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DAT Tape Manufacturer/Optimum Length Reccomendation... Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 29th March 2008
  #1
Registered User
 

DAT Tape Manufacturer/Optimum Length Reccomendation...

I know this is the "High end Theory" thread, I would think that the folks that frequent this thread (while as well seems to be one of the more populated threads) most probably have left DAT technology far behind them. Though that being said, it was once on the cutting edge, and while I have no intentions of really using the machine I have for mastering or the like, as I have equipment far superior for such a job I am of the belief that people here might be "in the know" about the question for which I seek an answer to.

I have acquired merely to offer a good ability in the backward compatible realm a Tascam DA-45HR DAT machine, and while I only really intend to use it to "dump" client's material into the DAW and do remastering jobs with it, especially since this machine offers me the rare opportunity to be compatible with the "outside of SONY's original standard for DAT" of 16 bit recording, it will also cover those that might approach me with a master that was done in the obscure 24-bit format as well.

As is mentioned above, I have no real plans to use this as any sort of recording medium, before the availability of DAT tapes becomes completely obscure, I would like to purchase a small quantity of the highest quality most appropriate tapes for their intended purpose of recoding with this machine just to have as a back-up in the sense that on some obscure day, in some strange session, perhaps I might want to actually record something on this machine. I doubt that day will be coming soon, and in fact may never occur due to the alternatives available to me here. But, for safety sake, I would like to get suggestions, and recommendations from professionals that once used this medium on a regular basis as to what brand(s), type(s) I.E formulation or particular product line of a said brand name, as well as a realistic outlook on what length of tape one should want to be purchasing as well. Obviously the metrics here, which are unknown to me would be, what is the longest tape that is not spread so thin that it is unstable, dangerous and really not a safe bet? Obviously, I would only ever need to slightly exceed what today's standards of production are in the form of the standard CD format length, though I might want a little leeway if there is any to play with safely.

So if there is anyone out there with "outdated" knowledge of the logistics of such tapes, as in brand names, types and lengths I should target, I would greatly appreciate it. Obviously, I will not be buying a truckload of such things, but it seems only reasonable that I pick up a case of 10 or 20 for future obscure possibilities.

Any information, especially, substantiated data would be most appreciated!
Thank you in advance,
dwire
PUPCo Studios

Last edited by dwire; 29th March 2008 at 02:38 AM.. Reason: To subscribe to the thread...
Old 29th March 2008
  #2
Lives for gear
 
d_fu's Avatar
 

I believe it's safe to say that there are no significant differences between DAT tapes. In the nineties, HiFi magazines would test them and even mention sound quality differences, but I'd consider that esoterics.

Nowadays, you'll probably just have to buy what you can get, there may not be a great lot of choice. Sony, Maxell, TDK all should provide good results. Might find some Ampex or HHB labeled tapes, too.

Tape lengths are usually counted in minutes. 60, 90, 120 are all fine. There are 180 minute tapes also, but I'd avoid these, they are thinner than the others and more prone to being eaten by the tape transport.

[EDIT]
You can also buy 60 meter DDS-1 data cartridges, these are essentially the same as 120-minute DATs and should work with the Tascam. Don't buy longer tapes (90/120 meters) or DDS-2.


Daniel
Old 29th March 2008
  #3
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NYMo's Avatar
 

Hi there,

I wouldn't say i am an expert..but I have been using DAT for nearly 20 years ;-)

I have always had problems with 120min..i stay away from them.

Also there were many bad batches..TDK comes to mind...so its a bit of a crap shoot !

Recently, I've had 3 tapes break (all 120 min) of my archived material as I was transferring it to 24/96.

They are virtually impossible to fix.

So my advice ..stay with the shortest you can use.

Cheers
N
Y
M
O
Old 29th March 2008
  #4
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David R.'s Avatar
 

I would stick with 60 or 90 minute tapes. It is my understanding that 120 tapes are thinner, and you do not want to deal with a broken or scrunched dat tape.

Have fun.
Old 29th March 2008
  #5
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

HHB are the ones I use.

95 or 125 lengths mainly and have never had a problem with them at all. I have been using them since HHB first started making DAT tape.
Old 30th March 2008
  #6
Registered User
 

Thank you everyone for your input! One more question...

I knew to stay away from the big 125 minute tapes from prior experience, and knowledge, but I did learn a lot here, especially about the computer backup tapes being compatible. I had heard that there were some obscure VB and other applications out there that would let a person transfer wave files from DAT's, perhaps even including the DA-88 8-track variety via computer backup tape equipment, and the luck of being able to find one of these obscure now no longer in development applications out there.

While I got exactly what I needed, and ended up with some very reasonable HBB 95 minute tapes that seemed quite suitable. I am still curious does anyone out there have any info on the applications, and hardware involved with which I speak of, that being the ability to dump wave files from virtually any standard of DAT to a DAW with a Visual Basic, or other application using merely readily available applicable computer tape back-up hardware?

