Akai DR16 Hard Disk Multitrack Recorder (part 5)
As I said earlier, the DR16 doesnt use the building block style of editing that you would find in a computer based hard disk recording system, or with some of the more upmarket standalone hard disk recorders. Segment based editing can very useful, and almost vital for spotting sound effects to picture, but it isnt the only way of working. One thing the DR16 doesnt have is an LCD display of any kind. All you get are flashing LEDs, timecode displays and level metering. And from this seemingly sparse information you can do virtually everything you could possibly need in the natural course of multitrack recording. You cant pitch shift or timestretch a dodgy note of the vocal, but the DR16 is so easy to use that you are more likely to encourage the singer to have just one more try. Getting the recording right is infinitely preferable to fixing up a bad performance later.
When it does come to editing, the DR16 has a very good range of functions. You can mark out the start and end of a section and Copy it with up to ninety-nine repeats to any other track at any point in time, overwriting the material on the destination track. Alternatively you can make a space in the destination track by shunting subsequent audio further down the line if you wish. If you didnt want to retain the audio in its original position, then the Move function works in a similar way. You can create a section of silence into a track using the Insert function, Erase a section leaving it blank, or Delete it and close up the gap. Slip moves the section you have marked forward or backward to the edit point. Slip Track moves the entire track forward or backward to the edit point. Any of these operations can be performed on a single track, or a number of tracks simultaneously. The essential thing to note is that with the DR16 you decide what you want to do, you do it, undo it if necessary and try again, but once it is right you just get on with the next thing. With some systems it is very tempting to keep every option open absolutely as long as possible until the last moment before mixdown, and beyond, creating not only vast quantities of data but a continuing air of uncertainty over every element of the project, as though there was nothing you could say you were really sure about. The DR16 encourages positive decision making, and when it comes to the mix your recording will be perfect because all the decisions you made were carefully thought out at the appropriate time, rather than put off until some mythical later. And if there really was an option that you wanted to keep open, you could just make a copy of the segment and leave it in abeyance somewhere on the disk until you were able to make up your mind.
Finding and marking the start and end of segments is done with the assistance of a jog/shuttle wheel. Believe it or not, audio editing can be done without a waveform display, and the DR16 gives you the appropriate tools. I remember complaining about the DR8 that the jog shuttle wheel wasnt as precise as I would have liked, and the DR16 is the same. But there are To, From, Over and In to Out buttons which allow you to check your edit points very quickly from just about every angle, so you would never be in any doubt whether you were in the right place.