Test Drive: Harris XD-001 R-DAT Digital Cassette Recorder

by Jerry Vigil

R-DAT: Digital Audio Tape recorder. The "R" indicates the rotating format of the head. The Harris XD-001 looks like something you'd have in your home stereo system, but its uses in radio make this friendly looking machine a very handy tool for the production studio. At a list price of $2500, you get much more than a cassette deck. The digital aspect of this two track recorder compels one to do all mastering to R-DAT cassette. This is also the best way to record dry voice tracks as you eliminate tape hiss common with analog tape, however there's no editing on this tape.

Here are some of the excellent specs: nt specs:

Record time: 2hrs with DT-120 cassette
Sampling Freq: 48kHz, 44.1kHz, 32kHz
Digitization: 16-bit linear
Freq. Characteristics: 2Hz-22,000Hz
Signal to Noise ratio: 92dB or better
Total Harmonic Distortion: .005% or less

Features include everything you would expect on a nice cassette deck plus many extras. Start ID codes can be placed at the beginning of each recorded element. These codes can be numbered from 1 to 99. Locating any of these codes is very fast relevant to a reel to reel recorder with 99 cuts on it. The codes can be placed manually or automatically. In automatic mode, you start the record mode and the machine waits for a certain level of audio before it registers the code. This makes automatic cuing to the start of the recorded material very precise and consistent. Should a start ID need to be moved slightly in either direction, this can be done with just a little effort.

Another subcode is the skip ID which enables you to program the XD-001 to skip over an unwanted portion of a recording during playback. Say you recorded 2 hours of your favorite station. During playback you may write skip ID's around the commercials enabling the XD-001 to skip the commercials automatically during later playbacks.

The tape counter offers fairly accurate tape time, indi­vidual program time and time remaining on the tape. Other features include a record or playback timer, automatic program number­ing of entire tape, a table top remote control and hand held wireless remote control for couch potato types.

With the exception of no editing and no pitch control, the Harris XD-001 is the ideal two track recorder for a production studio. Its' best purpose is that of your mastering machine since you rarely edit a master or have any need to change the pitch of it. If you keep masters of commercials and promos, storage is cut dramatically. The cassettes, about half the size of a pack of cigarettes, cost around $1

3 to $16 for the two hour size.

For the production person used to mastering on a $8000 reel to reel, the Harris XD-001 is a surprising change. It will improve technical quality and notice­ably speed up access time. Forget about counting cuts as they go by on a reel to reel, just punch in #57 and off you go in much less time. Still a little expensive but a nice addition to the upgraded studio. 

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