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DAR Sabre Hard Disk Workstation (part 1)

DAR introduce a lower cost digital editor using an optical disk rather than the more usual magnetic hard disk. David Mellor considers its potential...



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Equipping Your Home Recording Studio AR introduce a lower cost digital editor using an optical disk rather than the more usual magnetic hard disk. David Mellor considers its potential.

As technology continues along its never-ending quest for perfection, equipment tends to get faster, smaller and less expensive. We still don’t have a Rolls Royce that costs less than a grand, cruises at 200 mph and fits into a briefcase, but perhaps that’s not quite what potential customers are looking for at the moment. Potential customers of hard disk recording systems are, however, looking for all of these qualities. I might say that they are looking for increased reliability of recording and playback as well since in my experience hard disk systems generally have an annoying tendency to click and mute infrequently but more or less at random. Perhaps that’s because I tend to see systems soon after, or even before, their official release. Still, it doesn’t hurt to mention, where manufacturers will be reading, that reliability of playback is immensely important to users and that any manufacturer who can claim zero click/zero mute performance will be onto a real winner.

I think we can take it for granted that DAR, whose thrust is right at the top end of the hard disk market, will be striving hard for ZC/ZM (see above) certification, and in fact the new Sabre functioned perfectly in my brief trial. As a new device benefiting from recent advances in processor technology, Sabre is indeed a smaller, cheaper and - amazingly enough - faster version of the original SoundStation II. For its affordable price tag you get a 4U processing unit with one or two optical disk drives, two channels of input (analogue, AES/EBU or SPDIF), stylish control console, keyboard, mouse, monitor and one optical disk with some sample material on it. You’ll also find cables and a manual in the box. Perhaps the main difference between Sabre and SoundStation is that once you have bought this package, then that’s the limit of your investment. Other than some options for digital input and output and the choice of one or two drives, what you saw at the demonstration is exactly what you will get and there are few opportunities for expansion (see specification).

Obviously, Sabre is closely related to SoundStation. The main similarity is in the screen and the keys on the console. Quite a number of the keys are the same, if not entirely identical. The main difference is that SoundStation has an integrated touch screen and gas plasma display, and since it is a self contained unit DAR reckon it is a bit quicker to operate because instead of having to move the mouse then select, touching the screen is a single action. Also, SoundStation is a device with a large processing rack with hard disk storage upgradable from four to sixteen channels. You may choose a Sigma model with DSP, you can add up to sixteen hours had disk storage and an optical disk drive for archiving. Sabre however doesn’t have a hard disk option, so the maximum reel length is limited to 115 minutes single channel playback time if you have two optical drives installed. In addition, SoundStation has the WordFit option and Sabre doesn’t. Balancing the lack of upgrade opportunities, you will be pleased to hear that Sabre is about half the price of an eight channel SoundStation.

By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004