Test Drive: Fidelipac Dynamax DCR1000 MO Digital Cartridge Machine

Press F5 to access the Cut Chaining function. This lets you play several cuts back to back in any order with seamless edits. Press Shift-F8 and F8 to edit the start and end points of a cut. There is no audio "scrubbing," but it is easy to accurately adjust start and end points in 1/10 or 1/100 second increments. The Space Bar can also be used to set the start and end points on the fly--a good way to set points when looping music.

This is a good time to remind you that the DCR1000 cart machines are not digital workstations, and they don't try to be. But there are a number of editing functions available that give the experienced user plenty of room for creativity. For example, press F4 to set the Loop Flag on a cut. This will make the cut play in a seamless loop, ideal for making long music/sound effects beds. An interesting use the manual suggests is "variable length beds." This uses Cut Chaining with three cuts. The first cut is the open of the bed which might contain announcer VO over music. The second cut is the "middle" of the bed. Set the Loop Flag on this cut so it plays continuously. Cut three is the close. Now, with all three cuts "chained" together, press PLAY. The intro plays then goes to the bed and the loop begins. Let's say this is for a live traffic report. When the traffic report is done, press START to end the loop and proceed to cut 3, the close. Pretty nifty. It takes a little work in production, but once it's recorded to disk and put in the control room, it's a piece of cake to use. In effect, you get cut and paste editing, and it's on a cart machine!

Other "flags" that can be set for each cut are the Skip Flag which prevents the cut from being played. The Outcue Flag determines whether or not the user defined outcue will display during playback. Setting the Safe Flag prevents recording over a cut. Setting the Log Flag enables logging information to be output at the RS232 port on the rear panel.

Press F1 to set the Kill Date for a cut. When the date is reached, the cut cannot be played if the Kill Date Checking mode is active. The display will read, "PAST KILL DATE." A pretty handy way to prevent those embarrassing moments when outdated material mistakenly hits the air. Press F2 and Shift-F2 to edit the cut title and outcue. The number keys serve as "instant cue" keys for the first ten cuts. F6 and F7 are used to edit the secondary and tertiary cues. Press the PRINT SCREEN key on the keyboard, and the DCR1000 will print a label for your disk on a 24-pin, Epson compatible, tractor fed printer.

A Setup Menu is accessed by pressing the CUE, START, and STOP buttons simultaneously. Here you can set the printer left margin, set the default Play Mode, disable sampling frequencies you might not want anyone to record at, set default sampling frequencies, set the internal clock and other operating parameters.

The rear panel of the playback unit delivers XLR balanced outputs, XLR AES/EBU digital output, the RS232 port mentioned earlier, a remote control port, A/C power connector, on/off switch, and ports for connecting the unit to the record module and other playback modules. The record unit has XLR balanced ins, an XLR AES/EBU digital input, a printer port, and connector for the keyboard.

Reported specs include frequency response at 20-20kHz for 44.1kHz sampling, 20-15kHz for 32kHz sampling, 20-12kHz for 26kHz sampling, and 20-10kHz for 22kHz sampling. Dynamic range is >90dB, THD is <.05%, output level is adjustable from -10dBu to +20dBu, and crosstalk, wow and flutter, and phase error are unmeasurable.

My first reaction to the DCR1000 was, "Where were these things when I was on the air?!" Aside from that, I found the DCR1000 to be everything a digital "cart machine" should be. It is certainly as easy to use as a cart machine, and there are plenty of extra features to make the unit more than just a cart machine. When used with the larger 128MB and 230MB disks, the DCR1000 becomes a digital storage/retrieval system as well. While the long recording times available on the magneto-optical disks certainly provide enough recording time to store long programs and multiple songs for the on-air studio, these disks also become great storage mediums for production elements that are used regularly. Use a disk to store often used music beds and sound effects. Another disk could hold raw voice tracks from your "voice guy/girl." Each station producer could have his/her own disk(s) for storing their favorite production elements. Each air personality could walk into the on-air studio with one disk filled with all of their own sound effects, beds, IDs, etc.. With up to 99 cuts per MO disk, that's the same as eliminating 99 carts with something that will fit in a shirt pocket.

The DCR1020 is the Master Player unit which lists for $2,975. Add the MO230MB drive for $500. Upgrade earlier models to the MO drive with the MO230R for $650. The DCR1040 Record Module lists for $2,500 and comes with the keyboard and a template. Options include rack mount kits, a label printer, diskette racks, maintenance kits, and more. Since the introduction of the MO drives, Fidelipac reports that many stations ordering the DCR1000s are ordering a combination of units with the 2MB drive and the MO drive enabling the stations to take advantage of the low cost of the 2MB disks while having the capability to take advantage of the long recording times available on the MO disks.

It's no question that the DCR1000 is a well designed, well built machine. Perhaps the bigger question is deciding upon this format versus a large disk-based storage/retrieval system where the only connection between you and the audio is an icon on a screen. But don't hate having to make these decisions. We should be glad that today's technology provides us with these choices to begin with. No too long ago, the only decision to make was what brand of cart to buy. One major advantage the DCR1000 format has over the other is the fact that the medium is still a cartridge--smaller and better sounding, but still a cartridge. For those who fear "giant disk crashes" destroying all your commercials and promos, this is your format. If the staff at your station is not comprised of a bunch of Internet junkies hauling laptops around the studios, this digital format is for you. If you want to stay on top of the digital revolution but want to feel "at home" in your studios, the DCR1000 digital cart machines are for you. You get a quality product from a company that knows the broadcast industry and has been here forever.

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Your post will be moderated. Your email address will not be shown or linked. (If you have an account, log in for real time posting and other options.)
0 Characters
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location