Tascam CD-RW 900 MKII review

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by dxer2_2000, Aug 2, 2017.

  1. dxer2_2000

    dxer2_2000 New Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Australia
    Hi Guys

    OK, so I bought this deck as I thought, being a professional deck, it would deliver superb audio quality & it looks technically superb.

    Test comparing to my Sony CDP-338ESD & Micromega Solo-R CD decks & my Marantz PM-6005 amp & Audio Technica AD-700 headphones.

    I can only describe the audio of this unit in one word......brutal!

    Its like the audio is being fed by brute force to the amp. Its like it embeds some kind of compression to the audio output & I found it somewhat fatiguing. Really "in your face" sound. This was the case using both the analogue & coaxial digital outputs. It lacked depth - sounding some what flat & shallow (for lack of a better description). This is why I found it better to play CDs on the Sony or Solo-R over using my PC for audio.

    I tested the Dynamic range using The Who's "Who are you" (polydor 1987) & found it not as good as my Sony & Micromega CD decks (hence why I suspect some compression being added). This song has a very quiet bit at around the 2min mark making it a good candidate for this test.

    Sound stage - in one word - abysmal. I tested this using Trisha Yearwood's "Whisper of your Heart" which has stunning mastering & sound stage. Incredible on both the Sony & Solo-R but very disappointing on the Tascam.

    So I certainly wouldn't recommend this deck for HiFi CD listening. Seems to take the magic out of CDs which I'd only re-discovered with the Solo-R (bit like when many of us re-discovered the magic of Vinyl).

    anyway, that's my review & many will probably differ but I'm listening from home on a reasonably good system & with older Dynamic CDs (not modern brickwalled ones).
     
    jfeldt likes this.
  2. Daily Nightly

    Daily Nightly Well-Known Member

    Location:
    New Jersey, USA
    It's a REWRITABLE CD RECORDER made in CHINA. What were you *expecting* from it?o_O
     
    crispi likes this.
  3. BIGGER Dave

    BIGGER Dave Forum Resident

    I understand where the OP was going with this. It's billed as a "Profesional" unit and I too would have been hopeful of its abilities. On the other hand, because the unit normally sells for just $350 USD, that is a strong sign it's not going to be top shelf.

    Here are the specs:

    The CD-RW900MKII and CD-RW901MKII are professional CD recorders that replace the best-selling CD-RW900SL and CD-RW901SL. A new TEAC tray-loading transport ensures years of reliable operation in the most demanding installations. The new transport also allows gapless recording when writing track markers, something not possible using off-the-shelf PC drives. Various recording features like automatic track creation help the operator create polished recordings without constant supervision. An AKM AK4528VM is used for AD/DA conversion for clean, clear sound quality with a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz +/-0.8dB.

    With the CD-RW901MKII, balanced analog input/output jacks and external control terminals are included. Additionally, long-run continuous recording (and overlap recording) is possible by connecting multiple CD-RW901MKIIs with an accessory cable. An ISRC/RID code can be displayed to check the recording in a mastering studio.Whether used for PA/Sound Reinforcement playback, studio, mastering, or broadcast, the CD-RW900MKII and 901MKII are TASCAM's latest generation of reliable CD recording and playback.

