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"Adat's" Are they really that bad?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by dbeng@bellsouth.net, Mar 18, 2001.

  1. I run an "Adat Studio" in a rural area (away from the music hotspots so we don't get to compare notes with many other studios). We use a lot of the same gear as most of the "World Class" studio's do. But when I talk to the guys at our local "Pro Studio" (Neve, SSL, Studer 2", you get the picture) or anyone else "Pro", they want to talk down the fact or should I say don't consider us as being for real. I started with the black faces and now have the XT 20's. I know that 2" tape, Radar II, PT (which we have 001)and the DA-whatevers are what's happening in their world. But why the grief!

    The adat's are some what a pain at times (which I have learned to deal with) but the recordings we do here sound great and compare to most anything out there. Shouldn't that be all that matters? I agree that the Big Boy's stuff is great (if you can afford it) but are adats really THAT bad?

    Having said that, I would like to ask a few questions.

    (1) We get no respect, why?
    (2) What has been you experience with adats, Good or Bad?
    (3) How do you think the XT 20 sounds, compared to...?
    (3) Does everyone make back-up tapes? Have you ever had one eaten?
    (4) What is your method for back-ups, do you re-use them or archive them with the masters, how do you cover the cost?
    (5) Do you clean and service your own machines?
    (6) Are there any suggestions that you would like to share from your experience working with adat's?

    I know that for the seasoned Pro's, the adat started the end of life as they knew it and maybe that's the thing. I just want to hear some "real answers".
     
  2. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    (1) We get no respect, why?
    Maybe you answered that one already... "The adat's are some what a pain at times" This may be more important than their bad sound. No client likes to hear the words "sorry, the adat just ate your tape, you'll have to do that take over again." (Or worse.) No Professional wants to lose a good client to something that could have been avoided altogether.

    (2) What has been you experience with adats, Good or Bad?
    A little of both. A little budget is better than no budget (and no work) at all. I still do work occasionally with the poor. lol

    (3) How do you think the XT 20 sounds, compared to...?
    A little cold? Hard to explain how they compare to other stuff. Have you ever seen an old picture that had just one color faded a little bit?

    (3) Does everyone make back-up tapes?
    When time allowed, which was usually never.

    Have you ever had one eaten?
    Many.

    (4) What is your method for back-ups
    d-to-d optical transfer between 2 machines.

    do you re-use them
    Reuse??? Are you insane?

    or archive them with the masters
    Preferrably kept in different building than the masters.

    how do you cover the cost?
    The client has to buy the backups the same way they bought the masters.

    (5) Do you clean and service your own machines?
    I can clean em, but beyond that either I'm too wuss or it takes too much time.

    (6) Are there any suggestions that you would like to share from your experience working with adat's?
    You probably know these already... but here it is again for GP:

    1. Stretch your tapes AT LEAST TWICE before formatting.
    2. Use an outboard FF/REW machine for stretching so it doesn't kill your motors.
    3. Do a full FF/REW before you put your tapes away.
    4. Don't go faster than the ADAT. The ADAT will lose, and take your tape with it.
    5. Don't put anything important on the last couple minutes of tape.
    6. One rack space in between each machine to keep the heat down.
    7. Use short sync cables between machines (~1' long).
    8. Use the best tape you can get. (Last I checked, that was Maxell, HHB, AGFA... not Quantegy. Could be different now.)

    I know that for the seasoned Pro's, the adat started the end of life as they knew it and maybe that's the thing. I just want to hear some "real answers".
    If it allows you to get a full day's work done, I'm all for it.

    It's like a cheap car. It has wheels and gets you from A to B. They're not very fast, and tend to break down a lot. You'll have to work a lot harder to pick up chicks (unless you're into skanks). People in Benz's will sneer at you, and you'll say you don't care, though deep down you know you wouldn't refuse a free 600. Ok, maybe you can't drive home to the same street as the guy with the Benz lives on, but you can live in the same zip code. If you're a good talker you can even get his daugter to give you a hummer (everyone says she's easy). Then you can go smoke a joint with her brother and drink a case of PBR's. If you haven't guessed by now, its 5am and I have no idea where my analogy is.

