Digital Audio Tape: The one DAT got away

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100 thoughts on “Digital Audio Tape: The one DAT got away

  1. To be honest, apart from the great sound quality DAT offered, the format itself had its technical problems, especially with mainstream-priced devices. The drive transport mechanics were extremely delicate and hard to clean/maintain. It never took off for car audio either. I have owned 4 DAT recorders back in the day and not one of them allowed for long-time operations without repairs. But they did allow for the creation of the ultimate mixtapes 🙂

  2. The irony is that the music industry would not have actually existed without DAT tape. It became the de facto standard medium for mastering to CD in just about every recording studio on the planet from about 1992 onwards until hard disk took over in the early 21st Century.

  3. 14:20 I had the playback only model, WMD-DT1, I sold it on eBay years ago when I needed money to pay student loans – I was shocked it ended up selling for $300

  4. I believe the classical record company Chandos did infact release some DAT titles. I remember their printed catalogue at the time made quite a song and dance about the technology and I believe they invested a considerable sum of money in duplicating machines.

  5. I'd love to see a video on quadraphonic records. The concept was ahead of its time as far as surround sound goes and would like to see if it really actually worked.

  6. In the wake of the 'home taping is killing the music industry' scare the Dead Kennedys put out an EP on cassette with one side left intentionally blank to ENCOURAGE people to record albums, cds or whatever they wanted onto it. great FU to tipper gore and Co.

    …i just recorded the same EP onto side 2 !!!

  7. As for many other digital media, DAT was also used fairlly extensively for backups, as they were much cheaper to work with than the big tape systems used by Enterprise data centres. Might even have a DAT drive buried somewhere…
    If you really want to source DAT blanks in bulk you might want to check the skip when a company is ditching old backups. But most of those will have dated from the late 90s and have long since been discarded… pretty sure I have a handful of tapes in a drawer somewhere that only ever saw the inside of a backup drive.

  8. Suggestion for a future video: scms defeaters (which allow for unlimited digital to digital copying by removing the scms bits from the stream)

  9. Actually, I've got a neat little Technics micro HiFi from about 2000 with a cassette deck capable of recording from cd or even FM radio! I used it a lot to copy cds for my grandma which had only a compact cassette player. Now she has a cd player but it's not as good as her old Pioneer Hifi system. It had a turntable too, but some months ago when I was cleaning the system the stylus broke right off🤦🏻‍♂️

  10. Were you using a 75 ohm digital coaxial cable to connect the DVD to the DAT machine? Looked like a normal interconnect to me.

  11. I used my SONY TCD D10 recorder and a pair of Pressure Zone microphones for many, many live recordings at the local Music Society. With the consent of the performers, of course, to whom I usually gave a CD copy of their performance. The wonderful thing about DAT was that it could record a whole Opera in two or three sections. I recorded many Operas both at the Dome in Brighton and other venues. Normally I would use a pair standard Studio Microphones – mostly ElectroVoice or Calrec SoundField DAT deserved the best. For more than two tracks I would use a pair of SONY PCM R300 DAT machines. Anyway with DAT it was nice to get away from humping a heavy AKAI GX-635D reel-to-reel recorder around.

  12. Shortly after CD's came out I thought about doing this and then a couple of years later Sony came out with the DAT system. I did the same thing with LED TV's thinking that when a blue LED was created there would be one. Lo and behold a few years after the blue led, the TV was being manufactured.

  13. I basically did the same thing with VHS HiFi, recorded a coworkers CD set and then later using a computer recorded from the tape into Mp3 files…A bit tedious but the HiFi made a perfect CD quality recording.

  14. mechanical, bulky, slow switching tracks, delicate players…enough reasons for DAT not taking the place of CDs. Recording studios didnt win their battle either, CDs can be perfectly duplicated and stored forever with no quality loss with a simple pc.

