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Re: [ARSCLIST] Some DAT questions
We use a Silicon Graphics DDS-3 drive and have had great success
migrating DAT tapes with a free, open source osx application called
DatXtract. We've never had an issue with the drive itself, and it's
currently being used with a 733 MHz G4 (10.4) w/ SCSI card and works
just fine as a dedicated DAT transfer workstation. DATXtract
makes .aiff files, retains timecode information, and produces very
helpful error logs that we refer to during our workflow and are also
great to have around for preservation purposes. Files are made in
less than real-time (though not by much) and although monitoring is
not an option, error logs are reliable for our quality control
checks. If the DDS-3 is unable to read a damaged tape section, we
can always play out from our Sony PCM-R500 through an MBox (we
capture with Audacity), which does allow us to convert content that
the DDS-3 can't read. Our rate of tape failure with the DDS-3 is
fairly low, but this, of course, is also dependent on the condition
of your collection.
- Nicole Martin
On Jan 21, 2009, at 5:52 PM, Tom Fine wrote:
This is all very helpful. Thank you.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message ----- From: "Scott D. Smith"
Sent: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 1:33 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Some DAT questions
A few thoughts and comments on your questions(in no particular order):
1. We experimented with a couple of different combinations of
drives and software a few years ago in an attempt to do direct
data extracts from DAT tapes. I would have to say that we didn't
have much luck. I think that there would have to be a lot more
work done on both the software and the data drives to come up with
a workable solution. Not saying it can't be done, it's that the
drives were not really intended to work in the fashion required
2. We have generally used professional DAT decks such as the Sony
7030 and 7050 machines, since most of the work we do involves time
code. We have used the AES/EBU digital outputs to feed external D/
A converters with good success. The only issue to keep in mind
with these machines is that they aren't very tolerant of tapes
which are recorded out spec. There is a very tight set of
tolerances that machine will accept as being valid, beyond which
it simply will mute. There are a adjustments which can be made to
some parts of the circuit (especially the servo and tracking),
which will allow for a certain range of error, but I wouldn't go
messing with these unless you thoroughly understand how the
machine works. We routinely keep 4 different decks in operation,
as I have found that some machines will simply not play certain
tapes, no matter how far we try to go with tweaking. I have even
run into incompatibilities between decks from the same manufacturer.
3. Because of issues with errors, I would recommend monitoring the
tapes real-time, and keep the deck error monitoring display
active. The pro machines also have a setting for which you can
specify the level of errors which will result in an ERROR flag
4. I don't see any particular reason to make an analog output
copy, unless you want to archive in analog (some archives we have
done work with have requested analog versions along with digital,
but I think this is going by the wayside as the issues with
digital storage are resolved).
5. In general, there is no compelling reason to store DAT (or any
other digital based tape) tails out, except for the fact that the
tape should always be exercised prior to playback. If it is tails
out, it means it will force the user to have to rewind prior to
playback. Any labels left in the box should be removed, but I
wouldn't try to deal with any labels on the tape itself, unless
there are starting to bleed significantly. Solvents such as Goo-
Gone are extremely difficult to deal with, as they will tend to
migrate over the entire shell, and make matters worse.
6. During the period that DAT was in regular use for production,
we found the Sony, Maxell and BASF tapes to be generally fairly
reliable. We did encounter problems with the Ampex tapes, mostly
related to the shell, and also had major problems with an off-
brand called "DIC/DAT". We had some occasional oxide shedding
issues as well, which required cleaning of the tapes. We have also
encountered tapes which were wound and stored with incorrect tape
tension, which resulted in problems related to the tape geometry,
which is a real horror to deal with.
In general, I have to say I'm glad to see this format go away. Back
in the 80's, I nearly got booed off the stage at an AES seminar on
the subject of DAT for pro use, when I pointed out to the audience
that the format was never intended for professional use. It was
only because it failed to find a market with the consumer that
Sony, in their infinite wisdom, decided to try and recoup their
development costs by trying to adapt the format for pro use.
We are now living with the consequences.
Scott D. Smith
Chicago Audio Works, Inc.
Quoting Tom Fine <tflists@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>:
I'd like to tap the collective brain (picture a non-invasive tap,
a Vulcan mind-meld) about DATs, with eyes to a medium-sized (several
hundred DAT tapes, all dating from the 1990's) transfer project.
Answers gleaned from personal experience most appreciated.
1. does anyone on-list have experience with "ripping" audio DATs
directly to hard drive via a DAT data-tape drive? If so, what OS,
software and results are you getting? Is there a favored source
2. one key reason I was thinking for doing these DATs
digital-to-digital would be the real-time monitoring, so I could note
the locations of any dropouts or glitches. Assuming I'll find
there any hidden tricks or tips to fixing them or is that audio
a damaged segment of tape?
3. if done digital-to-computer, I'm assuming SPDIF, but does anyone
have personal experience indicating either coax or optical is
preferable? I was thinking optical, given the sometimes strange
grounding issues of a computer.
4. is there anything to be gained by running a simultaneous
analog-to-computer? I'm thinking, no, but I'm also thinking, I sure
don't have all the answers so there may be something unknown to me
5. once a DAT has been transfered, what is the proper storage
was thinking, don't rewind it and make sure to store it in its
protective case. I was also thinking, if there is a label-sticker
in the box, take it out since the glue sometimes gets gooey or oily
6. finally, are there any DAT brands/types with known sticky-shed
problems? Most of these DATs are BASF, but some are Ampex branded.
not at all sure that Ampex manufactured its own DATs, they may have
resold Japanese tape.
Thanks in advance for any tips/advice gleaned from personal
-- Tom Fine