by Dave Oliwa

How do you want to record today? Of course, the answer is: digitally. The next question is not quite as easy to answer. For 2-track recording alone we’ve got DAT, hard disks, floppy disks, MiniDiscs, CD-R (one-use recordable CDs), CD-RW (re-writable, recordable CDs), even digital cassettes, all available at a reasonable price (there are some not-so-reasonable options as well).

The “standard” is DAT. But, it is still tape-—subject to damage and waiting time for rewind. Hard disks offer huge amounts of recording time, but don’t share with others easily. Floppy disks (1.44MB floppies, Zip disks, Jaz disks, Syquest disks) can move around the building easily, but then there’s that standardization problem (not to mention the PC/Mac thing). CD-R has the advantage of being played anywhere (everyone’s got a CD player), but it’s a write-once media. CD-RW is a write-many media, but now we’re talkin’ a computer to run it. Digital cassettes are cute, but we need professional quality.

The MiniDisc (MD) format, however, is the little brother of the above-mentioned, not-so-reasonably priced option of the magneto-optical master disk recorder. It can hold the same amount of information as a CD (up to 74 stereo minutes/148 mono minutes), but it’s re-writable, has editing capabilities, and is smaller (storage space!).

When I wrote the review of the very first MD machine five years ago, I fell in love with the idea-—I bought the machine myself. Since then, we’ve seen MD machines manufactured by several companies, including versions of cart machine replacements [see RAP from August, 1994 and May, 1994], 4-track “studios-in-a-box” [see RAP from March, 1997], and pocket-sized recorders that deliver the news and pre-recorded remote segments back to the studio with incredible clarity.

Now, Denon has taken the idea to the max with the DN-M1050R professional 2-track MiniDisc recorder. Individual buttons for most of the deck’s functions almost totally eliminate scrolling through menus. A large, fluorescent display can be seen from across the room. A jog/shuttle wheel gives the feel of a DAT machine or CD player. Separate connectors for balanced (Canon) or unbalanced (RCA) analog inputs, as well as analog/digital input, are controlled by front panel switches. A parallel, remote control port (with tally-light outputs) works with simple closures. And, a common PS/2 computer keyboard can plug into the front panel, controlling almost everything.

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