  15. Politics aside, what on earth was (is) the differenced between DAT & CD's? Same (very breakable) copyright protection, yet the 'Industry' were ok with CD, but not DAT & home CDR Audio was well available in the mid 90's – I've still got my Panasonic recorder now (never had a moment's problem with it btw, after nearly 20 years). Meh…

  16. The visuals in this clip are great, but as English is my third language, I did not understand much of anything the narrator was saying. It sounded like some sort of exotic English dialect.

    At 6:55 we see the Panasonic model 3700 studio DAT deck, that is a great, robust unit. I myself have the 4100 that has SMPTE time code generator and reader built-in as well. I used portable reel to reel and cassette decks from the 1960s and tried all the newer flash based storage technologies, but for me nothing sounds half as decent than what I can get out of my Panasonic 4100 DAT deck. The recorder-player runs as good today than it did back in the 1990s when I bought it. Nowadays, the "professional" decks are good for maybe 3-years, and that would be it.

    For dialog field recordings, we used the Fostex SMPTE time coded portable DAT recorders back then, well they were much less long-lasting than the Panny studio DAT deck.

  17. Unless you have off-tape monitoring it's an awful format. Many recordings spoilt by tape dropout.
    At least with analog tape you can still recover most of the audio, but any missing timecode from DAT causes muting.
    Video8 was more reliable.

    DAT. a totally wank format, woz dat.

  18. Eh, wadd'ya mean we can't record from the radio anymore?

    Radio stations are available (in the UK) through the TV these days.
    It makes no difference recording TV or Radio onto USB stick is a no-brainer. (recording time is only limited by storage capacity)

  19. If the sound of dat-walkman’s loading mechanism is new to you, you haven’t been around of early miniDV camcorders?
    The sound is identical with perfectly healthy mech. And also, most of those old miniDV camcorders have same problem.

    You are saying that most people can’t record audio at home anymore?
    Have you noticed that most laptops have audio-in?

  20. I got a pro Panasonic SV-3800 probably about 10 years ago after playing a few Akai Reel to Reels because my step dad was a musician in a local band, and I figured a DAT deck could make pretty much perfect live recordings of his band and it was cool old digital technology that could make bit perfect copies of cd's. The pro models also lacked or could defeat the copy protection and like you said computer 4mm backup tapes work fine and are still somewhat easy to find. Mine came with the service manual, remote, and was in excellent shape plus when I did a few test recordings the error levels were pretty low. It sounds great recording analog sources as long as you remember not to go over 0db recording levels. As soon as it hits 0 it digitally starts breaking up like the dirty head you had on your Sony. Recording a cd just put it in and set it to 44.1 and it records it bit by bit at the level on the disk automatically slowly like you showed. I recorded a modern pop cd and it also shows how badly it was compressed as it hits 0 till the track fades out then right to 0 on the next track so no real dynamic range left at all, just LOUD till it fades out. Early cd's don't do that, the level varies up and down like normal and they sound much better. I like the machine for its unique technology but I really haven't used it much as like every one else I can record cd's easily to disk with my pc or just capture and play on my networked media server to my various media players in my a/v set up. No need for a physical disk or tape. There used to be a huge kinda underground comunity that traded DAT tapes of live concerts and things but pretty sure it died out as technology moved to hard drives and other fully digital technologies.

  21. That ending was hilarious! After RIAA effectively kills DAT, Sony (DAT's creator) buys Columbia recording studio, the main proponent of shutting down DAT. If you can't beat 'em, buy 'em! 21:27

  22. I always wanted one. I ended up getting a DCC instead. The only reason I did that was due to the price. It was on sale at RadioShack for a little over 100 US dollars. After purchasing close to 50 tapes, it died. I can't find anyone who can repair it.

  23. I bought a Sony DAT and liked it very much but it was never easier than a CD recorder or hard drive. Used it for a few months and then gave it away.

