HHB's latest addition to its line of standalone burners is the CDR-830 BurnIt ($699). BurnIt records and plays both CD-Rs and CD-RWs and can add text to the disc for use in CD Text — compliant players.
Why Stand Alone?
A standalone burner is handy for quick and easy backup and archival purposes. Unlike a computer-based burner, a standalone unit works in real time only. Herein lies its strength: a standalone burner is as easy to use as a tape machine. Unlike computer-peripheral CD-R burners, BurnIt lets you finalize a disc when you're ready.
Right after a multitrack mixing session, for example, you can burn a reference CD of each mix to give to a bandmate or client. If the session isn't finished, remove the CD-R without finalizing it. When you're ready to mix again, pop the unfinalized disc into the recorder, and BurnIt will continue recording where it left off.
With CD-RWs, you can erase and record tracks as much as you need to before you finalize the disc. Once you have finalized it, you can choose to erase just the Table of Contents (TOC), erase all of the tracks, or completely reinitialize the disc.
You can only record audio using BurnIt, however. It cannot be used to back up computer files or to duplicate CD-ROMs. The recorder does let you set the Serial Copy Management System (SCMS) bit that controls the number of serial digital copies that can be made from your CD-R or CD-RW.
BurnIt's front panel is neat and simple, featuring traditional controls such as Record, Play, Fast Forward, Reverse, and Skip ID. The wireless remote control includes the full functionality of the front panel, so you can work from across the room if needed.
BurnIt has individual front-panel level controls for the analog and digital inputs. It is unusual for a digital recorder of BurnIt's price to have a digital level control; I used the feature to archive low-level digital recordings. The digital control gives you ±20 dB of gain.
With RCA jacks for analog I/O at — 10 dBV and optical and coaxial jacks for S/PDIF digital I/O, the back-panel layout has a semipro feel. The A/D/A converters sound great, and the unit automatically converts incoming digital signals between 32 and 48 kHz to 44.1 kHz.
BurnIt is great for backing up digital source material such as DATs, CDs, and MDs. In Sync-Final mode, BurnIt starts recording when the source deck begins playing, transfers the ID marks, and automatically finalizes the disc at the end. In Sync-All mode, the recorder pauses at the end of the recording and waits for you to begin the finalization process.
The ability to create CD Text discs also helps this unit stand out from others in its price range. BurnIt's memory can store text for three separate unfinalized CD-Rs. Each ID title can include 120 characters, with a maximum of 2,000 per disc; you can copy and paste as many as 40 characters. I found the text abilities of BurnIt important for archival purposes.
Quick and Painless
I created a number of demo compilations, from a variety of sources and formats, during the review. If I had made the demos using my computer and CD-R peripheral, it would've taken me much longer than it did with BurnIt. The Rec Mute button lets you add four seconds of silence between IDs, but you cannot specify exact timings, as you can with a dedicated CD-burning computer application. That's a trade-off you will have to accept for the convenience that BurnIt provides.
BurnIt tackled almost every task I threw at it. Only two CD-Rs failed during finalization; both were the result of using low-cost blank media. A couple of times, the excessive blank space on a DAT I was backing up in Sync-Final mode caused BurnIt to erroneously begin finalizing the disc before the end of the tape. To remedy such situations, add the IDs manually.
Priced well below $1,000, BurnIt is ideal for the personal studio. The blank media is cheaper than DAT tape, and the unit itself is less expensive than recorders with comparable sound.
If you're tired of the extra time it takes to use your computer to assemble a CD-R or CD-RW, you'll appreciate BurnIt's simplicity and quality. But be forewarned: using it is addictive.