Test Drive: The AKAI DD-1000 Magneto Optical Disk Recorder

A first look at the DD-1000's front panel might be intimidating to some, but much to our surprise, the DD-1000 is very easy to use. The unit has six basic "modes." They are 1) RECORD, 2) EDIT/CUT, 3) QLIST, 4) SONG, 5) PLAYSHEET, and 6) DISK. These modes are accessed from the six Mode buttons at the bottom of the front panel. Pressing any of these buttons places the unit in that mode and the large LCD display indicates your options for that mode. Six "soft" function keys below the display access the different functions for that mode. A PAGE key to the left of the first function key accesses additional menus available in any particular mode.

Let's say you're collecting voice tracks for a two-voice spot. Voice 1 is behind the mike and ready to go. Press the RECORD button to enter the Record Mode. The display shows you the name of the take to be recorded (all recordings are referred to as "takes"). The default name of your recording is "Take 1," but you can change that by pressing the LETTER key which turns the panel buttons into a typewriter keyboard, and you can give the take whatever name you please. The display also indicates the audio source, whether it's via the digital inputs or the analog inputs. The display tells you whether High Frequency Pre-Emphasis is on or off. It tells you whether you're in Mono recording mode or Stereo. It also tells you what the sampling frequency of the recording will be and how much free time is remaining on the disk.

Assuming your input levels are set, simply press function key six or F6 (which is indicated on the display as the RECORD soft key). Bingo! You're recording with only two key presses! Once you begin recording, the display changes to the "Record Screen" which shows you elapsed time of your recording and remaining time on the disk. Function key F4 becomes the ABORT key and F6 becomes the FINISH key. Aborting the recording stops recording without using disk space. Pressing FINISH ends the recording and commits the recording to disk. (The ABORT key is also used to delete recordings from the disk.) That's it! Now, you can play back your recording with one key press, the "R PLAY" function key or F3.

Now you have Voice 1 of your two-voice spot on disk. Let's say Voice 1 has three parts to it. Now you need Voice 2's three parts to complete the spot. Press LETTER to change the name of the take to "Take 2" or name it "Voice 2" if you prefer, just as long as the name is different than that of the first recording. Press the RECORD function key and you're off! Finish the recording in the same way and send your announcers away. Now the fun begins.

You have two "takes" on disk. Let's say we've named them "Voice 1" and "Voice 2." Each has three segments that must alternate between Voice 1 and Voice 2. Go down to the MODE keys and press EDIT/CUT. Place the cursor on the "Take" field and use the DATA + and - keys or the JOG/DATA wheel to select the first take for editing -- Voice 1. The display now shows the waveform of the entire Voice 1 track. Now, press the DETAIL function key (or F1). This places the unit in an edit mode that enables editing down to individual samples and also accesses the unit's "scrub" function. Place the cursor in the START field and press JOG/ON. Use the JOG/DATA wheel to scrub the audio and cue up to the beginning of the first segment of Voice 1. That marks the start point of the first "cut." (Segments of a "take" are referred to as "cuts.") Now, move the cursor to the END field and use the JOG/DATA wheel to cue up to the end of the first segment of Voice 1. When done, the first segment will be highlighted in the display. Now, move the cursor to the CUT field and press "2" on the numeric keypad. Mark the start and end points for the second segment and do the same for the third. Now you have a take called "Voice 1" with three "cuts" defined. Press the SAVE function key (F6). Now, place the cursor on the TAKE field and select the second take or Voice 2. Mark Voice 2's three segments or "cuts" and save them. While all of this sounds like quite a few steps, it can all be done in just a couple of minutes. Editing is fast and simple.

Now we want to assemble the two voices to get our finished voice track. This is where you enter SONG mode. (Why didn't they call it the ASSEMBLE SPOT MODE? You guessed it. This is yet another machine designed for musicians, but if you look at your spot as a piece of music consisting of several elements, you'll get the hang of things just fine.) This mode lets you "sequence" takes and cuts. Using the cursor keys and JOG/DATA wheel (or + and - data keys), your takes and cuts can be sequenced in any order you wish. Voice 1, Cut 1; then Voice 2, Cut 1; then Voice 1, Cut 2; then Voice 2, Cut 2; and so on. When all steps of your spot have been defined, the PLAY function key (F3) will play the spot back in its entirety.

The SONG mode also lets you repeat any cut up to ninety-nine times before going to the next step of the "song." That may do you no good in a two-voice spot, but imagine what you can do with music beds. Not only can you loop segments of music, but you can perform these loops within and around other segments of the same piece of music or a different piece of music altogether. The possibilities for creating long music beds from small pieces of a song are endless. What's more, moving segments around within your new "song" is very easy and fast.