The Alesis Masterlink is a versatile user-friendly hard disc recorder with a  built-in CD burner. I used this unit recently on a mix down that I had recorded on a 2-inch, 16-track recorder and my initial impression was that I hope I never see another DAT tape in my life. The lush sound coming off the tape was the perfect scenario to try out a new A/D converter to see what its got. In the past, I have used the older apogee converters as well as the A/D on the T.C. Electronics finalizer. The difference I heard with this unit was amazing. Though I expected a smoother high-end, to my surprise, it had a rich, three-dimensional low-end. The resolution of the unit is switchable between 44.1k, 48k, 88.2k and 96k  sampling rates as well as 16-, 20- and 24-bit word-lengths. I enjoyed being able to a/b between 16-bit 44.1k and 24-bit, 96k—and actually hearing the  difference. If you enjoy the sound of analog, you will hear the difference…wow!! The Masterlink is also equipped with everything you need for basic  mastering, such as normalizing, EQ, fade in/out, compression, "look ahead" limiting, and of course track order. And, if you're like me and would rather trust someone else, you can burn a 24/96 disc and have it mastered properly. In short, I loved the Alesis Masterlink—except for two things. When you record high-resolution audio into it and you want to burn a basic red book  standard disc you must have your 24-bit audio converted over to 16-bit  audio, "rendered." This process takes forever, so it would be nice if there were dual processors or something to speed this up. Also, when you have many different digital formats in the hard drive and you want to burn a single red book disc, you can only hope it reads and converts it properly for you. It's not going to ask you what want—and, if it doesn't do it properly on its own, you are going to have to reload the audio and do it  again. This problem could also be caused by the age-old engineer too lazy to read the owner's manual. Nevertheless, the unit sounded great and was easy to use saving mucho time and hassle.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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