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HHB Burnit

CD Recorder By Paul White
Published March 2001

HHB Burnit

Paul White tests the baby of HHB's CD recorder range.

The distinctively purple HHB CDR830 BurnIT is the least expensive CD recorder in the HHB range. Housed in a 2U rackmount case with a sculpted, anodised front panel, it features all the familiar controls, including separate knobs for analogue and digital level trim plus an individual headphone output level control. It offers digital I/O on both optical and coaxial S/PDIF, but the more professional AES‑EBU interface is absent, while the analogue I/O is on unbalanced phono connectors only. The machine has the ability to burn CD‑Rs and CD‑RWs using consumer or professional discs, and it is unencumbered by SCMS (Serial Copy Management System), though it's still possible to add this copy–prohibit code to your recordings if you wish. The converters are 24‑bit, but of course the data recorded to the CD remains in 16‑bit format to conform to the Red Book standard set down for commercial audio CDs. An infra‑red remote control is included as standard, and CD Text is supported, enabling the user to enter disc, artist and track names that will be displayed when the CD is replayed on a CD Text‑compatible player.

Acknowledging that not all digital sources are at the 44.1kHz required of CD, the CDR830 has inbuilt sample‑rate conversion that can deal with any source in the range 32kHz to 48kHz, though this is automatically bypassed if a 44.1kHz source is detected. Both manual and 'syncro' recording modes are supported, the latter with the option to automatically record one track, all tracks, or all tracks plus automatic finalise.

When the BurnIT is recording from a digital source in syncro mode, recording stops if the input signal drops below ‑96dB for more than five seconds (‑90dB in the case of a 24‑bit source). As 16‑bit audio only has a dynamic range of 96dB, this implies that a five‑second passage of digital silence (all bits off) is required to trigger the 'auto end' function, so low‑level orchestral passages, for example, are unlikely to result in a false stop.

Individual track starts are picked up when you're recording from a digital source. However, when the source is analogue (or when a digital source has no subcode information), the track increment threshold can be set by the user so that a new track is created after the signal falls below this level for over two seconds. Separate thresholds are available for the analogue, coaxial and optical inputs, which can be set between ‑24dB and ‑78dB (‑66dB minimum for analogue) in 6dB steps. There's also a manual track increment option, as well as a feature I haven't come across before that puts in track IDs at regular intervals regardless of what the input is doing. This is useful for breaking up continuous live recordings or interviews, and may be set by the user to operate at intervals of one, three or five minutes.

If CD‑RW disks are used, recording is pretty much the same as for a write‑once CD‑R, except that there are five different erase options: Erase TOC (reverse finalisation), Erase Last (erase the last track), Erase All (erase all tracks), Erase Range (erase a range of consecutive tracks) or Initialise (erase everything). Manually finalising a recording takes around two minutes, whereas in Auto Finalise mode finalisation starts around one minute after recording stops.

All the usual playback modes are supported, though some of the more esoteric features (programmable track order and so on) can only be accessed from the remote. However, given that any CD player or recorder has a limited laser life, based on how frequently it is used, I can't bring myself to use a CD‑R machine merely as a player!

The CDR830 does pretty much what it says on the tin — it produces copies in a reliable, hassle‑free way. Particularly useful is the variable threshold for pause detection. However, as there's no input buffer that I'm aware of, you'd be well advised to place your source's Start ID early enough to give the CD recorder time to get into record mode before the music starts. Though there are machines with more professional features, the CDR830 is a cost‑effective workhorse that will meet the requirements of the majority of small studios admirably. What's more, it looks extremely nice and is very intuitive to operate.


  • Easy to operate.
  • Offers all the essential features.
  • Competitively priced.


  • No balanced analogue or AES‑EBU digital I/O.


An ideal choice for those who need an SCMS‑free CD recorder, but who don't need the more esoteric trimmings.