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Disclaimer. The opinions expressed are those of Michael Oster and may not reflect that of other audio and music professionals. Your mileage may vary. Just because I like one piece of equipment does not guarantee a thing. F7 Sound and Vision and Michael Oster are not liable for any damage caused by your agreement or disagreement with the following:
Disc Makers Reflex4. $549 - (as of 11/3/07) 4 drive CD and DVD duplicator with 250 GB hard drive.
Update - 6/2008:
Still working great!
Update - 1/2008:
I've been using this duplicator for just about 18 months with no problems at all.
Update - 11/2007:
Discmakers has lowered their prices on the Reflex series making them an even better deal. Mine has worked wonderfully over the past year and change. Turn it on. Load the blanks. Copy. Repeat. Not sexy. Nothing to brag to my friends about. But, that's everything I want in a duplicator!
It works! Quick and painless operation. 2 months of use and so far no problems (as of September 2006).
Comes with 100 "Ultra" CD-Rs (or 50 "Ultra" DVD-Rs) FREE which I turned into product that I sold... so those have since paid for my unit. 1 year warranty and free tech support (the unit is very straightforward so I haven't needed tech help). Discount blank media for life from Disc Makers (I've already taken advantage of this).
Not sexy at all (show me a manual duplicator that is) but it's hard to argue with something that works and is priced well.
Is there any piece of gear that has less sex appeal than a CD duplicator? Let's face it, microphones, guitars, tube preamps and compressors all SCREAM SEX. But duplicators? They just kind of "lay there".
Now that we're past that.... Despite the lack of sex appeal, you (like me) might still need to burn a bunch of CDs - more than your computer's CD drive can handle. I faced this problem a while back as I had just about sold out of my 3rd replication run of my CD "". Was I going to have 1000 (or more) new CDs replicated yet again?
There are advantages to professional replication: they do all the work for you, the printed artwork looks better than "home made" stuff, and everything's packaged and shrink-wrapped and looks like something you just got at the store. But, there are disadvantages too. Sometimes "duds" (that is, non functional CDs) make it through the replicator's quality control and you end up paying for them - then selling them to customers - who then return them (happened to me). Oh, and shipping damage... like the 1 to 2 percent of jewel cases that are cracked or shattered during their trip to you - yes, you can replace jewel cases - but you'll also have to re-shrink wrap. OK, maybe not that big of a deal. But, I'm getting tired of replicating at least 1000 CDs with each product title that I sell.
Here's where getting a duplicator comes into play. Having a duplicator in my studio means that I can burn CDs as I need them so I'm not storing excess inventory. Also, I have direct control over the quality of my finished product (all CDs work before they leave my place) AND they sound every bit as good as a professionally replicated CD. Yes, I have to do a little extra work in the process, but that's fine.
So I looked in to getting a professional quality duplicator. I researched several different brands of duplicators from major and some not so major companies. On the advice of one of my clients (who's CD I had mastered), I checked out Disc Makers Reflex series. Up until this point, I had no dealings with Disc Makers, but from what I've heard, they seem to be very "artist" oriented which sounded good to me.
The beauty of the internet means that it's easy to compare products "head to head" without speaking directly with sales people (who "always" say that the products that they sell are the best). From looking at specs (and reading the few available on line reviews), I decided that I wanted a unit with a hard drive.
Why a hard drive? Some duplicators copy "disc to discs" where you put a "master" into one drive and blanks into the others, then copies are made. That's fine, but what about if you're using the same "master" CD over the course of months or years to make copies? Will the data on the "master" be in the same condition as the day it was first burned? I doubt it (and yes, I know there's that thing called 'error correction'). So, to get past that you could burn new "masters" every so-often. OK, fine. But.... With a hard drive, you burn one master and then load that into a partition on the drive. Then, all of the copies are made from that disc image. That idea sounds better to me, but what do I know? So that's why I chose a duplicator with a hard drive.
Disc Makers has a line of manual duplicators called "Reflex" and they come with up to 10 burners. All but the Reflex1 has a 250 GB hard drive. I chose the Reflex4 - 4 CDs or DVDs copied at once. Now don't get all "hot"... oh wait, no "sex appeal" with duplicators, right. Disc Makers sent me the Reflex along with 100 free Disc Makers Ultra CD-Rs (or you can choose 50 Ultra DVD-Rs). In less than an hour from the time the duplicator arrived at my place, I was making CDs. That's right. Setup was painless and the "quick start" guide from Disc Makers was helpful. I had loaded a freshly burned "master" CD into the unit's hard drive and I was burning beautiful CDs - CDs that I could sell. That's it.
The Disc Makers Reflex4 has been in service here for about 2 months. I've burned over a hundred CDs and sold and shipped most of those to customers with no complaints or returns. It's not sexy, it doesn't make for a "gripping story", and I'm sure you've yawned a couple of times while reading this review. But, the Reflex4 does what it's supposed to do - burn CDs (and DVDs - though I have yet to try that). It works and has yet to (and hopefully never will) give me a problem.
Find out more about the Reflex duplicators and other Disc Makers products and services by visiting the Disc Makers website - www.discmakers.com
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F7 Sound and Vision's Michael Oster has recorded music, thunderstorms, F-18s, wild animals, kitchen utensils, celebrities, strange insects... He also makes the coffee and takes out the trash.