Alesis Masterlink ML-9600As a recording project's final destination, the mastering recorder is a critical piece of gear. If you master in software, you have lots of choices. But many people would rather master to a removable-media device that is acceptable to CD repli-cators, such as DAT or CD-R. Unfortunately, CDs are restricted to 16-bit resolution - at least, they were until Alesis introduced the Masterlink ML-9600.
Masterlink is a standalone mastering device that combines a 2-channel hard disk recorder with an internal 4.3 GB hard drive, digital effects, and a built-in CD burner. The onboard DSP effects include a compressor, a peak limiter/normalizer, and a 3-band parametric EQ.
But what sets Masterlink apart is its ability to deliver 19 minutes of 24-bit, 96 kHz stereo audio on a regular CD-R blank in the Alesis CD24 format or 24-bit AIFF files in the ISO-9660 CD-ROM format. The latter lets any DAW with ISO-9660 CD-ROM capabilities read a Masterlink-created disc. You can't do that with any other CD burner.
This is the first stereo recorder in a long time that completely changes the way we master. It boasts high-quality sound, enough hard drive space for several CDs, all the essential mastering effects, and a straightforward user interface - all at a very reasonable price. Giving it an Editors' Choice award was a no-brainer.