HHB CDR830 BurnIt

Apr 1, 2001 12:00 PM, CANDACE HORGAN

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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 to have CD burning capability. And, while computer-based systems have their advantages, I prefer the quality and ease of a stand-alone for most burning. Not having to load the master into the computer every time I want to burn something is a definite plus.

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

NUTS AND BOLTS

In creating the 830, HHB eliminated some of the unnecessary inputs on the 850 to create an ideal unit for the project studio market. Gone is the AES input; this makes sense, as AES doesn't transmit CD subcode data. Gone too are the XLR inputs/outputs. The 830 does have both coaxial and optical S/PDIF inputs and outputs and RCA analog I/Os. The unit includes a full-function remote control, offering one-touch access to many of its features. The Automatic Fader and Next Track functions can only be used from the remote.

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

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

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

IN USE

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

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

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

HHB Communication USA, 1410 Centinela Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90025; 310/319-1111; fax: 310/319-1311; www.hhbusa.com.


Candace Horgan is a freelance writer based in the Denver area.






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