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Fostex CR300
CD Recorder, Player, DAC and ADC
© KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Intro   Specs   Measurements  DAC   ADC   Usage   Recommendations

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Fostex CR300

 

Fostex CR300 (2 RU rack mount, also has removable feet, CD-R and CD-RW recording, CD, CD-R and CDRW playback, about $100 used.) I got mine at this link directly to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay). bigger.

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live.

 

Fostex CR300

Fostex CR300. bigger.

 

July 2015   audio reviews   headphone reviews   tube amp reviews   all reviews

 

Introduction         top

Intro   Specs   Measurements  DAC   ADC   Usage   Recommendations

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B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

The Fostex CR300 is a very flexible CD recorder.

While few people need a CD recorder today since we do it better on our computers, this unit serves both as a good rackmount CD player, as well as a universal DAC and A/D converter and headphone amplifier.

I love having level meters that read as I'm playing a store-bought CD or using it as a DAC, but that's my engineering side coming out. I spent the first decade of my career as a recording and broadcast engineer, which means I'm always the guy watching the levels if I'm not off designing or building some new equipment.

The CR300 has every kind of professional analog and digital input and output (except for an AES output), and thus the reason I bought one as a do-everything audio converter and monitor.

Today it's useful because it has every kind of analog and digital output, as well as a headphone amplifier with level control, allowing us to convert and monitor just about any kind of analog or digital signal to any other kind.

It was hot stuff back in 2000 when it came out and CD recorders for audio or computers very still very expensive. When new, this sold for $1,000 in 2000 dollars, and CD computer recorders cost almost as much.

It is actually made by Pioneer and is loaded with Pioneer ICs.

Its level meters and Margin indicators read whenever any CD is played. The Margin indicator resets whenever you set the display to anything else; it won't work in the background as you look at track numbers or times on the display. The level meters work when running as a DAC, but the margin indicators don't.

The case and rack mounts are metal, and the front panel, buttons and knobs are plastic.

The LED above the CD drawer means LASER ON. Green means play, and red means writing.

When used to play CDs, it takes 15s to load and start playing. When it first ingests a disc, it has to figure out what kind of disk it is and what it can do with it, so you'll see it guessing CD-R, CD-RW and finally CD as you load it.

While 15 years old today and "only" 16-bits, as a serious peice of pro audio recording equipment its audio performance runs rings around today's junk claiming to be "24-bit," like the Zoom recorders.

 

Sample Rate Converter

It has a sample-rate converter, activated in a menu, to accept 48 and 32 ksps signals as well as 44.1 ksps to record to the CD.

The digital monitor outputs remain at the input rate while recording.

Oddly with a 32 ksps digital input, the meters clip and the analog monitor output THD rises at 0 dBFS with a 32 ksps input. It's fine just a tad below 0 dBFS, and fine at all other sample rates.

The sample-rate converter is usually off. You have to activate it in a menu. It resets itself to off whenever you turn off the CR300.

 

Specifications        top

Intro   Specs   Measurements  DAC   ADC   Usage   Recommendations

Fostex CR300

Inside the Fostex CR300. Note spinning AC/DC CD. much bigger.

 

Analog Inputs: Balanced XLR analog at +4 or -10, unbalanced RCA.

Digital Inputs: AES XLR, SPDIF RCA, TOSLINK.

 

Media: CD-R, CD-RW and CD (play only).

 

Digital Outputs: SPDIF RCA, TOSLINK.

Analog Outputs: Balanced XLR analog at +4 or -10 (menu set), unbalanced RCA, ¼" headphones.

 

Measurements         top

Intro   Specs   Measurements  DAC   ADC   Usage   Recommendations

These measurements are made in July 2015 of a recorder built in November 2000. 15 years old, and works perfectly.

These measurements are made with an exotic Rohde & Schwarz UPL laboratory analyzer. The traces from the Rohde & Schwarz UPL laboratory analyzer are color coded for the Left Channel and for the Right Channel. When they don't lie on top of each other, it's due to channel imbalance. When they do lie on top of each other, the trace turns blue.

Unless otherwise specified, all measurements are RMS at 1 kHz at 0 dBFS.

Unless otherwise specified, analog measurements are with a 200 kΩ load or 5 Ω source at the RCA unbalanced connections. Common was left floating.

Unless otherwise specified, digital measurements are from the TOSLINK connections.

I use a slash to separate left/right measurements.

 

DAC Measurements         top

Intro   Specs   Measurements  DAC   ADC   Usage   Recommendations

Performance is the same regardless of AES, RCA or TOSLINK input. These are measured at the unbalanced outputs.

 

Unbalanced DAC Output Level

2.1885/2.1872 V (+6.803/+6.798 dBV) at 0 dBFS.

 

Balanced DAC Output Level, LOW menu setting

2.0919/2.0928V @ 0.001% THD 200 kΩ.

1.5681/1.5688V @ 0.002% THD at 600 Ω = 4.1 mW = +6.128 dBm.

1.2547/1.2552V @ 0.0025& THD at 300 Ω.

 

Balanced DAC Output Level, HIGH menu setting

8.136/8.146V @ 0.002% THD 200 kΩ.

6.101/6.103V @ 0.0035% THD at 600 Ω = 62 mW = +17.92 dBm.

4.870/4.873V @ 0.45% THD at 300 Ω.

 

Headphone Output

Frequency response is identical to the line outputs measured below, regardless of load.

Output levels at MAX at 0 dBFS:

2.0016/2.0011V @ 0.0047% THD @ 200 kΩ load.

