Yamaha CDR-HD1000 CD Recorder 
Home Theater Audio Sources CD Players
Written by Brian Kahn   
Monday, 01 April 2002

Yamaha’s new CD recorder, the CDR-HD1000 ($999), combines a CD player/recorder with a 20 GB hard drive. The hard drive is designed to enable fast copying, editing and creation of compilations. The 20 GB drive can hold approximately 30 CDs’ worth of music with no compression. That’s right, this unit, unlike the majority of CD recorder/hard drive combination units on the market, maintains the audio quality of the original source by eliminating the use of compression. In addition to using the internal CD drive as a source, it is possible to use external digital sources via the optical or coaxial inputs. The Yamaha can accept digital signals sampled at 96 kHz, 46 kHz, 44.1 kHz or 32 kHz, allowing for a wide variety of source media to be used. The Yamaha also has analog inputs and 24 bit A/D converters for analog sources. Essentially, any source can be used and the user can convert original recordings on miscellaneous media types to CD. This is a nice feature for those who have favorite recordings on formats that are no longer popular and whose playback devices are becoming scarce.

Yamaha holds this unit out primarily as a high-speed, high-quality digital recording system. For those on a tight budget, this unit can do double duty as your CD player as well as a digital jukebox.

The CDR-HD1000 is compatible with CD-R’s, CD-RW’s and CD Text discs. The discs must be those specified for consumer or music use, as the blank media for professional or computer use will not work as a recording medium. The CDR-HD1000 is compliant with the Serial Copy Management System (SCMS), which allows only one generation of copies to be made. The CDR-HD1000 uses a process called Digital Move to ensure compliance with SCMS regulations. The Digital Move process allows the user to create a "disc" on the internal hard drive, then move rather than copy it onto a CD, deleting the information from the hard drive as it does so. The CDR-HD1000 has three copy modes: analog, digital and auto digital/analog. The automatic mode will begin in digital and then automatically switch to analog when a SCMS-protected track is encountered.

I placed the CDR-HD1000 in my two-channel system. Hooking the unit up was fairly straightforward. Connecting the analog outputs to any available line level input on your preamp is all that is really necessary. I also connected the coaxial output of my Theta Data Basic transport to the coaxial input of the Yamaha, and the Yamaha’s coaxial output to my Perpetual Technologies DSP/DAC (the P-3 /P-1 combination). This setup allowed me to use the internal CD drive or the Theta as a source and also let me use the Yamaha either as a CD player or CD transport.

I began by making simple copies of entire CDs for use in my car. I placed U2’s The Joshua Tree (Island Records) in the unit’s internal CD drive and pressed the "Copy" button three times. The Yamaha began the copying process. The 10x speed drive transferred all the data to the internal hard drive in just a few minutes. When the album had been copied to the internal hard drive, the display read "Change Discs!" I then removed the original disc and inserted a blank CD-R and closed the drawer. Upon closing the drawer with the blank CD-R inside, the Yamaha automatically performs what it calls Optimum Power Calibration, or OPC. This process takes about 15 seconds and is used to properly adjust the recording laser strength. The data is then moved, rather than copied from the hard drive to the blank CD-R. This occurs at 8x speed with CD-R’s and 4x speed with CD-RW’s.

The front panel display is well designed, easy to understand and provides the user with all the necessary status information, including recording progress. The lower portion of the display is a multi-color status bar with "HDD" on one side and "CDR" on another. While transferring data from the CDR to the HDD, the CDR side of the bar will light up first and then fade out as the HDD side lights up, and vice versa. This enables the user to see the direction of data flow from across the room.

I then made a copy of Jimmy Buffett’s Songs You Know By Heart (MCA Records), this time using the Theta transport as my source. This was a bit more complex than using the Yamaha’s internal CD drive, but not much. The process begins by selecting the recording source, in this case the coaxial input. I then selected a virtual disc number on the hard drive to record to and finally I designated the recording mode. As the source disc in the Theta was an original and therefore there were no SCMS complications, I used the digital mode. This process is much slower than using the internal drive as the Theta transport plays the disc at normal speed. After transferring the information onto the hard drive, I placed another blank CD-R in the Yamaha, pressed the "Copy" button twice and then selected the virtual disc number I wanted to copy (the same one I had just created). The Yamaha then began its high-speed burn of the CD-R using the "digital move" process.

