The front panel of the dark gray product is dominated by an orange LED display that shows the current status of the unit, current menu settings, and stereo metering. The display is quite bright and easy to read.

To the left of the display are the Display and Menu buttons, as well as a Multi Jog knob. Pressing the Display button cycles through the usual options, like viewing time remaining versus current time. The Menu button steps through options including Fade-In and -Out time, Sync Level (for threshold recording), and others. The Multi Jog knob serves as a general data entry device, is used to select tracks, and to select from the various options in the menus.

Below the display are the transport buttons, as well as a large concentric Record Level knob. Along the bottom are buttons for Finalizing a CD-R, Erasing a CD-R/W, enabling Fade-In and Fade-Out, and enabling Sync Recording.

The Fade-In and -Out functions behave as one would expect. Fade-In changes the input level from silence to the maximum input level you’ve set, over a period of time chosen in the Fade-In menu. That time is set in increments of one second, from 1 second up to 24 seconds. Fade-Out works the same way, going from the current level to silence in between 1 and 24 seconds. Both the Fade-In time and Fade-Out time can be set independently.

Sync Recording is a version of threshold recording in which the actual recording begins when the audio reaches a threshold level. A built-in RAM buffer helps ensure that the very beginning of your recording is captured. You can set the Sync Recording level to start recording anywhere from -24 dB to -72 dB, in 6 dB increments.

Sync Recording works in concert with the A-Track menu option to determine if and how the CD-RW700 will divide tracks automatically during recording. The A-Track function determines how and where new tracks will be established on your CD.

So, if you have a long recording to transfer to CD with several different cuts, and you record in Sync Recording mode, here’s how it works. Assuming you’ve set the Sync Level such that recording begins at the onset of sound, and assuming you’re dubbing analog, then if A-Track is enabled the CD-RW700 will begin recording at that threshold point on track one. When the first song is finished, and assuming there is at least five seconds of silence that’s below the threshold, the CD-RW700 will pause recording, and will resume recording on track two when the sound comes up again past the threshold level.

If you’re recording from a CD without track numbers, the pause time is decreased to two seconds. If you’re dubbing a MiniDisc recording without IDs, then the CD-RW700 will pause immediately when audio falls below the threshold level, and will begin recording again when the threshold level is met. Got all that? Good, I thought not.

Basically if you record digitally from MD, CD, or DAT and your recording has valid track divisions (start IDs or whatnot), the CD-RW700 will respond properly to them. If you’re recording analog, then all bets are off, and you’ll have to deal with the unit’s various “rules for recording” on new tracks.

If you find all this a bit confusing, don’t worry... I’m confused as well, and I’ve had several weeks to play with the thing. Fortunately for you and I, there are lots of diagrams in the manual to explain this, and there is a Rehearsal mode that obviates most of the above foolishness.