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Alesis MasterLink ML-9600 Master Disk Recorder
Overall Rating
Submitted: September 11th, 2004
by Bill Meditz
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Sound Quality
The unit sounds very good and seems to reproduce audio with no discernable distortion or artifacts. It's very clean and uncolored. Basically, whatever you put into it you get out of it. It has a 20 gig hard drive and you're able to record at 16 bit, 20 bit and 24 bit at 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz or 96kHz. You can make CD24 or RedBook CD's. It has XLR and RCA I/O.
OK...this is where things start to get bad. As soon as I started using this unit I had problems. The first of these was "static" upon playback. Sometimes I got it and sometimes not. Eventually, the problem mysteriously resolved itself on its own. Curious. Then, upon filling up about 6 or 7 "Playlists" ( the unit allows you to record upto 16 playlists ) the unit wouldn't finish the CD burning process for later "playlists". The CD's themselves would be fine and would finish OK. I tried to "restore" the unit and reformat the internal hard-drive but that never solved the problem. Eventually, the unit would fail to "Initialize" and it was impossible to burn any CD's from the material I had recorded onto the internal hard-drive.
General Comments
I really wanted to like this unit and, when it worked, sounded quite good and was easy to use. However, for a unit that cost about $1,000 I would think it should work and perform much better. By the way, the internal "sound processing" such as limiting/compression is basically useless. If you're looking into this unit to do final mastering then look elsewhere because the processing is worthless for mastering or mixing purposes. I don't even know why they include it !!! Perhaps I got a lemon, I don't know. I haven't read much about other people's experience with this ML9600 so I can't comment on that. However, I cannot recommend this unit. It has been so unreliable. By the way, I keep this unit in my smoke-free home studio...it has NOT been "on the road". I hope to get rid of this unit and eventually buy a Denon / Marantz CDR420, which is basically the same thing as the Alesis. I trust Denon to make a better product, to be quite honest. I've never been a fan of Alesis and the only reason I bought the MasterLink is because it was the only unit of it's kind and the most economical choice for my budget and purposes. I have had so much trouble and poor performance with this Alesis product that I don't think I would buy from Alesis again. I wish Tascam made a product similar to the ML9600. I have a Tascam TSR-8 which works great despite it being a 15 year old unit. Overall, the Alesis MasterLink is not worth the money it's being sold for...way overpriced. If they sold it for $350 it would still be unreasonable. I've had crappy cassette multitracks that have worked longer and better. if I could give this MasterLink a -50 I would, so I will end up rating it with an OverAll Rating of...1 Spend your hard-earned money elsewhere and support companies that stand behind their product with good customer service.
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