Akai DD-1000 Optical Digital Recorder

Although my trusty Akai S-1000/1100/3200 samplers had been expanded up to the full 32MB memory, and were able to hold great many samples (enough to produce full tracks), there was still a need for a device that could hold very long stereo samples, and even whole mixes.

Akai saw this need, and launched the solution in the form of the 9U rack-mounted DD-1000 Optical Disc Recorder. Although it has some visual similarities to the S-1000 sampler range. it is a very different device, that “hard” records to Magneto Optical disks, rather than RAM. Using much the same principle as standard CD-Recorders – only these optical discs are re-writeable.

It can play 2 different stereo audio streams simultaneously, directly from the disc. The streams can be faded in and out, overlapped, mixed and otherwise manipulated.

Better at a distance

The unit is somewhat noisy, but the noise mainly flows backwards. So mounting it in rack with a damped backside, reduces the noise to an acceptable level. Furthermore you can get a full remote for the DD-1000 – the DL-1000 – that replicated the full front plate in a table top sized unit. You can then place the main unit away from your workspace, to get rid of the noise completely.

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Rock solid media

The 5,25″ OMD – Optical Media DIsc – Cartridges (also named “MO-discs”) are somewhat bulky, but quite sturdy and comfortingly heavy cased. The discs are slow, but fast enough for the job, and very reliable, with a shelf life even exceeding that of a commercial CD. The discs were quite expensive, and held 800 MB per side.

Audio Cueing

Besides the obvious use as a digital audio recorder and editor, the DD-1000 had additional aces up its sleeve.

Live Audio cueing is one of them. Stereo recordings can be assigned to the keys, and fired on-the-go by pressing the correct key.

This is particularly useful in e.g. theatre sound and radio production, where sound FX and jingles can be manually started to follow action and events.

MIDI Triggering

Another very useful function is the ability to play one or 2 stereo files of any length, by sending standard MIDI note numbers to the DD-1000. The notes can come from a keyboard, sequencer or any other MIDI devices capable of generating MIDI Note information. This can used to “fly in” (or “spin in”) complete stereo parts, sections and performance of any length. Catering for the occasions when the 32MB in the sampler just was not enough. The notes can be entered in a synchronised sequencer first, to ensure predictability and maximum precision.

Offline storage

If you are short of MO-discs, which are prettty expensive, you may choose to dump an entire side of an existing disc to DAT tape (or a DAW). Only requirement is that no sound altering devices have been inserted between the DD-1000 and the recorder, and that the level is maintained at 0db digital on every stage.

Overall verdict

The DD-1000 is a very capable and well-built machine, that does all it promises – and does it well. The sound of the convertors is good, there is a lot of connectivity, and it is easy to implement in a workflow. Standard audio editing is very fast indeed – especially using the jog wheel on the (optional) DL-1000 remote.