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

We found the Song Mode especially useful in building beds for concert spots and promos for "artist" weekends. Various clips from a CD of greatest hits were first recorded into the unit as various "takes." These takes were then edited into "cuts" that could be moved around anywhere within the bed in the Song Mode. Intros were extended using the REPEAT or looping function. It was very easy to replace segments with others that flowed better. Experimenting with the bed was quick, easy, and non-destructive. The QLIST mode of the DD-1000 is a more complex version of the SONG mode. The primary purpose of the QLIST mode is to accommodate the triggering of takes and cuts via an external SMPTE/EBU time code signal. MIDI messages can be sent to external MIDI instruments from the QLIST mode. Fade in/out times and levels can also be addressed in this mode. Again, this is a complex area of the DD-1000 and probably wouldn't serve the average radio production person at all, so we'll spare you the details.

Getting back to our two-voice spot, there is yet another way it can be assembled. That is with the PLAYSHEET mode of the DD-1000. As you recall, we had two "takes" (Voice 1 and Voice 2) with three "cuts" each. In the PLAYSHEET mode, these six cuts can be assigned to any of the nine keys on the numeric keypad (1-9). Once assigned, your entire spot can be played by pressing the appropriate keys at the appropriate times.

The PLAYSHEET mode is a lot like having nine cart machines at your disposal. As most of you without a 4-track or an 8-track can guess, this is a real plus. You can assign all the sound effects, jingles, zips and zaps you plan to use to the nine keys and fire them up instantly as you need them. In addition, you can create and save up to three-hundred different playsheets (per disk side) and call them up as needed. For instance, you could have one playsheet called "Jingles" with nine of your most used jingles on it. Another playsheet might be called "Weather" with nine most used weather sound effects. Another playsheet might be "Theatre Tags" with all those "Starts Friday, Starts Tomorrow, Now Playing" tags we all get tired of reading. In fact, practically ALL of your production elements can be recorded to MO disk, categorized, and assigned to playsheets.

MIDI note numbers can be assigned to the playsheet keys so the playsheet can be triggered via a keyboard or sequencer. You can adjust the position in the stereo spectrum for any and all of the cuts in the playsheet. Cuts can be faded up or down, and you have a choice of fade curves to choose from. You can choose to have a cut played only while a key is being pressed, or you can have it play all the way through after the key is pressed. Though the PLAYSHEET mode is simple to use, it is very versatile.

So far, we've given you a brief look at the RECORD, EDIT/CUT, SONG, and PLAYSHEET modes of the DD-1000. As stated, the QLIST mode is a more complex version of the SONG mode and probably not much use to the radio producer. The DISK mode of the unit is where file management occurs. This mode will only be of use to you if you have a large number of files on the disk or if you have some external drives connected to the DD-1000.

The DD-1000 can only record two tracks at a time. However, it has four outputs and can play back four channels simultaneously, but the four channels can only be played back simultaneously as two stereo pairs, or two channels as two mono channels, or three channels as a stereo and a mono -- not four mono channels. This feature will let you do overdubs, recording one track while playing back another. A RETAKE function of the DD-1000 lets you merge two files thus "freeing" up a track for additional overdubs. The four-channel output will also let you playback two cuts from the Playsheet Mode at the same time.

About the only drawback to the unit's editing capabilities we could find was its inability to perform a simple splice edit in the EDIT/CUT mode without going to the PLAYSHEET or SONG modes. In other words, let's say you opened the mike and recorded, "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7" into the machine. Now let's say you want to cut out the "3, 4, 5" part so it reads "1, 2, 6, 7." You can't isolate and delete the "3, 4, 5" part. You have to isolate the "1, 2" and the "6, 7" separately, then go into the SONG mode or PLAYSHEET and "sequence" the two pieces together. Small inconvenience, but this is one thing that could be done faster on a reel-to-reel machine.