Test Drive: The Tascam CD-RW700 CD Rewritable Recorder

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Tascam-CDRW700

by Steve Cunningham

This month we look at another standalone CD recorder, this time from the folks at Tascam. The CD-RW700 records and plays both CD-R and CD-R/W discs. It is what I like to call a “prosumer” unit in that it straddles the divide between professional and consumer products. So while the analog ins and outs are unbalanced, the converters are 24-bit, and there’s a RAM buffer to ensure that the beginning of your recording is captured. The latter are definitely pro features.

With a suggested list price of under $700 and a street price under $600, it is also one of the least-expensive CD recorders available. The 2U rackmount CD recorder ships with an infrared remote, and even includes rack screws.

MAKING CONNECTIONS

As mentioned, the analog inputs and outputs on the CD-RW700 are unbalanced on RCA jacks, and operate at -10 dBV level. I am somewhat disappointed that there is no facility for line-level signals on the CD-RW700, but I understand the trade-off between price and features. There are some things you just don’t get at this price.

But behind those RCA jacks you do get 24-bit ADC and DAC converters, which spec out with a dynamic range of 94 dB on playback, and a signal-to-noise ratio of 98 dB on playback. This is very good performance for a budget recorder.

In keeping with the budget theme, the digital inputs and outputs on the CD-RW700 are SPDIF only, and are available on both coaxial (RCA) connectors and optical (TOSLINK) connectors. You have to select either coax or optical via the INPUT SELECT key on the front panel, but you can choose to make the analog inputs active together with either of the digital inputs, which allows you to mix analog with digital during recording.

When analog and digital signals are being mixed, the digital signals are attenuated by 12 dB to prevent clipping. You can adjust the level of the digital signal relative to the analog by using the Digital Volume menu item. The digital signal can be boosted by as much as 18 dB, or cut by as much as 60 dB. There is also a setting that will cut the digital signal from the mix completely.

The CD-RW700 also has a built-in sample rate converter that can handle digital audio at sample rates between 32 and 48 kHz in addition to the normal 44.1 kHz sample rate. However, there is no way to slave the CD-RW700 to external digital devices. Connected to a digital console, this unit has to be the master clock, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. It just is what it is.

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