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Fostex X30 Portastudio

Article from Making Music, November 1987


It looks good, dunnit? Fostex have evidently let the art students at the plasticine here. The X-30 has a new seductively rounded black case, surmounted by the same curvaceous cassette cover that graces the up-market 260. Its most obvious features are the fader knobs: half-round (reflecting the X-30's general curvy theme), but with coloured angled edges. The overall effect is attractive and workmanlike — colour-coding by section makes the X-30 feel more like a real mixing desk.

This is a four channel, two input machine, which allows the recording of two tracks at a time. Both inputs are switchable between mike and line level; input A busses left to tracks 1 and 3, while input B heads to the right, and tracks 2 and 4. The grey-coded 'Monmix' section has four vertical Gain sliders, and four horizontal pan sliders. In case you'd wondered how to mix down four tracks with only two faders, it's this section that does it. There is also bass and treble EQ for left and right channels, which works on both input and output The switching section includes a Tape/Mix/Line selector. This latter is important, as it gives the X-30 an immediate advantage over the similarly priced Porta 05 we received last month. On the 05, it was necessary to remove the jack from the input to allow you to hear what you'd just played. No such problem on the X-30.

Skulking round the back of the X-30 are such useful holes as Sync In, which bypasses EQ and noise reduction, Buss In (left and right), Line Out, and the four tape outputs. It's possible to use the tape outs and the buss inputs as effects send and return during mixdown.

The X-30 is very obviously a close relative of the old X-15. There are minimal differences in the specifications quoted by Fostex for both machines — the EQ is a little sharper on the X30, and the signal/noise and crosstalk figures are better. But the basic layout is the same. Noise reduction on the X-30 is both Dolby B and C, which means you get the advantages of Dolby C, without having to re-record all your old Dolby B tapes. I prefer Dolby C to the dbx used on the Tascam machines, but then I'm immune to tape hiss.


The less money you pay for your portastudio, the more complicated it is likely to be, as labour-saving devices are ditched to cut costs. The X-30 manages without four input channels and auxiliary sends, but it does have input/output switching. The Porta 05 we reviewed last month has four inputs and sends, but no switching. These two and the Vesta Fire MR10 are the competitors in the £300-£350 price range.

Being a habitual user of Tascam machines, I found the X-30 mildly confusing to start with. It's not as immediately logical as the Portas, but once I'd worked through the manual, I was very pleased with the results I got from the machine — good clean sound, nice bouncy bounces. All rather good.


Harman UK Ltd, (Contact Details).


INPUTS two mic/line + two buss
PITCH +/-15 per cent
POWER SOURCE 12V adaptor (supplied)
NOISE REDUCTION switchable Dolby B or C

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Maniac Sustainiac

Publisher: Making Music - Track Record Publishing Ltd, Nexus Media Ltd.

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Making Music - Nov 1987

News and Reviews

Gear in this article:

Cassette 4-Track > Fostex > X30

Gear Tags:

1⅞ ips (4.75cm/s)
4 Track

Review by Jon Lewin

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> Maniac Sustainiac

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