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I am currently researching buying either a DAT or ADAT or Reel to Reel recording device. Can anyone (with experience...Hee..Hee:)...)Give me Dat Versus ADAT versus Reel to Reel quality etc... comparisons and Brand advice...Used & refurb'd considered.

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RemyRAD Mon, 03/20/2006 - 21:00

Well it sounds like you are in a poe state of mind?

If you're not an expert technician, I would stay away from any reel to reel recorders, they are all old used up and falling apart.

A DAT is merely a 2 Channel recorder and certainly not effective for any kind of production other than mixed down or live 2 track work.

An "ADAT" is Alesis' brand type of multitrack, VHS tape oriented 8 track production recorder. They are also rather old at this point in time since they were debuted in 1992. May not be a bad idea for you as a startup machine as you can find them relatively cheap on eBay. By cheap, I mean as low as $250 or so?

These days, I would recommend some kind of inexpensive PC computer with a reasonable multitrack interface that would allow you to record at least 8 tracks simultaneously and some software that you feel comfortable with. Without scenario, you have the capabilities of recording and mixing up to 64 or more tracks and having DSP oriented processing that rivals many thousands of dollars of hardware. That is the most practical suggestion and recommendation I can make for you.

Living in the past
Ms. Remy Ann David

anonymous Mon, 03/20/2006 - 22:41

Re Post

Thanks Remy:)

Actually what I'm working with now is Cubase SX, Acid Pro 5.0, A Dell 8250 Firewire/HS USB With Emu 0404, FX ETC..., Korg 1600 mkII MIXER/Digital Studio also with HD/recording Capabilities and a freebee Alesis 1622 Pro Studio Mixer as well as an Alesis Nano compressor/limiter and a Presonnus Blue Tube Pre Amp with a Roland Fantom X-6 and a Rode NT-1 So digitally I'm pretty covered for now i think...I've just always heard with Analog/Tape theres a warmer sound and so I've started researching Buying things of that nature. Whats your opinion on the Analog versus Digital components???? I am recording my own album on my own and need all the pro advice i can get. It's of the Rock/ R&B/ Soul/ Alternative Genres

anonymous Tue, 03/21/2006 - 03:30

i think you are thinking of what is often known as the "analog tape sound." digital tape (dat, adat) wont help with this at all sorry, you would be meaning analog tape. but listen to people like remy, there are probably easier ways to get similar sounds, analog isnt necessarily going to "warm up" your recordings anyway


JoeH Tue, 03/21/2006 - 08:37

If you're starting out fresh, I would avoid any tape based devices. For now, at least.

DAT is dead. Don't bother. There's no sonic benefits of going that route now. There aren't many (if at all?) new machines being sold, and used machines are potential trouble. You can find great deals on other peoples castoffs and troubles as these things area being dumped as fast as last week's newspapers. I still have two machines in my studio and they are for archival transfer only, at this point. Nothing new is going to them, and no one needs DAT masters anymore. The cost of a complete overhaul and alignment now exceeds the cost of a used machine in passable condition.

Ditto for ADAT. Longggggg gone now, and tons of trouble. It was a flawed system to begin with, and the best thing left behind is the ADAT fibre-optic data transfer system. If you've got ADAT tapes and a machine that plays 'em, get them transferred to HD as fast as you can. Purchasing an ADAT now is a total crap-shoot, and you'd better have a good tech standing by to help you, should the thing tank on you. And it will, sooner than later.

DA-88, 38, 78, and 98. I LOVE these machines and this format, but it's the same story here as well. I'm not sure which, if any, Tascam is still making, but my guess is NONE. (This breaks my heart, really, it was/is a great format.)

If you're just starting out, buy yourself a CDr to make masters to play on other sound systems. (Get a good MP3 creator to test your mixes on other peoples eye-pods and boom boxes, too.) The random-access, 16/44 spec, and cost-per disc (pennies, now) are but a few reasons why this format has beaten all the others, including DAT. (Yes, you can get better sound at higher bit depth and sample rate on DVD-A and other hi-res formats, but at this point - while you're just starting out - you'll do fine getting good sound onto basic CDrs.)

