Adventures In Audio
Akai DR16 Hard Disk Multitrack Recorder (part 5)

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

Thursday January 1, 2004


As I said earlier, the DR16 doesn’t use the building block style of editing
that you would find in a computer based hard disk recording system, or with
some of the more upmarket standalone hard disk recorders. Segment based editing
can very useful, and almost vital for spotting sound effects to picture, but
it isn’t the only way of working. One thing the DR16 doesn’t have
is an LCD display of any kind. All you get are flashing LEDs, timecode displays
and level metering. And from this seemingly sparse information you can do virtually
everything you could possibly need in the natural course of multitrack recording.
You can’t pitch shift or timestretch a dodgy note of the vocal, but the
DR16 is so easy to use that you are more likely to encourage the singer to have
‘just one more try’. Getting the recording right is infinitely preferable
to fixing up a bad performance later.

When it does come to editing, the DR16 has a very good range of functions.
You can mark out the start and end of a section and Copy it with up to ninety-nine
repeats to any other track at any point in time, overwriting the material on
the destination track. Alternatively you can make a space in the destination
track by shunting subsequent audio further down the line if you wish. If you
didn’t want to retain the audio in its original position, then the Move
function works in a similar way. You can create a section of silence into a
track using the Insert function, Erase a section leaving it blank, or Delete
it and close up the gap. Slip moves the section you have marked forward or backward
to the edit point. Slip Track moves the entire track forward or backward to
the edit point. Any of these operations can be performed on a single track,
or a number of tracks simultaneously. The essential thing to note is that with
the DR16 you decide what you want to do, you do it, undo it if necessary and
try again, but once it is right you just get on with the next thing. With some
systems it is very tempting to keep every option open absolutely as long as
possible until the last moment before mixdown, and beyond, creating not only
vast quantities of data but a continuing air of uncertainty over every element
of the project, as though there was nothing you could say you were really sure
about. The DR16 encourages positive decision making, and when it comes to the
mix your recording will be perfect because all the decisions you made were carefully
thought out at the appropriate time, rather than put off until some mythical
‘later’. And if there really was an option that you wanted to keep
open, you could just make a copy of the segment and leave it in abeyance somewhere
on the disk until you were able to make up your mind.

Finding and marking the start and end of segments is done with the assistance
of a jog/shuttle wheel. Believe it or not, audio editing can be done without
a waveform display, and the DR16 gives you the appropriate tools. I remember
complaining about the DR8 that the jog shuttle wheel wasn’t as precise
as I would have liked, and the DR16 is the same. But there are ‘To’,
‘From’, ‘Over’ and ‘In to Out’ buttons which allow
you to check your edit points very quickly from just about every angle, so you
would never be in any doubt whether you were in the right place.

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