By Nat Wilkins
Yamaha's CDR-HD1000 is one of those products that's a little hard to categorize. While it looks like a standard component CD burner, it has a 20GB hard drive that gives it digital audio receiver (DAR) aspirations. Unfortunately, it lacks many of the features that today's DARs offer, including PC connectivity and MP3 support. That leaves you with an excellent-performing CD burner with jukeboxlike functionality. But is it worth almost a grand? By Nat Wilkins
Yamaha's CDR-HD1000 is one of those products that's a little hard to categorize. While it looks like a standard component CD burner, it has a 20GB hard drive that gives it digital audio receiver (DAR) aspirations. Unfortunately, it lacks many of the features that today's DARs offer, including PC connectivity and MP3 support. That leaves you with an excellent-performing CD burner with jukeboxlike functionality. But is it worth almost a grand?
Easy as pie
Setting up and using the solidly built CDR-HD1000 is a snap. We unpacked the stereo component--it weighs an impressive 18 pounds--plugged in the power cord, and ran a cable from the unit's coaxial digital output to our test receiver. That was all it took to play a commercial audio CD over our stereo.
Next, we stopped playback and gave the unit's CD-ripping and disc-burning features a whirl. As it turns out, nothing could be simpler. Pressing the Copy button allows you to toggle among menus for ripping the CD to the Yamaha's hard drive, copying the disc to a CD-R or a CD-RW, or copying music from the hard drive to a CD-R or a CD-RW. The HD1000's three-line display isn't huge, but it shows an ample amount of information. We also appreciated the unit's generous audio connectivity options; on the back, you'll find one optical digital output, one coaxial digital output, and one analog stereo output, plus a matching set of inputs for every one of those outputs. A clean-sounding headphone jack with a volume control resides on the unit's front panel.
Music can be placed on the CDR-HD1000's 20GB hard drive only by putting a CD in its tray or by recording a disc in real time through the unit's audio inputs--again, you cannot transfer audio from the Internet or from your PC. When you record music onto the CDR-HD1000's drive the songs are stored as "virtual discs." But 20GB translates to only 30 hours of audio, since the music is not compressed before being stored on the hard drive. This is a boon for audiophiles who spurn lossy compression codecs but a major bummer for just about anyone else. Songs can also be organized into playlists and can be faded in and out, combined, divided, and erased, which makes constructing a mix CD a very easy task.
When a disc containing CD Text information is inserted, song titles are shown; unfortunately, a vast number of discs does not contain this data. In those frequent cases, you'll either have to live without titles or manually enter the information. Other DARs can look up the song information on internal or online databases, so this misstep is a big disappointment.
Most audio CD recorders offer maximum 4X recording to CD-Rs and 2X recording to CD-RWs, but this unit is capable of doubling those numbers. To clone a CD, the unit stores the source disc to its hard drive, prompts you to insert a blank CD-R or a CD-RW, then copies the songs from the hard drive to the destination disc (it took only about 14 minutes total to clone a test CD). As one might expect, recording straight from the unit's hard drive is considerably faster than cloning. For example, the unit copied the same album from the drive to a CD-R in 8 minutes. You can also record direct to a CD-R or a CD-RW from an external source.
Plays by the rules
The CDR-HD1000 is SCMS compliant, meaning that it will not allow you to make second-generation digital copies. The unit handles this in two ways. If you record a disc digitally from the hard drive, that music gets deleted from the hard drive. But if you record in analog, the CDR-HD1000 can burn a very good-sounding analog recording of the music to CD-R or CD-RW, avoiding the digital part of SCMS compliancy and keeping the music on its hard drive. Note that like most audio CD recorders, this unit requires music-type CD-Rs or CD-RWs, rather than the less expensive data-style CDs.
While the CDR-HD1000 offers great sound and a solid build, its high $999 price, inability to interface with a PC, lack of MP3 support, and SCMS compliance make it difficult to recommend--except to audiophiles, who like their music uncompressed. The foundations for an interesting device are present, but Yamaha needs to add more functionality (read: go more in a DAR direction) to make the CDR-HD1000 a more compelling choice.