For multitrack, get into HD recording as soon as you can. For the forseeable future, it's the best bang for the buck you'll find. It's less than a dollar a gig (and dropping fast), and you may not need to charge your clients for media or storage at the way things are going. Big HD"s are cheap as hell now, and solid state chips are coming on strong - fixed media 2-track recorders are making inroads too.

For that wonderful, warm "Analog" sound, read all the recording books you can, learn about processing, good mic technique, and good playing. There ARE good outboard devices you can use to emulate analog warmth, but you needn't go entirely 'RETRO" to get there. It's a flavor, like all the other tools in your rig.

Some places are now evern offering to "warm up" your tracks for you via passes through analog tapes, for a lot less $$$ than buying your own multitrack rig. (Sonicraft in NJ is one of them.)

Analog is wonderul and sounds great, but the technology required to support it is fading fast, or gone already. You sound like you want to record, not be a technician - which is what going 100% analog requires.

If you take your time and learn "Good" digital - with analog seasoning where needed - you'll be fine.

Just don't get caught up in tape or spinning heads. That stuff is fading out so fast, your OWN head will spin trying to make a living with it.

Kev Tue, 03/21/2006 - 13:52

I'm with Joe

and I still own a couple of XT ADATs and a DA30 all in excellent condition
and we still have Sony PCM800's (DA88) here at work along with DASH(to used for years).

friends have asked to borrow my gear and I have advised against it
and then loaned them 001 systems

to echo what Joe said ... starting fresh then don't go with the digital tape and analog tape is probably beyond your resources

If you take your time and learn "Good" digital - with analog seasoning where needed - you'll be fine.

especially during tack laying
you will be fine

RemyRAD Tue, 03/21/2006 - 21:50

Of course, I do side with Joe and Kev both. They are absolutely correct. Unfortunately, one of the things that makes digital sound harsh is the fact that the higher in frequency you go, the less resolution there is. Based on the Nyquist theorem, which states that your sampling frequency must be at least two times higher than your highest recorded frequency. So what you end up with is any signal that approaches 20kHz only has 2 samples! Now that is good enough to reproduce triangle waves (which to sound harsh) but not sign waves (that shouldn't sound harsh). It makes no real difference, whether you are recording at 16-bit or 24-bit. To capture more samples at the highest of frequencies requires a much higher sample rate, like 96kHz and even better, 192kHz. The problem with those is that in the end, if you want a CD, it all goes back to 44.1kHz, 16-bit. Of course you can record that higher resolution on your computer and archive it on to DVD ROMs. Then when the next great " consumer format" hits the market, you will have better masters to rerelease your product. But we are exactly there yet because even though there are numerous other good formats, at least 3, nothing has become THE STANDARD.

To obtain a warmer sound, you must first have quality warm sounding microphones and preamplifiers first. The most important part of your sound goes in first. There are numerous software emulators that can further create warmth and similar tape saturation and nonlinearities like qualities. One can also move your finished digital product out your analog ports, purchasing 2 vintage pieces of hardware for its warm sound quality and then redigitize back to digital stereo. So people don't just buy used Neve or API modules just to track through, they also use them to loop through.

Analog gal in the digital world
Ms. Remy Ann David

anonymous Fri, 03/31/2006 - 01:03

There is no analog seasoning or analog sound derived from a digital means.
Everything audio can be a tool. If in your mind the sound your getting is lacking something, tape may or may not be your answer. The problem instead could be the source instrument, room, or micing technique your using. I would start there before changing my recording medium.

I do however prefer the tape sound by far.

anonymous Fri, 03/31/2006 - 01:24

I think there is an unspoken hard knee-jerk anti-tape movement today. Alot of folks want to believe in their newly bought khz and bit samplers as a cure-all, when all along the truth has been in a simple tape recorder. The point and click is just an excuse to not produce unless you have clients, at which point you better have some good converters..

