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Akai DR16 Hard Disk Multitrack Recorder (part 2)

The DR16 is a replacement for a digital or analogue multitrack recorder in the studio. It isn’t as versatile at editing as some of the computer based hard disk recording systems, but that isn’t really its function.

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Multitrack replacement

The DR16 is a replacement for a digital or analogue multitrack recorder in the studio. It isn’t as versatile at editing as some of the computer based hard disk recording systems, but that isn’t really its function. Where a system like Pro Tools almost invites you to record in a non-sequential way and build up a project from building block elements, rearranging to taste as you go along, the DR16 is best viewed as a very slick and fast multitrack recorder with extra editing capabilities. An interesting comparison is with analogue multitrack. It isn’t as widely known as it could be that in professional twenty-four track analogue studios it is very common to cut and edit the two inch tape (which even in the ADAT age is still considered standard at the top end of the music recording business). This would be done either to join the best parts of two or more takes, or if it was found during the recording process that a song would benefit from restructuring, and the producer doesn’t want to start all over from scratch or wait until after the song is mixed to do the editing. In either of these situations, no-one really starts out with the intention of editing, but it is done as and when necessary. You can do this with modular digital multitracks, but it isn’t by any means an intuitive procedure, and you need more than one unit with the appropriate editing controller. With the Akai DR16, editing a multitrack recording is really easy. If you wanted to repeat a section, all you would do is mark the start and end times, select all the tracks you want to copy, locate to the point where you want to insert the section, and press the button. Likewise, to copy only certain tracks, say to use the backing vocals of one chorus several times, is a quick and simple procedure. But you do need to view the song as a whole thing that you are snipping chunks out of, rather than as an assembly of building blocks as you would with a computer hard disk editing system or an ‘audio’ sequencer. This is an important point to understand. Akai are offering a fast multitrack recorder with editing facilities in a self contained unit. It won’t do all the tricks that some computer based systems will, but the computer systems will find it hard to compete with the DR16’s combination of speed, price, ease of use, and the ability to slot easily into a pro environment.

By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004
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