CD Recorders: Can you help me choose one?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Wayne A. Pflughaupt, Jan 5, 2003.

  1. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Hello everyone,

    Since my 3-head cassette deck sees virtually no use anymore, I’ve been wanting to move up to a CD recorder. I’ve been seeing them pretty cheap on e-Bay, which is good – I don’t expect so use it a lot, so I don’t want to pay a lot. The main thing I want to do with it is get CD copies of some LP’s.

    Problem is, I don’t know anything about CD recorders. So any recommendations you guys (and gals) have to offer are greatly appreciated – must-have features, models to avoid, etc.

    I’m primarily considering Pioneer, since they seem to be the major player and their recorders are cheap and plentiful – PDR-505, -509, -555, -609, etc. Of course, I’ll consider other makes/models, depending on what you guys tell me. As noted, I’m shopping used, so recommendations don’t have to be current models.

    Thanks in advance!

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  2. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Wayne, Pioneer CD recorders have generally gotten great reviews over the years. The British magazines loved the PDR-509 and '609. The '609 is the newest model of the ones you mentioned, but I don't think it is made anymore. Frankly, I'm not sure if Pioneer offers any CD recorders any longer. In any event, be careful if you buy a used component.
    Something to note is that the Pioneer '509 and '609 are single-tray CD recorders, meaning that you must connect an external CD player for recording and, therefore, must record in real time. If recording from CDs is at all a consideration for you, you ought to consider the purchase of a dual-tray unit. As with dual-well cassette decks, dual-tray CD recorders allow you to dub internally at high speed. Most current dual-tray units allow you dub at 1x, 2x, or 4x. Some, however, only allow dubbing at 1x or 2x. Many reviews of dual-tray units state that dubbing at higher speeds leads to compromises in sound quality. I have not found that to be the case with my Harman/Kardon CDR 30 dual-tray unit.
    I've been using the H/K CDR 30 for nearly two years and have been extremely pleased with it. As you can gather from the previous paragraph, I have found that high-speed dubs sound just like the original CDs. Also, I have never made a "coaster" (i.e., a CD-R or CD-RW with errors) with the CDR 30. The CDR 30 is no longer in production, but H/K now offers the CDR 26. The CDR 26 is similar to the CDR 30. For more on the CDR 26, go to www.harmankardon.com and www.crutchfield.com .
    You might be able to get a refurbished CDR 30 through harman.com with a one-year warranty. Consider that route. In addition to being a great recorder, the CDR 30 offers HDCD and MP3 decoding. It also provides digital record level adjustment, which allows you to match levels of recorded tracks from various sources in the digital domain. This is analogous to recording level adjustments made on cassette decks, except that these are of course done in the analog domain. I do not believe the current CDR 26 offers HDCD or MP3 decoding or digital record level adjustment.
     
  3. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    I'll put in a 2nd vote for Pioneer CD recorders. (The 609 is actually kind of legendary for its jitter results. I believe it was tested in Stereohile a long time ago. Check out its reviews on audioreview.com.)
    But I went a slightly different route: HHB. They make pro recorders (no SCMS, oops not SCSI, and can use cheaper computer blanks), *and*, the internals are Pioneer based. [​IMG]
    Just like anything though, if you go with a name brand, I don't think you can lose.
     
  4. Doug Pyle

    Doug Pyle Second Unit

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    I own and love the Tascam CD-RW 700. It was recommended to me by other HTF members when I was looking for a high-quality CD recorder to record from analog sources. Maybe this one is above the price & quality range you are looking for, though? Like you intend to do, I use it primarily to record & preserve my LP collection. Can also record from microphone and from my Roland A-90 keyboard controller. The Tascam has a great Analog-to-Digital converter and it is a pro model (i.e. no SCMS) so LPs sound great when converted to the CD audio format, and you can use the cheaper computer blank disks.

    The Tascam includes helpful features to prepare your recording session, including "rehearsal" so you can find analog peaks before recording (important to prevent distortion and wasting CD-Rs). I bought mine online at Oade Bros. and you can go to Tascam's web site to get more details on features.
     
  5. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    Thanks everyone for the replies.

    Keith,

    According to their web site, Pioneer currently offers only a combination recorder/3-disc changer. No single-tray recorders anymore.

