by Jerry Vigil

They're here! Compact disk recorders are now available as affordable, stand-alone units, as easy to use as a DAT recorder! This month's Test Drive takes a look at the CDR600 from Marantz. This generation of CD recorders uses a recordable CD that is NOT erasable. The CDs are simply called Recordable Compact Disks. They're also referred to, more informally, as "One Writes." Whatever you call them, you can only record to them once, and once they're full, that's it.

Features of the CDR600 include what is called "Red/Orange book compatibility" which means that CDs recorded on the CDR600 will play back on any home, car, or portable CD player (not to mention any professional CD player your station uses). You also get balanced XLR ins and outs, SPDIF and optical digital inputs and outputs, high oversampling rates, and no SCMS, allowing you to make an infinite number of digital copies of your CD.

The rack mounts shown in the photo are removable. In a rack, the unit occupies three spaces. All connections are on the rear panel with the exception of a headphone jack on the front panel. As mentioned, there are balanced analog ins and outs and digital ins and outs. You also get unbalanced ins and outs (RCA phono plugs). A switch on the rear panel turns the digital outputs on and off. Another switch selects between the optical and SPDIF inputs. Also on the back panel are the RC-5 Remote input and output plugs which are used for, among other things, connecting the recorder to a CD player with a CD Record/Sync function. There are two more inputs on the rear panel. They are Micro Left/Mono and Micro Right. These are standard ¼-inch microphone inputs that can be used with one mike (in the Left/Mono jack) for mono recording on both channels, or with two mikes for stereo recording. An Input Select switch is used to choose between the three sets of analog inputs. Last but not least on the rear panel is the AC power connection.

On the front panel, we find some very familiar controls and some not so familiar. In addition to the controls shown in the photo, there are twenty-one buttons under the lower panel of the unit. You get the usual Power On/Off button which has a little more importance on this CD recorder because the manual states that turning the power off during recording will damage the recordable CD. At a list price of $40 for each recordable CD, we didn't bother to find out just how turning the power off during recording would ruin the CD. Below the Power On/Off button are the headphone jack and level control. On the far right is a large Record Level control with a Balance control directly below it.

Many of the large buttons below the display are the same buttons you would find on any good CD player. Going from left to right, the Time button, during playback, switches the display mode from Elapsed Track Time, to Remaining Track Time, to Total Remaining Time of the CD. When recording, the Time button alternates the display between Elapsed Track Time and Remaining Time on the CD for recording.

The Shuffle button functions identically to the Random button found on many CD players. When pressed, all cuts on the CD will be played in a random order. The Repeat button is used to playback the entire CD or a single track continuously. If you just want to repeat a segment of a track, the A>B button is used to mark the start point (with one press) and the end point (with a second press). The unit then goes into the A>B Repeat mode. This can be used to create small loops, but the loop is not seamless.