This is a review for the Marantz CDR 630 (Professional CD recorder).
1) The CDR630 is the cheapest of these pro units from Marantz (MSRP US$800, www.marantz.com), it's being discontinued and will be replaced by the CDR631. Many pro models (Marantz or HHB) have dettachable sides so they can be mounted in rack or put in a cabinet suitable for 17 inch which is a standard gauge, the faceplate of the 630 is 19 inches wide, period. My wife just hates this thing, and I'll have to get a wider furniture for my setup soon.
2) The Marantz brouchure does not speficy the color, and the dealer that cheated me told me the thing was white only after I had paid him. Now, white is a nice color, but not if the complete setup is black in an oak furniture. Marantz does not sell faceplates of other color for this model.
3) The dealer (CAV Ltd., Santiago, Chile) sold these units at US$1530, claiming he was the only local representative for Marantz (does not matter if true or lie), so either you took his terms or you had to go away. That was nice, until I knew that Marantz has separate representatives for their professional products and their consumer products. The representative for the professional products sold these units at US$1200 (transport & taxes hurt down here, but the cheat was US$330).
4) A couple of months ago my computer got the HP9100; after comparing these two means to burn CDs I want to share my experience. The Marantz started giving me problems after about 50-60 units burned; either does not finalize the recorded blank, or does not recognize one CD-R or CD-RW blank. Other Marantz pro units like the CDR620 can last well over 300-400 blanks before requiring maintenance.
5) HBB offers models that can manage the TOC of the blank; if you screwed up one track from a CD-R blank the HHB can hide that track so you don't loose blanks. Not the Marantz CDR630. Recognizing that it's one that screws up blanks, it is desirable that a professional unit could fix this; however most of the CD recorders out there do not offer the flexibility a tape deck does to erase/record again. Using CD-RW requires secuencial deleting of the bad track. Al these features are required not all the times because one makes mistakes, but because the synchro from the Marantz is not very fast, some music is recorded so it begins less than 0.3 seconds aftre the new digital track is played.
6) The quality of the digital duplications is excellent(i.e., can not distinguish the original from the clone) with cheap CD media (I use Sony's CDQ-74CN). However, the compilations I've made with the HP9100 are also excellent when using the lowest velocity.
7) For transfering vynils or tapes to CD (analog recording), this unit is not provided with a recording balance knob. It's something a professional unit should offer...
My value rating for this unit is 2, because of the expensive value and the return obtained. My overall rating, considering the high cost paid, the maintenance problems in a young unit, the excellent sound quality of the recording, the weird color finish, the non flexible rack mounting faceplate, the number of blanks thrown away, the envy I got from friends, etc, equals 3.25, or 3.
If looking for a professional CD recorder, find out first what you need and check all the options (Tascam, HHB, Yamaha), because if one will not record from broadcasting or does not plan to transfer vynil/tapes to CD, a computer CD burner provides exactly the same result using the slowest speed; in other words your computer may suffice...
Spend the extra $200 and get this deck! If you make a lot of custom-mixed CDs for your work or car, the price difference will pay for itself in the first year of operation.
Be assured that this device is superior to the consumer-grade decks from Philips and Pioneer. Although based (I am told) on a Philips design, the Marantz is a "professional" model. Believe it for not, that's not just an example of marketing hype... it's actually a legal issue. Only "professional" model CD-R decks are allowed to record on regular CDR/CDRW media (such as you find in almost any computer or electronics store). The consumer models are restricted and can only use "Audio CD-R/CD-RW" discs. The hitch? Although federal law stipulates only a few pennies of "royalty" on Audio CDR/CDRW media, in real like "Audio" branded media cost at least 2 times and often 4 times as much as the exact same quality disc in a "computer" format.
I buy 50 packs of CD-R discs for no more than $50, usually $40 or even less. "Audio" CD-R discs are $3-5 each, hard to find in bulk, and I've never seen them for under $2 even in quantity. Some folks say, "I'm proud to pay that extra money to the record companies!" But that's not were it goes. They get like 3 cents per disc and the other $.97-2.00 goes to the media makers and the store. If I give to charity, it won't be to Maxell and TDK, okay? Nuff said on that issue.
