Archiving DATs to computer or server HD


I have a large collection of music "favorites" on DAT. I would like to archive this music on to a computer or music server. As far as computer is concerned, no one seems to know what I need to buy and how to proceed. I know that I will need some downloaded music player ( Audacity ) and some kind of interface -- but what ? I am willing to buy a new computer for this purpose. For music server, everything that I see that has digital inputs ( RCA or Toslink ) costs over $5000. I've seen ads for the Cocktail Audio X40 that would seem to fit-the-bill, but that company has no "track record" and I can find no reviews. Need advice ---- JTV
bigridge
Are folks completely unable to use Google anymore? Here is what I'd do, go to the website I provide below and learn what you can. I'm pretty sure you need to xfer the DAT files into a format that is usable by today's players - maybe FLAC is your best choice for this.

Then get a PC with a couple of big external drives - one for the files and the other as a mirror - and begin the process of loading the converted DAT files onto the drives.

When that is done, use a PC-based player to playback your files. Not too difficult but it will be a bit time consuming. And I don't think you need to spend $5k, you could do all this for around $3-4k...

http://www.head-fi.org/f/46/computer-audio

-RW-
PS: Foobar2000 is a (free!) player that will do what you need to do for playback...

-RW-
Digital out from your dat player to any digital recorder that will create and store as a file......transfer file to your hard drive. Tascam....Sony.....fostex ...and m audio make many different ones ranging from a buck fifty to five hundred.

Or buy a digital interface and software for your computer. Look at a markertek or b and h catalog. Cost around a buck fifty to 700 depending on the software you buy.

Simple as pie.
There are two ways to get the data from the DAT playter to the PC. You can transfer the digital file directly or you can let the player convert to analog by playing the tape and capture the analog out and convert it to digital.

The digital transfer would be the best, but I do not know what format the DAT files are in. As Raymonda says there are mulitple optons for digital recorders that take in digital signals. They use S/PDIF inputs, so you would need a S/PDIF output from your player.

Capturing the analog means you go through a digital to analog conversion and then an analog to digital conversion.

To use the analog option, let your DAT player play the tapes and then capture the analog output with a recording system. All you need is a PC with a analog input and some software. The A to D converter in the PC may not be the greatest quality, but it is a start. An external analog to digital converter is also an option, although that will cost more. They are available at multiple prices from companies like m audio, Tascam, Korg. A decent one is availabe for a few hundred dollars. You can capture the audio with recording software like Audacity or Vinyl Studio.

Vinyl Studio is specifically meant for recording from vinyl or the analog output from a CD player. I use it for vinyl and like it because you can record the whole album (tape) and then it can split the tracks and has a lookup option to get the tag data. Few other audio editors have this lookup feature and the price is right at $29. Trial available.

A direct digital to digital transfer would be best, depending on the format in the DAT and your digital output option. Recording the analog output is an easy option if you have a computer with analog inputs.

Once you have the digital file, then you need either a dedicated music server or a PC with player software and a DAC. The music server is easier to implement but the PC approach is more flexible. For a windows PC, you can use foobar (free) or JRIver ($50) for a player. iTunes or Windows Media Player are options, but the quality is generally not as good. JRiver and Audiovarna are optons for Apple. You also need a DAC, either in a receiver or intergrated amp or stand alone. You can get a decent usb DAC starting DAC for $500 or less, depending on the rest of your system.

If you want a stand alone music server, you might want to look at the Sony HAP-S1. It copies digital files from your PC and then acts as a stand along system. Price $995.

Hope that helps. There are lots of options. Some of it depends on your computer expertise. But there are certainly mainstream options for much less than the Cocktail Audio.
Thanks RW for telling me about Google. I thought that it was something that Popeye used for a sore throat. Thanks Dtc for a very comprehensive answer. My DAT deck has XLR and RCA digital outputs. I can also convert to toslink. I still need to know exactly how to get the digital info into a laptop. Do I need to buy a computer that has digital audio inputs ? -- I haven't been able to find one. Or, do I need an audio interface -- and, if so, exactly what ? I do know that I will have to install software, and that there are several choices. I appreciate your time and trouble in answering. Thanks again. JTV
Buy a used m audio micro tracker......100 bucks. Then transfer to your hard drive. If you don't get what I've posted above......which is as simple as can be.....then leave it to someone else.

This is as about a difficult as sharpening a pencil.
What's with the insults? The OP clearly is not experienced in this area and is asking for help. When he does not know what he is looking for, just throwing out a bunch of manufactures names is not very useful. The Micro Track suggestion is a good one.

The Micro Track is a hand held device that has a digital input and then writes a digital file on a SD card. It is a good option, but not available new as far as I can tell. It is available used on ebay and Amazon. Most of the small handhelds do not have a digital input.

Their are also usb options like the Tascam US-1800 which has a S/PDIF input and outputs to a PC via usb. If you have long play 32KHz files the Tascam will handle them, I believe. Not sure if the Micro Track does or not.

If you have a PC with a S/PDIF input, you might be able to use that directly, as long as the digital input is visible to programs like Audacity or Vinyl Studio.

The usb or S/PDIF option is probably quicker as long as it works correctly. They usually do, but there can be timing issues when recording. The SD card option is relatively straightforward, although you have to manually transfer the card to your PC.

