Test Drive: SADiE RADiA from Studio Audio & Video Ltd.

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CD BURNING AND MORE

One of the best features of RADiA is its ability to burn CDs, from within the SADiE application, on a SCSI CD-R. SADiE has long been popular as a music mastering workstation, and the RADiA shows these roots. Once your project is complete, just select Bounce to reorder your EDL and fool around with PQ subcodes to your heart’s content. Most of us will be happy to skip all that and just burn an audio CD without leaving the SADiE software program.

But CDs are not the only option for handing off your finished work. You can bounce your project back to the hard disk in any one of several file formats, including AIFF, WAV, BWF (Broadcast Wave Format), and Cart Chunk. The latter is especially exciting, since many station automation systems like Enco and Scott Systems can accept audio in the Cart Chunk format directly via a network, and some will even insert Cart Chunk-formatted spots into a station’s Master Playlist automatically.

The SADiE software also seems to get along well with Internet Explorer and Outlook also residing on the system. So you can edit your audio and send it off via CD, network, or the Internet, all from within the RADiA system.

THE MASTER CONTROL PANEL

One of the attractions of the RADiA is its tightly integrated Master Control Panel, which for me separates the RADiA from the rest of the software-only editors available for radio. The Master Control Panel is not large at about 12 by 9 inches, but it provides nice lighted hardware buttons for nearly every important function, and a smooth jog wheel that is a pleasure to use. There’s also a single moving fader, which can be used to automate mixing, albeit one mixer channel at a time. At the top are two large, green LED counters that indicate the source running time and the current position in the EDL.

The button array includes transport buttons and editing buttons like cut, copy, and paste. It also includes buttons for trim and crossfade functions. A Window button steps through the various windows onscreen, so tapping it a few times will de-select the Playlist window and take you to the Mixer window. Buttons labeled Previous and Next let you step sequentially through audio segments for editing, or through mixer channels for making adjustments there.

The jog wheel’s function is controlled by the Scrub button, which switches it between jog mode, shuttle mode, and cursor mode (which just moves the Now Line onscreen without playing sound). The jog wheel also performs data entry in some cases — with the Zoom button pressed, the jog wheel causes the waveform display to zoom in and out. That’s handy.

The single 100mm moving fader is accompanied by buttons for selecting and muting a mix channel, and while it’s not as nice as having a whole surface of moving faders, it does feel smooth and definitely does the job.

Editing on the RADiA with the Master Control Panel is really slick. The quality of the audio scrubbing is superb, and the system responds to the buttons and wheel instantly. Most editing operations are dead easy. For example, to cut a word in Region Edit mode, you jog to the beginning, hit the In button, jog to the end, hit the Out button, and hit Cut. It’s done and done instantly, and the edit has been crossfaded to eliminate any thumps. The Master Control Panel lets you perform that edit much faster than you could do with a mouse.

Having said that, the button layout leaves something to be desired. While the transport buttons are grouped in the lower left corner and that’s fine, some of the vital navigation buttons are scattered about in the upper right and center sections. It took me awhile to figure out where the Window button was without searching for it. The entire button layout could use a re-think. Perhaps if they were laid out at angles around the wheel instead of in a rectangular grid they’d be easier to sort out. Nevertheless, with practice I found that I became significantly faster on the Panel.

WHADDYA REALLY THINK?

First things first: I really enjoyed using the RADiA. There’s no question that RADiA will do everything you need done, as it’s a complete and competent workstation. The Master Control Panel is a joy, and makes the system fun to use. I have just begun to get quick on it, but now I’ve had to stop playing around and write the freakin’ review! The audio quality is excellent, and I love the fact that you can burn a CD or ship tracks over the Internet without having to futz around with the computer.

RADiA does have a significant learning curve, and you’ll need the manual nearby as you learn your way around it. I’m glad that the 200-some page manual is in a 3-ring binder so it can sit flat while I consult it.

But the software updates won’t cost you a dime for as long as you own the machine, and SADiE’s Nashville-based tech support folks are available pretty much 24/7/365. If you connect RADiA to the Internet, they can even walk you through your troubles remotely. Once you’re up to speed on it, I suspect you’ll enjoy it as much as I have. This is another one I’d rather not send back.

The SADiE RADiA system starts at a suggested list price of $4495 US. For more information in the US contact SADiE, Inc., at 2218 Metro Center Blvd., Nashville, TN 37228 or call (615) 327-1140. For more information worldwide, visit www.sadie.com.

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