  24. To record radio to an MP3 just use a walkman with a radio built in and use the earphone output to the line in on a PC Sound card simple as 1 2 3

  25. I still own my Panasonic sv3200 DAT machine. Used it a lot for home recording with my protool system on my windows 3.1 machine back in 1993. This thing still sits in a flight case somewhere in my basement

  26. 48KHz sampling doesn't sound any better than 44.1KHz. 44.1KHz is more than sufficient to perfectly sample and reproduce any human audible signal (see the Nyquist theorem). Higher sampling rates are only useful for digital processing of an already digitised signal (such as in my digital multi-effects unit for my guitar or in studio production equipment), giving more headroom. The end result should still be mixed down to some sample rate just over 40KHz, because keeping it at the higher rate will only consume more data uselessly reproducing audio signals for dogs.

  27. its sad techno didnt boom big till the rave era
    the majority of live PA shows back then used loops on DATs
    and cassette tape manufacturers needed DATs to produce tapes on a large scale
    so the majority of techno mixes up into the 2000s was 2 sides of 45 min

  28. and then Sony pushed DAT as backup medium and caused a lot of pain – because any time you had to restore from DAT your original machine was broken and the replacement could not read the tape because of very minor misalignment…

  29. I bought 3 different SONY DAT decks over a period of 5 years or so and all 3 ate at least one of my tapes – all of which I couldn’t save and didn’t have backups of yet. Pissed me off and gave up on the format.

  30. My experience was a DAT recorder constantly eating up the tape, ruining the tape with completely entangled recorderheads. After numerous expensive repairs I gave up. The quality of the recording and of the DA converter was unmatched and brilliant.

  31. I used a DAT to bounce down my home recordings onto a digital 4 trk with limited memory. Later i used it to ease the pressure on my weak cpu with cubase in the same way.

  32. 16:47: the DAT on the right hand side ist from Saturn-Hansa, a retailer from Germany. Nowadays they are called Saturn. So the price is in Deutsche Mark (DM).

  33. Home recording kills music… So they try to kill cassette tape… But now? Try killing MP3?

    That little Richard album reminds me of Hammond 😀

  34. I still own the Dutch competition of the DAT recorder .. the Philips DCC Walkman, used it maybe 2 times… sound was good but it was too slow with finding tracks and battery was good for only 4h ..

  35. It didn't help that the first generation of this very device was fundamentally flawed (the motors weren't working properly).

  36. Funny how people still think copying music affects the music industry. People have been copying music since time began, even taking the piss by making hundreds of copies and selling them (that I don't agree with) but I don't see any famous bands from the 80's and 90's on the dole line or Sony looking for a bailout. It's greed on their part, a few people copying music isn't even a drop in the ocean as to how it affects their profits.

  37. I wanna be honest with you Techmoan the minidisc is fine with me if I had the adapter to play at back on my standard cd changer player but I am not adding the dat tape player in my universal serial bus Bluetooth stereo system because your video from January 7th 2017 explains it all including that muppet.

  38. DAT is still the best recording format! No compression! Pure digital recording! Pure analogue recording! The best recording of both formats still!

  39. DAT was the preferred choice for audience recordings of Phish concerts. As there were no official live releases at the time, fans would record the concerts (with the band’s blessing) and pass them around to other fans.

    Old timers continue to keep the tradition alive even with the advent of streaming and the band still sells taper-specified tickets. You can listen to all of these recordings on

  40. You stated twice that 48kHz is "better quality" that 44.1kHz. In practical terms, there really is no difference. I've never seen any proof that one is better than the other. The two rates exist because of industry standards.

  41. I was so close to getting into DAT for the sake of music production. And at the time, very briefly, it really was fantastic for that purpose. I only dodged it by being a poor college kid. I made due with my tiny hard drive at the time, but it was not easy at all.

  42. I have a DAT tape backup drive for desktop PC. It has never been used and when you look at the mechanics I can only drule. Buckets full.
    Has anyone any idea whether there are drivers/software to record and play SPDIF files?