    Main Features:
    • Adopts AK4528VM audio codec made by Asahi Kasei Microdevices which has 24-bits processing
    • Independent input level controls provides serious level control
    • Supported media: CD-R, CD-R-DA, CD-RW, CD-RW-DA
    • High speed CD-RW Supports
    • CD drive supports playback of CD-DA and Data-CD
    • High reliability proprietary TEAC tray drive
    • OPC (optimum power control) function: Adjusting the laser power for each disc type
    • Fade-in/Fade-out recording function (1 to 30 seconds, 1 seconds increments)
    • Sync recording function: Automatically start/stop recording at a preset level (-24dB to -72dB, 6dB increments)
    • Digital volume for adjusting recording level seriously (-∞、-54.0dB to 18.0dB)
    • Automatic track division: Automatically insert a track division at a preset condition
    • Manual track division: Insert a track division by manual operation
    • Time track division: Automatically insert a track division per preset interval (1 to 10 minutes, 1 minutes increments)
    • Rec-mute function: Recording four seconds of silence on the disc
    • Selectable maximum recording track numbers (automatically stop at preset number)
    • Erase function: Erase selected track or disc (for CD-RW)
    • Four playback modes (continuous, single, program, random)
    • Repeat playback function (continuous, single, program, random, A-B)
    • Fade-in/Fade-out playback function (OFF, 1 to 30 seconds, 1 seconds increments)
    • Auto-cue function: Automatically pause by detection of a sound of start point in a track
    • Auto-ready function: Automatically pause at head of next track after playback previous track
    • Pitch control playback function: Pitch and speed can be varied (+/-16%, 0.1 to 1.0% increments, for CD-DA)
    • Key control playback function: (b1 to b6, #1 to #6, half-note increments, for CD-DA)
    • When using key control function with pitch control function, these function provides speed changing without changing pitch
    • Timer playback function (external timer sold separately): Automatically begin playback when turned on
    • Unfinalize function (for CD-RW): Erase TOC information of finalized CD-RW
    • Time display switching (elapsed track/disc time, remaining track/disc time)
    • CD-text editing supports
    • PS/2 keyboard (sold separately) connection for remote control or entering a title
    • SRC (sampling rate converter): Automatically convert the incoming frequency to 44.1kHz (for 32 to 48kHz)
    • RCA analog unbalanced inputs/outputs
    • COAXIAL digital input/output (IEC60958-3:S/P DIF)
    • OPTICAL digital input/output (IEC60958-3:S/P DIF)
    • Wireless remote controller with 10-key included (for CD-RW900MKII)
    • Headphone output (20mW/ch)
    • 3-polar AC sockets with the detachable AC cable
    • 2U EIA rackmountable
    • RoHS certified
     
  4. cdash99

    cdash99 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Mass
    So my takeaway is that if my Harmon Kardon CD-20 bites the dust, them this is a replacement unit for my needledrop chain of vinyl>CD-RW>XLD rip. Nothing more, nothing less.
     
  5. PhilBiker

    PhilBiker sh.tv member number 666

    Location:
    Northern VA, USA
    My ROTEL RCC-1055 was made in China and it's wonderful.
     
    Tim Müller likes this.
  6. Chazro

    Chazro Forum Resident

    Location:
    West Palm Bch, Fl.
    My Tascam 900 has been terrific! Never records a clunker. Here's the thing, I've NEVER used it for playback! Maybe for a few seconds to check something but otherwise, never. And while it's playback ability may suck, the CDR's I record sound great on my Arcam CD23, and everywhere else for that matter!
     
    fogalu, Rachael Bee and PhilBiker like this.
  7. 56GoldTop

    56GoldTop Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nowhere, Ok
    Huge difference between Tascam CD recorders and their master recorders. The difference is night and day in both playback and recording. The master recorders use much better A/D/A and I/O. I've never been found of AKM. However, I am intrigued by the latest (as used in the Teac UD-503). I do think the 900MKII would make a decent CD transport, paired with a much better DAC. Plus, you'd have the extra benefit of a CD recorder. Again, however, if top shelf recording is what you're after, I'd recommend a Tascam DA-3000 and then just go to the computer to burn a disc with the best software and burner you can get your hands on. The extra benefit being that if you ever want to go high res, you're already there.
     
    Shak Cohen likes this.
  8. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Surprise, AZ
    It was reviewed as being 'horrible and trouble plagued' when it was new and I'm sure age hasn't helped. I almost bought one until I searched and reviewer after reviewer had little to say about how good it was. The most common complaint was how fussy it was about discs.
     
