What should I look for in a CD-Recorder?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Keith_R, Apr 6, 2002.

  1. Keith_R

    Keith_R Screenwriter

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    The topic says it all. A couple of questions about CD-Recorders as well. Do they all have 2 disc trays for straight recording directly off of a CD? Are they able to playback CDs as well as record them(are there any downsides to using them as dedicated CD players?)thanks.
     
  2. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Keith, in choosing a CD recorder, make sure that it has all the inputs you will need. Most, if not all of them have analog inputs and both coaxial and optical digital outputs. Just check the outputs on various models on your shortlist. In looking at dual-tray recorders, I would get a model that dubs at 4x. Many do now, but there may still be some out there that only dub at 2x (and, of course, 1x). Also, if it is important to you, look for a recorder with naming capability (disc, track, and artist names). Some recorders will only allow to you enter text via the remote or a jog dial on the front panel, but some have a PC keyboard input for convenience. However, a lot of recorders do not allow you to enter text at all.

    Not all CD recorders are dual-tray units, though many today are. An example of a single-disc unit that, of course, requires the use of an external CD player for recording is the Pioneer PDR-609. It sells for around $300 and is a well-regarded model. Obviously with a single-disc unit, you can't dub at high speeds. Dual-tray units are very convenient.

    In general, CD recorders don't serve as good CD players when compared to comparably priced dedicated players. That's not to say that they are all bad, but if CD replay is very important to you, I suggest you put most of your money towards a dedicated player and buy a cheaper recorder.

    If you are interested in a dual-tray recorder, consider the Harman/Kardon CDR 30. I bought one in February 2001 and have been very pleased with it. It makes perfect copies in that I have never made a coaster and copies sound just like the originals to my ears. It dubs at 4x speed, which is very convenient. I will sometimes dub a CD to a CD-R at 4x speed while I am getting ready for work for use in the car or office. It's great since I don't usually have much time in the morning.

    The CDR 30 got good reviews in various hi-fi magazines last year (Sound & Vision, What Hi*Fi? (UK), and Hi-Fi Choice (UK)) as both a player and recorder. In fact, What Hi*Fi? named it the top digital recorder in its price class last year. Although it is a solid CD player, I only use it as a recorder, as I have better dedicated players. Some features of the CDR 30 that you might find useful are HDCD and MP3 decoding and digital recording level adjustment. The CDR 30, however, does not allow you to add CD TEXT. Overall, I have been very pleased with the CDR 30. You should be able to get it for under $400 from OneCall (1-800-340-4770) or J&R Music World (1-800-221-8180). Both are authorized dealers.

    For a little less money, Harman/Kardon also makes the CDR 20, which is available at Circuit City, as well as OneCall and J&R. It is a similar machine to the CDR 30, but it lacks HDCD and MP3 decoding and digital recording level adjustment. It was not reviewed as well as the CDR 30 in the British magazines last year. In particular, I recall it not being well regarded as a player.

    Some other dual-tray recorders to look at include the Sony RCD-W1, NAD C 660, and Denon CDR-W1500. I've read good things about the NAD unit, though it is pricey (around $600, I believe). The Denon unit got average write-ups in the British magazines last year. As I recall, its copying capabilities were called into question (i.e., copies not sounding like the originals).

    I had a Philips dual-tray recorder a couple years ago and had all sorts of problems making copies. I made a lot of coasters with that unit. Maybe newer Philips models are better. You will find cheaper models at Best Buy and similar stores by Koss, TDK, and Classic. I don't know if those decks are any good, but I am skeptical.

    Hope this information helps you.
     
  3. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Keith, Matthew makes an excellent point about pro decks like his Marantz unit and models by Tascam bypassing SCMS (Serial Copy Management System). All the decks I listed are comsumer models and employ SCMS, so you cannot make copies from copies. You must dub off the store-bought CDs. If that is a problem for you, then look at pro decks. Tascam makes excellent pro decks. Also look at models by HHB. Www.samash.com has some pro recorders to choose from.
     
  4. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Keith- Also be aware that pro decks do cost more.

    But ... you can use *data* CD-R/RW blanks. For consumer model burners, you *have* to use music blanks which cost more. (But you can't use data blanks on SCMS enabled machines like consumer models. You can use either type on pro burners. No difference in the discs themselves.)

    As far as inputs and outputs, a lot of burners have them all: analog ins and outs, coax ins and outs, and optical ins and outs. Gives you maxiumum flexibility.

    Also, as far as the Pioneer PDR-609, this player/recorder was measured to have really low jitter for CD playback. On the order of 200 ps. Less than 1000 is OK, less than 500 is good, 200 or less is what you get out of the best CD players on the market at any price. Pioneer uses Burr Brown DACs which is where the low jitter comes from. The PDR-609 is one of the highest rated burners on audioreview.com.

    But if you want your cake and eat it too, the HHB burners have Pioneer internals, but are pro models that ignore SCMS.

    CD Text is a nice thing to have, but only the newer machines have it. (The Tascam CDRW-700 doesn't for example.)

    Another nice thing to have is a digital level adjustment for recording. But I think most recorders have this nowadays.
     
  5. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Kevin, good points all around. It is nice that pro decks allow you to use computer CD-Rs and CD-RWs. That plus the ability to bypass SCMS make pro decks worth considering, though as you said, they typically are more pricey than consumer decks.

    The Pioneer PDR-609 looks to be a great component for the money. The British magazines have raved about it as a recorder and player. In fact, What Hi*Fi? named it their digital recorder of the year last year. The previous '509 was also very well regarded.
     
  6. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    I was all set to get the PDR-609 (about 1/2 the price of the HHB 830), but SCMS would get me:

    I needed to copy all of my MDs over to CD-R. SCMS allows you one generation of digital copying. (From source to MD.) But not two. (From MD to CD-R.)
     
  7. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Kevin, given your needs, a consumer CD recorder would have been a waste of money. I use my Harman/Kardon CDR 30 consumer deck to dubs original CDs to CD-Rs, however. Still, the way I find a need for every toy, it is only a matter of time before I decide that I have to have a pro deck. I like the HHB decks because they are purple. [​IMG]
     
  8. Norm Strong

    Norm Strong Stunt Coordinator

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    Why don't you just buy a computer? They're cheaper than CD recorders, burn much faster and do all sorts of interesting stuff you'd be interested in. This seems especially to be the case when SCMS is a problem.

    I'm sure you have a reason for not using a computer, but I can't imagine what it might be.
     
  9. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Norm- I have a PC with a burner. I also got the pro burner because I *didn't* want to get a sound card for my PC (and string cables across my family room). I still needed a way to put my lps onto CD-R. Plus, I needed to copy all of my MDs over. Plus, I wanted a component to occupy the hole the MD deck left open in my rack. Hence... the pro burner.
    That's why I personally think, that CD-R burning on/with a PC is a better alternative than MD. Can't do WAV file editing on an MD deck like with a PC. But MD is good for other things.
    Plus, the HHB does have better CD playback than my DVD player. [​IMG]
     

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