Proj Stu Pre Master: DAT or CDRW??

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by woods, Oct 6, 2002.

  1. woods

    woods Guest

    Would there be any negligible difference between mastering to a DAT machine as apposed to a home stereo CDRW machine? Or if the CDRW were the only medium a person had would it suffice? Strengths, weaknesses?

    Dat: strength, weaknesses?

    Ciao

    Woods
     
  2. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Yes, My DAT machine (vintage Panasonic sv3700) does some "things" to the sound that I seem to enjoy. I do not run everything through it but there are times that it's front-end provides some extra MOJO that I like. No cdr analog or digital input does what it does ...from the ones I have tested...and I roll the tape for saftey copy sake as well.

    I also like what the foreplay does at times.
    http://www.audioreview.com/PRD_118270_1591crx.aspx
    http://www.bottlehead.com

    It is a tube line stage that provides extra dynamics and since it is valve, it does some sweetning that only a valve can do.

    It is more about what happens in the line stage electronically wise that gives the "mojo".

    What is really a bitch is the dog chasing it's tail effect. You master an album and there is one tune that just don't cut it, you bring out your bags of magic and then it eats all the other tracks. You just created another 60 hrs of work my friend... then you say (sigh)

    No studio is complete witout a foreplay..plus you get to build the thing..which makes for more MOJO (LOL)

    What if the album is a 3 cd set of 50 tracks? We are talking serious 1000 hrs can be created to do that. I am finished with one of those...finally...but it was damn fun..(btw 50 different studios and artist as well? you betcha)

    Remember, no rules, just dirty tricks.
     
  3. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Both can sound good depending on what you buy. If you have some good A/D converters then your options open up a little. But if your talking about using the converter of the unit, then it really depends on the unit. Consumer CDR burners don't sound that good right off the shelf, either do consumer dat machines. They can become usable if you have some good A/D converters and the units except digital I/O but then your up to a few grand. If you have the money, then I think something professional would be a better option. When your starting to buy gear, you should buy up. What I mean by that is, buy more than what you think you need at that moment. Stretch that little bit more and buy the better sounding or better constructed unit and it will last and be more usable for a longer time.
     
  4. woods

    woods Guest

    Bill

    I have access to a Tascam DA30 II DAT. If you're familiar, is the front end on this DAT anything like your panasonic? Or, may I assume that most pro DAT machines have a similar architecture and provide the 'Mojo' stuff?

    By the way do you use Bottlehead's Foreplay in conjunction with your DAT's Mojo? Or do you just use it with CDR? Do alot of studios out there really use the Foreplay. I mean at first glance and price wise you'd think otherwise.

    You also mention that the Foreplay's main contribution is created more by its 'line stage' action rather than the inclusion of tubes. Would you mind describing very generally this action and how it affects the sound. (What should we listen for?) And is this end line stuff related at all to the signal massage that occurs in the gain stage. And furthermore, can the Foreplay be complimented (or should I say its desirable audible qualities be magnified) by a half decent tube preamp at the front end?

    "by the way I heard a recording (demo) this afternoon of a female country (Shania-like) that was just done in Nashville and recorded to a Mackie hard disk recorder. Very harsh and cold."
    Perhaps it could have used Foreplay -- or maybe there was some more fundamental warming that should have been done?"

    Ciao,

    Woods
     
  5. woods

    woods Guest

    Bill

    I have access to a Tascam DA30 II DAT. If you're familiar, is the front end on this DAT anything like your panasonic? Or, may I assume that most pro DAT machines have a similar architecture and provide the 'Mojo' stuff?

    By the way do you use Bottlehead's Foreplay in conjunction with your DAT's Mojo? Or do you just use it with CDR? Do alot of studios out there really use the Foreplay. I mean at first glance and price wise you'd think otherwise.

    You also mention that the Foreplay's main contribution is created more by its 'line stage' action rather than the inclusion of tubes. Would you mind describing very generally this action and how it affects the sound. (What should we listen for?) And is this end line stuff related at all to the signal massage that occurs in the gain stage. And furthermore, can the Foreplay be complimented (or should I say its desirable audible qualities be magnified) by a half decent tube preamp at the front end?

    "by the way I heard a recording (demo) this afternoon of a female country (Shania-like) that was just done in Nashville and recorded to a Mackie hard disk recorder. Very harsh and cold."
    Perhaps it could have used Foreplay -- or maybe there was some more fundamental warming that should have been done?"

    Ciao,

    Woods
     
  6. woods

    woods Guest

    Bill

    I have access to a Tascam DA30 II DAT. If you're familiar, is the front end on this DAT anything like your panasonic? Or, may I assume that most pro DAT machines have a similar architecture and provide the 'Mojo' stuff?

