Akai DR16 Hard Disk Multitrack Recorder (part 3)
Connection to your mixing console is exactly the same as any multitrack recorder would be, except that there are only half as many inputs as outputs. If you only have an eight bus console, or never record more than eight tracks at a time, then this wont make the slightest bit of difference. Connections are on balanced jacks rather than XLRs, which would probably take up too much room, or multipin connectors, some of which have a tendency to become unreliable after repeated use. Sensitivity switches will will optimise the levels for connection to pro or semi pro gear. Unfortunately, there isnt a remote control available at the moment, although one is promised for later this year, so the DR16 itself will have to be positioned conveniently close to the console, and angled appropriately. Otherwise you will find that operation isnt quite as easy as you would probably like it to be. Fortunately, Akai have either found a source of hard disk drives which are quieter than that fitted to the DR8 I reviewed last year, or they are using a resilient mounting of some kind. Some hard disk drives are very noisy in operation, but the one in the review model is very much better. I still wouldnt be entirely happy to record through a mic in the control room though.
Once your main connections to the DR16 and its location are sorted out, then youll be ready to start using it straight away. Theres no need to slot in a tape of course, just power up and you are ready to go. If you have provided your own hard disk then you will need to format it, which takes a short while, otherwise you have a minutes worth of single channel recording at your disposal for every five Megabytes of hard disk capacity. A one Gigabyte disk would therefore provide about twelve or so minutes of sixteen track recording, or more if not all the tracks are recorded for the entire duration of the material. Amazingly enough, all you have to do to start recording is arm the tracks and press record and play - a simple concept still largely unexplored by some computer based hard disk system designers. To arm tracks 9 to 16, and to edit them as well, you have to press the 9-16 button since there are only eight record ready buttons and lights. If you think about this a little you might start to worry that it could be possible to set one or more of tracks 1 to 8 to record ready, then press the 9-16 button and at some later time hit record and accidentally erase those tracks without being aware of it. It certainly is possible to do this, but if you always fill up the first eight tracks before switching over then it shouldnt happen to you. The DR16s instant copying facilities will allow you to group your tracks in any logical order at any time after recording, so I doubt if this would be a problem in practice. Theres always an undo button if the worst comes to the worst!