|Harman Kardon CDR 2 Dual Deck CD Recorder|
|Home Theater Audio Sources CD Players|
|Written by Kim Wilson|
|Friday, 01 September 2000|
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When recording vinyl LPs, the output of the phonograph to the preamp is obviously analog, though the recording could take place in either the digital or analog domain, depending on whether an analog or digital out from the preamp is feed into the CDR 2. This would, of course, require a preamp that can convert the analog signal to digital. Making volume level adjustments to match signal levels from multiple sources is only possible during analog recordings.
It took more personal involvement recording from the phonograph as the recorder couldn’t sync to the source, and manual track advancement was generally necessary. The CDR 2 specifies auto advancement on analog sources with a three-second gap. However, some gaps are less or there is no gap at all. (Remember those themed albums of the 70’s?) Still, it wasn’t bad duty. I could sit back and just hit the track advance button on the remote as I reminisced over some recordings I hadn’t heard in years. I also came to realize that I had saved some real crap (some are so badly recorded that they’re painful to listen to) and just threw those into the recycle pile.
The allowable space that the recorder recognizes between tracks varies with analog and digital signals. Analog signals have more allowances, as it takes a 10-second silence to stop the recording. In the manual track increment mode, it will not stop until you press the stop control or it runs out of room, whereas a three-second silence from any digital signal will automatically stop the recording process. Therefore, if there is a three-second pause in the music or between tracks, you have a problem.
Before a recorded disc can be played in the CDR 2’s play tray or any other CD player, it must be finalized, which adds all the table of contents data. Material can be added at any time prior to finalization. Once a CD-R is finalized, it is a done deal. CD-RWs, of course, can be erased and recorded over again at will. Unlike tapes, they don’t stretch or degrade (at least as quickly).
When erasing a CD-RW, you have to either wipe the entire disc or as many tracks as you want deleted, starting from the last track recorded. It sure would be nice to have the ability to erase any track, regardless of where it is on the disc. Maybe someday they’ll figure out a way to do that.
Due to the SCMS (Serial Copy Management System) circuitry that is a requirement on consumer-based CD-Recorders, a duplicate cannot be made of a copy that is digital. The CDR 2 will automatically switch to an analog deck-to-deck dub when it detects that the source is a digital copy. However, if you can make only one copy at a time, and you need multiple copies from a particular CD, there seems no logical reason why you shouldn’t make all copies from the original.
Another important difference between desktop burners and computer-based models is the CD blank media. The cheap disks that you buy in bulk for computer use are not recognized by consumer-based CD-Recorders. These "audio-only" discs are priced slightly higher, allowing for a royalty fee that is paid into a general fund by the disc manufacturer. The good news is the average disk costs about $2 these days, compared to the $9 it cost the last time I reviewed a desktop CD-Recorder.
The $699 price tag on the CDR 2 is at the upper end of this category, but the double tray with sequential play and high-speed dubbing capabilities justifies the added cost. It’s simple to integrate into an existing sound system and as easy to operate as any other recording device.
The wide popularity of computer CD-R burners has seriously overshadowed the consumer’s perception of stand-alone CD-R and CD-RW decks for audio systems. In fact, the notion is so foreign that a close friend kept asking me what kind of software I was using to convert the analog signal from my vinyl. It took three tries for me to explain and I think there still was some confusion.
With the cost of CD-Recorders and "audio-only" media dropping, the cassette deck as an archiving medium is officially dead in my book. (In all fairness, I buried the cassette tape format years ago.) Maybe this product category has to vie for attention with its computer counterpart, but in my experience, there is room for both a desktop unit such as the CDR 2 and a dedicated burner for the computer, even in the same household.