It's been a long wait, but we're finally starting to see high-bandwidth IEEE 1394 digital audio connections on the back of DVD-A/SACD players (see related story), as first hinted at by Yamaha five years ago. A key ingredient for getting the beleaguered 1394 (or FireWire or iLink) format moving was the inclusion of copy-protection protocols that restrict unfettered consumer use of the digital audio content.
Michael Fremer heard that the Alesis MasterLink ML-9600 Hard Disk/CD-R Recorder "can sound better than all but the absolute top-drawer analog," and, of course, had to investigate. Mikey 'splains why audiophiles should take note of a machine generally used as a mastering tool by the recording industry.
Some Webcasters were given a stay of execution in late June, when the Librarian of Congress announced that they would be required to pay royalties at half the rate proposed by an arbitration panel last winter.
SACD partisans Sony and Philips continue to release new disc players that also decode DVD-Video, but not DVD-Audio. And arch-DVD-A supporter Meridian, as well as companies such as McIntosh, are releasing DVD-A and DVD-V players that don't do SACD. But there are exceptions, notably Pioneer, who debuted the first widely available "universal" player, the DV-AX10 SACD/DVD-A/CD player, last year.
When a well-respected analog disc-mastering veteran like Stan Ricker says that the Alesis MasterLink ML-9600, a hard-disk-based digital recorder/CD burner, is "the best tool in my mastering bag...done right it can sound better than all but the absolute top drawer analog," you take the endorsement seriously. Progress is possible. Mastering tool, CD burner, 24-bit/96kHz recorder, audio reviewer's best friend—the versatile MasterLink is one of the coolest products I've ever had my hands on.