I just read an article about it, but the details were a bit vague, and as expected, all the links I tried regarding the stuff was dead. It sure would be great to add the cross compatibility of the DA-88 family to my network of backward compatible features, as I think I would have about everything covered, except maybe the Gramaphone... OK, and analog tape, but I do not see a Studer of any kind in my future, nothing wrong with them, accept a list as long as my arm (meaning maintenance galore! Not that I don't get my fair share of that already!

Anyhow, if anyone has any details on this reality, please let me know, as I would be very interested.

Best regards,
Douglas Wire

Last edited by dwire; 30th March 2008 at 09:12 AM.. Reason: Grammar
Old 31st March 2008
  #7
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d_fu's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by David R. View Post
I would stick with 60 or 90 minute tapes. It is my understanding that 120 tapes are thinner
To the best of my knowledge, there is no difference here. 180-minute tapes (90 meters) are the ones that are thinner and should best be avoided.

For DDS, don't get confused with minutes and meters. As a rule, 60 meters means 120 minutes...


Quote:
Originally Posted by dwire View Post
I just read an article about it, but the details were a bit vague, and as expected, all the links I tried regarding the stuff was dead.
That's pretty much the situation... There is practically no (more) hard- and software for this purpose nowadays.

As for the DA-88, this is an entirely different format... Nothing to do with DAT at all.
Old 31st March 2008
  #8
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Plush's Avatar
There are indeed big differences in DAT tapes and how reliably they run. These differences are in the plastic shells and the thinness of the tape. As with everything, you get what you pay for. Deep discount dat tapes usually fail.

There are two different thicknesses of tape--one for up to 60 minute and a thinner tape for 90 and 120. Precision shells help the tape not to bind and jam.

I have found HHB and BASF/EMTEC to be the best and most reliable. Sony is OK.
TDK is OK.

I have had no problems with the 120 tapes over many years of use. Since in your application the tape runs at 2X speed, you may need to use the longer tapes.

However, in general, I feel that dat should be abandoned.
Old 31st March 2008
  #9
Registered User
 

Thanks, and well put!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
I have had no problems with the 120 tapes over many years of use. Since in your application the tape runs at 2X speed, you may need to use the longer tapes.

However, in general, I feel that dat should be abandoned.
I ended up with 5 of the 90 minute hhb variety tapes, and really kind of forgot about the thought of the double speed issue, as I am with you on item number two quoted above... I merely wanted to acquire a few tapes for the totally absurd situation that will never happen now that I posses a few tapes for the thing, but if I did not, there would be some client that for some absolutely bizarre reason needed something laid back down on a DAT. Would you think with a TASCAM DV-RA1000HD sitting in the rack below it I would really have the desire to master to such a device? I think not! I just know life, and Murphy's Law has taught me that although I only obtained the unit to accommodate the occasional client coming in that wanted to revisit and or remaster an old DAT that I would be able to easily accommodate and dump their material into the old DAW; that would mean my only plan really ever was for playback anyway...

Thank you all for the input, perhaps if I see some cheap 120 minute hhb's out there I will snag them before they disappear entirely as well, as one can never be too careful, and it certainly is not much of an investment to prevent a client from not spending money at the studio.

Best regards,
dwire
Old 1st April 2008
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
davenutz's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NYMo View Post
Hi there,

I wouldn't say i am an expert..but I have been using DAT for nearly 20 years ;-)

I have always had problems with 120min..i stay away from them.

Also there were many bad batches..TDK comes to mind...so its a bit of a crap shoot !

Recently, I've had 3 tapes break (all 120 min) of my archived material as I was transferring it to 24/96.

They are virtually impossible to fix.

So my advice ..stay with the shortest you can use.

Cheers
N
Y
M
O

i dont know if i would say virtually impossible....but fairly difficult comes to mind.
ive recently been splicing a good amount of broken miniDV and DAT tapes. perhaps a dozen in the last month-6 weeks.
you really need two people when you open the cartridge in order for the springs not to go flying. its doable with one person, but its a little tricky.
Old 2nd April 2008
  #11
Gear Nut
 
Sensater's Avatar
 

I know you already found some HHB dats, but for what it's worth I though I'd chime in. Over about a 12 year period where I worked we used several thousand Sony DG60P (2 hr) and DG90P (3 hr) dats in mostly Sony 2600 dat machines, and a few Tascam DA-30s as well. Out of all those dats, I think I could count the problems we experienced on one (and a half) hands, and I think most of our few problems were the fault of the dat machines (dirty, etc). These are dds data tapes, and my understanding is that they are manufactured in clean rooms to higher tolerances than audio dat tape.....this is because they are designed to be very robust, especially when a computer drive has to read the data it just wrote in order to confirm it has been written correctly. They also dependably exhibited the lowest error rates of the dats we tried. I don't have any experience with them in the Tascam DA-45HR though. I do think that repacking the tapes before use is a good idea.
Old 2nd April 2008
  #12
Lives for gear
 
Sofa King's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dwire View Post
I know this is the "High end Theory" thread, I would think that the folks that frequent this thread (while as well seems to be one of the more populated threads) most probably have left DAT technology far behind them. Though that being said, it was once on the cutting edge, and while I have no intentions of really using the machine I have for mastering or the like, as I have equipment far superior for such a job I am of the belief that people here might be "in the know" about the question for which I seek an answer to.

