|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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Harman Kardon’s CDR 2 is a true dubbing deck, with a play-only and a separate record/play CD tray, allowing direct dubbing from the play deck to the recording deck. Matching the new sleek and modern styling of Harman Kardon’s new line of electronics, the $699 CDR 2 stands out in a crowd with its brushed aluminum disc trays and buttons.
The CDR 2 essentially offers two separate players in a single chassis, with outputs for each deck. Both line level and digital (coax and optical) inputs are provided for the CD-R/CD-RW recording deck. Each tray plays CDs, providing sequential play when both trays are full (known as the single mode). In the dual mode, the decks can play simultaneously for multiroom applications.
Entering this product line on the late side, Harman Kardon has made up for lost ground with a feature popularized by the computer industry. Offering 2x and 4x speed recording when dubbing from a digital source, the CDR 2 has the capability of recording a 74-minute CD in about 20 minutes.
I gave the CDR 2 a real workout during its evaluation. For years, I’ve wanted to archive some of the vinyl I kept around, either because the recordings weren’t available on CD or there was only a song or two on each I even cared about.
I thought that I was going to finally get around to this task when I got the latest version of Toast, the most popular CD-burning software for Macintosh, with provisions for converting analog sources. Yeah, it was doable, but what a pain, hooking up a preamp and turntable to the computer. Then the converted files have to be saved to the hard drive before they are recorded to the blank CD. It took me three days just to get a single compilation CD utilizing this procedure.
In case you had any illusions about archiving older formats to CD, take my word for it: a desktop CD recorder that is designed to specifically interface with an audio system is absolutely the only way to handle this daunting project.
Making a complete dub of a CD doesn’t get much simpler. It’s a one-button operation and the unit will even indicate prior to the recording if there is insufficient space on the blank disc. When recording from an external digital source, the CD Sync button allows the recording section of the CDR 2 to sync with the external source. In both instances, the tracks are automatically added. Alternatively, track numbering can be manually entered during the course of a recording, something I found quite useful when making dubs from vinyl.
Recording an entire CD is simple enough: put the disc you want to record into the play deck, stick a blank disc into the record deck, choose the speed and hit record. Go have a sandwich, make a couple of phone calls and when you get back, you have a duplicate of the original.
There are some limitations to the high-speed dubbing feature. You can record a program list at high speed by "telling" the play disc to play tracks 3, 4, 6 and 9, then have the record deck record at high speed. You may, however, record one track at a time in high-speed mode. Select a track on the source disc, then press the speed button and continue as though doing a full-disc dub. If you want to record a programmed list or an external source (digital or analog), it defaults to 1x speed.
Does the faster speed affect performance the way that it does with analog high-speed dubbing? You bet it does, particularly with regard to resolution. I’ve been evaluating the effects of high-speed dubbing onto CD-Rs for some time and I can hear traces of distortion at higher volume levels on the copy. Moreover, at high speeds, the blank disc is often less tolerant of any digital errors, which usually causes the recording to just stop when the error occurs. For the compilations I like to make for my car trips, I don’t mind the less than superior resolution, since the high-speed dubbing makes the recording process much faster.
If you want a perfect bit-for-bit recording, you must go with 1x speed. Higher bit-rate CD recorders are touted as making better bit for bit recordings but I feel that the 1x speed copies from the CDR 2 are excellent and anyone would be hard-pressed to pick out the original from the duplicate.