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DAR Sabre Hard Disk Workstation (part 5)

Of the buttons on Sabre’s hardware controller, Parameter is perhaps the least self explanatory. I would describe it as the place where DAR put their ‘add-on’ functions. Sabre has these ‘parameter’ functions...



Of the buttons on Sabre’s hardware controller, Parameter is perhaps the least self explanatory. I would describe it as the place where DAR put their ‘add-on’ functions. Sabre has these ‘parameter’ functions:

Repeat Count is a quick way of making loops of an individual segment. If you select it and turn the vernier control, you see on the screen the segment getting longer, corresponding to how many repeats you have. Every click of the control is one more increment and you can take it all the way up to twenty-four hours if you want.

TimeWarp is a time compression expansion algorithm that offers compression of up to 0.5 or expansion of up to 1.5 times the original duration. It’s slightly material dependent as they all seem to be but DAR claim that this one gives you very good quality in mono or stereo.

The Waveform Editor allows the operator to zoom in to sample level and displays the cut points of each segment so that he or she can see exactly the boundaries on which cuts are made or look for details in the waveform. In general DAR find that people edit by ear much more quickly than by waveform, apart from removing clicks.

Reel Slice allows a project which runs longer than can be contained on a single optical disk to be broken down and parts copied to other disks. Then on SoundStation the reels can be merged back together. The project reels are cut into sub reels by enabling channels and setting timecode in and out points. Sabre will create a sub reel with just those channels between those two timecodes that can then be used elsewhere.

Dirty disks?

Do you work with optical disks? If so, take one out and carefully slide back the metal cover. Hold the disk to the light and what do you see? You should see a shiny plastic surface pretty much like a compact disc but with segments marked out. What you may see is a horrible layer of sticky dirt which will make you wonder how you were managing to get any audio on or off the disk at all. For all their advantages, certain types of optical disk do attract dirt amazingly quickly. Perhaps the high rotational speed builds up a static charge, and ventilation systems which draw dust laden air across the surface of the disk don’t help. If you haven’t seen this for yourself you might think I am either exaggerating or that people who suffer from this should arrange for more frequent dusting and vacuum cleaning of the studio. But I’m not exaggerating and I don’t think the latter ought to be of relevance to properly designed equipment.

DAR however don’t use the most commonly seen optical disk drive. Theirs has a shutter which closes once the disk is inserted, and apparently the air flow is not directly across the disk’s surface. This ought to make dust less of a problem.


  • Analogue I/O: Standard; 2 channels in, 8 out
  • Digital I/O: Standard; 2 channels in, 2 out, AES/EBU and SPDIF
  • Recording media: 5.25” double sided magneto optical disk. One drive standard, second drive optional.
  • Disk capacity (both sides): 116 track minutes at 44.1kHz, 16 bits
  • Sampling frequencies: 32kHz, 44.1kHz, 48kHz
  • Frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz ±0.25dB (44.1kHz and 48kHz, analogue input)
  • Dynamic range: More than 92dB
  • Varispeed range: .25x to 4x
  • TimeWarp range: 50% to 150%
  • Machine control: Two standard RS-422 serial ports (Sony protocol) for full master or slave control
  • Monitor: Standard; 14” colour, 1024 x 768 non-interlaced. Dark grey version optional extra.
  • Options: VTR emulation, autoconform, Exabyte backup, DAR Optical FX Library
  • External sync: SMPTE/EBU timecode (24, 25, 29.97 drop/non drop, 30fps), Video (25, 29.97. 30fps PAL and NTSC), digital wordclock (32, 44.1, 48kHz)
  • Pointing device: Mouse. Supports other devices.
  • Print facility: Parallel printer output standard. Optional dubbing chart printing software available.
By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004