Whichever way you go you end end up with either a large wav or flac file or with indivual tracks. But to get record individual tracks you have to stand by the equipment and indicate when a new track begins, which is kind of a pain. I would suggest recording the whole thing and then use Vinyl Studio to pull them apart into separate tracks and to name the tracks.

Forget the insults and keep asking any questions you have.
Any software program will allow you to add track flags.....cost 75 bucks. You don't have to stand over any machine and press a button in real time. Tasman and Fostex make new handheld devices that have digital ins for in and around 200 new.

It seems the same question gets asked and answered over and over again. If someone's ego is fragile and can't withstand a statement like it is as easy as sharpening a pencil.......my apologies.....but really it is that easy.
Usb is for transferring the file after it has been written from your digital recording device to your computer. .spdif is for sending the digital signal to your recording device from your dat machine in real time.
Maybe it is as easy as sharpening a pencil to you but not to someone who has never done it. Why not just be polite. Is that too much to ask? And, by the way, when was the last time someone asked about recording from a DAT? I really do not think it has been asked over and over again. That 32K sample rate can be a problem for many recorders. Maybe it is not as easy as sharpening a pencil.

Vinyl Studio is $29 and looks up albums from online databases and splits the tracks. Many of the inexpensive audio editors do not do that. It is best for vinyl but works for other formats. No need to spend $75. Losts of programs do manual tagging, but few do the database lookups to get tags and timing to split the tracks.

Do the handheld devices you reference automatically split tracks automatically when the tape is being recorded? My guess is no. Hence, you need a way to split the tracks or you need to do it manually as the tape is being played. I know people who prefer to split them as they are recorded and some who split them after the fact. I was just pointing that out.

By Tasman I presume you mean Tascam. Since you know about those models, why not simply give the model numbers. It really is not that easy for someone to dig through those details when they are not familiar with this type of product. Honestly, there are not that many portables that have digital inputs.

Lets leave this discussion at that.

If you can provide model numbers, I think that would be helpful for the OP.
Raymond - The Tascam US-1800 does not have a disk. It takes the real time S/PDIF signal and passes it through the USB to the PC in real time. You then capture that real time signal with software on the PC. It appears as a recording device within Windows or on a MAC. I have not used it, but that is what the manual claims - page 23 has a block diagram of the unit. I once looked at for digitizing vinyl before I went with the Korg MR-2000.

And, a correction. I do not know if the Tascam US-1800 accepts 32K samples. I was thinking of the Edirol UA-5 which does support 32K. Unfortunately, that is no longer available. I am not sure if Roland has replaced that capability or not.
The sampling rate of the digital output of my DAT deck is 44K or 48K depending on the source that I was recording. Thanks Dtc for your insistence on civility. But, I have thick skin and it doesn't bother me. For me, interpreting a Treadmill Stress Test is as easy as sharpening a pencil -- probably not for Raymonda.
Hold on....now you are getting personal. ;?)
Regarding all of the above, I think that audio is entering a new age --- the computer audio age. I am over 70, and grew up in a world where the word "computer' didn't even exist. My computer knowledge is about that of an average 10 year old -- and that's me bragging ! For audio applications, there is just no place to go for specific advice. People who work in audio shops don't know the answers to these questions. Memphis Tennessee, where I live, a city of over a half million, has zero high-end audio stores. Computer shop employees look at you like you are crazy. Some people on the internet actually insult and ridicule you. What the high-end world needs now, is a new breed of computer audio consultants. People who you can hire, who will come to your house, access your system and your needs and tell you exactly what you need to buy. Then your consultant would return to you when the gear arrives, and help you set up and get started. I wish that some sharp computer wiz IT types out there would do this. I'll be their first customer, and I would pay them well. JTV
For a digital recorder you might look at the Tascam DR-100mkII. It is a portable recorder with a digital input. It records to a SD disk. To move the files to a PC you can either copy them over the USB or move the SD card to the PC and copy them with Explorer. Either of the Sony HAP music servers would be a good option for a player without having to learn a PC player app. It will copy your PC files to the music server. The DR-100mkII has a feature to automatically separate tracks, which should work pretty well with digital files. You can tag the tracks with the Sony music server.

Another simpler option is a CD recorder. It takes in either a digital or analog signal and writes a CD-R or CD-RW which can be played in any CD player that plays CD-RW or CD-R discs. The TASCAM CD-RW 900MKII is a good option, It has both digital and analog inputs, can separate tracks automatically and you can enter titles for the CD and the tracks. The disadvantage is that it only takes 44.1 K digital inputs. To do 48 K tapes you would have to convert them to analog and let the Tascam convert it to 44 K digital. Once you have the tracks on the CD-R (or RW) you will be able to transfer them to a PC player in the future if you want. The unit will also play back the disks using its analog outputs or its digital outputs to a DAC.

So, there are options. Unfortuatelely, I agree that it is often hard to find local help. This type of conversion is not common for the average local big box PC or TV/audio store.
Any decisions?
Thanks Dtc -- I've made note of all the suggestions that I have received and I appreciate them all. I've found an interface that should work for digital transfers into Pure Vinyl on my MacBook pro. I could use an external hard drive for more storage if needed. But, I'm going to wait a few months to see if any of the audio mags write a review of the Cocktail Audio X40. This device would do everything that I need all in one package, and I could easily transport it back-and-forth to western NC where we spend part of the year. When I actually do something, I'll let you know how it works. JTV