Now, the next one: SCMS. SCMS in spirit is a good thing. It ostensibly allows the purchaser of a recording in digital form the right to make a perfect digital copy of the recording, but prevents copies from being made *from the copy.* Okay, I can go for that. So did congress. But now that it's in place, NEW materials are sometimes being released coded AS COPIES so that even the legitimate owner can't record from them. I have read of new fewer than a dozen cases of this and the trend is clear. Once SCMS is everywhere in the consumer world (and illegal to defeat once the DMCA goes into effect), I suspect the record industry will code all new materials as copies. Note: You can still go through analog to copy an SCMS-locked disc. But what a pain to buy a piece of machinery that works for Them rather than You!
Of course, since the utter banning of all true CD Recorders would paralyze the industry, the law stipulates that professional-model players can record whatever they like. Pro models start around $999 MSRP and the Marantz is one of them. And there's nothing at all illegal in buying one, even if you are a "mere mortal consumer."
Simply put: this can record everything you have. Analog or digital. 96/24 DVD Audio Discs must be downmixed to 48/20 (or analog)... no biggie, since everything the player records is 44.1/16 (CD format, what else?). The CDR 630 can make a bit for bit copy of a CD or DAT. It does a great job of recording from analog (LP/cassette) and has high-quality ADC/DAC sections. For a slight improvement I recommend using an MSB outboard DAC. The DACs in the Marantz come the closest I've heard to competing with the MSB, though.
I use Verbatim CD-RW discs ($2 each, instead of $8-10 for an "Audio CDRW") to create my complilations (easy to erase mistakes like waiting too long to fade out or end a track). Then I do a bit-for-bit copy of that onto my 50-70 cent CD-R disc, and I can erase and re-use the "master." This is impossible with a Philips/Pioneer deck, because the CD-RW "master" will be coded as uncopyable in the digital domain. In fact, even if you are sitting there recording your own voice, the Philips/Pioneer decks will 1) forbid you to make a copy of the disc, assuming you don't own the material and 2) force you to pay a 3 cent royalty to the RIAA plus $1-9 tribute to TDK/Maxell/Best Buy/whomever. Just say no, America! These people are trying to sell us bottled air.
Bottom line, it's your money and you want a machine that serves your needs first. I cannot imagine anyone not being thrilled with this player. It's a no-brainer. If you want lossless, unrestricted recording in the digital domain, this Marantz or a similar professional grade product is the only way to go.
J&R has the best price on the CDR 630, as of this writing: $699. Considering what the consumer-grade models are going for, this is the one you want! Sound City, Parts Express, and Smile Photo also sell this unit.
I bought my CDR 615 at the end of December 1996. Although it was expensive (and still is, now at $1800)it's really a nice piece of equipment. It's built like a tank and very well crafted. Oddly the only plastic piece is the tray that loads the cd into the drive. The rest is aluminum and very pleasing in appearance. Most people that buy these will be using them in recording studios and the like. There are less expensive consumer alternatives available, but at the time I bought this one, there weren't any that were any cheaper than this one. Even the consumer Pioneer unit as over $1000 at the time. The CDR 615 does not seem to care what type dye the disc you're recording on uses. Even better than that it uses the cheap computer data discs. I have yet to find a cd player that will not play back the discs made on the CDR 615. That includes my 1985 model Sony that hates many cd's. Now the CDR 615 is also available in white whereas mine is black.
Now the CDR 640 is available and it looks almost exactly like the 615. It still does have important features like the DSP for buffering and has more inputs and outputs for digital and analog connections. The 615 has S/PDIF in/out, rca analog out, and XLR analog in. The big difference is that it can record on CD-R's and CD-RW's, the buttons are color coded and it doesn't have a record mute button on the front panel.
It's cheaper too at about $1400.
If I had it to do over again I would buy the CDR 640 if it was avaiable, but if not the CDR 615 is certainly worth purchasing again.