Claes Holmerup: Falcon - the music machine
AT LAST! The first C-lab Falcons have landed, and if we're lucky, a new shipment will arrive before christmas. Speaking of christmas; the 24. of December is the last date for ordering the Limited Edition bundles with Cubase Audio. Those who want such an extremely cost-efficient package are really out in the eleventh hour (if this article is published before christmas - otherwise, it's unfortunately already too late).
What's so special about the C-lab machines?
Well, the LE-bundles contain a Falcon MKII with a built-in SCSI-harddisk (350MB or 530MB). The hard disk has been connected by removing the internal terminators on the motherboard and placing a small card with a 2.5" SCSI-connector leading to the internal SCSI-disk instead. When this HD is mounted, the place that originally was intended for an internal 2.5" IDE-disk is used, so it can't be connected at the same time (unless if you build it into a tower case...).
On the harddisk
The hard disk is split into two partitions, where the first is 14MB and contains all the pre-installed software. The other partition is intended for audio recording. Among the programs are Cubase Audio (naturally), ICD Pro 6.5.5 hard disk driver (which is better than Atari's own AHDI/HDX), CheckDisk3 (for defragmentation), as well as the other programs normally located on the Language- disk. On the harddisk is also a demo song with eight audio tracks, which is automatically loaded when Cubase Audio is started. This demo song can of course be removed (thank heavens for that!).
When I conducted a test of the harddisk speed, it shows that the transfer speed
is about 1.2MB/s, which is enough for making audio recordings, according to all
the tests I've made previously.
To compare, I tested exchanging the harddisk driver software to SCSI-tools and HDDriver. I got a transfer speed of about 1.4MB/s with these - to be compared to my own 3.5" fast SCSI-II disks which shovels the data at a speed of about 1.8- 1.9MB/s with SCSI-tools or HDDriver (which is as close to the limit of the SCSI- bus as you can come).
The sound circuitry has been improved. Naturally, there are line levels in and out, and C-lab have also exchanged the output OP-amps to IC's with less noise than those that were used in the original Atari Falcon. Cubase Audio with cartridge dongle and clock module is included with english user manuals and is also pre- installed on the harddisk, so you can start immediately with your recordings. The keyboard has the english character set, if anyone was afraid they would have chosen the german keyboard layout instead...
In short: The Falcon is - as usual - the best choise for the musician who wants to work with harddisk recording. Well done C-lab!!!
In the next issue, I'll say a few words about another field of use for the Falcon: home burning!
Until we meet again - continue to make music!