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DA-88 vs ADAT, your thoughts?
Old 29th May 2011
  #31
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ded4now's Avatar
 

Ahh.... ADATs... one of my very favorite topics.

Back in the day everyone had 'em, very few loved them (except for the nice income they generated... when they worked). If you look at them like women it kinda makes more sense in a pseudo-philosophical way: high maintenance, constantly breaking down, doesn't matter how well you treat them they still fall apart and frankly, in the end there are much better ways to spend your time (like playing video games or sleeping or something).

Just kiddin'...hehe

Up until a couple of years ago I kept 3 decks around for transfers in case old clients happen to need a transfer or somethin. I found I rarely ever actually worked on sessions without transferring though, clients always wanted their sessions pumped into ProhTewls or whatever. Thing is, the (once mighty) ADATs will break down (often), and it ain't always cheap to get em fixed. If you can get them cheap (under $100) and can repair them yourself (or have a bud or budd-ette) that can maintain them for you they may be worth having around, but I think for most it's safe to say their day has long since passed (thankfully).

But hey, if you enjoy working on them that's cool, I wish I did (I used to... sort of). I do long for ye olde days of tape I admit(sometimes), but I'm afraid to say that ADATs (or DA-88's) aren't exactly the kind of tape I yearn for.
Old 29th May 2011
  #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddageek View Post
Fleaman DA88 did not stripe SEMPTE to tape like the ADAT it recorded it's own digital sync that was converted to SEMPTE via the optional sync card ( ADAT used brc or jlcooper box or the fostex which had SEMPTE card built in !
The DA synced better because of the transport !
Your machines were the exception!
First, like I said, ADAT doesn't stripe smpte to tape (M20 being the exception, but it wasn't out before DA88's flooded post). I think you know that, probably just a word jumble on your part.

And as for the DA88, it may not have a separate accessible track for smpte (like you would on a analog tape multitrack), but smpte is recorded to the tape in a sense. I believe that when you format the tape, you format it to smpte and then when you put that tape in any DA88 machine which is in smpte TC, the smpte from that tape will pop up. This won't happen with adats, hence the reason post shy'd away.

The M20 adats actually had a linear analog track just for smpte, it acted like a analog track on a analog multitrack (also had its own xlr in/outs). There was also another linear analog aux track. You could record the stereo bus (or anything) to that track and then 'scrub' it (rocking the reels per se) to find punch points, etc. The M20 had a scrub wheel.
Old 29th May 2011
  #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kojak View Post
Um...forgive me for saying so, but is someone having a conversation with a straight face about buying ADATs or DA-88s in 2011?

Yes, I know, tons of you have tons of ADATs and DA-88s that run just fine, and good on you, it means you took care of them and your investment paid off...but why would get one now?
Transfers.
Old 30th May 2011
  #34
Gear Head
 

Oh I totally realize the technological advances we have achieved since the 90's....but no one has seemed to be able to produce a multi-track machine with more than 2 physical outputs at a low consumer cost!

I only want one for live backing tracks with a separate click track for the drummer. And for under $200 bills on eBay, you simply can't beat it. HD recorders with the same output specs simply can't touch that price. Not to mention, some folks are just buying them for their A/D converters. If it weren't for these uses, they may be filling junk yards faster than Nirvana destroyed hair bands.
Old 30th May 2011
  #35
Ok point taken, transfers...but unless you have hours upon hours of old tapes (in which case you probably have a machine of your own), I gotta believe it'd be cheaper to get someone to transfer for you the one time rather than buy a machine for yourself.

In any case, whatever you're using, by all means use it if it works for you...it just seemed a little insane in most cases. But hey, if you have great songs and you wanna digitize them onto 5.25" floppies, hell yeah, whatever gets the job done, it's all about good tunes.
Old 30th May 2011
  #36
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sleeper1400's Avatar
 

my thoughts? they were both obsolete 10 years ago. unless your doing transfers run.
Old 30th May 2011
  #37
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Remoteness's Avatar
I don't know, I'm using my DA98 as the front end for my DSM7.1 digital surround monitor...

It acts like an analog and AES/TDIF digital splitter, plus the meters come in very handy when in use...

Dare I say, I can even record my live surround feeds when applicable.
Old 30th May 2011
  #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kojak View Post
Um...forgive me for saying so, but is someone having a conversation with a straight face about buying ADATs or DA-88s in 2011? For the price of one of either of those machines, you can have a PC that can record a basically unlimited amount of tracks, never mind mix, process, etc. etc. Even the first PC I ever used to record anything serious (Pentium II 233 mHz with a staggering 64 MB of ram) takes an ADAT to task. Why in the name of high school football would you piss away 5 bills on such an ancient device?

