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ADAT recycling blues Mixers (Digital)
Old 10th July 2018
  #1
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JoeyM's Avatar
ADAT recycling blues

In the interest of removing unused equipment that leaves a bad taste in the money where I put my mouth at in the 1990s, I see I have a big honkin' Blackface ADAT. I bought it because it was digital and CD quality . Little did I know how great 75 db of VCR motor sounded in the background 30 feet from it, or how much I loved the previous take when the tape crunched into oblivion without warning. Fortunately I also bought the Quadraverb 2, which had a problem they fixed the 6th time I sent it to Alesis! Yay!

No really what should I do with this?
Plan A: dissasemble, throw in trash over the course of 2 weeks.
Plan B: Find someone who thinks it's worth $50 + shipping, which I love the idea but I just highly doubt anyone will go for it.
Plan C: Tell the store I want to return it and act surprised and say "I thought it was 30-year return policy! It's 30 days?"

No really, any advice my cyber shrinks? I hate wasting something that might be re-purpose-able, but I don't know what to do with it.
Old 10th July 2018
  #2
I have two ADATs and the large controller. Going to be putting them up on Ebay soon.

I guess we were all a little foolish for a while in the 90s.

Oh well progress...
Old 10th July 2018
  #3
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

As for foolishness, they're what you could get at the time. I have zero regrets. I did some good work on them. In advertising, award-winning work that still holds up sonically.

I had a Fostex timecode ADAT that I used as a 4-stereo-stem pickup recorder. The 16-track AMS AudioFile (2nd generation! Color display!) would lock to it, and you could punch cleanly both in and out of the stems. Try that on your 24-track.

As for selling them, if you're going to do that they'd better work. Even then, there's a good chance they won't play back someone else's already-recorded tapes. But there's also a good chance that they will, and if you have two working ones you may have two more than anyone in your community. There could be money to be made there from people who have ADAT material they want to retrieve.
Old 10th July 2018
  #4
I had no particular illusions about the ADAT when I bought my first. It replaced a balky 8 track 1/2" that had been in and out of the shop since I bought it used (but not so cheap). The ADAT brought an immediate and very strong improvement in audio quality over my previous non-solution and was a workhorse.

I ended up buying another and a BRC sync/control module which I used to improve integration with my computer based MIDI. It was aces, especially compared to the twiddly and far from rock solid operation that was running MIDI sync to analog tape. Sure, the nature of the heliscan heads meant extra attention to wear issues and I did have to have the decks serviced a few times but Alesis was quick and professional about it. It was NOTHING like the strung-out headaches of having my old analog deck serviced due to part availability issues. (That said, I don't think I'd want to try to get spare parts for a blackface ADAT transport at this point, either! )

I found the ADAT to be a worthwhile stopgap at a time when my long love affair with analog tape had finally come off the reel. I would have preferred to do my multitrack work direct to hard drive -- which was how I did my two track radio production work -- but hard drives were still stupid expensive in the mid-90s. AND the ability to pull the tape carts out and put them on the shelf allowed me to switch client sessions quickly.

I actually have fond memories of my ADATs.
Old 10th July 2018
  #5
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JoeyM's Avatar
Yeah some good memories are coming back here as well - Alesis support was real good, I learned to program my first brickwall limiter on the Q2 and got better grades at the University than when I used ProTools.

Well I hope some Aha! moment happens. I was extremely careful about keeping it clean but know nothing about the VCR transport and why that wanted to eat tapes once or twice a year, but someone out there probably knows.
Old 10th July 2018
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeyM View Post
Yeah some good memories are coming back here as well - Alesis support was real good, I learned to program my first brickwall limiter on the Q2 and got better grades at the University than when I used ProTools.

Well I hope some Aha! moment happens. I was extremely careful about keeping it clean but know nothing about the VCR transport and why that wanted to eat tapes once or twice a year, but someone out there probably knows.
Well, one thing that DID happen was that the quality of tape from some makers like Ampex went downhill in the late 90s. I'd been buying Ampex pro level reel tape since the beginning of the 1980s (it always seemed odd that their cassettes were such absolute, utter trash) and had had good luck with their dedicated ADAT tapes and DAT tapes -- until the end of the 90s. Then I got a bunch of ADATs that were flawed out the gate. And a full case of DAT tapes that were screwed up. A whole case. (I used to back stock and it took me a while to discover the case was bad; I probably still should have tried to get my money back but it was many months later.) Scuttlebut was that it was a widespread problem.

After that, I never bought another Ampex tape, switching to TDK and Maxell S-VHS and DAT blanks. Never had any problems with those.


FWIW, I still have my old ADATs in storage, though neither lights up. I suspect it might be something as simple as a mobo backup battery but I've never really explored it. When the last one went down I had already stepped away from taking clients; I was just bucks up enough to buy a 2 channel Echo Mia; later I got a MOTU 828mkii that is still the conversion center of my PC based rig.
Old 11th July 2018
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
I would have preferred to do my multitrack work direct to hard drive -- which was how I did my two track radio production work -- but hard drives were still stupid expensive in the mid-90s. AND the ability to pull the tape carts out and put them on the shelf allowed me to switch client sessions quickly.

