shuttle wheel. There are however six gain controls with peak LEDs for the analogue inputs, twelve each record ready and channel select buttons and of course twelve physical faders and pan controls, plus the stereo master fader. Individual channels, or groups of channels, can be soloed. On the right of the unit, the display is large enough and bright enough to fulfil its purpose adequately, aided by six soft keys underneath whose function varies according to context. The transport controls are large and chunky as they should be. Just above these is a button panel which offers easy access to most functions of the machine. Almost all of the buttons have a dual function for entering names for projects, tracks etc. Not quite as straightforward as a qwerty keyboard but certainly adequate. On the front of the unit there is a headphone socket with level control and of course the Jaz drive.
The track display shows recorded segments in a moving display across the screen. Very useful for finding your way around.
The DPS12 has an excellent jog/shuttle feature which allows individual tracks to be 'scrubbed’ to find edit points precisely.
On the left are bargraph meters showing the levels of recorded tracks. On the right the fader positions are shown. Alternatively, this display can show the eight 'thru mix’ channels where live signals can be added to the mix.
The DPS12 offers excellent digital EQ, either two or three band. Bear in mind though that if you require three band EQ, it can only be applied to six tracks (at 44.1kHz).
The DPS12 has two auxiliary sends which can act as individual mono sends or a stereo pair. They are individually switchable pre or post fader. Although there are no auxiliary returns, 'thru mix’ channels can easily be used to achieve the same results.