Using either the internal CD drive or an external source, the Yamaha’s internal hard drive can store approximately thirty CDs' worth of information. The tracks can be organized by album or custom playlists. The Yamaha can then either be used as a jukebox or recording compilations from these playlists.

I found the copies made on the Yamaha to be practically identical to the source discs. This held true regardless of whether the source disc was played in the external Theta transport or read from the Yamaha’s internal drive. If the source data is on CD, I would recommend using the Yamaha’s internal drive, as it saves time seemingly without any negative repercussions to sound quality. I found the discs made on the Yamaha performed flawlessly in all of my CD players, as well as in my CD-R-compatible DVD players.

The first copied disc I listened to was "The Joshua Tree." Bono’s vocals and the spaciousness of the soundstage, especially on "Where The Streets Have No Name," were identical to that of the original disc. This impression was further confirmed when listening to Jimmy Buffett’s "Son of a Son of a Sailor." The Yamaha-produced disc was identical to the original in all aspects, the voices, the guitar, the imaging, were indistinguishable from the original.

The Yamaha can also be used as a stand-alone music source, or even a DAC for other digital sources. I carefully listened to the Yamaha in my reference music system. In this system, I connected the Yamaha CDR-HD1000 to a Krell 300il integrated amplifier driving B&W’s CM4 speakers. As a CD player, the Yamaha is comparable to an inexpensive CD player, and was inferior to my reference Theta/Perpetual Technologies transport/DAC combination. While this comparison may be somewhat unfair, as the Theta/Perpetual Technologies combination costs several times as much as the Yamaha and does not have the recording features of the Yamaha, it was the only other CD playback device I had in my music system at the time.

The Yamaha, as a CD player sounds slightly metallic and thin. Despite the 24-bit DACs, the sound was not as detailed and smooth as the Theta - Perpetual Technologies setup. On "Where The Streets Have No Name", I also noticed that the soundstage was slightly compressed when played back on the CDR-HD1000.

If the CDR-HD1000 is primarily to be used as a CD recorder rather than player, the playback quality should not be an issue. If you intend to use the Yamaha primarily as a CD player, you may want to explore using an outboard DAC, which will eliminate all of my concerns with regard to sound quality.

The full-feature set of the CDR-HD1000 makes its use somewhat complex. The CDR-HD1000 is very flexible and capable of doing a great number of things, so it takes a bit of exploration to learn how to take advantage of all that the unit can do. While Yamaha has done a great job with the display, and a fair job with the user manual, it may take some users a few tries before they can create compilations with ease. It can get a bit confusing and hard to keep track of what songs are where on the hard drive when creating your compilations, so I would recommend keeping a pad of paper handy for quick reference. Lastly, the remote is decent, but not great. The remote has a number of small buttons and can be difficult to use by touch alone.

I highly recommend this unit for music lovers as a CD recorder. Unlike many of the other CD recorders on the market, the Yamaha CDR-HD1000 makes perfect quality copies, without violating the SCMS. The sound quality of original CDs, and in this case the copied CDs, is much superior to those CDs created on computers from MP3 or WAV files.

If you are willing to take some time and play with the features this unit provides, you will find the CDR-HD1000 to be very flexible in its capabilities. I was pleased to be able to easily make compilation CDs that equaled the originals in quality. The CDR-HD1000 is also perfect for consolidating your music collection from numerous formats all to CD. As long as one is willing to spend a little bit of time learning how to use the unit, and it is not intended to be your reference CD player, the Yamaha CDR-HD1000 should excel as both a music jukebox and high quality CD recorder.
Manufacturer Yamaha
Model CDR-HD1000 CD Recorder
Reviewer Brian Kahn

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