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Hoei Sangyo CDstation DSR-8880 CD Duplicator Review

Marketed in the United States as the MicroBoards Inferno, the DSR-8880 combines Hoei Sangyo’s uncompromising proprietary controller technology with a custom-designed tower enclosure to create the most polished CD duplicator on the market today.


Hoei Sangyo CDstation DSR-8880 CD Duplicator

Hugh Bennett
EMedia Professional, August 1999

In the CD duplicator imperative, the Hoei Sangyo name has become synonymous with technological innovation, meticulous attention to detail, and uncompromising quality. Distributed in the United States by MicroBoards Technology as the “Inferno,” Hoei Sangyo’s latest CDstation DSR-8880 further bolsters this well-deserved reputation.

Like its ancestors, the DSR-8880 combines Hoei Sangyo’s uncompromising proprietary controller technology with a custom- designed (20″ x 8″ x 18″, 55 lbs.) tower enclosure to create the most polished CD duplicator on the market today. Currently, the $7,395 DSR-8880 comes configured with eight state-of-the-art Plextor PlexWriter 8/20 8×20 recorders, one external Plextor UltraPlex 32X CD-ROM drive for reading master discs, and a 2GB Quantum hard drive. The manufacturer acknowledges that having the CD-ROM drive external to the system is a little awkward and intends to offer in the near future a slightly taller nine-bay model that will integrate the drive into the main chassis.

Operating the DSR-8880 is as easy as it gets, and is accomplished by using an eleven-key membrane control panel sitting on the top front edge of the tower. User instructions and current status information are relayed by a highly legible 50-character, two-line backlit LCD display. The DSR-8880′s custom cabinet features status lights on the front panel next to each recorder to provide the operator with system condition information for each recorder at a glance.

Easy Operation
The new unit operates in an identical manner to Hoei Sangyo’s previous DSR-8000 and DSR-8800 models, so anyone familiar with earlier systems will feel right at home with the new DSR-8880. Discs can be copied CD-to-CD, from a CD previously copied to the internal hard drive, or even while loading an image onto the hard drive. However, multiple image storage on the hard drive is not supported.

To duplicate a disc, users simply insert the source CD to be copied into the CD-ROM drive and blank CD-R discs into the recorders and press the copy and start buttons. Most disc formats are automatically detected although copying a few special types, including CD-Extra and CD+G, require manual entry.

Current system information is displayed on the LCD screen during the copying process along with an ascending percentage of how much of the job is then complete. After recording, successfully recorded discs are ejected while those with problems are kept inside their recorders and with status lights beside the failures flashing to alert the operator of the problem. Features of the DSR-8880 include the ability to enable slower recording speeds (1X/2X/4X) for writing to non-Plextor 8X-certified media and slower reading speeds (2X/8X) for dealing with audio or damaged master discs. Additionally, Track-At-Once (TAO) and Disc-At-Once (DAO) modes can be preserved or converted and sessions can be closed or left open.

Over more than a month of testing involving hundreds of duplicated discs, the DSR-8880 test unit proved reliable, stable, and worthy of any assigned task. Greatly appreciated were its fast system startup, intoxicating throughput, accurate copying, and external status lights.

Audio Mastery
Like its predecessors, the DSR-8880 has been well received by the semi-pro and professional audio markets especially because of its high quality and audio-specific features. For example, compilation discs can be manually created a track at a time from one or multiple master CDs. To accomplish this, the audio source disc is placed into the CD-ROM drive, the track numbers to be copied are keyed in, and the corresponding audio written to the internal hard drive to be recorded whenever needed. Users can expand the capabilities of the modular DSR-8880 system by adding a Fusion DA import option for connecting to an external player through an SP/DIF interface and in this way convert DATs to CD-R discs.

Verification Verities
Although mission-critical data environments require that copied discs be verified against the source from which they were created, many CD duplicators lack this capability. The DSR-8880 bucks that trend by offering both automatic verify after write and verify as a separate operation to the source CD or to the source image stored on the internal hard drive.

Testing revealed that the DSR-8880 has made tremendous gains over its 4X predecessor when it comes to verification speed. While the previous-generation system could only verify eight discs at single-speed, the new DSR-8880 offers sustained 8X verification over any number of recorders.