Yes, I know, tons of you have tons of ADATs and DA-88s that run just fine, and good on you, it means you took care of them and your investment paid off...but why would get one now? Shit, for 500 bucks you can get an iPad that does basically the same thing as an ADAT with more tracks, and last I checked you couldn't check your email on a blackface. (Not that one needs to neccesarily, I'm just illustrating the total obsolesence of those old machines.)

I am SURE you could spend that money more effectively, whether it be on a cool interface or whatever, but buying one of those now would be like walking into an audio/video store and asking for a VCR. Nothing wrong with them, and they were great in their day, but if you pay more than 50 bucks for one you're getting ripped off.
No, you can't get a ipad DAW for $500 (hacked software don't count).... and why would you want to - there's no way to connect a proper interface to an ipad and they are lousey computers to begin with (a toy really).

A good interface alone will cost $500+. ADAT/DA-88 is also portable enough for location recording. Sure there's laptops, but not near as good audio quality (not to mention hardware robustness) can be had for the same price. ... then again, you need outboard pres to use a DA-88 or ADAT, but we all have some of those vs a firewire/USB interface (which some of us might have, but others use PCI or an interface with no/only 2 built in preamps).

I recently used a (borrowed) DA-98 (high res DA-88) on a session and those sound bloody amazing. No laptop can touch it without an expensive interface costing at least almost as much as the DA itself..... and it's 8 tracks, never crashes or gets viruses and takes less than 5 seconds to boot up. You can even 'mix' on it (it's a bit of a pain and there's no sends etc, but you can make progress mixes for take home at the end of a session without any other gear, aside from a 2 track destination medium of some sort). The converters on these are so good that there was a local studio using a synched bank of these as their DAW IO.

The only complaints I have about it are 1) tapes are formatted in real time (30 min tape takes 30 minutes to format - good thing the location recording client I had was paying a flat session fee vs by the hour) and 2) no input/output trim (you can only set channel levels as part of a mix to the 2 track mix ouputs) and they don't tollerate clipping well at all (not surprising) - bad sounds start well before the red LED so you have to leave lots of headroom. Not so great for recording very dynamic sources loudly.

I ended up not buying one (I borrowed it to test drive before purchase) - got an old Ampex CVR-35 (Betamax VTR with analog 4 track audio, built in preamps and phantom) instead (only for budget location recording, I use a PC based DAW for sessions in my own space). It's much more portable (all in one) but I find I could often use just 1 or 2 more channels. It was a lot cheaper, and can be driven harder. The DA-98 sounded much cleaner though, assuming you babied it with nice cuddly signal levels.
Old 6th June 2014
  #39
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I've been researching older recording formats for fun the past couple days. It's interesting to read about the DA-88 Vs. ADAT debate. I've come to the conclusion that the DA-88, minus head issues, is superior to the ADATs in build quality and features.

However the one thing that STILL seems to be undecided after 20 years is sound/converter quality between the DA-88 and ADAT. No conclusion or generalbconsensus has been reached as far as I can tell.

Going from converter to converter today, the differences are pretty much negligible. I'd like to say that converters from the early 90s are a different story than that but I can't say for sure. If the converters on both machines sound the same, then maybe the analog components of each piece is what makes them sound different... if they even do really sound different.

Can anyone chime in with what their opinion is on DA-88 Vs. ADAT sound quality, build quality and features aside?
Old 6th June 2014
  #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cleantone View Post
I'm considering a purchase, anything I should know about?

I thought my two MOTU 896 and (at the time) best G4 TiBook I could buy would work well together. I guess MOTU expects you to only want to be tracking for a few minutes.
Would you take a Ford Pinto to Track Day?
Old 6th June 2014
  #41
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Roland's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by HSLand View Post
I've been researching older recording formats for fun the past couple days. It's interesting to read about the DA-88 Vs. ADAT debate. I've come to the conclusion that the DA-88, minus head issues, is superior to the ADATs in build quality and features.

However the one thing that STILL seems to be undecided after 20 years is sound/converter quality between the DA-88 and ADAT. No conclusion or generalbconsensus has been reached as far as I can tell.

Going from converter to converter today, the differences are pretty much negligible. I'd like to say that converters from the early 90s are a different story than that but I can't say for sure. If the converters on both machines sound the same, then maybe the analog components of each piece is what makes them sound different... if they even do really sound different.