    Thanks for all the interesting points to consider. A single tray recorder won’t be a problem for me, neither will the lack of 2x or faster recording speeds. Most of the recording I’ll be doing will be real-time from old analog sources – tapes or record albums. For the rare CD-to-CD copy, I have a changer for a source component, not to mention a DVD player.

    Doug,

    Yes, the Tascam sounds like a sweet machine – I’ve checked into it before. Probably more than I need, though. If I was a “serious” CD recordist, I would definitely give it serious consideration!

    Kevin,

    I checked out the reviews at Audioreviews.com – they are pretty amazing indeed, almost a perfect record. After reading them and doing some other research, I think I’ve settled on either the PDR-509 or 609. The record level controls for both digital and analog looks like a really cool feature (the 505 and 555 don’t have both). Best of all, either can be readily had on e-Bay for under $150. Hard to pass at those prices. I usually don’t go for the lower end, but for what I intend to use it for, and expected limited use at that, it’s hard to justify spending any more. Some of the reviewers said they had burned hundreds of CDs with no problem, so it should work fine for me.

    Again, thanks to all who responded. I knew I could count on some good advice from the friendly folks here!

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  6. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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    Wayne,

    Just a note of caution on the 509. I own it (its been a couple years, I guess), and have had decent results, but it does seem to be sensitive to the media you feed it. There were a bunch of threads on that unit, but I don't know if they are still here. There was actually at least one guy who had nothing but grief with his.

    Anyway, when I took it out of the box, I burned a CD, and it was perfect. Yippee, said me. Then I burned #2, and when I cued it up, there was all sorts of audible distortion. WFT? Its data, how can there be distortion? That happened repeatedly. I jumped through hoops trying to see if I was doing something wrong (different cables, double check the settings, different power connection...).

    So, to cut to the chase, I spoke to Pioneer, and their tech asked if I by chance was using Memorex media? Why yes, I am. He said that, of all the complaints that they get on these players, the common thread was Memorex media.

    So, I dutifully went down to Best Buy, and bought a box of TDK. Problem solved.....for a while.

    Just recently, I noticed that I on occasion would get what I would call a "skip" on some new CD's that I burned. Its repeatable on the CD, so its obviously something burned, or NOT burned onto the disc. Not sure what the deal is. Not the problem originally noted, but annoying just the same.

    I had not used it for a while, so I thought perhaps there was a shelf life issue with the media, perhaps? Or perhaps not. FTR, these were a different batch of TDKs.

    Anyway, I live in a dusty climate, so I actually took the cover off, and used some compressed air to clean the area around the laser. I have since burned a few more discs without incident.

    So, I don'y know that any of that is helpful, but I thought I would share with you my experience with the 509.

    BL
     
  7. DaveGTP

    DaveGTP Cinematographer

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    From a PC perspective, I had a lot of trouble with a finicky Acer 4x burner. I found that it did not like cheaper CD-R brands. I got skips and crackling. Ironically, I was using Memorex CD-Rs, like Brian was. I also found that some of the cheaper CD-Rs seemed to scratch a lot easier... I hunted all over the internet for information on CD-Rs...which ones lasted longest, burned reliably, etc. I think that this link is very useful: http://www.cdmediaworld.com/hardware..._quality.shtml
    It has details on which factories make which CD-Rs, simulated aging tests, etc. After reading this I hunted for one of the "quality" brands that could be found for reasonable pricing (Sony CD-Rs are pricey). I settled on Imation, which I have been using for about a year. I picked up a 100pk spindle for like $3 after a rebate.
    I have since switched to a newer 52x burner, but I still find the Imations much more reliable and durable than the Memorex, or the other no-name branded ones I had before.
    I think I learned my lesson about cheap CD-Rs. Perhaps the Pioneer units are similiar.
     
  8. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    I don't really like to bash stuff [​IMG], but Memorex CD-R's, CD-RW's are sort of universally recognized as crap.
    I've personally had problems with their CD-RWs, and there have been many messages lately on the DAT-Heads mailing list about them.
    Taiyo Yuden's (spelling?) and Fuji seem to get the highest, consistent marks. I've also had good luck with TDK, but ymmv...
     
  9. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Wayne,

    No problem. Glad to help. A single-tray recorder will work fine for you, but as you may have found out already, they are becoming hard to find. A number of professional decks are single-tray units, but most consumer units these days are dual-tray models.


    All,

    I have been using Memorex computer CD-Rs to copy CDs and have never had any problems.
     
  10. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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