'Digital audio CD recorder, Digital in/outs, CD Text input and editing, CD synchro record, easy jog, direct line recording, music calendar, remote control. Sample Rate Converter, High Performance output Filter (TLS), Separate 24bit DA/AD converter, receiver design.
I mainly purchased this unit to record LP's onto cd, in which it is a very good device. I feel the cd to cd copies are btter than any computer recorder/software I have tried. I guess the computer system just has very poor timeing and is a noisy enviorment for audio. The analog to cd burning is very good, bettering all the other Phillips units I have heard for this. It is very close to the Marantz, I have heard, but can not verify that. I am sure that I could get a very expensive outboard ADC unit that would better the internal ADC, but I suspect it would be of a diminishing return status, but I am willing to look into some as they become more availble. The recorder defintly gets it all, preserving much, but not all of the vinyl experience. Some of the records I have transfered are just not availble on CD, so this really is the most cost effective way to get some decent CD's for car and background listening. The highs seem very good, bass extension is all there, even woofer pumping from >20Hz info, ie lp mudulations/warps etc. The discs seem to retain much of the dimensional quality I hear on the lps, all be it a bit less in the front to back definition. One of the projects I plan on trying is to record some rare MoFi lp's and see how well they hold up. I have recorded one DCC lp, with very good results. One should note that you have to manually mark the tracks, but again that is to be expected. The cd to cd copy actually is beter than copies I have made on a my computer burner. While the blanks cost less for computers, there is a noticable loss in quality. The CDR950 does a very fine job, with the digital to digital copies being about as close as you can get. My complaint is that the cd recorder does not stop when the source stops. As a cd play back unit sound wise, it is competant, but my MSD DAC III sounds much better. The CDR950 is not bad sounding, pleasant, not the greatest in dynamics, good bass and terble extensions. But then again, I did not buy this as a stand alone cd player. The other things to note is that it takes several seconds for it to recognize any disc, blank, recorded or prerecorded. On blank discs it takes even longer due to initialization. Also, some disc, especially scratched disc are not recongnised all the time, and scrathes easialy skip. So as a play back unit, I would not specificly recomend it, there are just to many btter than it. I would recomend getting a very high quality transport unit that manage skips and is faster at disc recognition. Some things to try: I have been trying stoplight green edging on both the blank disc and the source disc, I also have been useing the CD Backlight disc mat. They seem to help. I even use the backlight mat on the blank disc when recording analog. But please note, that this mat ( maybe others as well) is difficult for the tray mechanism to accept. I also have tried useing the old DTI jitter interface unit from Audio Alchemy to reduce jitter. this unit sometime takes the track info off ( actually almost always). Next I am planning on trying the Monarchy unit. Sure you can do btter at much higher prices, but the differences in digital are non existent, and the analog is only some what better. This is a very good unit for general cd-r use, and may be hard to beat for analog to digital copies until you get into 6x or more in price. Anyone who needs a better than average recorder should get this over the entry level units by Pioneer, Phillips, or the other mass market cd recorders. It is a notch above those, and a bit less than the absolute best (Marantz or Elite) The start rateing is relative to cost and performance as a recorder only, not a transport or cd play back unit.
If you need a cd recorder for recording purposes only, this unit would be a good product for you. If you plan to use it for cd playback, purchase a Tascam or Marantz. The philips 950 strengths include: several digital inputs and outputs, a microphone for recording along with your music onto a CDR/CDRW, and it has automatic finalization when using the Make CD feature. Your first impression when taking it out of the box will be wow! Its compact, light and looks good. Its performance is everything but that. It's an average cd burner, meaning it performs its primary functions, and that’s it. What it does have is great recording features. You can set it up to record by track or by recording an entire cd. The Make a CD feature is helpful if you're copying an entire cd because it performs the finalization automatically. The weaknesses are that it does not function well as a stand alone cd player. It sounds below average when using the analog connections and about average using the optical digital connections. After I burn a disc, I usually listen to it on my other cd player. The copies are great! The remote for the unit is very basic. You can't record from the remote, but you can label a disc, go figure! Nevertheless, I think that if you are looking to just record cd's and play them elsewhere, this would be a perfect unit for you. On the other hand, if you plan to use this unit as the primary cd playback, I would suggest spending the extra $250 and purchase the Marantz 6050 unit. Once again, not a bad unit, but not a great one either.