I have acquired merely to offer a good ability in the backward compatible realm a Tascam DA-45HR DAT machine, and while I only really intend to use it to "dump" client's material into the DAW and do remastering jobs with it, especially since this machine offers me the rare opportunity to be compatible with the "outside of SONY's original standard for DAT" of 16 bit recording, it will also cover those that might approach me with a master that was done in the obscure 24-bit format as well.

As is mentioned above, I have no real plans to use this as any sort of recording medium, before the availability of DAT tapes becomes completely obscure, I would like to purchase a small quantity of the highest quality most appropriate tapes for their intended purpose of recoding with this machine just to have as a back-up in the sense that on some obscure day, in some strange session, perhaps I might want to actually record something on this machine. I doubt that day will be coming soon, and in fact may never occur due to the alternatives available to me here. But, for safety sake, I would like to get suggestions, and recommendations from professionals that once used this medium on a regular basis as to what brand(s), type(s) I.E formulation or particular product line of a said brand name, as well as a realistic outlook on what length of tape one should want to be purchasing as well. Obviously the metrics here, which are unknown to me would be, what is the longest tape that is not spread so thin that it is unstable, dangerous and really not a safe bet? Obviously, I would only ever need to slightly exceed what today's standards of production are in the form of the standard CD format length, though I might want a little leeway if there is any to play with safely.

So if there is anyone out there with "outdated" knowledge of the logistics of such tapes, as in brand names, types and lengths I should target, I would greatly appreciate it. Obviously, I will not be buying a truckload of such things, but it seems only reasonable that I pick up a case of 10 or 20 for future obscure possibilities.

Any information, especially, substantiated data would be most appreciated!
Thank you in advance,
dwire
PUPCo Studios

HHB 95 are the best Ive used.

Ive got 50 or 60 slightly used, if youre interested.
Old 3rd April 2008
  #13
Registered User
 

COOL, GOOD INFO TO KNOW!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sensater View Post
I know you already found some HHB dats, but for what it's worth I though I'd chime in. Over about a 12 year period where I worked we used several thousand Sony DG60P (2 hr) and DG90P (3 hr) dats in mostly Sony 2600 dat machines, and a few Tascam DA-30s as well. Out of all those dats, I think I could count the problems we experienced on one (and a half) hands, and I think most of our few problems were the fault of the dat machines (dirty, etc). These are dds data tapes, and my understanding is that they are manufactured in clean rooms to higher tolerances than audio dat tape.....this is because they are designed to be very robust, especially when a computer drive has to read the data it just wrote in order to confirm it has been written correctly. They also dependably exhibited the lowest error rates of the dats we tried. I don't have any experience with them in the Tascam DA-45HR though. I do think that repacking the tapes before use is a good idea.
VERY Interesting to know, and it will get filed away with all of the other useful knowledge obtained here. I am uncertain what the production specs are for any of the tapes, but if the manufacturer(s) of old are anything like the last 20 years have been, you will find that most companies use the same method and the same facilities to produce products such as these that are similar. This is not to say that you are not correct, and they are in fact manufactured to a different standard in a different facility. The best example of this would be the NAPA/Valvoline Oil business, now I cannot say for certain this condition still exists today, but for many many years, Valvoline stopped the lines and changed the labels and bottles to generic NAPA branded oil and ran the very same product into different containers and labels. Knowing this, I would not be too surprised at whoever is making such tapes that they do not do about the same thing, in that it would cost more to run a high tech clean room, and a crappy facility, than to merely cut to proper length and relabel to suit. Just an observation, and may not apply at all.

I am indeed glad you chimed in, and my comments are not meant to downplay or contradict what you were saying at all, so do not think that was an attack or anything! I just know how these manufacturer(s) do stuff, as I have been a part of that for many years, and just as the GM facility runs Izuzu Trucks down their line that are identical with exception of trim and stickers to the Colorado/Canyon lines, and of course we all know what kind of price differential we are talking about in these two brand names, but put simply they are the same exact truck made in the same facility, and sold under another name, for quite less I might add. Kind of shoots GM in the foot about the American worker's cost (last count less than 10% of the total of the product, though that may have changed, as that is old data; probably less now that they are really screwing their workers...) in that they can sell the same product and make a buck to Izuzu and then Izuzu turns around an can still sell the same truck for less. Where do you think all this money GM claims they cannot afford to pay their workers is really going??? Pockets, and offshore investments. New plants ALL AROUND! Kind of like a drunken toast...

WAIT A MINUTE WE ARE TALKING ABOUT DAT TAPES DARN IT!!!

You get my point. Thanks for the info, and I will take it under advisement in the rare case that I actually ever use what I've got and need more...

Best regards,
Douglas Wire
PUPCo studios
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