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A hard disk recorder (HDR) is a system that uses a high-capacity hard disk to record digital audio or digital video. Hard disk recording systems represent an alternative to reel-to-reel audio tape recording and video tape recorders, and provide editing capabilities unavailable to tape recorders. The systems, which can be standalone or computer-based, typically include provisions for digital mixing and processing of the audio signal.

Direct-to-disk recording (DDR) refers to methods which may also use optical disc recording technologies such as DVDs, and CD optical discs.



Prior to the 1980s, most recording studios used analog multitrack recorders, typically based on reel-to-reel tape. The first commercial hard disk recording system was the Sample-to-Disk 16-bit, 50 kHz digital recording option for the New England Digital Synclavier II in 1982.[1] The high cost and limited capacity of these solutions limited their use to large professional audio recording studios, and even then, they were usually reserved for specific applications such as film post-production. Stereo audio was not immediately available due to data input and output limitations on hard drives of that time.

With the arrival of the compact disc in 1982, digital recording became a major area of development by equipment makers. Several affordable solutions were released during the late 1980s and early 90s; many of these continued to use tape, either in reels, or in more manageable videocassettes. In 1993, iZ Technology Corporation developed RADAR (Random Access Digital Audio Recorder distributed by Otari), designed to replace 24-track tape machines. By the mid-1990s, with the steady decline of hard disk prices and the corresponding increases in capacity and portability, the cost of hard disk recording systems had dropped to the point where they became affordable for even smaller studios. Hard disk systems have since become the preferred method for studio recording.

On January 14, 2004, Engineers from Fairlight, WaveFrame and AMS were awarded Academy Scientific and Technical Awards for the development of hard disk recording technology[2]


One major advantage of recording audio to a hard disk is that it allows for non-linear editing. Audio data can be accessed randomly and therefore can be edited non-destructively, that is, the original material is not changed in any way. Non-linear editing is not inherent to every hard-disk recording system, however. Different manufacturers implement different degrees of this facility.

Hard disk recorders are often combined with a digital mixing console and are an integral part of a digital audio workstation (DAW). In this form, complex tasks can be automated, freeing the audio engineer from performing a final mix in real time.

A personal computer can be used as a hard disk recorder with appropriate software; nowadays this solution is often preferred, as it provides a more flexible interface to the studio engineer. Many studio-grade systems provide external hardware, particularly for the analog to digital conversion stages, while less expensive software systems can use the sound card included with any modern computer.

The major constraints on any hard disk recording system are the storage capacity, transfer rate, and processor speed. Some systems use lossy audio compression to minimize the first two factors. This solution is becoming increasingly rare, thanks to rapid increases in hard disk capacity.


Stand-alone hard disk recorders are able to record audio or video without requiring a computer. Examples of notable stand-alone hard disk recorders and manufacturers include Alesis, Akai, Fostex, Korg, Mackie, TASCAM, Roland Corporation, Yamaha Pro Audio, RADAR and Zoom HD8 and HD16.

Miniaturization of recording and storage technology for consumer video already allows the non-professional user to directly record home movies to a permanent storage medium like DVD.[3]

DDRs have replaced Magnetic tape based DV, Digital8, 8mm Video Format, VHS and MicroMV video tape recorders.

Professional recording equipment using DtD transfers is beginning to appear. In April 2006, Seagate announced the first professional Direct-To-Disc cinematic camera aimed at the independent filmmaker (using their disc drives).[4]

Grass Valley has released the Infinity Series including Infinity Digital Media Camcorder, Infinity Digital Media Recorder, REV PRO Digital Media Drive-REV PRO Removable Media.

Professional television studio DDRs video servers are being used to replace video tape recorders (VTR)s and VTR Cart machines, that playout television commercials and TV shows. Digital audio workstations (DAW) are used in professional audio recording studios.

  • AJA Video Systems' Ki Pro family of direct-to-disk (solid-state disk/HDD/Compact Flash) professional DVRs (
  • Blackmagic Design's HyperDeck Studio line of professional SSD DVRs (
  • The Media Pool (1994)- Disk Recorder by Broadcast Television Systems Inc. (BTS) was the first[5] Professional Studio DDR. Received the Outstanding Achievement in Technical/Engineering Development Awards from National Academy Of Television Arts And Sciences in 2000–2001 for Pioneering developments in shared video-data storage systems for use in television video servers - Philips/Thomson.
  • Profile from Tektronix Models: PDR200-(1996), PDR300, PDR400
  • Quantel:
    • sQ Class of Servers and sQ Clients
  • Grande Vitesse Systems (GVS):
    • Profile GVS9000 2XU Pro, GVS9000 1XU Pro, GVS90000 7XU and other models of DDRs
    • Nomadic 1U 12xPro 24 hrs Uncompressed 10-bit 1080p Media Storage
    • Metropolis Media Servers
    • 9000CTR Dual Uncompressed HD Controller
  • Grass Valley:
    • Profile PVS3000, PVS3500 and other models of DDRs
    • K2 Media Servers and Media Clients
    • Profile XP Video Servers
    • Profile XP Open SAN System
    • M-Series intelligent video digital recorder (iVDR)
    • Turbo intelligent digital disk recorders (iDDRs)
  • Rave/SpectSoft
    • RaveHD
    • Rave2K
  • Digitale Videosysteme (DVS):
    • DVS Clipster DDR
    • DVS 2K Pronto DDR
  • CarbonHD digital disk recorder
  • The Digital video is stored on a storage area network (SAN) hard disk array.
    • Each year hard disk storage capacity gets larger and is able to hold hours of movies on Tera Byte systems.

Computer software can implement a hard disk recorder function.

Video recordingEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Synclavier early history, retrieved 2017-07-30 
  2. ^ "The 76th Scientific & Technical Awards 2003, 2004". The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 
  3. ^ "JVC Everio series hard disc handi-cams". JVC. Archived from the original on 2006-09-29. Retrieved 2006-11-22. 
  4. ^ "Seagate Hard Drives Enable World's First Digital Cinema Camera With Direct-To-Disc. Recording" (Press release). Seagate. March 2005. Retrieved 2006-11-22. 
  5. ^ "Media Pool tests the tapeless waters. (BTS digital disk-based recorder)". Archived from the original on 2007-10-04. Retrieved 2008-01-27.