    Hope that helps, :)
     
  3. Dave McNair

    Dave McNair Active Member

    Yeah, what he said, lol. I agree with everything my man said about adats, and would also add that I have worked with all vintages of em, inluding M20's and the sound is better than the old ones, but still unexceptable to me. OK, if that's all you have, fine, rock on. I'd rather make a record on used 2" tape, on a beat up 16trk, at 15IPS to save bucks, than 32 trks of any version adat. My .02
     
  4. Guido

    Guido Guest

    We might all never have anything in common. We might all come from a different background, a different race, religion and belief. We might all not agree on what is or isn't good music. We may find a million things that we do not have in common, but one thing we ALL have in common is for certain....and that is the fact that ADATS suck.
     
  5. dgooder

    dgooder Guest

    Not a "fan" here, but after using them on a regular basis for a few years, I learned to deal. It was either that, or have a stroke from stressing over the stupid design problems. I feel they only belong in project studios, but we all know that is unrealistic. Bang for the buck will usually win, especially when there are people using them that either can't hear the sonic differences between them and quality gear, or just don't care that there is a difference. I've gotten acceptable results for certain projects, but my biggest beef is with the useability (or lack of...).

    Long, long, long story shortened....... If I'm calling the shots and the budget is there, I refuse to use them.

    Dave g http://www.groovestainproductions.com
     
  6. Tymish

    Tymish Guest

    A friend of mine has had 3 black face ADATs and a Mackie 8 bus in his studio since they came out (recently upgarded 8 bus to the D8B). Before that he had an Otari MX5050. He makes his living with them and is doing well. He's still in business unlike most small studios I've seen come & go. He didn't lose his head in buying expensive gear. He knows how to use and take care of what he has. He's maybe lost 1 tape a year. I've heard his work and it's good. Better than some things I've heard out of local "pro" studios with Studers, Neve's, APIs SSLs etc. in the DC area. It's not just the car, it's the driver.

    I've done a lot of work with them. I've never had a tape eaten.

    They take A LOT of patience, wait at least 10 seconds between any transport function change. If you try to work faster you will have tapes damaged. Sometimes they don't lock up. People who are very used to reel to reel machines work faster and when they get on the ADATs often get frustrated quickly.

    They take regular maintainance (clean/replace the idler wheels very regularly). Clean them three times as often as you think you need to.

    For the money they sound OK.

    Tape is cheap.

    Absolutely positively make digital backups!

    Slow.....

    They've completely changed the world of recording. Studios that charge $120 /hr with a $300,000 console and $50,000 24 track go nuts when they see someone with $12,000 of ADATs and a $20,000 board charging $60 / hour and getting thier cleints! It's like buying a Ferrari and seeing the guy with a Geo ragtop getting some of the same chicks!

    I recently bought a 1 in. 16 track. It sounds better to me, hiss and all. I'm recording my rock band. If I was running a studio I would have it and some ADATs. They're in my price point and for some things I would want digital. Plus they're currently a standard.
     
  7. OK, OK, OK, :eek: But I do care enough to find out what I need to know!

    So now, with all the infinite knowledge here what should be done, if we are to be taken seriously. Please consider the fact we don't have a Swiss bank account and will we be able to justify any real investment with the fact of our location and client base.

    Please look at our equiptment list http://www.oldhousestudio.com/equiplist.htm and advise accordingly so we don't end up with a Benz and no gas to put in it.

    Thanks for all of your graceiously kind input! :cool:
     
  8. proaudio101

    proaudio101 Guest

    David,

    Your gear looks fine, very similar to what I have. The board is decent, XT20's are better than anything ADAT in the past. One thing that I didn't see that would really improve your sound significantly would be a pair of Apogee Converters. I have a Rosetta, and it kicks ass on the ADAT converters. I cant wait until the Apogee IntelliDAC comes out, as well as the Alesis HD24. For $12K I will be able to have 48 tracks of 24 bit with all Apogee D/A!!!
     
  9. proaudio101

    proaudio101 Guest

    Oops...actually $10K for that stuff street price.
     
