The PLAYLIST key accesses the Instant Replay's ability to sequence selected presets or Hot Keys. Simply press PLAYLIST. The PLAYLIST key lights up to let you know you're in the Playlist mode. Then, press the Hot Keys in the order you want them to play. When done, press PLAY, and the sequence begins. You have the option to play the playlist in Manual Step mode or Follow-on mode. In Manual Step mode, when PLAY is pressed, the first preset in the list plays, then the unit stops. When it stops, it shows information about the next preset in the playlist and that Hot Key begins flashing. Pressing PLAY plays the next preset and so on. In the Follow-on mode, the presets play one after the other without stopping until the last preset has played. Modifying playlists is a breeze. To add an element to the middle, use the UP/DOWN SCROLL keys to scroll through the playlist. At the point where you want to add a preset, simply press that preset's Hot Key. To delete a preset from the playlist, scroll to it, then press the CANCEL key. Digital systems don't get much simpler.

The LOOP key illuminates when pressed and repeats playback of a single preset or an entire playlist. This is not seamless looping, but the function could have some use for unique applications. I had an occasion to make ten dubs of a spot. I recorded the spot, complete with slate to the Instant Replay, then used the Loop function to perform the shuttling.

The ASSIGN PRESET key is used to assign sound files to Hot Keys. The Instant Replay will hold up to one thousand audio files, limited in length only by the amount of disk space available. Of these thousand files, up to five hundred can be assigned to Hot Keys (ten banks of fifty). As with everything else on the Instant Replay, assigning files to Hot Keys is simple and intuitive. First, select the bank you wish to use. Then, scroll through the audio files to find the one you want to assign. When it's shown on the display, simply press the ASSIGN PRESET key then press the Hot Key where you want the sound file stored. Press the ASSIGN PRESET key when done. That's it!

Likewise, recording on the Instant Replay is as simple as it gets. When files are recorded, they are assigned an index number (from 0 to 999), starting with the lowest available number. Press the RECORD key. The display offers the option to accept the default index number or scroll for another available number. When ready, press PLAY. Recording begins immediately unless the system has been configured to start recording when audio is sensed at the inputs. Since there is no editing of the front of the audio file available (or any editing for that matter), it is certainly best to use the trigger mode to record. This way, files will begin playback immediately when the PLAY key or Hot Key is pressed. The trigger threshold can be set to anywhere from -6dB to -60dB. When through recording, quickly press STOP to end the recording. (If you wait too long to hit STOP, silence will be recorded at the end of the file which will be undesirable when in Loop mode or Follow-on Playlist mode. This also wastes disk space.) After STOP is pressed, you get the option to accept the default name or rename the file. Once the file is named, press ENTER and the file is stored on the disk.

As mentioned, up to one thousand sound files can be stored on the Instant Replay, but only five hundred can be assigned to Hot Keys at one time. However, the other five hundred can be played back, even though they're not assigned to Hot Keys. This is done by scrolling through the files in the display until the desired cut is shown. Once it's in the display, pressing PLAY will start playback. (Cuts assigned to Hot Keys can also be played back this way.) Of course, once you get even fifty sound files on the drive, scrolling through them one at a time to find a particular cut is a big waste of time. That's where the FIND key comes in. Press FIND to locate a file by name or index number. You can look at your printout of all files on the drive to find the index number, or you can enter the full name of the file or even the first letter or first few letters. Press ENTER and your file is instantly ready to play. If there are several files beginning with the letter or letters entered, the UP/DOWN SCROLL keys can be used to scroll through each of them. The FIND function is quick, easy, and a must when looking for sounds not assigned to Hot Keys. It's also handy when looking for sounds that are assigned to Hot Keys, when you can't remember which bank they're in! The last function key on the top panel tour is the MENU key. This accesses several setup and operational functions. There are several sub-menus under this key. The Record Setup menu is where the trigger threshold mentioned earlier is set. Record time limits can be set. The Record Overwrite option enables recording over existing files when set to On. The Record/Erase Lockout option prevents any recording or erasing of files when set to On.

Under the Operations sub-menu of the MENU key are functions to erase files, move files from one index number to another, adjust the output level of individual sound files (variable from -90db to +6db), change the name of a bank, and change the name of an individual sound file.

Under the Configuration sub-menu, the time display can be set to show time elapsed or time remaining when cuts are playing. The directory of files can be sorted by name or by index number. Menu instructions can be displayed in Spanish. This is where the digital output is selected (either AES/EBU or IEC-958 Type II). The output sample rate is 48kHz. The input is also selected from this sub-menu. Select from analog input, AES/EBU, D-NET AES, and IEC-958 Type II. Finally, the Instant Replay's GPI Input can be enabled which allows triggering the PLAY button remotely. This is a feature available only on newer models.

Printer output is controlled from a MENU key sub-menu. Options are printing a list of sounds assigned to the current bank, all sounds on the drive, or an overlay as mentioned earlier. Other sub-menu functions include Playlist Protection On/Off, Playlist Erasing, Preset Protect On/Off, Preset Clear, and more. A Bank Assign function assigns a range of sound files to a bank all at once. Fast!