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5-12] What's the story with stand-alone audio CD recorders?


This article is from the CD-Recordable FAQ, by Andy McFadden (fadden@fadden.com) with numerous contributions by others.

5-12] What's the story with stand-alone audio CD recorders?


Audio CD-R/CD-RW recorders are similar to computer CD-Rs, except that
they're intended to be part of a recording system rather than attached to a
Mac or PC. They have audio inputs and front-panel controls like you'd find
on a tape deck. They are usually more expensive than CD-Rs meant for
computers. Some CD-Rs have both audio and SCSI-II interfaces.

There are two classes of audio CD-R, consumer and professional. The units
targeted at consumers require special audio blanks, and employ SCMS (Serial
Copy Management System, section (2-25)) to prevent making copies from a
copy. The audio blanks used to be 4x to 5x the cost of computer CD-R
blanks and only held 60 minutes of audio, but 74-minute "Consumer Audio"
blanks are now available for moderately more than regular CD-R blanks.

The "professional" units use regular CD-R blanks and don't obey SCMS, and
generally have a wider set of features and input/output connectors.

If you already have a computer, it's probably cheaper to buy a computer
CD-R and a good sound card or digital transfer card (see sections (3-12)
and (3-13) for more info). The ability to edit the sound on a computer
before writing a CD can be very useful. However, there are some advantages
to using an audio CD-R (not all features are present on all models):

- much easier to configure the hardware, and no software to learn
- the A/D converter is probably better than most PC sound cards
- automatic DAT start_id to CD index mark conversion
- sample rate conversion for 32K - 48K DATs
- analog inputs
- pause button
- buffer underruns are unlikely

Of course, if you're recording the music "live", it has to happen at 1x,
and any skips or pauses in the audio input will show up on the duplicate.
Depending on your situation, this may not be a problem.

You can't copy data CD-ROMs with an audio-only recorder.

(Incidentally, the difference in price for the audio CD-R blanks is due
to licensing agreements and volume. The manufacturer pays a royalty to
a studio consortium under the assumption that everything recorded to an
audio CD-R is pirated material. The technology is identical; the "audio"
discs just have a mark that says a royalty has been paid. See also
section (7-17).)

It is theoretically possible to convince a "consumer" audio CD recorder to
accept regular blanks, but in practice this requires modifying the hardware.
Some dealers will sell modified units, with altered firmware or additional
circuitry, for a higher price (and perhaps a separate warranty). With the
Philips 870/880 units manufactured prior to November 1998, it's possible
to trick the recorder by manually ejecting and replacing the disc right
before recording. Some of the "code free DVD" sites also sell CD-R chips,
e.g. http://www.dvdupgrades.ch/. See also section (7-18).

(And now for some increasingly outdated examples...)

Examples of "consumer" audio CD-R units are the Pioneer PDR-04 and
PDR-05 (http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/).

Marantz makes professional-grade CD-R units, e.g. the CDR615 and CDR620.

Philips sells the CDR870 and CDR880 (based on the CDD3600), which support
both CD-R and CD-RW media. http://www.acdr.philips.com/products.htm.
If you're interested in the Philips CDR765, a consumer-grade dual CD deck,
see a detailed article at http://www.gallagher.com/music/cdr.htm and some
notes at http://members.tripod.com/~charleswolff/cdr765.html.

HHB sells a "professional" unit, the CDR880. http://www.hhb.co.uk/.

There are many other models and vendors -- Denon, Harmon Kardon, others.
Shop around.


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