  10. cdp

    cdp Active Member

    I agree with proaudio101. Your slection of gear is good. And using external converters is great advice. It makes a (very) noticeable difference. In an external converter scenario, I've never had serious problems with adats.

    Another way to go would be expanding your Pro Tools system, which would certainly attract many new customers.

    Take care,

    Charles Di Pinto
     
  11. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    David,
    Looking at your page, the ADAT's would be about the only reason a person like myself wouldn't book your room at least to track in. You're collecting all the right mics & pre's, some cool outboard fx, nice looking interior, lounge w/ kitchen is cool. Maybe it's just time to step up?
     
  12. "A friend of mine has had 3 black face ADATs and a Mackie 8 bus in his studio since they came out (recently upgarded 8 bus to the D8B). Before that he had an Otari MX5050. He makes his living with them and is doing well. He's still in business unlike most small studios I've seen come & go. He didn't lose his head in buying expensive gear. He knows how to use and take care of what he has. He's maybe lost 1 tape a year. I've heard his work and it's good. Better than some things I've heard out of local "pro" studios with Studers, Neve's, APIs SSLs etc. in the DC area. It's not just the car, it's the driver." --Yuri

    My experience has been a lot like Yuri's friend (not the console stuff, but the other stuff). I've made tapes on ADAT that please my mastering engineer and sound like I want them to, I'm convinced it's OK-- ESPECIALLY when he puts on other 2"-Studer stuff made by others in more expensive rooms. Perhaps I just prefer my own taste in sounds?

    The lockup IS slow, and cutting/pasting tracks is a total bitch, tho possible. The converters on the Blackfaces sound BAD to me. In a double-blind test I did twice with two different batches of buddies, the XT won out over the XT20 and the Blackface, for me. Buddy #1 guessed the XT WAS the 20 bit unit (less thin). In the 2nd set of tests, buddies #2 & #3 chose the Blackface as the best sounding unit of the three! Go figure. Boy, were they MAD when we unveiled and they found they LIKED the blackface!

    Angelo posted a few tips that seemed, to him, essential. But I don't always agree...

    " 1. Stretch your tapes AT LEAST TWICE before formatting.
    2. Use an outboard FF/REW machine for stretching so it doesn't kill your motors.
    3. Do a full FF/REW before you put your tapes away."

    I never do any of these things and have not lost a tape, or any information, since around '95. I DO rewind to the top at the end of the day, tho.

    "4. Don't go faster than the ADAT. The ADAT will lose, and take your tape with it."

    I agree you'll confuse the machines, tho I have seldom lost a tape that way.

    "5. Don't put anything important on the last couple minutes of tape."

    Agree.

    "6. One rack space in between each machine to keep the heat down."

    This is good practice, 'tho, once again, I don't do it and have never had a problem.

    "7. Use short sync cables between machines (~1' long)."

    Ahhhh... Many tape-eating behaviors have been TRACED to SHORT, ALESIS BRAND SYNC CABLES. This may be part of the reason why Angelo has had such bad luck with ADATs, tho I might be totally incorrect. I got this from my tech-- he blamed those short cables. To prove it, we switched out the longer, fatter Comp USA cables I had just put in and installed some custom short Alesis cables he had. The machines promptly ate a tape.

    "8. Use the best tape you can get. (Last I checked, that was Maxell, HHB, AGFA... not Quantegy. Could be different now.)"

    I use Quantegy all the time. No problemo. Also I use Apogee, BASF. All OK.


    Bottom line- don't let 'em see the machines, and do good work.

    Also-- Went to your site, David, and all looks good... But I go FIRST to the mic collection to check out a Studio, and while I know they're super expensive, I always look for U47, U67, ELA M251, M50, M49, C12, C24. Without those mics, I know I'll be adding rental charges to bring them in. With the top mics (you already have some excellent pres- congratulations!) and best EQs (Avalon, GML, NEVE) the ADAT format can't hold you back, at least in the final fidelity test.

    Does this help?

    WOE
     
  13. Thanks again everyone, this is getting intresting! West of Essex, what you said about the listening test and hearing the mixes made in the big facilities. That is exactly why I started this post. I for one have listened to a lot of recordings made on expensive equiptment and ALWAYS reference my mixes to a major release and yes there is a difference but I just don't hear this "they suck" difference. Aside from the operation limitations (which I stated I have adapted to) whats the deal.