    By the way do you use Bottlehead's Foreplay in conjunction with your DAT's Mojo? Or do you just use it with CDR? Do alot of studios out there really use the Foreplay. I mean at first glance and price wise you'd think otherwise.

    You also mention that the Foreplay's main contribution is created more by its 'line stage' action rather than the inclusion of tubes. Would you mind describing very generally this action and how it affects the sound. (What should we listen for?) And is this end line stuff related at all to the signal massage that occurs in the gain stage. And furthermore, can the Foreplay be complimented (or should I say its desirable audible qualities be magnified) by a half decent tube preamp at the front end?

    "by the way I heard a recording (demo) this afternoon of a female country (Shania-like) that was just done in Nashville and recorded to a Mackie hard disk recorder. Very harsh and cold."
    Perhaps it could have used Foreplay -- or maybe there was some more fundamental warming that should have been done?"

    Ciao,

    Woods
     
  7. woods

    woods Guest

    Bill

    I have access to a Tascam DA30 II DAT. If you're familiar, is the front end on this DAT anything like your panasonic? Or, may I assume that most pro DAT machines have a similar architecture and provide the 'Mojo' stuff?

    By the way do you use Bottlehead's Foreplay in conjunction with your DAT's Mojo? Or do you just use it with CDR? Do alot of studios out there really use the Foreplay. I mean at first glance and price wise you'd think otherwise.

    You also mention that the Foreplay's main contribution is created more by its 'line stage' action rather than the inclusion of tubes. Would you mind describing very generally this action and how it affects the sound. (What should we listen for?) And is this end line stuff related at all to the signal massage that occurs in the gain stage. And furthermore, can the Foreplay be complimented (or should I say its desirable audible qualities be magnified) by a half decent tube preamp at the front end?

    "by the way I heard a recording (demo) this afternoon of a female country (Shania-like) that was just done in Nashville and recorded to a Mackie hard disk recorder. Very harsh and cold."
    Perhaps it could have used Foreplay -- or maybe there was some more fundamental warming that should have been done?"

    Ciao,

    Woods
     
  8. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    Hi Woods!

    Your question..

    I have access to a Tascam DA30 II DAT. If you're familiar, is the front end on this DAT anything like your panasonic? Or, may I assume that most pro DAT machines have a similar architecture and provide the 'Mojo' stuff?
    -------------------------
    I used one many times at Festival recording studio and I do remember it having a good front end. I think what makes my Panasonic do what it does is that it was modded by Oade Bros, capacitors and power supply improvements. Not sure what all they did to it..but it seems to smooth out some otherwise rough demos I get.

    next..
    --------------------------------
    By the way do you use Bottlehead's Foreplay in conjunction with your DAT's Mojo? Or do you just use it with CDR? Do alot of studios out there really use the Foreplay. I mean at first glance and price wise you'd think otherwise.
    ------------------------------
    Not really. I use the foreplay more for indiviual channels that can use the coloration in dynamics it provides. My signal path is ever changing depending on how I need or desire to use it...but mostly I use it as an insert during mixdown sessions on certain instruments. Since I do 75% more mastering than Recording or Mixing, it get's used very little now.

    The price of the foreplay has nothing to do with it's performace. Check out the reviews. They speak for themselves. Amongst the bottleheads at the forum there, literally 100,000 +hrs of research and development has gone into this jewel. Namely the CCCCS circuits. The Camille cascode constant current source circuits that are a modification to the foreplay provides performance that is hard to beat ant any price. The Late John "Buddah" Camille use to work for Nasa in Houston and shared some of the most exotic designwork , years ahead of its' time with fellow designers. He had circuits that are still leaving engineers scratching their heads. His grounding schemes ensure a noise floor below that of the cables themselves. I was privledged to have corresponded with him. Dynamics are improved, frequency extention is preserved and effortless music is unleashed. Since it was inspired by a "George Wright design" to begin with and with the THOUSANDS of people that have built them, modifyied them and general troubleshooting, it is simply one of the most picked over and picked at preamps ever. IT also can slam out close to 20 Volts if needed. You got headroom galore. It has unbelievable frequency response.

    I guess it is like seeing a cherry S600 at the car dealer with 3500 on the windsheld. Just a great deal and a ton of fun.

    I think it is a good unit to have around to incorporate in your line stage from time to time for a reality check. You really need to upgrade a bunch of stuff to get world class performance from it..which puts its price around 650 dollars, but that is half the fun. They are making less than 15 dollars profit on them...so you have nothing to lose..

    Just having a tube preamp in the front end can cause more problems than it can help. Tubes are susseptable to many variables...and it is not just the tubes in the foreplay, it is a combination of every facet of it (fully modded) that makes it do the things it does. Read those reviews for a feel of how it sounds. Yes I have used it on the analog insert loop in mastering..but seriously, It has not been turned on in a few weeks now. When I need it, it is there. IS it for everyone? Probably not. It does have seriously LETHAL voltages inside the "no bottom case" and is definitly not UL listed. IT is and always will be an experimental product.
    -------------------------------------
    Also...you wrote..