Can anyone chime in with what their opinion is on DA-88 Vs. ADAT sound quality, build quality and features aside?
Not much between them, Tascam AD's were not special in those days. The Tascam was a more "hardy machine", but it cost about twice what the ADAT did. Serious pro's used the Tascam to say they could "afford it" and as such were "better", it was also popular amongst sound for picture guys as it was seen as being slightly more bullet proof (which it was due to the Hi8 tape format being slightly better mechanically). ADAT sold a shed load more though.

Last edited by Roland; 6th June 2014 at 07:52 AM.. Reason: Missed out a word that made sense of it.
Old 6th June 2014
  #42
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Yeah all of the arguing I read through was about build quality and reliability, with the DA--88 only getting slightly more praise for its (supposedly) better sound. I bet they're pretty much the same.

Now I'm wondering how a DA-88 or ADAT stacks up against today's converters
Old 6th June 2014
  #43
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Roland's Avatar
For rock music I don't think it's that critical, Alanis Morissette bitter little pill was recorded on ADATs and I've never heard anyone complain about the quality of the sound on that, to be honest it's a pretty good sounding album as I remember. The DA88 had better tape handling (probably down to the HI8 tapes been a little bit more rugged) and the ADATs could take a while to lock up randomly. Tascam AD's always sounded a little on the dull side to me, I probably would prefer the sound of the ADAT, however there is little or nothing to choose between them other than price and the mechanics. Modern AD/DA circuits are very sophisticated, many being of the sample rate converting type, thus jitter immune. Do they sound a quantum leap better? I don't think there is much in it, I listen to stuff I recorded on that type of gear 15-20 years ago, still sounds good to me, though I'm glad that I don't have the issues of spooling tape locking up and limited editing potential. Most young engineers today don't know how good they have got it.
Old 6th June 2014
  #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland View Post
.... it was also popular amongst sound for picture guys as it was seen as being slightly more bullet proof (which it was due to the Hi8 tape format being slightly better mechanically). ADAT sold a shed load more though.
Not really.

The Tascam's were popular with sound-for-picture guys 'cos they striped SMPTE direct to tape, and you could pop that tape in any DA88 and that time code would pop up.

With ADAT's you first needed a BRC to get/use SMPTE. Then the SMPTE was converted from ADAT time code (from the tape machine) to SMPTE coming out of the BRC. Problem was not only did you have to manually enter in your SMPTE offset values, but you also had to have saved the SMPTE offset values on the ADAT tape, otherwise the BRC wouldn't know what it was and you'd have to enter it manually.

Basically, the DA88 had it's own track on the tape for SMPTE, and it was always there. The ADAT didn't, and had to be calculated from ADAT timecode from the BRC. As you can imagine, for sound-for-picture guys, this would have been a pain, hence, the DA88's were just easier. The tape cassettes were also a LOT smaller, so storing/moving/shipping them, which with sound-for-pic guys could have a LOT them, it was easier too. With music studio guys, being used to large reel tape, the larger ADAT tape size was not much of an issue.

Now, Alesis addressed the timecode thing when they came out with the professional M20 model, which not only had its own SMPTE track direct to tape (like the DA88), in which SMPTE would pop up if it was striped, but also had a linear analog (yes analog) track in which you could patch any/all of the tracks too---or mix too, so that you could scrub the tracks just like an analog reel-to-reel to find an edit point. Which was cool. Also had WAY better converters and mechanics (was based on the panasonic pro video machines). This all came a bit too late to the game as DA88's were already established in the sound/pic world, and computer tech was also starting to take over.....
Old 6th June 2014
  #45
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I ignored the smpte issues, but you are quite right, using the BRC for control was a lot more involved. The HI8 was, however, far more stable, I saw too many "banged up" ADAT tapes, SVHS was no where near as robust and tapes were prone to stretching or problems from spooling them, I've many a time had to run a tape from front to back in the hope that it would come to life again, not a comfortable scenario. Subsequently I used RADAR which was altogether a much more "comfortable" experience. In my experience, sound-wise they were both perfectly serviceable, though I've never really been a lover of those earlier Tascam convertors for the ever so slight dullness.
Old 7th June 2014
  #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HSLand View Post
Now I'm wondering how a DA-88 or ADAT stacks up against today's converters
Poorly
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland View Post
For rock music I don't think it's that critical, Alanis Morissette bitter little pill was recorded on ADATs and I've never heard anyone complain about the quality of the sound on that, to be honest it's a pretty good sounding album as I remember. The DA88 had better tape handling (probably down to the HI8 tapes been a little bit more rugged) and the ADATs could take a while to lock up randomly. Tascam AD's always sounded a little on the dull side to me, I probably would prefer the sound of the ADAT, however there is little or nothing to choose between them other than price and the mechanics. Modern AD/DA circuits are very sophisticated, many being of the sample rate converting type, thus jitter immune. Do they sound a quantum leap better? I don't think there is much in it, I listen to stuff I recorded on that type of gear 15-20 years ago, still sounds good to me, though I'm glad that I don't have the issues of spooling tape locking up and limited editing potential. Most young engineers today don't know how good they have got it.
Though it sold a boatload of copies, I don't think a lot of people bought Jagged Little Pill for the sonics...