  9. Ozric

    Ozric Senior Member

    The question is, was it designed to be good at recording and burning a CD or was designed to be a good playback/reproducing device. My guess is it's design intent is as a recorder and CD burning device. Do the discs that were created with this unit sound good when played back on a more audiophile oriented cd player ? TASCAM equipment is more intended for the recording and creation of various media than the reproduction or playback of media.
     
    PhilBiker likes this.
  10. Ozric

    Ozric Senior Member

    You are expecting this from a device designed for recording in a studio environment, not designed for best possible playback. Just as there are speakers that are designed to produce sound such as found in guitar amps and such, they are not good at re-producing sound. Just because something says "Professional" on it, does not mean it is good at every task. TASCAM equipment is generally designed for use in the studio environment for the purpose of creating recordings, not necessarily music re-production. Again I ask, do the CD's created on the TASCAM unit sound good on other playback devices such as a decent consumer grade CD player? If yes, then it probably did it's intended job. If, not than either unit is poorly designed or has a problem or defect of some kind.
     
    siebrand likes this.
  11. 56GoldTop

    56GoldTop Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nowhere, Ok
    That's odd. The Tascam CD burners (the 900(1) and the 900(1)MK2) use "standard computer drives" made by TEAC, the former, PATA, the later, SATA with adapter. My experience comparing them against other drives (branded Asus, LG, Acer, Lite-On, Samsung) found them to generally be more robust and more forgiving of disc brand and disc condition than the others. According to TEAC, this is by design. The Lite-On came in second @ chez moi.

    I still have my 900(MKI). I have replaced the original TEAC CD burner with a TEAC DVD burner. This machine would not accept any burner other than a TEAC. I'm guessing that's firmware. Crappy firmware can certainly make for a fussy machine. However, mine records/plays just fine. It also reads the TOC, erases and finalizes discs a lot faster, now. The tray fascia doesn't fit (removed it); but, it is a fully functional unit which has had it's life extended by replacing the drive with one I got used for under 20 bucks. Playback through a better DAC sounds... better, considerably. But, it does not sound as good, as my Adcom CD player through the same external DAC. So, I'm guessing the Adcom has better error correction/lower jitter and a read speed more suited for CD playback while the 900 is geared for disc burning on high speed media. I would certainly recommend an outboard DAC if anyone will be using the 900MKI or 900MKII as a digital source component.
     
    McLover likes this.
  12. Shak Cohen

    Shak Cohen Forum Resident

    Location:
    United Kingdom
    Interesting to know...I still have my Pioneer PDR-509, which has a nice clean, uncompressed sound both in recording and playback. :righton:
     
    Blue Cactus, 56GoldTop and BGLeduc like this.
  13. 56GoldTop

    56GoldTop Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nowhere, Ok
    I had a PDR-509, as well; 20 bit, I believe. For a long time after the laser died, I continued to use it as an A/D feeding PCM, through the wall, into my PC via coax.
     
    Shak Cohen likes this.
  14. unidyn

    unidyn New Member

    Location:
    Tiffin, OH USA
    Interesting review, thanks. I have one on order that's scheduled to arrive in a couple days. It will replace a Tascam CD-RW700 that's been used since 2001. 16 years of very good service was my reason for going with the 900mkII. A friend also has had one since 2011 and has been very happy. I must say I'm disappointed to hear it's a dog sonically. At least I have a reference point with my 700 to compare.


    I use my Tascam to transfer LPs, DATs and tapes to CD. Can't afford the DA-3000 or I'd go that route. I record and listen through my Conrad-Johnson PV-5 through Linn, Infinity and Thiel speakers so this path would reveal any shortcomings. I must say I have an old Philips CD player that has always been my favorite. The Tascam is more clinical and dry for certain, but I wouldn't call it fatiguing. LP's are my primary source but I have to say, the Tascam 700 has not been atrocious at reproducing what it recorded. I take the CD-RW into Adobe Audition to split, edit and save to FLAC, then burn to CD. Have been delighted with the results and expected the 900 mkII to be an improvement. I guess we'll find out soon.
     