  43. Thank you, nice piece. I recently purchased a DAT machine, because I used to mix down to DAT when I was engineering in the 90s. Every studio I knew of had at least one if not two or three DAT machines. It was the standard for mix-down throughout the industry. As you mentioned, DATs were sent to mastering houses prior to release on CD. It's kind of funny that 48KHz became the standard sample rate for video–even today. Wouldn't it be wonderful to find some of those old mixes. I'm now looking for a good cassette machine–I used to record my new vinyl purchases to cassette and listen to the cassette to preserve the vinyl. I have a drawer full of cassette tapes that I can't listen to–yet. Thanks again.

  44. I have a dat deck the audio quality is fantastic when used w the 48k setting better than a cd.. recording industry killed this off as a consumer format but used in professional field for many years

  45. Remove the auto head cleaning foam roller or it could ruin your heads. It clogged my DTC-670's heads and all the careful cleaning never made it read correctly again. The foam gets gummy and you know what that can do.

  46. Too bad they didn't get the FBI and Interpol to threaten those folks like they do on commercial DVDs after all, according to Hollywood piracy is not a victimless crime but it really cuts into their profits. Goodwill has bins just full of CD music and DVD videos nobody cares about. So copyrighted material it seems is really only for newly released material but not garage sale fodder.
    I remember the hullabaloo about digital copies being as good the master sources but nobody really cared, we just wanted a cassette mix taken from the best source a CD. Some CDs were not all DDD they were AAD so what was the big deal? Since my ears are analog and can't decipher ones and zeros a quality compact cassette with Dolby C or DBX taken from a CD sounded pretty darn good! Keep up the great work, Cheers!

  47. A DAT tape drive would be handy on Game Consoles. 40GB a tape is a lot of data, and would save downloading it in areas that didn't have broadband

  48. There was awesome sounding cassette tapes by 1975, what with chromium dioxide, type 2 tapes made by Maxell and TDK and whatnot. Dolby C and DBX came out on some decks around 1980.

  49. 10 years later, anybody could purchase a single spin CD for a computer, and copy galore. So the CD was the greatest threat to CD music.

  50. Pleased that DCC got a mention, albeit in passing.
    I let my beautiful Marantz DCC machine go far too cheaply. Wish I had kept it.

  51. Interesting I found 4 of these SONY DAT tapes still sealed in an electronic repair shop auction. I never heard of this format before today. Amazing you found the Master recordings of Star Trek audio.

  52. my father was in a indie band in the 80s-90s and they recorded a studio album onto DAT and he still has the masters but we cant fucking listen to them

  53. At 8:58 Ahhh the dreaded digital In/Out indeed. LOL! I still my TASCAM DA-20 DAT machine which I purchases years ago in order to breakdown and store multi-track recordings via a little square box called a COP-1 Coaxial Optical Converter. This was the link between the DAT machine and my Fostex 8 track digital multi-tracker. Imagine tranferring the digital audio data of "one freaking '5 minute' song where the process took a full "40 minutes" to do. Mainly because you had to multiply the length of the song times the number of tracks used to record it. (5×8) because each track was saved in succession. If you ever wanted to re-load it into the machine for a remix or something, it took another 40 minutes and your final was not there because this process didn't save mix parameters; just the original audio. OMG!!! In today's technological age this time consuming madness is unheard of. However I was younger, and had more time and patience back then I guess. LOL!

  54. I had a JVC DAT recorder, a Magnavox DCC recorder, and an Optimus DCC recorder back in the day in my studio. I loved them 🙂

  55. I was an engineer for 15 years; DAT was the industry standard for over 10 years in the recording industry! Many recordings were mixed to DAT from 1990 to 2000, then transferred to Sony 1630 during mastering, the next step was making 1630 copies for CD duplication:

  56. The issues around intellectual property are still with us, and still unresolved. There's no simple solution. While free access to information is a wonderful ideal, musicians who depend on revenue from sales of recordings are screwed.

  57. dvd players with dvd recorder hard drives were also discontinued from electronic companys,i had a sony player recorder,had 160 gb hard drive,the hard drive crashed,i googled how to replace the HHD, you could goto any computer store and buy a hard drive for about $100 or more but you had to contact sony for a repair manual for firmware settings.

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