1.8527/1.8541V @ 0.004% THD at 600Ω load.

1.7247/1.7274V @ 0.0036% THD at 300 Ω load.

874.5/880.2 mV @ 0.0112% THD at 37.5 Ω load.

 

DAC Noise, Unbalanced Outputs

-103.9 dBV A-weighted, playing zeros.

-100.0 dBV, unweighted, 22 kHz bandwidth, playing zeros.

-114.0 dBV A-weighted, muted with no digital input.

 

DAC Frequency Response

Fostex CR300 performance

Frequency Response.

 

Fostex CR300 performance

Infrasonic Frequency Response.

 

DAC Distortion

Fostex CR300 performance

THD at 1 kHz versus level, undithered.

 

Fostex CR300 performance

THD at 0 dBFS.

 

Fostex CR300 performance

THD at -20 dBFS, no dither.

 

Fostex CR300 performance

THD at -40 dBFS, no dither.

 

Fostex CR300 performance

THD at -60 dBFS, no dither.

 

Fostex CR300 performance

Harmonic Distortion Components at 0 dBFS.

 

Fostex CR300 performance

Harmonic Distortion Components a-20 dBFS, no dither.

 

Fostex CR300 performance

Harmonic Distortion Components at -40 dBFS, no dither.

 

Fostex CR300 performance

Harmonic Distortion Components at -60 dBFS, no dither.

 

DAC Jitter

Fostex CR300 performance

10 kHz signal at 0 dBFS, no input jitter, very narrow FFT to show any intrinsic jitter.

 

Fostex CR300 performance

20 kHz signal at 0 dBFS with 0.1 UI jitter at 19 kHz. 1 kHz jitter component is 2 dB higher with RCA instead of TOSLINK input as shown here.

 

 

A-to-D Converter Measurements         top

Intro   Specs   Measurements  DAC   ADC   Usage   Recommendations

Performance seems the same at the balanced or unbalanced inputs.

These are measured with the unbalanced inputs and TOSLINK output.

 

ADC Sample Rate

The actual sampling rate measured 44,092.7 samples per second.

 

Unbalanced ADC Input Levels

Maximum input at 0.1% THD: 7.03V, regardless of record level.

Input voltage (unbalanced) for clipping:

Record level Input for clipping
Level 3 7.03 V
Level 5 2.5 V
Level 10 316 mV

 

Balanced ADC Input Levels

Minimum input voltage for clipping at maximum record level:

Input selection Input for clipping
XLR +4 1.027 V
XLR -10 262 mV
LINE (unbal) 316 mV

 

Level Meter Calibration

0 dB on at -1.16 dBFS.

• on at -3 dBFS.

-6 on at -6.3 dBFS.

• on at -12 dBFS.

-18 on at -18 dBFS.

• on at -27 dBFS (-30.3 to -24.3 dBFS).

-40 on at -40 dBFS.

 

ADC Frequency Response

Fostex CR300 performance

ADC Frequency Response.

 

Fostex CR300 performance

ADC Frequency Response, detail.

 

ADC Distortion

Fostex CR300 performance

ADC THD at -1 dBFS.

 

Fostex CR300 performance

ADC THD at -20 dBFS.

 

Fostex CR300 performance

ADC FFT with a 20 kHz input at -0.5 dBFS.

 

Power Consumption

Off: zero, completely disconnected.

14.3 W at idle.

15-16W when used as a DAC.

16.67 W when playing a CD.

 

Usage         top

Intro   Specs   Measurements  DAC   ADC   Usage   Recommendations

 

Use as a DAC

To work as a DAC, press RECORD, and you'll see MONI on the display.

Select your input with the knob near the record level control.

 

Meters

The level meters work all the time, also when working as a DAC or playing a CD.

The margin indicators don't work when using it as a DAC.

 

Sample Rate Converter

This lets it record from any 32, 44.1 or 48 ksps digital source.

It has to be activated in a menu, since it resets to off whenever you turn off the CR300.

To turn it on, press MENU until you see SRC (sample-rate converter), then press >> to turn it ON, then press SET (on the left side of the front panel) to set it.

The display shows 32/44/48, but even with different inputs it still showed 44.

It resets itself to off whenever you turn off the CR300.

 

Balanced output levels

To select HIGH (+18 dBu @ 0 dBFS) or LOW (+6 dBu @ 0 dBFS), press MENU until you see Bal, then press >> to set HI or LO, then press SET (on the left side of the front panel) to set it.

 

Recommendations         top

Intro   Specs   Measurements  DAC   ADC   Usage   Recommendations

Today this is an inexpensive do-everything audio player, DAC, adapter, headphone amplifier and converter. For its price, it works extremely well.

This one I bought was shipped to me in a box with no padding. Miraculously it arrived with no major visible damage, but the CD spindle had gotten jarred to be about 500 microns lower than it should have been and the shield over the LASER had come loose, so CDs scraped on it and made horrible noises. No worries, the service information is available online to licensed personnel, and with that I simply pulled-up the CD platter to meet spec, and all is well.

It uses an automatic internal magnetic disc clamp, and the extra weight must have jarred it when dropped by the Post Office at least once coming across the country. Actually I was astounded that the Post Office took such good care of it; the box and the unit looked great, even though there was no padding inside the box. No worries, if you get one that arrives damaged, eBay's money-back guarantee covers you.

If you've found all the time, effort and expense I put into researching and sharing all this, this free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link directly to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay), when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thanks! Ken.

 

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Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

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07 July 2015