Audio products are often exclusively “easy to use” or “loaded with features.” TASCAM’s new CD-RW402 dual-well CD recorder and duplicator successfully combines ease of operation with enough professional features and uses that, at a list price of $1,249, it becomes easy to justify having this versatile deck in your studio.
Product PointsApplications: Studio, post production, multimedia, broadcast.
Key Features: Independent professional-quality CD player/recorder/duplicator. SPDIF (RCA) and optical (TOSLINK) digital I/O. Balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) analog I/O. Hardwired remote control, plus control via standard PS/2 keyboard and 25-pin D-sub.
Contact: TASCAM at 323-726-0303, Web Site.
+ Advanced editing functions
+ Ease of use
+ Many play/record options and features
– No word clock I/O
The Score: The TASCAM CD-RW402 CD player, recorder and duplicator is a feature-rich yet easy to use studio essential.
The three rack-space CD-RW402 is designed provide facilities with the functionality of two independent professional-quality CD players, a real-time CD recorder and a CD-to-CD duplicator in one package.
On this type of unit, the most important details for professional use are often what inputs and outputs are provided, so we’ll start with the back panel. For Drive 1 (the playback deck), the CD-RW402 provides SPDIF outputs on coaxial (RCA) and optical (TOSLink) connectors, as well as balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) analog outputs.
For Drive 2 (record/playback deck), the unit provides SPDIF inputs and outputs on coaxial (RCA) and optical (TOSLink) connectors, as well as balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) analog inputs/outputs. An additional set of unbalanced (RCA) “common” outputs are provided for A/B (or Drive 1/Drive 2) piggyback/sequential playback.
In addition to a standard IEC A/C jack, the back panel also features a stereo 1/8-inch jack for the provided remote control, and a 25-pin D-sub female connector for external control. Most important deck functions are available via the D-sub control I/O, including dual-deck transport operation and tally information. Control pin-out specs and voltages are provided for use with suitably-equipped equipment, or for wiring by suitably-qualified do-it-yourselfers.
On the front panel is a 1/4-inch TRS jack and level knob for headphones; a three-position switch allows the user to monitor Drive 1, Common, or Drive 2 outputs. A PS/2 keyboard input is also found on the front panel for CD text and titling purposes. The keyboard can also be used to emulate most of the functions of the remote control, including transport and menu selection operations.
The CD-RW402 features dual displays – one for each drive – for level metering, track indication and menu operations. Each display can also show artist info, disc and track titles or other user data up to 12 characters in length, with scrolling for longer text.
Both drives on the CD-RW402 allow a wide range of advanced transport functions including “stutter” scrub, auto cue, auto ready, and call. Quick track selection is accomplished by turning either drive’s “Multi Dial” control.
Recording drive settings include digital gain adjustment, digital fade in/out, digital direct mode, record mute and several auto ID options. The player drive features a +/- 9.9% pitch control, and any desired pitch adjustments can be recorded to a destination CD-R/CD-RW.
A variety of advanced deck-to-deck copy and editing functions are also possible with the CD-RW402, including integrity verification and defeatable SCMS copy protection. Frame-accurate edit points can be located using the scrub function and marked using A-B locate points. Intra-song inclusive and exclusive edits can then be assembled onto a destination disc.
The CD-RW402 boasts so many other features that it has the distinction of being the first CD recorder I’ve reviewed that I needed to say, “I don’t have room to print all the features so check out the website.”
One of the obvious uses of the CD-RW402 is as a 1:1 duplicator. The deck is capable of duplicating both audio and most data CD formats at speeds of 1x to 4x. In a testament to the CD-RW402’s ease of use, literally within one minute of unpacking the unit from the shipping box, I was already burning a 1:1 CD copy at 4x speed.
During the review period, I continued to make many 1:1, 1:1 plus extra cuts, and “selected cuts” compilation discs without incident, coasters or the manual.
With help from the manual, I also explored the unit’s advanced editing capabilities. I found it was an easy and intuitive process to create a shorter edit of a song by marking A-B points and specifying to exclude that section when copying the track. It was equally simple to remove a drummer’s stick clicks at the intro of a song and his unwanted ba-da-dump at the end of a song by using the similar A-B inclusive edit mode.
To try out the unit’s sample rate and 24-bit A/D-D/A converters, I recorded a number of mixes from a Pro Tools system directly to the CD-RW402’s recorder drive using every combination of input format and sample rate I could come up with. In all cases, the deck functioned as expected, and sounded very good, even when resampling the incoming signal. Note: the unit’s internal sample conversion automatically turns on when an incoming digital signal’s sample rate deviates from 44.1 kHz by .02% or greater.
The only complaint I have about this unit, which otherwise batted 1000, is its lack of external clock I/O. For a machine of this caliber and versatility – and in a world of increasingly complex digital setups – it is an odd omission. Otherwise, the CD-RW402 met or exceeded all my CD-recorder demands, and its useful editing capabilities were a pleasant surprise.
TASCAM’s CD-RW402 is a powerful, yet easy-to-use player/recorder/duplicator that can easily do the work of several other CD devices found in the typical pro or project studio. With each of its drives providing about as much professional functionality as one can possibly imagine, and at a street price under $1,000, the CD-RW402 is a strong value.
Westlake 8.1 and Mackie HR824 studio monitors; Hafler H3000 power amplifiers; Digidesign Pro Tools workstation; Verbatim CD-R media; Zaolla Silverline analog and digital cables.