A stereo recorder, on which to record finished mixes, is an essential item in the pro studio. Over the years, various formats have been used - analogue reel-to-reel tape machines and DAT to name just two - but the latest is 1-bit audio, and this is what's supported in Korg's new rack-mounted MR-2000S.
Now, we've all heard of 16-bits and 24-bits, but the beauty of 1-bit recording is that it's future-proof. With 1-bit, the recorded material can always be re-created natively in any other format.
The MR-2000S goes beyond the 1-bit/2.8224MHz format used in creating Super Audio Compact Discs and allows 1-bit/5.6448MHz recording, which, says Korg, preserves the clarity, ambience and true dynamic range of the original sound source with unprecedented accuracy.
The MR-2000S can also record WAV files in any of the current 16-bit and 24-bit formats (from 44.1kHz up to 192kHz) if desired, and the unit also comes with Korg's Audiogate conversion software that can convert 1-bit audio into all of these formats.
The MR-2000S has a versatile set of interfacing options. Analogue ins and outs are provided on both balanced XLRs (with selectable reference level for matching with any audio source) and RCA phono jacks.
Wordclock and S/PDIF ins and outs are also provided for interfacing with digital sources, and there's a USB 2.0 connection to computer for transferring audio files - the MR-2000S appears as a FAT32 external drive on your desktop.
Recording takes place to an internal 80GB drive, which allows a maximum recording time of 120 hours of CD-quality stereo sound at 16-bit/44.1kHz or 14 hours at the maximum 1-bit/5.6MHz resolution.
Getting started recording with the MR-2000S is pretty straightforward. Once all the connections are made, it's a matter of going into the menu and selecting the correct input source (RCA, XLR or S/PDIF) and the recording format.
If recording through the digital input, there's no need to adjust the input level, but with the analogue inputs you can use the front panel knob to set the level while the MR-2000S is in record-ready mode. The LED meters and a numerical readout let you know exactly how hot the signal is.
When you start recording, the MR-2000S creates a date folder for that day. Up to 400 of these can be created on the hard drive, and each can contain up to 400 'projects', which is what the MR-2000S calls individual recordings.
Overall, the results we obtained sounded uniformly excellent both in 1-bit format and 16/44.1 CD-quality WAV - the high-quality converters obviously doing their stuff - and the MR-2000S' s housekeeping was always tidy with a display that clearly showed the file name, audio format and elapsed time.
The Audiogate software - once installed on computer and authorised by plugging in the MR-2000S - is straightforward to use too, making it easy to take any 1-bit audio from the unit and create whatever format you need: perhaps a CD master or a 24/96 DVD soundtrack.
Because of its high price, the MR-2000S is unlikely to feature in many home studios. However, with the facilities it has on offer and the ease with which they can be used, it would be an asset to any pro studio that deals with digital audio in its various formats.
For safe-bet archiving or multi-format accessibility, it's perfect.