    One of the strangest things was a guy who WORKED for the tec. service for our local Pro Studio called me after hearing an acapella choir that I recorded and inquired about booking time with us for his band, after talking with him he apparently thought we were analog. When I told him we were adat, he ask if we were using apogee converters. I said no just stock adats. His reply was " oh, well I don't like digital I can hear the converters! I thought to myself if you can hear them why are you calling!


    Anyway, Ang1970 (and anyone else)what do you suggest should be our "step up"? I would like to hear ideas for both analog AND digital.
     
  14. Hack

    Hack Active Member

    I think the ADAT "claim to fame" would be Alanis Morressette's jagged little pill album. An interview with Glen Ballard, the producer, said it was tracked on Blackface ADATs. He went on to say he "loved" the blackface ADAT due to their unique sound.

    He also mentioned that any live drums they recorded were overdubs at a different studio.
     
  15. Tiny G

    Tiny G Guest

    The biggest problem with ADATs is they sound OK. With all the other transport problems I expected them to sound worse. But because they sound OK they've spread like wildfire.

    Anyway, one more tip that was left out.

    ALWAYS REWIND BEFORE EJECTING!!!!!
    If it's going to munch, it's usualy during the time that the guides are pulling the tape around the head. Better if it's on leader then material. ;)
     
  16. drumsound

    drumsound Active Member

    David,
    I checked out your site. The place looks great, and is well equipped! Your floor plan looks very similar to what we just started building.
    From personal experience, I'd upgrade the console before the recorder. We did a couple of years ago it I think it made a big difference. I later bought a 2" 24-track. It's being rebuilt and will sound wonderful, and many people will still record on ADATs. Analog tape ain’t cheap!

    Good Luck, Have Fun!
     
  17. Aaron-Carey

    Aaron-Carey Active Member

    Originally posted by dbeng@bellsouth.net:
    Please look at our equiptment list

    Pretty nice list...I think we can agree that equipment wise at least ( I dont know anything about your rooms) you would have to be a turkey to not be able to get good sounds out of there...

    I am interested: what is an LA-2A clone??? A reissue? or you made it yourself?
     
  18. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    ProTools is still out of orbit pricewise, but it is what everyone seems to be tracking to in NY these days. (That is, if they're not tracking to 2" or dash; also pretty expensive.) If you want people from other studios to walk into yours with their tracks and vice-versa, that's the way to go.

    Not having a ProTool or 2" budget, I would look at some of the stand-alone solutions - such as Yamaha, Makee, and Radar's 24 track digital boxes. Particularly, I'd focus on the ones that are trying to be compatible with other DAW platforms. They'll all sound the same with outboard converters and individual outputs into your board. Transition can be a bitch, and this is all going to be obsolete in a few years. The longer you can stay compatible, the more the gear pays itself off and sets you up for the next round (hopefully keeping the outboard converters you accumulate).
     
  19. sapplegate

    sapplegate Active Member

    Aaron,

    David is pretty busy right now, so I'll answer about the LA-2A clone.

    It is indeed a clone that we built, not a reissue. Several web sites have the schematic. We used a Mid Atlantic Products econo 2-space chassis. The T4B module was NOS from JBL. UTC series A transformers. Sifam meter that we bought from a "friend". All audio caps are orange-drop. Regulated DC for the tube heaters. We brought the response pot to the front for adjusting. Semi-crude wiring using perfboard. Did I leave anything out? Oh yeah, it sounds great!

    Email me or David for construction details.
     
  20. I want to thank everyone for their input!!!

    We have decided that 2" analog is "Our next step up". Of course we pretty much knew this and have been wanting to for some time. I guess we just needed a little push. It is very hard to justify that kind of money not knowing if it will bring in more and better clients. So, if any of you guys need a studio down this way or know of anyone, PLEASE send them our way!

    BTW, Old House Scott (my partner) has started the thread,

    < Which lower priced 2" 24-trk? >

    Any input would be appreicated!!
     

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