I actually have fond memories of my ADATs.
I still have my 1.6 gig SCSI drive for my Sound Designer and Sonic DAWs that cost me $3500.00. It makes a good door stop. Today I could buy terabytes of hard drives for that price. I could get two mastering projects on the drive at any one time. Today in house we have over 40 terabytes of data storage. Quite a difference a few years make. Oh well time marches on.
Old 12th July 2018
  #8
My favourite bit about ADAT was the lockup time...when you had a 3 tape system (as we did at uni), the first tape was generally just drums...so you hit play, the drums kicked off..and a few bars later the rest of the band had picked up their instruments and joined in.

Never loved the things, but I had quite fun times in our mix suite with an 02R, early Cubase Audio rig running MIDI and a few samples, and the 3 ADATs. Also "fun" getting it all to MIDI Timepiece together...
Old 12th July 2018
  #9
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
My favourite bit about ADAT was the lockup time...
When you're in a cramped little control room packed with eight people who are impatient despite the fact that they really needn't be there, and you're locking to 3/4" video, and you've suddenly got a runaway 24-track with 5000-foot reels on it... that's when you know you're working for a living.

I found the whole ADAT lockup thing almost pleasant by comparison, in the sense that they brought the pace of the proceedings down to their own relaxed level.
Old 12th July 2018
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
When you're in a cramped little control room packed with eight people who are impatient despite the fact that they really needn't be there, and you're locking to 3/4" video, and you've suddenly got a runaway 24-track with 5000-foot reels on it... that's when you know you're working for a living.

I found the whole ADAT lockup thing almost pleasant by comparison, in the sense that they brought the pace of the proceedings down to their own relaxed level.
I've heard it suggested that the ADAT's substantially reduced rewind time (especially for longer segments) was 'just about right.' Not the finger-drumming, frequent micro-downtime of analog reel rewind, nor the head-snapping instant-redo of recording to disk.
Old 12th July 2018
  #11
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
I've heard it suggested that the ADAT's substantially reduced rewind time (especially for longer segments) was 'just about right.' Not the finger-drumming, frequent micro-downtime of analog reel rewind, nor the head-snapping instant-redo of recording to disk.
In the early days of working with DAWs I think we all had to learn not to rush, and give people on mic a little time to gather themselves. A new problem. :-)

These days, though, I don't think anyone accustomed to a DAW pace would call any sort of rewind time "just about right."
Old 12th July 2018
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
In the early days of working with DAWs I think we all had to learn not to rush, and give people on mic a little time to gather themselves. A new problem. :-)

These days, though, I don't think anyone accustomed to a DAW pace would call any sort of rewind time "just about right."



Well, now the session-runner [to borrow a bit from our sisters and brothers in the video industry; probably about time, 'producer' has become a particularly ill-defined term of art in the contemporary recording world] has the option of simply keeping a finger on the pulse of the session and the mood/personal timing of the talent.

Now, if we're sensitive, we can be more responsive to the natural flow and timing of the talent.


[One of the things that TOTALLY ANNOYS ME in the current music biz is the stream-income oriented practice of overloading albums with short out-takes, false-starts, and resulting studio chatter. (The more tracks played, the more stream income.) There's one Four Freshmen track on a re-release album that starts out with their patented dreamy/ethereal vocal blend -- they were a primary influence on Brian Wilson -- and then there's some sort of typical studio f-up that devolves into a bunch of exasperated backchat and recriminations. We've (mostly) all been there. It happens. But WHY THE F 'immortalize' a very unmusical, unpleasant moment of aggravation and exasperation? Labels. I really hate most of them.]
Old 12th July 2018
  #13
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JoeyM's Avatar
Ahhh memo-ries... along with the ADAT manual there was also a magazine sized booklet called Inside ADAT. I remember being relieved to read this:

Quote:
ADAT has a 20% margin of internal error correction... up to 1 out of every 5 samples can be bad, and be exactly corrected.


Man I wish someone had a cheap retrofit for this - use the jacks on the back and beautiful meters on the front. It may be a large unit, but for 8 channels in and out, and especially the simplicity of recording arm buttons, it's 2nd tier theft protection right there. Damn I hate to ditch this. I wonder if Alesis could be persuaded to be long-term stewards of their former selves. They'd certainly make some loot.

New for 2020: the ADAT Jim Williams Mod!
Old 13th July 2018
  #14
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeyM View Post

Plan A: dissasemble, throw in trash over the course of 2 weeks.
Plan B: Find someone who thinks it's worth $50 + shipping, which I love the idea but I just highly doubt anyone will go for it.
Plan C: Tell the store I want to return it and act surprised and say "I thought it was 30-year return policy! It's 30 days?"
Plan D: keep it for when a client comes in asking for you to transfer his old band from the 90's into the DAW for remixing
Old 14th July 2018
  #15
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jude's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
Plan D: keep it for when a client comes in asking for you to transfer his old band from the 90's into the DAW for remixing
Yep. It does not cost much to keep old gear in storage for just in case.
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