There is something satisfying about handling TASCAM’s CD-RW2000 Professional CD Rewritable Recorder: It is a surprisingly hefty 15 pounds and it is packed with operational features that will please radio stations, production houses, multimedia facilities and others.
Product PointsApplications: Studio, broadcast production, multimedia
Key Features: CD-R and CD-RW recording from analog, digital and optical inputs; GPI and wired remote control; digital buffer; digital fade control
Contact: TASCAM at 323-726-0303 Web Site
+ Data buffer and rehearse-before-record feature
+ Smooth digital fades and level adjustments
+ Ease of use
– No front panel disk search control (remote only)
The Score: A fine CD recorder packed with features at a modest price.
The CD-RW2000 ($1,125) comes ready to rackmount, its black transport and display subsection color-coordinated with a flat gray front panel. The bright orange dot-matrix alphanumeric display is easily read from all angles. Pushbutton commands are echoed briefly – pressing the Sync Record button displays the words Sync On or Sync Off for about two seconds.
Small annunciators in the display show the input source – whether a CD, CD-R or CD-RW disc has been inserted – and show the user a bar display for quickly selecting among the first 20 tracks for playback. Additional autotracking and cueing features are annunciated as well. A level meter bar, two inches long, displays left and right signals during recording, as well as playback levels. The unit also has a switchable sample rate converter to convert 44.1 kHz sampling rate audio to the CD standard sampling rate.
Five input/output spigots – analog unbalanced (RCA), analog balanced (XLR), IEC60958, S/PDIF (RCA), AES/EBU (XLR), and optical (TOSLink) – are selectable by the front panel Input Select button. In addition, an input for word sync is provided for shops that require all digital equipment to march to the same clock.
The rear panel presents a GPI-style remote control and transport tallies on a DB-15 connector. Conventional operations like Start, Stop, Rec, Track Increment and Fader Start-Stop are offered, as well as track skip. A +5 VDC at 50 mA supply pin is provided as tally voltage. Taking a control pin to ground for longer than 30 milliseconds triggers that function.
A nice addition for analog work is the attenuation trims on each analog XLR output, used for reducing the analog level output by up to 20 dB.
The front panel has familiar controls -Stop, Play, Pause, Record, Finalize, Erase, Analog Input Level and Display – that work in predictable ways. Pressing the Menu button skips through function setup selections, and a stepped multi dial knob scrolls through the options for that function.
The unfamiliar buttons provide clues to the CD-RW2000’s more sophisticated features: Pressing the RHSL button initiates a memory-buffer record, so you can load a few seconds of your intended source material and get an idea where the CD recording will begin. After the four-second memory buffer fills, the audio continues to loop until the user leaves Rehearsal mode. The Rehearsal function then offers the user frame-accurate control over where in the memory buffer the audio is dumped onto the CD Recordable medium.
Using the stepped multi-dial knob, you can trim that start point forward or backward by 125 frames (1.67 seconds). This is truly a great addition to CD recording; using the rehearsal and level threshold adjustments lets the user make changes to individual tracks when copying a misindexed DAT, for example.
A Sync Rec button engages the synchronization recording scheme. For all input sources, a sync recording begins when a menu-selected signal level threshold is exceeded. For optical and S/PDIF sources, the recording can also be programmed to begin – and subsequent track increments made – when a subcode ID is received, such as a from a DAT Start ID.
The Fader button initiates a fade in and fade out while recording. The durations are user-selectable from the menu, and range from 1 to 24 seconds.Within the CD-RW2000’s menu is a handy digital level control that adjusts the of the frequency converter’s output, in steps from -60 dB to +18 dB. Turning the multi-dial knob past -60 dB shuts off the digital signal entirely.
The wired remote control has more controls than the front panel; disc search, repeat playback, numeric track selection and playback mode (shuffle, normal, program) are a few of the additional operations available only on the remote control.
Several Auto menu items give the user additional control over playback operation. The Auto Ready feature parks the recorder in play pause at the end of a track, instead of letting the playback continue into the next track. Auto Cue forces the recorder to search for the first signal that exceeds the user-adjustable threshold.
Auto Track helps in recording material by incrementing the track number when the signal drops below the threshold for two seconds, and then exceeds the threshold. When configured to record from a medium that has subcode IDs, the CD-RW2000 is designed to prevent a track increment until it has received a subcode ID and/or there has been a fall and subsequent rise in the signal level. There are two modes available: subcode ID only or subcode ID plus signal level.
For my subjective tests, I connected the CD-RW2000 inputs to a 360 Systems’ Short/cut (PAR, 04/01, p. 64) balanced analog, AES/EBU and S/PDIF. The headphone feed in the CD-RW2000 sounded exceptionally clean, boding well for the rest of the tests. I made recordings on conventional CD-R media, although the recorder can use – and reuse – CD-RW discs as well.
In making analog recordings from the Short/cut, the sync mode worked well and the rehearsal feature gave much flexibility in selecting the starting point. More important, the rehearsal accurately represented the result when commencing the recording.
After ejecting the disc, the sync rehearsal will continue until you press the Stop button. This is the equivalent of the stingy engineer’s digital looper. It would be nice to add a way to quickly reset the offset value to zero; if you’re at either extreme end, you’ll have 125 multi-dial clicks to get to zero.
The recordings were clean and started exactly when they should have, indicating to me the beauty of including a memory buffer in the CD-RW2000. The AES/EBU source recordings were made correctly – realizing that the sync record was initiated by sensing the audio threshold. Setting the threshold ridiculously high, at -24 dB yielded predictable results: The audio was up-cut as it ramped from zero. The -72 dB threshold gave me some concern when making an analog-source recording: the sync recording works by arming itself for recording when it senses silence below the threshold for several seconds, and then begins recording when that signal reaches or exceeds the threshold.
A noisy analog source, in quiescence, might never get below the threshold to arm the recorder. Without being armed by silence, the recording will never start.
The TASCAM has a nice protective feature. Even if one sets the CD-RW2000 to sense subcode IDs, the recorder is smart enough to realize that there will not be IDs on the AES/EBU (and analog) input and the CD-RW2000 defaults to a threshold of -54 dB.
I appreciated the menu-settable digital volume control. Although this menu item is disabled when the converter is bypassed in Direct Digital mode, it is a valuable tool to correct source flaws, or, in one case, make a sweet fadeout while recording. Since the stepped multidial knob controls the level, one can precisely tick off a decibel at a time, making as smooth a fadeout on the recorder as on a good console. For analog sources, the user can choose to set the analog level controls, and then adjust the digital level control if needed.
For recording 32 kHz or 48 kHz audio, you must engage the SRC. In the Direct Digital dubbing mode, be careful not to try and record the non-44.1 kHz audio. The SRC does not work in this mode and no recording will be made.
I liked the one-button fades because they sounded smooth, and with a fadeout duration of 24 seconds, one can make a reasonable facsimile of “Steely Dan” fades.
One thing that annoyed me is that there is no way to search through a track by the front- panel controls (the remote control has disc search forward and backward). This is a real problem if the remote is lost.
Overall, TASCAM has produced a good CD Recorder in the CD-RW2000. It is packed with enough features and functionality for both basic and expert use.