Massively Parallel Duplication
For situations where production needs increase over time, or in instances where large-scale duplication is in order, the DSR-8880 offers unparalleled scalability. Employing the latest version of Hoei Sangyo’s Versatile Media Interface (VMI) technology, the DSR-8880 allows up to three lower-cost, eight-recorder slave towers ($5,795 each) to be chained to each master tower by using proprietary cabling. Additionally, as many as ten master/slave combinations can be daisychained together for writing up to 320 simultaneous copies from the same source. As a result, system throughput ranges from a respectable 48 to a staggering (theoretical) 1,920 full 650MB discs per hour depending upon configuration.

Considering that 8X systems like the DSR-8880 write discs in roughly ten minutes, keeping a large chain of towers constantly running is a significant challenge. To ensure minimal downtime, the DSR-8880 employs a unique and innovative feature called FlexHD that allows each master/ slave grouping to start and stop duplicating independent of each other, thereby reducing the amount of system inactivity occasioned by disc loading and unloading.

Direct SCSI
Although standalone duplication is often the least trouble-free way of copying CDs, there are times when it’s also handy to write a handful of discs directly from a computer. Most standalone CD duplication towers aren’t capable of performing this function, but the DSR-8880 can be connected to a PC or Macintosh for simultaneously writing multiple copies of the same disc.

Thanks to technology called Direct SCSI, using either Adaptec’s Easy CD Creator or Toast software, the DSR-8880 appears to the computer as a single recorder and behaves like one, although it writes to as many recorders as are loaded with blank discs. Direct SCSI is a powerful feature that works well although it is really useful only for those creating their own masters and who need only a few copies of each.

The Shape of Things to Come
A cloud of uncertainty has loomed over eight-speed CD recording through its early days, but the fact is that high-speed writing has proven itself to be so dependable for production chores that 4X CD duplicators will soon be extinct. In many ways, the DSR-8880 is a preview of things to come, with characteristics to be emulated by other manufacturers. These include its solid 8X integration, well-mannered behavior, faultless operation, isolation of problems to individual recorders, and general attention to detail. Unfortunately, all of this polish comes at a price. The DSR-8880 is significantly more expensive than its main competition, and in a market where the majority of users don’t require specialized features like Direct SCSI or need more than a single-eight recorder system to get their job done, this outstanding product may suffer in direct cost comparisons.


Hoei Sangyo CDstation DSR-8880 CD Duplicator

synopsis: Marketed in the United States as the MicroBoards Inferno, the DSR-8880 combines Hoei Sangyo’s uncompromising proprietary controller technology with a custom-designed tower enclosure to create the most polished CD duplicator on the market today. Currently, the $7,395 DSR-8880 comes configured with eight state-of-the-art Plextor PlexWriter 8/20 8×20 recorders, one external Plextor UltraPlex 32X CD-ROM drive for reading master discs and a 2GB Quantum hard drive. In exhaustive testing, the DSR-8880 test unit proved reliable, stable, and worthy of any assigned task. Greatly appreciated were its fast system startup, intoxicating throughput, accurate copying, and external status lights. In many ways, the DSR-8880 is a preview of things to come, with characteristics to be emulated by other manufacturers. These include its solid 8X integration, well-mannered behavior, faultless operation, isolation of problems to individual recorders, and general attention to detail.

price: $7395

Hoei Sangyo Co. Ltd.
12-15 Nihonbashi-Kobunacho Chuoku
Tokyo, Japan 103-0024
+81 3 3655 3418
Fax +81 3 5642 7559

http://www.hoei.co.jp

MicroBoards Technology, Inc.
1721 Lake Drive West
Chanhassen, MN 55317
800/646-8881, 612/556-1600
Fax 612/556-1620

http://www.microboards.com


About the Author

Hugh Bennett, editor-in-chief of Hugh’s News, is president of Forget Me Not Information Systems, a reseller, systems integrator and industry consultant based in London, Ontario, Canada. Hugh is author of The Authoritative Blu-ray Disc (BD) FAQ and The Authoritative HD DVD FAQ, available on Hugh’s News, as well as Understanding Recordable & Rewritable DVD and Understanding CD-R & CD-RW, published by the Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA).

Copyright © Online Inc. / Hugh Bennett

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