    56GoldTop and PhilBiker like this.
  15. PhilBiker

    PhilBiker sh.tv member number 666

    Location:
    Northern VA, USA
    Please remember to follow up!
     
  16. unidyn

    unidyn New Member

    Location:
    Tiffin, OH USA
    Ok I will. Should arrive tomorrow and I hope to have made a couple recordings and given a good listen over the weekend. By next week I'll stop back with some impressions :)
     
    PhilBiker likes this.
  17. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Rock 'n Roll !!!

    Location:
    Maryland, U.S.A.
    I been using a Tascam cd-r 900 for many years and have been very happy with the performance. Makes great recordings (imo).
     
    Coypu and Rachael Bee like this.
  18. Beaglemaster

    Beaglemaster Forum Resident

    Funny thing....Only this forum and Amazon have an abundance of negative things to say about the Tascam CD-RW900MKII. Their are nearly 100 posts on Sweetwater (39), B&H (28), Crutchfield (28), Musicians Friend (8) and almost 100% of them are fantastic, glowing, rave reviews. Hardly anyone has a bad thing to say about the Tascam on those sites. However, I believe the posters of this forum and it makes me hesitant to buy the recorder.

    One question I have is: One reviewer said "My only criticism is that there are two separate knobs for input level controls. I have to always play a record a bit to set both the left and right levels individualy "

    Is this so? Is there a way to initially set the left and right input controls for perfect balance and then use a master control to adjust both channels simultaneously, or do you always have to tweek both the left and right channels inputs each time?
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2018
    dee likes this.
  19. rushed again

    rushed again Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Jersey
    I have 2 separate input knobs on a CD-RW900. One right channel, the other left. I do slight tweeking but both positions are usually close to what you set them.
     
    dee likes this.
  20. Chazro

    Chazro Forum Resident

    Location:
    West Palm Bch, Fl.
    I'm curious, what exactly makes you hesitate? The dual level volume adjustment literally takes seconds to adjust/calibrate. If this is the reason, you might be passing on the unit for what amounts to nothing!
     
    McLover likes this.
  21. Beaglemaster

    Beaglemaster Forum Resident

    No, that's not the reason I hesitate to buy the recorder. The numerous other complaints in this thread and on Amazon are. The question I posted in the second paragraph, after I stated that I was hesitant, was just an additional question as to the general procedure involved to record.

    I have a JVC XL-R2010 CDR-RW recorder. It's easy to use and makes great recordings, but I'm tired of being forced to use music CD-Rs and CD-RWs with it. The fact that the Tascam doesn't require them grabbed my attention. I still might buy the Tascam for that reason alone.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2018
    PhilBiker likes this.
  22. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Rock 'n Roll !!!

    Location:
    Maryland, U.S.A.
    I recommend the Tascam. I have made hundreds of needle-drops, and it is very faithful in terms of sound and operation.
     
    old45s, mikedifr0923 and Beaglemaster like this.
  23. Beaglemaster

    Beaglemaster Forum Resident

    That's good to hear. I'm looking for some encouragement to ward off the criticism.
    As I said, the JVC recorder is fine, but boy do I hate being forced to use those "Music" CD-Rs. And "Music" CD-RWs have almost entirely disapperared. Thanks!
     
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  24. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Rock 'n Roll !!!

    Location:
    Maryland, U.S.A.
    I just get a 100 stack of the JVC Professional blank cdrs. No problems, never a coaster.
     
    Shak Cohen likes this.
  25. McLover

    McLover Senior Member

    Location:
    Athens, Tennessee
    The Tascam is still a way better recorder in every way. Adjust the levels for each channel as you need.
     
    dee likes this.

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