June 2002|In his famous "Lennon Remembers" interview with Rolling Stone's Jann Wenner, John Lennon compares the blues to a chair "for sitting on, not…for looking at." That might not seem like much of compliment, but coming from someone whose music drew from the blues as its primary source, it was the highest praise. In the blues, form serves function, and the music is as functional as any, a sonic expression of emotion. A simple three- or four-chord progression, an A-A-B rhyme scheme, and a hard-hitting backbeat. Sure, everyone from Muddy Waters to Jimi Hendrix to Stevie Ray Vaughan pushed the blues in new directions, but the basic form—and function—stayed the same.
Such is the case with one-to-one CD duplicators. They've gotten faster, but there's not much to be done about dressing them up, and too many bells and whistles only get in the way of the job to be done. You want to make disc copies quickly and easily. The Odixion DigiCopier Uno Premium 24X does just that, at blazing 24X speed. Loaded with a Plextor Px-40Tsi in the reader slot and a Sanyo 24X10X40X in the recorder slot, the Uno offers enough speed and reliability for small-run professional use. But it also makes things easy and intuitive enough for the music enthusiast who wants to spend less than a day making copies of the collected works of Frank Zappa.
In fact, if you're not careful, you'll find that the Uno Premium will start making that copy of Weasels Ripped My Flesh as soon as you pop both the disc and its copy-in-waiting in the drives. By the time the initial "what the heck did I just do?" shock wears off, the unit will have already popped out the completed project, meaning you've only got about four minutes to make that J-card and find your Sharpie.
That doesn't mean you can't control the settings; you've just got to input them on the keypad before you close both drives (a point the 8-page booklet fails to mention). Once the discs are in, the Uno's up and running. Four of the five keys are simple "on/off" functions. Starting on the left, you can select "simulate," to do a test run on the disc before you make a copy and risk a coaster (though the only duds the Uno produced in our test were on CD-RW 650s; more on that later). The "copy" button does just what it says it does.
\So why would you want to turn it off? When you want to use the next function, "verify," to compare the data on a newly-minted copy with the master. That only works on data discs, but it means you don't have to pop the dupe into your hard drive to see if it came out the way you wanted. But the "copy" button does have to be switched to "off" for that handy function to work. In our testing, however, the unit verified 99% of the discs, and then hung up, even though the copies then tested fine in the computer.
By pressing the "simulate" and "copy" buttons at the same time, you can erase a CD-RW. Insert your CD-RW, press both buttons and release. Then, you're prompted to "press any key" by the two-line LCD screen, and your data's on its way to the virtual dustbin of history. Problem is, when you combine the amount of time it takes the unit to erase (almost 10 minutes for a 41-minute audio disc in our test) with the cost of CD-R media…well, it's not exactly a cost-effective process. But if you can convince yourself of a compelling reason to keep on using CD-RWs, the Uno will help you use that illusion.
unfit at any speed
The most significant issue we faced was with the "fit" function, which is supposed to automatically truncate a copy of an audio recording that's longer than 74 minutes when duping it to a 74-minute CD-RW. The unit indicated gave the "copy truncated" message and popped out the disc, but the resulting product caused problems on both computers we tested it on, regardless of the recording speed we used. In fact, in two instances, our iMac froze in the midst of the final, supposedly truncated track. Unless the iMac has a strong aversion to Michael Jackson's version of "Smile" (which would indicate unusually good taste for an inanimate object), the Uno failed to live up to spec on that particular promise.
Finally, there's the only button that matters to most of us: "speed." Uno's "safe" mode will copy at a one-to-one ratio if your original's face looks less like a mirror than a windshield in a Wisconsin winter. The rest of the choices run the gamut—2X, 4X, 8X, 12X, 16X, and the default "max" or 24X option. Running at maximum speed, this baby burned a 78:42 audio disc in a neck-snapping 4:05 (even faster than the product sheet promised!).
But that 78:42 copy revealed Odixion's other flaw. Most of the copies we made of discs longer than 74 minutes revealed problems in their final tracks, even on CD-R media. The last song would stop and start, and sometimes it wouldn't play at all. If your primary interest is in making audio discs, that's a major flaw; then again, the Uno isn't really targeted toward the audio enthusiast.
All in all, we tested 35 discs at various speeds (the unit's counter saved us the effort of keeping track), and the Uno kept cranking 'em out, even during almost ninety minutes of continuous use at maximum speed. This standalone is compatible with standard CD-R, CD-RW, Mini CD-R 8cm, and Business Card CD. (We used Sony and Plextor 80-minute CD-R discs and Plextor 74-minute CD-RW discs.) And if you want to listen to your copies, it also includes headphone jacks in both drives for playback.
If you need to, you can hook it up as a peripheral to your PC or Mac. Our SCSI-equipped Mac Powerbook wouldn't recognize the drive using the provided Nero software, but it did just fine with Toast. Still, since it offers only a SCSI port "and comes with neither cables nor a card," it's not a function you're likely to find much use for.