Technology

HHB CDR830 BurnIt

Just five years ago, CD burners were too expensive for the smaller studio. But today, with the advent of computer-based CD-R drives, nearly everyone seems 4/01/2001 8:00 AM Eastern

Just five years ago, CD burners were too expensive for thesmaller studio. But today, with the advent of computer-based CD-Rdrives, nearly everyone seems to have CD burning capability. And,while computer-based systems have their advantages, I prefer thequality and ease of a stand-alone for most burning. Not having toload the master into the computer every time I want to burnsomething is a definite plus.

HHB's new CDR830 BurnIt is not only the company's mostaffordable unit, but it also offers several advantages for straightdigital burning over its counterparts, HHB's 850 and 850 Plus.

NUTS AND BOLTS

In creating the 830, HHB eliminated some of the unnecessaryinputs on the 850 to create an ideal unit for the project studiomarket. Gone is the AES input; this makes sense, as AES doesn'ttransmit CD subcode data. Gone too are the XLR inputs/outputs. The830 does have both coaxial and optical S/PDIF inputs and outputsand RCA analog I/Os. The unit includes a full-function remotecontrol, offering one-touch access to many of its features. TheAutomatic Fader and Next Track functions can only be used from theremote.

Standard 830 features shared by other HHB burners include: anautomatic adjustable fade in/fade out, SCMS-free recording (thoughyou can set the SCMS status of the CD you are recording), built-insample rate conversion (for recording from 48kHz DATs) and theability to set the volume level at which start IDs trigger. Threerecording sync modes are offered: 1-track, All Track and AllFinalize, depending on how many tracks you want to record from yoursource. For some reason, in All Finalize mode, the 830 takes almostfour minutes to “fix” the mastered CD. If you just hitFinalize when you are done, then it takes only two minutes.

Several new bells and whistles on the unit make it stand out atthis price point. Sonically, the 830 excels with its 24-bit AD/DAconverters. The 24-bit Delta Sigma D/A converter has a beautiful,warm, balanced sound, clear in the highs with excellent stereoseparation. The 24-bit A/D converter, while not of the quality ofan Apogee or Benchmark, does a good job when mastering from ananalog source.

Unless I needed a CD-R with wordclock sync, I would choose the830 over HHB's 850 and 850 Plus because of the unit's digitalvolume control. This feature allows you to boost/cut the volume ofa digital signal either prior to mastering or while mastering, andit also provides left and right balance control for evening thelevels on an imperfectly mastered tape. The 830 also lets userscreate CD text on master CDs. With this feature, you can store thedisc name, artist name and track names on the CD. When played on aplayer that supports it, the information will read out on thescreen. The text feature lets you choose between upper- andlowercase letters, numbers and several characters.

IN USE

I burned several CDs from my live DAT recordings, sending thesignal from a Fostex D-5 DAT via the optical input, and I alsoburned CD copies using the coaxial input, taking a digital feedfrom a Nakamichi MB-10 CD changer. The 830 worked like a champ.

The digital volume control was easy to use and a real blessingfor fine-tuning adjustments. While the remote can operate thedigital volume control, I preferred to use the knob on the front ofthe unit, turning it to boost/cut levels as needed. While recordinga Utah Phillips show, I was able to quickly cut the spikes fromcrowd noise and applause by dropping levels -6 dB, then raising thelevels back up to standard input during the music. Afterdeliberately recording another show at low volume, I boosted thelevels up +5 dB on the CD, as I mastered it with almost no audibledeterioration. Using the remote control to create a fade in and outat the start and end of the CD was a snap.

The CDR830 BurnIt is ideally suited for use in the recordingstudio or broadcast environment. The sound quality is superb, andthe unit has the usual HHB reliability. In summary, this is anexcellent CD burner at a $795 price that's hard to beat.

HHB Communication USA, 1410 Centinela Ave., Los Angeles, CA90025; 310/319-1111; fax: 310/319-1311; www.hhbusa.com.


Candace Horgan is a freelance writer based in the Denverarea.