I never worked on a Tascam DA88, but I agree with the dull thing based on things I know were done on them. I worked on ADATS for years, and wasn't the fond of them, but still liked the sound better than the DA series.
Old 7th June 2014
  #47
Gear Guru
 

my favorite thing about the ADATs was the LRC. It operated on a single pair of wires and you could extend it forever. I had one extended into the drum booth, and boy was I happy about that.
Old 7th June 2014
  #48
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I remember back in the 90s reading an article in Mix about which format was superior, which one was gaining more acceptance in the market, etc. One anecdote in the article was some facility trying to choose between the two formats....they brought in one of each, set them both to repeatedly play a short loop between in & out points, and left for the night, resolved that they'd buy whichever machine was still running in the morning. DA88, no surprise.

So glad that era is over though.
Old 12th June 2014
  #49
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The 88 and above have this cool internal patchbay that lets you route any analog input to any track. I just took a look at the Alesis manuals and I don't believe ANY of them have this (blackface, xt, xt20, lx20). Maybe the M-20 does, and the HD24 has it for sure.

Maybe I just missed it?
Old 13th June 2014
  #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HSLand View Post
The 88 and above have this cool internal patchbay that lets you route any analog input to any track. I just took a look at the Alesis manuals and I don't believe ANY of them have this (blackface, xt, xt20, lx20). Maybe the M-20 does, and the HD24 has it for sure.

Maybe I just missed it?
Its been 400 years, but I think the ADATs can do that with the BRC.
Old 13th June 2014
  #51
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I still miss punching in and out on ADATs.
Buttery smooth...

I liked the sound of blackface ADAT better than the Tascam units personally, but we're not talking amazing on either account...

Old 13th June 2014
  #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mertmo View Post
I liked the sound of blackface ADAT better than the Tascam units personally, but we're not talking amazing on either account...

Not amazing by today's standards for sure.

But in 1991 they were about the best digital multitrackers you could get for the $$$.

Once I adjusted to them, by not doing what I would do with analog tape tracking....like switching to Senn 409's on gtr amps (from sm57's), not needing to track with extra 'bite' or high's, etc., things worked out much better. Though I noticed a lot of fellow engineers continued to work in their old ways and the results were a bit harsh.

Still, there was no way to get that analog tape saturation, which was a BIG deal. No amount of outboard comp/eq/tranny saturation/color could make up for that.
Old 13th June 2014
  #53
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So ADATs have a thin, trebly thing going on?
Old 14th June 2014
  #54
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Remoteness's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mertmo View Post
I still miss punching in and out on ADATs.
Buttery smooth...

I liked the sound of blackface ADAT better than the Tascam units personally, but we're not talking amazing on either account...

This project was captured on standard DA88s and transferred to ProTools for the mix session...

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/remot...s-thread.html?

I think the mic and speaker positioning was more important than what machines we were tracking to.
Old 11th July 2014
  #55
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It's funny how I read countless times people saying the DA-88/38 machines are more reliable than ADATs. I've tinkered with multiple 38s and Blackfaces over the past few weeks and I've come to the opposite conclusion.

All 38s were immaculately clean-looking and had under 100 hours on the heads, with only one having as much as 180. I had so many intermittent PB Condition errors that it rendered them unusable, minus one of them that seems OK. I cleaned the heads and that didn't help. Not to mention two eaten tapes due to tension problems. They all 'work' most of the time, but there's no telling

Then comes along some blackfaces, one of them looking like at one time it'd been sitting next to a live hand grenade, was struck by an anti-tank missile and was involved in a barbaric cat fight. I couldn't even fit it into my rack until I operated on that bitch with some heavy duty pliers and a mallet.

You wouldn't guess it, but as far as errors and reliability, that particular ADAT had 1200 hours on the heads and is freakin' bullet proof. The others were too. If that's any indication, I'd go with ADATs.
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