Akai DR16 Hard Disk Multitrack Recorder (part 1)
I don’t think any recording musician can complain of lack of choice when it comes to picking a new multitrack recorder. Assuming that you have decided that analogue is old fashioned and not worth considering (a good point for debate perhaps?), then you can choose among a small but growing number of Alesis ADAT compatible machines, Tascam or Sony Hi-8 digital eight tracks, Fostex, Roland and Vestax hard disk multitrackers and of course the Akai DR4d and DR8. If none of these take your fancy, then you could even consider a computer based multitrack recorder such as Digidesign Session, Pro Tools Project, OSC Deck, one of the MIDI sequencer 'audio’ softwares... the list could go on. Two distinct advantages tape based systems have had over hard disk systems until now are the quantity of tracks available, and quantity of inputs and outputs. The purchase of two ADATs to give sixteen tracks is an affordable option for many, if not for the masses. Similarly affordable hard disk systems however have found it difficult to get beyond the eight track barrier, and most of those who use the power of a personal computer to achieve more tracks will only have access to the computer’s stereo inputs and outputs, which is a severe limitation.
But now we can include the Akai DR16 on our multitrack short list. It provides sixteen tracks of hard disk recording at a value-for-money price. What’s more it has sixteen individual outputs, so mixing can be achieved in the analogue domain using the console of your choice. Inputs are only eight in number, but you can record from any input onto any track and the only limitation in this is that you can’t record more than eight signals at once, which isn’t a factor for many styles of recording. The DR16 is in fact amazingly similar to the DR8 in appearance and operation. If you turn to your library of SOS back issues you will find it very hard to spot the difference between the two in the photographs. There is only one button with a different label and function, and of course metering for all sixteen tracks. And if you already know how to operate a DR8, then you will understand the DR16 in about five minutes. If you read this in conjunction with the DR8 review, then be assured that the DR16 is everything the DR8 ever was, and more.