Akai DR8 Hard Disk Recorder (part 8)
Mixing and EQ
The DR8 incorporates a digital mixer which can take an additional eight channels on top of what you have already recorded. An optional card, which I didn't have for test, provides EQ as well. Although the digital mixer is fairly easy to use and offers snapshot automation, I can't say that I am all that interested in a mixer that can't do fades, and this one can't. Having said that, the mixer would be useful for monitoring if the DR8 was being used as a standalone recorder, as mentioned in the main text, perhaps on location. The mixer can also be used for internal bounce down from, say, six tracks to two. Two auxiliary sends are available and could be used to add reverb or other effects. If some of this comment sounds negative, don't let it put you off the DR8 because it has so much to offer in every other department.
With the optional IB-802T SMPTE reader/generator installed, the DR8 can synchronise to timecode and operate as a slave or code only master. ('Code only master' is where transport commands are not issued to slave machines so a tape recorder or VCR would take some time to catch up). All timecode types are available including drop frame at both 29.97 and 30 frames per second. I synchronised the DR8 as a slave to a Fostex RD-8 ADAT machine and synch, although not phase accurate, was excellent with a very fast response. In 1995 I would have liked to see a VITC reader so that the DR8 could lock to a video in still frame mode, but perhaps I'm just being greedy.
With the optional IB-803M MIDI interface installed, the DR8 will synchronise to MTC (MIDI Time Code) and will respond to MMC (MIDI Machine Control) commands. It is also possible in Song mode to create a tempo map and have the DR8 output a MIDI clock signal and song position pointers (probably for people who haven't discovered MTC yet!).
A Small Problem
There is no relationship between the time on the display and the position of the audio on the disk. You can start recording at 23:00:00:00 quite happily if you wish. If you record a number of songs on the same disk, which is very easy to do with the relative/absolute time feature, you might record audio anywhere between 00:00:00:00 and 23:59:59:29 - in a notional twenty-four hour period in other words. What happens if you forget the start time? How do you find the audio on the disk? There is no answer as yet, except to make sure that you use the locate facilities while recording, which will remember the start time for you, or get a notebook.