Smaller is not always better, especially when it comes to being able to provide a large set of features and capabilities to the user.  In the arena of portable audio recorders, it is often the hand held units that get the most press, but larger audio CD recorders like the Superscope PSD450 can do far more than any handheld unit can.  I took the Superscope PSD450 on a test drive through a week of classes and rehearsals and discovered that this classic workhorse of a recording system has been fully updated for the digital age.  Is it worth the high price tag though?  Read on to find out.

The Superscope PSD450 has the footprint of a typical hardback novel and stands about three inches high.  Inside that fairly small frame though Superscope has packed a lot of nice features including a huge (compared to other digital audio recorders) 40 gigabyte hard drive, MiniSD expansion slot, and a slot loading CD burner.  The thing that everyone who first lays eyes on it notices though is neither of these, it is the huge built in LCD screen and a relatively small number of buttons that adorn the top.  My first thought when I saw the sparse layout of controls was that I was going to have to delve into menus a lot in order to change settings and get things set the way I needed them, but I quickly discovered that Superscope did a very nice job incorporating multi-use function knobs and a navigation hat/rotary dial together with the LCD to provide everything that I need without making it feel like a chore.

Awesome Features For Music Studios and Classrooms
The PSD450 seems geared quite a bit toward billing itself as a practice and accompaniment system.  As such it provides a great many different ways to not only record but play back audio which make it ideal for the music classroom.  Aside from the now almost standard features of having a built in chromatic tuner and being able to change the key and tempo of a recording it also provides many overdubbing features that enable it to work much like a professional multitrack recorder.  Any track that is stored in the units internal memory can be overdubbed, layering additional musical parts over the top of the original.  However, unlike a true multitrack recorder those tracks cannot be turned on and off at will they just are added together onto the same one.

Ease of Recording
Recording with the Superscope PSD450 is a breeze.  Just hit the record button twice and you are ready to go.  For those of us who are finicky about input levels the device has three different recording level modes.  The first, manual, allows the user to set the recording levels at any setting they wish by using the three Function Adjust knobs below the LCD.  In Limiter mode the unit automatically adjusts for sudden peaks in the volume of the recorded audio but still allows the user to fine tune the settings with the knobs.  In ALC mode the knobs are turned off and the unit does all the hard work for you.  The PSD450 also comes with on board phantom power to drive condenser mics as well as manual mic/line and instrument input adjustment knobs on the front of the unit.  You can even record from an auxilliary stereo RCA input and mix this input with other sources.
CD Burning Speed and Capabilities
Burning audio CD’s is also fairly easy, the unit taking just over ten minutes to burn a one hour long WAV file to an audio disc.  I then turned around and burned the same file to a new CD but this time making a data disc and storing the WAV file in MP3 format.  In contrast a typical computer mounted 32x burner will do the same thing in around five minutes but the convenience of having a solid piece of portable hardware for burning discs is not to be slighted.  The complete burning process including converting the WAV file to MP3 took fourteen minutes (the first three of which appeared to be converting the file before the disc finally spun up to burn).  The unit can also rip existing CD’s to its internal hard drive and then turn around and burn them back to a new blank disc multiple times.
Minor Drawbacks to the Superscope PSD450
On the downside of things, I wasn’t totally impressed with the built in microphones of the PSD450.  The unit uses two tiny little pinhole mics which left me a bit underwhelmed with their response.  Luckily though, the unit also features two XLR/1/4 inch jacks on the side so that you can use your own microphones with the Superscope either alone or mixed in combination with the internal mics.  

Another minor annoyance in my opinion is that they decided to use MiniSD cards for the removable storage medium.  I personally have several full size SD cards and also have several MicroSD cards (for use in cell phones) but MiniSD, while not rare, is definitely not as common nor as easy to download from requiring an adaptor in order to plug it into my computer.  This isn’t a deal breaker by any means but for some users it would be an annoyance.  On the plus side though the unit is able to be hooked up to a PC or Mac to download music off of the unit and onto the more spacious computer hard drive if the need arises.

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