JoeH Tue, 04/11/2006 - 21:23

After over 30 years in this biz, I can safely say I'm not jerking my knees over anything. :wink: For me, it's about efficiency, accuracy, and reliability with my tools.

It's important to remember that this discussion started about a type of capture and storage medium, not nec. a creative tool.

How much the storage medium itself imparts itself on the sound is an inescapable part of the recording process. (It's unfortunate, but it's true.) Consider safe, unadulterated storage of a liquid:

When you pour a pure liquid (eg: water) into a container, you should get only the liquid back out. This works for a glass beaker, but not necessarily for a waxed paper cup, or a wooden mug, esp if it's HOT water. Changes, not all of them good, can occur and affect the character or integrity of the liquid. Impurities occur, and it's now different, even by a little. (The opposite is true with good whiskey - the changes brought on to the evaporating liquid inside of the wood casks over years is just as much part of the taste as the whiskey itself.)

Same with telling a story. You can write it down, so the exact same words come back with every reading, or you can tell someone orally, and hope they'll repeat it back to you next time as accurately as possible.

It's no different with the medium we use to store audio. Do you get exactly out of it what you put into it? Does it come back exactly as you recorded it, or are there subtle changes embedded in it. Is the bass boosted a little bit at 80 hz? (that's 'head-bump" - an anamoly of analog tape recording, often misconstrued as "warmth") Does it sound brittle and jagged at the top end? (That's "Bad" digital -from jitter or no dithering, or any number of problems in the signal chain.) Is there now more hiss than when you started? Was it caused by the I/O electronics, or the media itself?

We're talking about two technologies neither are even 100 years old, and as close as we still are to it all, it's easy to mistake the tools for the art itself. The analog vs. digital realm argument (in its most typical, misinformed state) always misses the real point: These are imperfect tools that still impart their own fingerprint on a sound, no matter how subtle. Likewise, DSP vs Analog circuitry, tape loops, plugins, and what-have-you are no different than choosing pastels over oil paints, or canvas vs. matte paper, or charcoal vs. pencil drawing.

In another 100 years, (hopefully sooner) the capture/storage medium capabilities will become so sonically transparant as to render this argument moot. Until then, we have basically two storage media that each have their advantages, and their drawbacks. One is clearly winning out over the other nowadays, for a variety of resasons, most of them understandable.

Personally, I've found the current state of digital capture, storage and manipulation to be so much more cost-effective, accurate and reliable as to now render the argument moot. The hoops one must jump through with getting analog to work at the same level of quality and reliability as digital is simply no longer worth it. I know this because I've worked in both mediums and enjoy them both. I can still hear the difference most of the time, and again, to me, this is nothing more than ink vs acrylic, or impressionist vs. cubist painting. Both have their places.

I also think that in 100 years, this curious thing we call the "Analog" realm will be just another wonderful flavor available. As much as I'll miss it (like a sore thumb, perhaps), the next generation - and the ones after that - will know it in less emotional, hostage-like terms, and will reach for it like a flavor for cooking or making a better sauce. Some will want it, others wont, but it wont be praised - or villified - as anything more than a choice of seasioning in a meal.

I'm fine with the sonic palette anyone chooses to make their "drawings", but it still makes me laugh when people mistake the choice of the crayon for the intent of the art itself.

CoyoteTrax Wed, 04/12/2006 - 13:23

HD man all the way. It's so easy to edit and automate. HD storage is cheap and organizing and backing up project files using HD (PC or DAW) is reliable and simple.

Like Joe is saying, "color" on your way in. Use tape machines, old RTR pre's, cassette deck limiters (yum yum), stomp boxes and other analog devices to color on the way in if you want. I sure do. Then when you have a good mix, if you'd like, dump everything to 2 track 1/4" and have it mastered from tape. But tracking, editing, mixing, backing up on HD is where you find reliablility and flexibility that makes the most sense.