Of the many new Roland products announced in the Autumn, this is one of the last to make it into the country. Octa-Capture’s title though is slightly misleading - as well as the USB 8x8 analog IO with mic preamps, its also got 2x2 S-pdif digital connections - but I guess Decca-Capture isn’t as catchy.
This is a mains powered (via PSU), USB 2.0 connection with up to 96kHz 24-bit resolution audio interface with MIDI IO too. Under the hood, there’s a DSP driven basic digital mixer with mic gain, high pass filter, Gate, Compression, effects all available on inputs. Effects are Room, Hall, Plate and Echo all with a little editing possible. Perfectly okay for monitoring latency free effects for vocalists who require a bit of ‘wet’ or the like. There’s an LCD screen for navigating your way round and a rather handy AutoGain function - select the channels you want to sense, press the button and play and it will work out the best gain setting on those channels. Sounds gimmicky true, but in practice with our helpful band Southern Drop, it worked a treat. The software control panel gives you access via the host computer to four separate mixes each with 10 inputs and 10 DAW returns that can be routed to any of the output pairs including digital. There’s also a patchbay which lets you route any of the Mixes or DAW returns to any of the 5 output pairs. Mic amps are pretty reasonable, though not of the highest quality, in our tests we found them to be adequate for all but the highest gain settings.
The Octa-Capture comes with Sonar LE as of course Roland and Cakewalk are now conjoined at some business level, you’d expect nothing less, but our test setup was with ProTools 9 on OS X and worked fine too.
Overall, we were pleased with the features and flexibility of the Octa-Capture, a couple of niggles: no metering on the Software Panel, compressors are not all that thrilling. A larger main volume knob would make integration with active monitors setups more intuitive, but for the money - 8 mic preamps with basic digital mixer functionality - it will work in standalone mode too, this has a lot to offer the mixerless recordist.