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THE SCROUNGER'S REPORT


CD Sniper!!

CD Hunting!

The Scrounger's Report

Mar. 02, 2001

The Scrounger's Report - Mini Edition

A couple of things to talk about today, CD-related, but not
a bunch of discs to talk about specifically.

I did pick up an interesting disc yesterday, relating directly
to my '80s soundtracks post a couple of days ago. This is one
I'd not seen before:

Light of Day. 1987. CBS Records.
   A typical '80s flick from all appearances, starring Michael
   J. Fox and Joan Jett. Several of the songs on the album are
   from the group "The Barbusters" which was a group made up
   for the movie (ala "Black Roses"), which featured the 2 lead
   actors, and also Michael McKean (Squiggy from "Laverne and
   Shirley") on bass. Tracks:
    1. Light of Day - The Barbusters
    2. This Means War - The Barbusters
    3. Twist it Off - The Fabulous Thunderbirds 
    4. Cleveland Rocks - Ian Hunter
    5. Stay With Me Tonight - Dave Edmunds
    6. It's All Coming Down Tonight - The Barbusters
    7. Rude Mood - The Barbusters
    8. Only Lonely - Bon Jovi
    9. Rabbit's Got the Gun - The Hunzz
   10. You Got No Place to Go - Michael J. Fox
   11. Elegy (instrumental)


Now, on to a couple of things that (some) people might find useful:

Issue 1: Bubblebath it's not.

I do a fair amount of shipping of CDs/CDRs both domestically and
overseas, and I'd been using 6"x10" bubble-padded mailers (size #0),
and while they were fine for single discs, wedging 2 CDs with
jewel cases in there required a shoehorn. I'd decided that when
the case of 300 I had ran out I would move up to the next size
(7.25"x12"). Well that time arrived so I did some perusing online,
and lo and behold there's now a "CD sized" bubble padded mailer
available. 7.25"x8", it's more of a square format, and *easily*
holds 2 CDs with jewel cases, 3 somewhat snugly. The advantage
over the ones I was considering was not dealing with the extraneous
4" length. After shopping pricewise, I ended up getting some
at the same place I ordered my original case last year:
http://www.bubblefast.com . They accept PayPal and IMHO are
the cheapest place on the web. I ended up getting a case of
250 mailers for $40.69 net, or 16.25 cents per mailer. If you're
in the market for various mailers, bubblewrap, etc., I wholeheartedly
recommend giving them a try. Oh, the mailers are self-sealing so you
don't have to mess with tape/staples.

Issue 2: Dupe, Dupe, Dupe, Dupe of Earl...

Although I don't do nearly as much CDR burning as I used to,
when I do have to make burns it's usually in batches of 10-30
when I set up trades with people. The problem I've always run
into was that doing extracting/burning of large quantities was
a pain in the ass if for no other reason than it interferes
with my working on the computer (I don't like to take the chance
of [CENSORED]-ing up a burn by running CPU/RAM/disk-intensive
apps whilst either extracting audio or doing the burn itself).
I spend an inordinate amount of time in front of the computer
and having this interruption can make me a bit testy. So what
are the alternatives? (1) Buy/build a second computer to do
burning, or (2) buy a standalone duplicator/recorder.

Standalone audio CD recorders have always intrigued me, but
they've not really been feasible due to (1) they're slow, and
(2) the consumer audio blanks are *EXPENSIVE* (FYI, you can
only use standard data CDR media on standalone audio recorders
if either [1] it's an early model that you can hack, or [2]
you spend the extra $$ on getting a "pro" model by Marantz,
Tascam, etc.).

Well, the planets seemed to align fortuitously, making the
timing right for me to pick an audio standalone CD recorder:

1. The prices on consumer CDR media have come *way* down,
   to the point where the cost difference over data-only
   media is fairly negligible. Examples: 80-minute TraxData
   with jewel case for $0.99 (onecall.com), Memorex 80-minute
   50-CDR spindles for $29.95 (60 cents each; bestbuy.com).

2. Some of the newer models offer CD-to-CD dubbing at 4x
   (yes, I know that computer CD burners are still much
   faster with 12x and 16x models readily available, but
   4x approaches reasonable).

3. Onecall.com had the Harmon Kardon CDR2 on sale for $322.

4. Onecall.com was offering 12-months same as cash.

I did quite a bit of research online before I made my purchase,
since there were other models available at onecall, and I knew
that the CDR2 was last year's model. I toyed with the idea
of getting the CDR30, which is HK's current flagship, which
in addition to a few more editing features, and HDCD decoding,
not only reads MP3 CDs, but will record standard audio CDRs
from MP3 CDs on the fly. I thought this would be cool as hell,
but not for double the price ($599 vs. $322). If the CDR30
was capable of dubbing at 6x or 8x I probably would have
gotten it, but it too is simply capable of dubbing at 4x.

When the deck arrived, instead of the CDR2 they sent me the
CDR20 (this year's version of the CDR2, only difference being
updated firmware). Works for me since the CDR20 was selling
for $499 and they only charged me for the CDR2.

The CDR20 is a dual-well model; one a player only, one a
player/recorder. This thing has analog, coax digital, and
fibreoptic digital inputs and outputs galore, including
a set on the front panel. The buttons are somewhat smallish
for those of us with fat fingers, the styling is kinda cool
though.

CD-to-CD dubbing is incredibly simple to do. Be aware that
if you are making compilations, those can only be done at
2x, the 4x comes into play if you're doing an entire disc.
There's some confusion as to whether CDRWs can be recorded
at 4x or only 2x. I don't own any CDRWs so I can't test this.

The first dub I tried at 4x left me with a less-than-stellar
result, that good old clicking here there and everywhere.
So I tried dubbing the same disc at 2x. Same result, but
to a lesser degree. At this point I was less than pleased.
Then I realized that the source disc was one of the very
first CDRs I'd ever received in a trade (Silent Rage - Shattered
Hearts, if anyone cares), and I didn't know how well the
dub for it had been done, so I figured I'd try recording
from discs that I *do* know the quality of. Bingo!
Did a couple of dubs from other CDRs at 4x and everything
was fine and spiffy. Evidently if you have a flaky or
jittery CDR as source, it can majorly affect the quality
of the end product. One of the CDRs was a live recording,
so I've verified that the DAO works fine; no gaps between
tracks.

It's too early to give a final verdict, but initial results
are quite promising.

This will allow me more flexibility when recording from
vinyl/cassette/radio as well, since I can hook this up to
my mid-to-high-end main stereo system instead of recording
through my cheap-ass $19 sound card. Worst case scenario
is that if I need to "work on" the audio files I can always
extract to the computer and reburn once I've edited the files.

I think I will invest in one or two CDRW discs, for no other
reason than to use for recording analog sources for editing,
so I don't potentially chow through a zillion CDRs if the
needle skips, etc. :)

That's all for now,

-Dan

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