Akai DR8 Hard Disk Recorder

When industry powerhouse Akai released their DR4d 4-Track Digital Disk Recorder back in 1993, it raised more than a few eyebrows. After all, hard disk recording was still pretty high end stuff, but the DR4d carried a list price of just $1995, making it quite competitive with tape-based systems.

Now Akai has upped the ante in the digital multitrack sweepstakes again by releasing the DR8 Hard Disk Recorder. With a list price of just $4595, the DR8 is capable of true pro quality, 16-bit linear, 8-track simultaneous recording and playback. A one gigabyte hard disk allows up to 3 hours and 17 minutes of record time (24.625 minutes x 8 tracks at a 44.1 kHz sampling frequency).

The DR8 can have an optional hard disk installed (a hard drive is standard on the DR8HD), or you can connect it to any compatible external hard drive via its built-in SCSI port. It also conveniently sports a standard digital interface, allowing data recorded onto any hard disk to be backed up to any DAT machine with AES/EBU ins and outs.

Akai is even planning an upgrade that will allow you to record and play back with the DR8 connected to an external magneto-optical (MO) disk drive (4 track simultaneous record/8 track playback), as well as giving you the capability to operate up to seven DR8s without an expensive external synchronizer (an optional AL-X50 cable is required to sync each machine) giving you access to a whopping 56 tracks of squeaky-clean audio.

The Akai DR8 offers a wide range of powerful digital editing functions which is one of the primary advantages of working with hard disk-based systems. You can edit in ways that are just not possible via tape-based systems. For example, you don't need to fast forward or rewind since you have total random access to your recorded data. Just pick the spot you want to start at and you're there. You can copy/move/insert or erase phrases which extend across multiple tracks to quickly compile the best music from your best takes.

The DR8 also has a unique front panel accessed TAKE function that allows you to record up to five trial recordings, then select the best of the five takes to save. You also get AUTO PUNCH IN/PUNCH OUT and VARISPEED control for pitch adjustments.

Most importantly, all editing functions take place within the digital domain so there is absolutely no degradation of sound quality. A convenient UNDO function lets you go back one step in the event you make a mistake or just don't like what you hear. No more "Uh oh, I just lost the track!"

There's more: the DR8 has a programmable mixer which can mix 8 external inputs with the 8 internal tracks. The MIX mode allows you to set and record the level, pan, two f/x sends, buss ON/OFF for each channel, and can be used in auto mixdowns. Ping-pong recording can be performed on 6 disk tracks and 8 external signals on two channels via the buss.

The DR8's super convenient JOG/SHUTTLE control lets you search for and locate your edit points faster while listening to the playback. Nine Direct Locate points and 100 Stack points allow you to directly call up edit points. The unit even offers three sampling frequencies: 44.1, 48 and 32 kHz.

Of course, the DR8 features Akai's own high-density, 18-bit 64X oversampling A/D converters and advanced one-bit dual 20-bit D/A converters for absolutely superb sound quality. Add a word/clock video-sync terminal for digital sync, an optional ADAT interface and you've got yourself one heck of a multitrack. Plus, it's built like a tank for long term reliability.

Hard disk recording offers all sorts of advantages over tape based systems. But is it right for you? Well, that depends. Our advice (as always) is to discuss your needs with your Sweetwater sales engineer. He or she is ready to answer even your toughest questions (hey, they thrive on it!). You know the routine by now: pick up the phone and give us a call. We'll give you more information and your special pricing on the DR8 or help you choose the perfect digital multitrack for your specific applications.


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