Thoughts on DAT tape? Any users?


I know, I know!
Yet another old dead end format but hear me out...lol.

I still do a lot of home recording and now I am down to just my cassette decks having sold off all my r2r gear.

Looking at DAT tape it seems like it should make for high quality audio recordings but does it?
Equipment and media are not outrageous prices yet....
So any actual users or ex users rather than just internet cowboys care to comment?
Thank you and stay safe!
F9988e03 5b38 4b2f 8f67 357de0a06706uberwaltz
I can see only disadvantages to recording digital to tape. Tape is inherently prone to wear and breakage, plus there's the cost of the media itself. Why not just record direct to HD or SSD?
Cleeds
I understand but it is kind of missing the point as one could apply that to recording streaming onto reel or cassette tape.
yes I hear you say EXACTLY!

Well I guess there are still a few dinosaurs out here I fear!
I would prefer to use a good ADC and record directly to a laptop computer. As to software, for simple 2-channel recordings, Steinberg Wavelab Elements offers a lot of functionality for about $100. There are free alternatives, but they are more complex to learn IMO.
Not quite what I am trying to get at.

I already have two 4tb hdd full of ripped music.

No I was thinking as an alternative media to reels or cassette to record onto.
i know it is old school to actually want tape but I do.
I still have one but haven't used it in years.  Problem was that it kept getting out of alignment. Wasn't cheap either! Sounded a lot better than cassettes and even CDs at the time.  Excelia, an Aiwa brand, IIRC.

Thanks Andy.
Yes I did read that some models had issues with alignment of the rotating head.
Looks like Sony built some good models.

The tech piques my interest.......
Hi Uber, I used R-DAT in studios without any issue. Fast, accurate cue-ing, indexing features and excellent SQ. One studio was NFL Films where all sound was shot using DAT. It worked flawlessly in the field and studio. First generation decks had some bugs.

I encountered a consumer grade DAT once while working in a studio, and although it had equally high quality sound, the transport wasn’t as accurate for cue-ing and some tapes had tracking errors.

In my friend’s home DAT sounded fantastic. He used it for archiving and mixed tapes for partys.
If you go DAT, my suggestion is to buy a professional-grade recorder. It has a time code channel for sync even if you don’t intend to take advantage of it, ie, editing.

You’ll have to weigh cost and benefit of tape vs other other digital recording devices.
Portable DATs are cheap on Ebay, I have no knowledge of their quality.


Thanks lowrider!

What are some of the brands of the pro grade units you might be thinking of as ebay does seem more to be full of consumer grade units.
I had a Sony DTC75ES I bought in 1990.  I found some of the DAT tapes I recorded had dropouts 5 years later.  A few years ago, I offered the Sony deck to my brother who is in a jazz band. He wasn’t interested and my thinking of it being a dead format, brought the deck and tapes to a place that recycles audio equipment. I am still kicking myself in the ass for that dumb mistake.  
Couple of nice looking Panasonic and Tascam units on Fleabay right now under the pro audio section.
I see the Panasonic has balanced XLR in/out only which is normally a sure sign of pro audio usage rather than home audio.
Every musician I know who was into home recording moved from DAT to computer digital for home stuff, and many are now stuck with piles of DAT tapes. Even Garage Band sounds better.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/124247492053

https://www.ebay.com/itm/193504611021

I can only vouch for Sony; made in Japan, excellent build quality, worked very well. They have the typical Sony PITA menu dialogue as their other components.
In a pro setting, a sync generator is required to lock the deck’s data to other machines. I think in a home setting it is set to internal sync.

Uber, I have reservations about the longevity of the cassette tapes. The tape is extremely small and thin but the transports handled them gently during FF and Rev. I don’t know how the oxide and the winding of the cassette holds up over time.

Although, during the era of the DAT, we would eject tapes and toss them around and they were physically very sturdy. They do sound excellent in a home system, but as stated it is a dead format.

Due diligence required, don't buy an early production model. DAT had some bugs in the beginning. 

Digital tape has one advantage over recording to computer - according to RIAA it is legal to copy any music to digital tape (including friends CDs) because royalties were paid by tape manufacturer.  Audio CD-Rs and MiniDisks are also legal, but copying CD that you don't own to plain data CD-R or computer's HD is illegal.
Recording to Audio CD-R seems easier than DAT, but it cannot be erased.
uberwaltz

DAT and MiniDisc are cool formats. Have fun!

Happy Listening!