    "by the way I heard a recording (demo) this afternoon of a female country (Shania-like) that was just done in Nashville and recorded to a Mackie hard disk recorder. Very harsh and cold."
    Perhaps it could have used Foreplay -- or maybe there was some more fundamental warming that should have been done?"

    Ciao,

    Woods

    Some demos need to be deposited in the waste can..but really..ck the list below. I should have added, bad monitors, room and listening skills behind the controls as well.


    Well, I am going to take a guess at the problem..a few guesses.

    Guess one:

    They probably compressed the 2-bus to death and did not employ any professional mastering on the demo.

    Two, Possible bad gain management. Ran the crap out of the line level of each channel loosing all perspective.

    Three, The infamous Nashville sound. Now don't get me wrong, their are some great engineers in Nashville. LF is one of them. Many many more.

    Four.

    It was a demo!

    Probably could be salvaged.
     
  9. woods

    woods Guest

    Bottom Line:

    I aquired the Tascam DA30 II as part of a package. According to some oppinions I think i MIGHT LIKE TO sell it while I still can. Good idea or not?

    IF. IF, I were to get some sort of CDR - Alesis Masterlink for instance - would it be able to duplicate the so called DAT mojo? Or improve upon it? The Tascam can record at 20 or 24 bits. What does the Masterlink record at?

    What causes the DAT mojo? Is it a valve thing or because of the tape format, or what?

    Are the Masterlink's conveters better than the Tascam's?

    Even if they are I bet it still has a harsh and strident quality. What can I do to oveercome this?

    Ciao for now,

    Woods
     
  10. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    I believe the "mojo" that Bill was referring to was the A/D converters of the panasonic dat machine, not the fact that it's a dat. There is no effect achieved on a dat tape, like analog tape. It's just using a different medium to record the digital information. With the masterlink, you have a couple of benifits to it that you can't get with your dat machine. The master link records to a hard drive, then it allows you to edit the material, apply any processing you might want like eq, compression, limiting. Then you can compile your playlist and print that to the CD burner, all in one unit. the masterlink samples up to 24 bit 96khz. I think that the A/D converters sound good. if your looking to get more of that "mojo" sound, try building yourself one of those foreplay preamps that he refered to, it's got plenty.
     
  11. audiowkstation

    audiowkstation Active Member

    I think DAT machines are going by the wayside. For tapers of live bands, it is a good format. It does outperform minidisc, but does not have the editing capibilities of minidisc. SMPTE DATS are very expensive. I use to have 2 of the Sony 7050's (most my archives were made on them) and they were close to 17 grand for the pair...discounted. Nowadays a SMPTE DAT can be had for a shade over a grand...used.

    Yup, I am afraid DATs are dynasaurs. I must keep mine in good order because of the 600+ tapes I have in archival form. Each week, I try to x fer at least 4 hrs of them to CD's. I have some 14 year old dat tapes that still work fine..but I also have at least a dozen of them that are broken and need to be repaired. Also DATS are very prone to storage problems. I found that out when I had an IN dash DAT in my cars for 6 years. I still have one..but not in my car now. (for those curious, it was a Kenwood KDR 99R in dash AM/FM, DAT)

    I think at this time , if I had no DAT tapes , I would not have a need for the DAT machine. I can get plenty of Mojo without the foreplay or the DAT machine...but every once in a while, a client wants a DAT to CD x-fer and sweetening...so there, as a full service mastering engineer, I got mine.

    I do think they are simply fading out.
     
  12. Doug Milton

    Doug Milton Active Member

    Woods,
    You may want to check out Glenn Meadows' report on different kinds of burners and media types. All digital media is not the same, sonically or in its ability to archive data in an error free way. This info may be useful to you as you contemplate replacing your DAT.

    http://www.digido.com/chart.html
     
  13. joe lambert

    joe lambert Distinguished Member

    For the most part DAT's blow. Unless you have a 24 bit machine and even then make a backup. I say this because different companies use different head alignments. So your Sony made DAT may not play back correctly in a Panasonic. This is no suttle sound change. It won't track properly and you will hear noise. We have 4 different types of DAT machines and an artist brought in her DAT a few weeks ago and it would not play on any of them. There was no backup of the song so it is not on the ablum now!
    Not that CDR's are perfect but what is nice is if your using a 24 it DAW you can record your mix internally and save it as an AIFF, WAVE, SDII or whatever your machines file format is and it will sound noticably better than a 16bit anything.

    If using CDR make sure there is no extra dither or trunkating you don't want and I also recommend NOT normalizing.

    AND MAKE A SAFETY

    Stuff happens.
     

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