Why do new analog mixer's like the allen heath's come with firewire interfaces PLUS ADAT? isn't adat just digital anyway? why digital tape these days? I know why people use tape machines obviously but I must be missing something....
Yup, even though ADAT was originally a tape based digital audio system, there were flexible communication protocols designed to allow tracks to be bounced, exported, mixed, and processed in a loss-less digit form that made it a powerful editing tool in it's own right. It became a "standard" for a time, and so when computer based recording first appeared, it made sense to allow the software to seamlessly integrate with existing ADAT based studios. It was so handy that it is still in use, even though the ADAT kind of went the way of the dinosaur as a tape based format.
Also, as an 8 channel digital connection, it takes up less real estate on a device's input/output panel than AES/EBU. A pair of ADAT lightpipe connectors takes up far less space than a DB25 connector or 8 XLR connectors for 8 channels of digital I/O.
I recently blew the dust off my old ADAT (which no longer works as a Digital Tape machine) and Alesis Mixer to route drum mics through the ADAT converters into the "light pipe" and directly into my interface to free up a bunch of interface channels. I gained 8 audio channels and a fairly decent set of meters that respond very quickly and accurately for setting drum mic levels. That can be iffy when just trying to use the "clip lights" on most pro-sumer interfaces. It was an improvised work around at the time, but I am liking it more and more.