The software package — which adds useful audio mastering features, as well as supports DVD-Audio disc authoring — is available at no charge to all registered DV-RA owners. Though its operation is fairly intuitive, there are several areas like file management, powering down, etc. So it is one of those boxes that actually requires the user to at least read part of the manual. In my typical fashion, I tried to get the box up and running without even glancing at the manual, but I quickly found myself having to refer to it to get off the ground.
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When recording an important or unrepeatable concert or performance, it is often a wise policy to record the mix to at least two separate machines — a main and a backup — just in case. In days of old, that might have meant two independent analogue tape recorders, and more recently it might have involved a computer-based system as the main recorder and a DAT or CD-R machine for the backup.
However, these last two formats are normally restricted to bit resolution and There is a growing number of flash-memory recorders that can now fulfil this role, but large-capacity Compact Flash cards are still far too expensive to employ as an archive format.
Think of it as a grown-up stand-alone CD-R recorder, but one that supports standard stereo digital PCM signals from bit, The maximum file size is limited to 2GB, which allows about 30 minutes of stereo for kHz PCM on a standard disc, increasing to just over an hour at 96kHz and two hours at 48kHz. Switching to the DSD format allows about 50 minutes of stereo per disc. The unit is a 2U rackmount machine looking much like any other professional optical disc recorder, with obvious transport buttons and a quintet of keys relating to the display menus.
However, something which is novel is a built-in effects processor that can be allocated to the recording or playback paths.
The processor provides a three-band equaliser with shelving top and bottom sections, and a fully parametric mid-section , followed by a configurable dynamics process that can be set up to operate as a single-band or a three-band device, with compression and expansion algorithms. The front panel looks fairly clean and simple, although the nature of the machine is such that its detailed operation involves quite a lot of inherent complication in terms of the setup and configuration.
Digital signals up to 96kHz can be connected using one double-speed or both double-wire AES sockets, but quad rates Three more BNC connectors take care of word-clock in, out, and thru, and there is also a USB connector to allow direct connection with a PC for downloading of the recorded data.
Two remote-control options are provided, the first via a supplied wired remote control unit which connects using a mini-jack plug, and the second via an RS serial port. Processing Facilities The onboard signal-processing features are set up using a dedicated menu screen which shows a graphical representation of the signal path. Starting at the left, the first section shows where the processing has been inserted in the play or record paths of the machine.
Next is the input level control — an attenuator intended to prevent overloads if EQ gain or upwards expansion are introduced. Finally, there is an output attenuator with the same parameters as the input attenuator. The first 10dB of attenuation is adjusted in 0. Soft keys under the overview menu screen described above provide direct access to the EQ and Dynamics submenus. The EQ is a simple three-band design with soft keys to select the required band and parameter, while the data wheel is used to change the selected value.
A graphical frequency-response chart illustrates the current EQ settings, along with an output-level bar-graph meter display, and the specific parameter values for the selected band are detailed on the left-hand side.
The dynamics window has a similar graphical arrangement, with the output meters on the right, a transfer graph or crossover graph in the centre, and selected parameter values on the left. Again, soft keys are used to navigate around, and the data wheel changes values. In the first screen, the user can select the mode compressor or expander, full-band or three-band and adjust the crossover frequencies in the case of a multi-band effect.
Accessing each band then shows the relevant transfer curve complete with an input-level bar-graph and a gain-reduction meter, in addition to the permanent output-level meter. On-screen controls are provided for the threshold, ratio, knee, gain, and attack and release times. My first experiments were to use the machine to record standard bit, Selecting the analogue inputs and setting levels was straightforward, as was starting recording for each new track. Track increments can be performed manually or automatically — the latter based on an adjustable threshold level or a PQ flag when recording from suitable digital sources.
Finalising the disc was also simple enough and quite quick. From a practical point of view, editing and processing DSD files is restricted to a small number of high-end professional workstations, so most of us will probably find it easier to stick to the high-resolution PCM formats.
These can be read by any computer, even if the computer may not be able to play it directly. The only exception to this approach is that bit, Basic editing functions are provided, with the ability to divide or join files. Files can then be sequenced in the required order by building a playlist — crude and fiddly, but probably useful in an emergency. For the highest possible quality, top-flight external converters can be hooked up easily using the AES or SDIF3 interfaces, enabling the machine to serve as a pure data recorder.
At present, I back up and archive high-resolution material on the increasingly antiquated MO disc format using my Genex multitrack recorder, but the days of this media must be limited.
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