Sunday, October 4, 2015

Splitting tracks on an Alesis Masterlink

I'm using an Alesis Masterlink to do my dubs from turntable and FM.  Actually FM radio is first recorded to my Nakamichi RX-505 because it has a useful "timer start" feature.  Then I dub the radio to the Masterlink to make CD's, which sound remarkably good (yes!) considering FM and cassette came first.  It is very worthwhile recording the broadcasts of the San Antonio Symphony on KPAC Saturday evenings at 7pm when I'm often not home.

I have two hardcopies of the Masterlink manual, but forget finding those.  Instead I bring up a PDF copy of the manual I got somewhere.  It doesn't seem to say anything about splitting tracks, which is the most useful operation.  Not only is splitting tracks a natural thing to do when you record long broadcasts from FM or sides of an LP, but splitting tracks is the only way to edit out junk in between stuff you want.  You split somewhere inside the junk, then crop off the junk from the preceding and/or following tracks using the Crop operation.

Searching online, I first find the Sweetwater hints for using the Masterlink.    They say you mark the beginning of the new track by holding Playlist Edit and pressing Track Start and then do the split by holding Playlist Edit and pressing Track Start again.  I started trying that on my Masterlink, but the second time I pressed Track Start it goes back to the actual start of the track, not where I had previously paused.

Actually, the way to do this is very intuitive.  To split a track, in Edit Mode you pause it where you want the new track to begin, and hold Playlist Edit and press New Track (!).  Then you confirm.  Done!

Despite its quirks, Masterlink is easier to use than all the computer based DAW's I've tried, and doesn't require you to use a computer (which brings all sorts of endless trouble).  Computer timer recorders are aimed at recording digital streaming broadcasts, which are necessarily highly lossy compressed, rather than analog FM terrestrial broadcasts (analog stereo FM is a linear lossless system theoretically capable of zero distortion with the best FM tuners reaching into .007% territory).

Analog timer recorders used to be a common thing, I had a Sony All-on-one which could timer record FM to cassette using it's own built-in daily timer.  At the time I bought that unit, however, it was already becoming a vanishing breed.  Very few analog-to-digital recorders have even been made, the Masterlink is basically unique as a high resolution  hard drive recorder/DSP/editer/burner.  The Masterlink has no timer record feature, I think there might have been an analog-to-CD recorder with that feature, but there weren't many of those.

Back in the day…all the Nakamichi cassette decks I know of had the timer record feature, as my RX-505 and my 600.

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