HOFA CD-BURN & DDP – STANDALONE V1.6.9
(first published in CX magazine in October, 2015)
New to The Mill’s long list of software recently has been HOFA’s CD-Burn & DDP – standalone version – a fairly simple but effective red-book audio CD burning and pre-master DDP (Disc Description Protocol) manufacturing program that runs rock solidly on the Mac platform (it’s also available for PC).
HOFA, a German mob from Karlsdorf (near Stuttgart), have been making software for a few years now, but CD-Burn & DDP is my first experience of any of the company’s audio programs.
CD-Burn & DDP is designed to accommodate a wide variety of users, from people interested only in making their own compilation CD right through to mastering engineers producing CD-R premasters or DDP image folders for manufacture. Though the program is not quite as comprehensive as something like SADIE (PC only) or WaveLab, neither is it an expensive program to get amongst. I’m running it here on an older Quad Core Mac Pro loaded with OS 10.6.8, and so far it’s been flawless and rock solid.
Apart from the program’s apparent infallibility in terms of crashes and spurious gremlins – it hasn’t crashed once, not ever – first impressions of this standalone version have been excellent. (There’s also a plug-in version that allows you to create a disc directly from your DAW).
The GUI itself is very matter-of-fact, featuring a fairly stark two-colour, two-dimensional interface. Things are mostly black, grey and orange but somehow this leanness works well and looks good once you get over the program’s lack of pretence. The interface makes no effort to look fancy. On the contrary, in some respects it looks quite dated, but somehow this aesthetic works to its advantage.
Things are clear and simple to read, although some of the menu options across the top are a couple of font sizes too small for my liking. Most of the program tools are self-explanatory and intuitive.
I’ve had a lot of experience with countless audio programs over the years, but that doesn’t necessarily give you a licence to drive all of them. CD-Burn & DDP, however, is pretty straightforward in this respect if you have a background in other audio programs.
A bit like Waveburner, a bit like DSP Quattro, but with more stability than either, CD-Burn & DDP allows you to do almost everything that these sort of programs do: edit, fade, crossfade, apply plug-ins, add metadata like ISRC codes etc, burn a CD or create a (reliable) DDP, apply dither, export files and a hundred things besides.
I love the fact that this program is so simple to use, so reliable, so unassuming yet functional. To me that’s a huge plus. I like the fact that the interface sports a goniometer (‘jellyfish’ meter to some) though it’s pretty small and could be vastly improved by allowing a double-click to increase its size and separate it from the main screen. I like how the ‘Burn CD’ and ‘Write DDP’ commands are in big letters on the GUI, not hidden in a menu somewhere or only accessible via some obscure key command. They’re given the prominence and significance they deserve, making you wonder why the hell some other programs make these vital commands so difficult – they’re the whole point of the program after all!
But there are a few minor downsides to the program too. I don’t like the way files in CD-Burn & DDP are edited on the timeline, each song file only locking to its downstream brethren when these are manually highlighted, though I’ll probably grow used to this idiosyncrasy in time. Locking them together is as simple as holding down the Option key whilst you adjust the one furthest to the left, so it’s no big deal. But if you forget (perhaps because you’re zoomed in tight and can’t see the other tracks) and decide, for instance, to crossfade Songs 2 and 3 by seven seconds you will inadvertently create a gap between Songs 3 and 4 of that identical amount. Hmm… This should be adjustable in the preferences I reckon, but alas…
You can also lose the start point flag, song name and metadata relating to a song, if the gap between itself and its preceding track is made tighter than the default gap setting (which is customisable inside the main menu). This is pretty annoying stuff, serving no purpose I can see, other than to annoy.
That aside, Hofa’s CD-Burn & DDP program is a fantastically simple tool that can play more than a minor role in your studio. A great, relatively cheap program that just works.
HOFA (Germany): www.hofa-plugins.de