Test Drive: Denon DN-M1050R Professional MiniDisc Recorder

Presets, presets, presets

There is nothing like having options. In the case of the DN-M1050R, presets are the name of the game. Three sets of presets can be stored. Here’s a list:

Set the operating mode of the deck after a track has played in single-play mode. Options are stop, standby mode at the next track, and standby mode at the original start of play.

Audio detection (cue to actual audio at track start) on/off. Settings for the level of detection are also made here, in seven steps, from -72dB to -36dB.

Another setting sets the audio detection and levels for writing track numbers automatically. This feature may also be disabled, as well as enabling automatic increments from the subcodes sent from CDs or ID numbers on DATs during digital transfer.

As mentioned above, pre-writing the TOC must be turned on. There is also an option to turn on automatic writing of the TOC after an EDIT. This may be of use to some, but once the TOC is written, there are no UNDO functions. Feeling confident? Turn it on.

The LEVEL START button is set in presets, allowing the recording process to begin at the detection of audio. Once again, the numbers range from -72dB to -36dB. There is also a novel Record Offset option, with the unit placing between 1 and 5 seconds (in 1 second increments) of silence before the detection of audio. Why this option is available eludes me, but what the hey.

The deck is set for Stereo/Mono here as well. The left channel is the mono input.

SCMS (Serial Copy Management System) can be copied or not copied from the source disk in dubbing situations.

If you’ll remember, we discussed the PITCH commands being stored on the disk. A preset allows you to turn the recognition of this feature on and off. If set to off, the stored PITCH will display, but the function will not kick in.

SLEEP mode will turn off the servos after 30 minutes in PAUSE, STANDBY, or manual SEARCH mode, unless you turn them off in presets.

Although disabled when shipped, you can enable the display of the DATE.

Three PROGRAMMED PLAY contents are stored in presets. Each may also be turned off.

END MONITOR may be disabled, and the time it plays can be set from 5 to 35 seconds in 5 second increments. The EOM is also set with the same time parameters. An END CUE (normally occurring at the end of a track) may be moved up 1, 2, or 3 seconds.

STANDBY/CUE’s return to the PLAY start position may be changed to STANDBY at the beginning of the next track.

PLAYLOCK inhibits all operations other than PLAY/PAUSE, TIME, and PLAY/MODE. Factory defaults leave this feature off. There is also a preset for disabling the entire front panel, with the exception of presets.

For connections to other controllers, a serial port with RS232C and RS422A may be adjusted in presets. Port speed is selectable at 9,600 or 19,200 baud. A preset for fader starts determines whether or not the unit will PAUSE when the fader is turned off.

If, for some reason, you would like the left/right channels to be combined into a mono signal at the output, that too is available.

I may buy this one too

We’ve come a long way with digital sound quality in the last few years, and this deck is no different. Using the ATRAC 4.0 compression scheme (Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding), 16-bit A/Ds and 18-bit D/As, the sonic quality is four stars. Even older disks, recorded on earlier machines, play their best on this one. THD is .02% or less in recording, .012% or less in play. S/N is 84dB minimum in recording, 92dB minimum in play. Channel separation is a whopping 80dB record, 86dB play. Response is 20-20KHz +/- 1 dB. Three rack units high, the DN-M1050R sports AES/EBU active balanced digital ins and outs on XLRs and SPDIF or IEC958 Type II digital ins and outs on RCA jacks.

With the addition of an optional card from Denon, the unit turns into a sample-rate converter, allowing inputs and outputs of 32 and 48 kHz in addition to the standard 44.1 kHz (recording always takes place on the disk itself at 44.1). Another card, full of RAM, loads up to 20 tracks for a “Hot Start” option, turning the deck into a powerful morning show or newsroom device, perfect for instant call editing and on-demand playback of drops, phone bits, and sound bites.

Denon’s DN-M1050R lists for $1999, but you know the score on that. Make your best deal with your favorite equipment supplier, and you’ll be happy with this feature-packed box. 

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