Features: Analog Devices AD1855 A/D and AD1877 D/A 24bit converters - don't know if all 24 bits are used in analog mode. Direct Line Recording (DLR) for standard 44.1khz (CD) recordings (this reduces risk of minor conversion artifacts due to unnecessary sample rate conversion for standard CDs). The DLR also allows HDCD recording. 11-56Hz sample rater converter. CD-TEXT display and recording from unit (but CD-Text is lost when dubbing from other CD with CD-Text). 3 second "oops! I didn't mean to hit record" buffer which saves CDRs and is also used for perfect CD to CD synchronization. Fade In/Fade Out. Digital Recording Level control. Microphone Mixing. Custom labeling of source Inputs. Continuous Laser power adjustment to battle dust and other gremlins. Winner of the European EISA 1999-2000 award (proud sticker on Faceplate - Pioneer got the 2000-2001 award). No-frills Remote. Connections: 1 Analog In/Out, 1 Optical In, 2 Coax In, 1 Coax out.
Application: I bought this unit primarily for multi-source Analog to CD conversion. Though I do most of my CD copying and mastering in my PC, all my Stereo/Analog devices are 30 ft away in another room. It was just too painful and expensive to hook up an Open Reel Tape Deck, a cassette deck and a Turntable to the PC for those peformances that never got re-released as CDs. I bought one Audio CDRW and use it as a "rigid Floppy disc" between the Stereo and my PC. In the PC, I extract the CD audio to WAV files with Easy CD Creator and perform Audio Restoration with DC-Art32 as needed. On preliminary tests, this process resulted in stunning audio quality on converted LPs.
The PC system knows nothing about the SCMS or special Audio CDRs and CDRWs and therefore you can pretty much do as you like once you are in the PC. Likewise once you "close" or "finalize" a computer CDRW on the PC, it will play fine on the CDR950. The only thing you can't do on the CDR950 is RECORD on a Computer CDRW. One person claimed (on this Web site for another model Philips CD recorder) you could force the drawer open after it read an Audio CDRW and use a standard CDRW. It didn't appear to me that the you could easily get into the CDR950's drawers.
A second intended (bonus) application for me was making Compilation CDs automatically from my Sony 400 disc CD-Changer. All my CDs are CD-Text based in the changer (sourced from CDDB) and the lost CD-Text when dubbed killed hopes of using the CDR950 for this application.
Comments: The original announced release of this unit was September 1999 in the Euromarkets as a replacement for the CDR880. It has taken a year to get to the US and just started shipping September 14, 2000. So far it looks like it was worth the wait. I didn't want to spend exorbitant money on A/D conversion when most of the benefit would be lost dealing with Pops, rumble and tape hiss. The name brand Analog Devices chipset (coupled with Philips A/D conversion experience) seemed far more practical and cost effective than a Lucid or Apogee based solution.
A high end, low cost units such as the CDR950 are always a bit schizophrenic. I've sat in on lengthy mutli-hour meetings discussing how to take $40 out of a unit while trying to decide which features to keep. I can well imagine the discussions on this unit. Therefore you see the excellent A/D D/A chipset with Digital Recording Level, but no discussion of recording level beyond "don't make it Red" in the manual. You can't even easily monitor the recording level once a recording has started. And of course there is extensive use of plastic, but at this price andwith this I/O configuratoin it is not a studio or field recording unit.
You can also see schizaphrenia in the marketing. The US anounceemnent says "Unique high performance output filter (TLS)" and claims tube like sound. The European announcement has the following paragraph:
"The A/D converter is the new AD1877, a stereo 16-bit oversampling device based on dedicated sigma delta technology for digital audio applications. Each single-ended channel of this advanced ADC consists of a fourth-order one-bit noise-shaping modulator and a digital decimation filter. Further performance enhancements come from the use of a new 3rd order Bessel output filter together with the high-end analogue linear power supply with reduced hum and noise levels. "
As an engineer I can only say "long live Mr. Bessel and his functions", but I digress… For those who care, my measurements show that the VU meters are RED at -1 dB. -2 dB is blue.
There is a possible bug with regard to the Fast forward and rewind. I say possible because it could be an intentional design feature also. In FF or FR mode the unit plays audio for the first 3-5 seconds and then mutes until you release the FF/FR buttons.
Finally CD-Text: the CDR950 SLOOOWLY displays "The Track Title is xxxx" then "the Artist is xxx". No Brief vs. Verbose Mode available. CD-TEXT titles are suppressed even for CD play back and program track select functions where they would be most useful. The current CD-Text implementation is little more than a cute trick and fairly useless. By comparison, the Sony CD-TEXT implementation on my CDP-450CX is quick, concise, avoids these problems and is VERY useful.
Recommendation: I strongly recommend this for a high quality A/D CD recorder at a reasonable price - particularly as a supplement to an existing PC based CD mastering station. If your goal is quality CDs and you can overlook some minor inconveniences, this is the unit for you. CD-Text flaws can be corrected in the PC environment though most users are not even aware of the advantages of CD-Text. I suspect there is no other unit out there at this Price/Value point.