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First impressions can be lasting impressions, and the Alesis ADAT certainly makes quite an entrance as you carefully take it out of its packing. I have to admit I was expecting something quite different. In my mind, Alesis are a company with great audio electronic and digital design capability but since they have so far chosen to address the mass market with low cost equipment I had imagined that the ADAT would be fully functioning but not particularly robustly constructed. I wouldnt have been impressed at all by a piece of equipment that didnt look as though it could tough it out in the real studio world, no matter how good the sound quality. However, the ADAT is nothing like my expectations. It is admirably chunky in a heavy gauge steel case, and if you open it up you will see real build quality (they should give it a perspex lid!). Since affordable digital multitrack is a totally new concept, evidently Alesis want to make certain that it is taken seriously. My impressions of the look of the unit - visual design being important for ease of use - are neutral. Fully professional studio equipment is carefully designed to be as usable as possible, and engineers wouldnt put up with less. In the lower echelons of pricing manufacturers are sometimes reluctant to provide features like clear legending, large buttons and logical layout, for some reason I cant at all fathom. The ADAT is reasonably well designed from this point of view, but I really would have liked the record button to be the traditional red since even in the digital age its the one button with which you can screw up a whole days work. Also, my definition of the look of a unit extends to the shape and feel of the controls which should be as comfortable to operate as possible. The ADATs transport controls are certainly large enough, but they take a lot of pressing and dont feel very positive. I didnt like the feel of the rubber buttons on the supplied remote control either. But compared to the fact that we now have digital multitrack at a price serious home recordists can at least contemplate, these are small matters (but I always want things to be perfect!).