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Ones and Zeroes Digital tape is still tape! Want to discuss DAT, DCC and blank media? This is the place.

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  #1  
Old 10-23-2009, 08:07 PM
Dimitar Georgiev's Avatar
Dimitar Georgiev Dimitar Georgiev is offline
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Sony DAT PCM R500

Just wanted to report - started archiving my cassette collection. Have bunch of old and torn cassettes from the end of the 60ies and the beginning of the 70ies with hard rock - Deep Purple, Nazareth, Frijid Pink, Pink Floyd etc. recorded about 30-40 hours of those on the PCM R500. The source decks were Dragon and ZX7. The result is wonderful - now I have excellent digital recordings of hard to find old albums. Very satisfied with the DAT machine - it is doing just fine. I have side question - what is the longevity of the drum for this machine and in general for the 4 DD drive machines such as PCM R500 PCM R700 and PCM 7020/7030/7040/7050 ? I've heard that the reel direct drive transports last longer because the tape tension is automatically controlled by the reel motors and is more precise than the machines which use felt pads for tension control. As a result the drum lasts longer . My question is how much longer - anybody has first hand experience ?

D.
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  #2  
Old 10-31-2009, 04:01 PM
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Elite-ist Elite-ist is offline
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Hi Dimitar,

I haven't got a DAT machine, yet. A few of the reasons I haven't stepped into the domain of DAT technology is the archival longevity of recorded DAT is reported to be 10 years. Is this true? Studios, are transferring their DAT recordings into other digital formats. And DAT machines are particularly finicky, causing plenty of error codes and mechanical malfunctions. But, as you stated, some manufacturers built better machines than others. Is a Sony DTC-2000ES hard to find, and worth buying used?

http://www.thevintageknob.org/SONY/s...TC2000ES.html#


There are plenty of Tascams available. I was interested in buying a Tascam DA-30, if I can get a good stock of DAT cassettes. Anything in particular I should check to test such a machine?

Thanks,

Nando.
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  #3  
Old 11-01-2009, 02:30 PM
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SaSi_Sidi SaSi_Sidi is offline
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I have worked with several consumer level SONY DAT decks repairing them and I can confirm that most of these decks share the same transport. Not a bad design, on the contrary pretty simple and elegant, but not designed for precision or longevity.

The felt pad tension control mainly is the joke inside these transports. I was able to bring a few of these decks back to life after replacing the felt pads.

The R500 should not have these issues as there are direct drive reel motors.

Regarding the longevity of the recordings, I have no reason to believe that the contents on the tapes will last less than analog tape recordings.

The various issues related with read errors and inability to playback a tape recorded on a different deck point, IMHO, to tracking error (azimuth adjustment) on each deck. Even a slight misalignment on a deck can cause increased read errors and digital artifacts.

But once the azimuth is adjusted - and again IMHO it can be done not really hard and doesn't really require unobtainable test tapes and equipment - portability of cassettes across decks can be as high as 100%.

The head itself on many Sony decks is exactly the same. I've only seen 2 different versions; one on DTC-55 and 57 and another on DTC59, 670, 690, and several others including much later models like the DTC-ZE700 (which actually shares the same transport with the older models).

I am not sure about the R500 head as I have very briefly looked inside that deck - never had to adjust or fix it as it came in perfect condition. But I am almost certain it shares drum with a cheap, consumer level deck.
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Old 11-01-2009, 03:39 PM
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Dimitar Georgiev Dimitar Georgiev is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elite-ist View Post
Hi Dimitar,
Is a Sony DTC-2000ES hard to find, and worth buying used?

http://www.thevintageknob.org/SONY/s...TC2000ES.html#
Yes it is extremely hard to find and in my opinion it is not worth the money simply because the later Sony models with read-after-write heads - PCM70x0 are likely to be with drums with less hours and are more readily available.
See the main thing with DAT is the drum hours. A new Sony drum is about $400 if you can get it at all.

D.
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Cassette: Nakamichi Dragon, Nakamichi ZX7, Revox B215, Tandberg TCD440A
R2R: Technics RS-1500US
CD/SACD/DVD-Audio: Denon DVD-2900
TT: Empire 598, tonearm: Jelco sa750d, cart: Denon DL110, Denon 103R, step-up: CineMag CMQEE 3440A
Amp: Kenwood KA-127
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  #5  
Old 11-01-2009, 03:43 PM
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Elite-ist Elite-ist is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dimitar Georgiev View Post
Yes it is extremely hard to find and in my opinion it is not worth the money simply because the later Sony models with read-after-write heads - PCM70x0 are likely to be with drums with less hours and are more readily available.
See the main thing with DAT is the drum hours. A new Sony drum is about $400 if you can get it at all.

D.
Hi Dimitar,

Thanks for the follow-up to my questions. I'll keep those points in mind when I consider moving into DAT.

Nando.
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  #6  
Old 11-02-2009, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaSi_Sidi View Post
I have worked with several consumer level SONY DAT decks repairing them and I can confirm that most of these decks share the same transport. Not a bad design, on the contrary pretty simple and elegant, but not designed for precision or longevity.

The felt pad tension control mainly is the joke inside these transports. I was able to bring a few of these decks back to life after replacing the felt pads.

The R500 should not have these issues as there are direct drive reel motors.

Regarding the longevity of the recordings, I have no reason to believe that the contents on the tapes will last less than analog tape recordings.

The various issues related with read errors and inability to playback a tape recorded on a different deck point, IMHO, to tracking error (azimuth adjustment) on each deck. Even a slight misalignment on a deck can cause increased read errors and digital artifacts.

But once the azimuth is adjusted - and again IMHO it can be done not really hard and doesn't really require unobtainable test tapes and equipment - portability of cassettes across decks can be as high as 100%.

The head itself on many Sony decks is exactly the same. I've only seen 2 different versions; one on DTC-55 and 57 and another on DTC59, 670, 690, and several others including much later models like the DTC-ZE700 (which actually shares the same transport with the older models).

I am not sure about the R500 head as I have very briefly looked inside that deck - never had to adjust or fix it as it came in perfect condition. But I am almost certain it shares drum with a cheap, consumer level deck.
Hi SaSi_Sidi,

Thanks for sharing your experiences with DAT! Would the Tascam DA-30 be worthy of buying? Any mechanical or electronic deficiencies in this particular model? Or wait for a Sony PCM R700?

Nando.
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  #7  
Old 11-02-2009, 09:48 PM
tcp100 tcp100 is offline
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I managed to get a PCM-R300 on Ebay for $100. I got it, turned it on, and the sucker only had 3 hours on it.

Solid deck, works wonderfully, sounds great. I'm not sure how it compares to the R500; it's definitely a different transport. (I'm curious about the inner workings of the R300 myself. Anyone have experience with that model?)

Regardless, I think DAT is a nice and often misunderstood format. It found its niche in pro recording, but definitely has great home/hobbyist uses as well.
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  #8  
Old 11-03-2009, 05:52 PM
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Dimitar Georgiev Dimitar Georgiev is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcp100 View Post
I managed to get a PCM-R300 on Ebay for $100. I got it, turned it on, and the sucker only had 3 hours on it.

Solid deck, works wonderfully, sounds great. I'm not sure how it compares to the R500; it's definitely a different transport. (I'm curious about the inner workings of the R300 myself. Anyone have experience with that model?)

Regardless, I think DAT is a nice and often misunderstood format. It found its niche in pro recording, but definitely has great home/hobbyist uses as well.
Enjoy it. I also love my R500 which works perfectly so far. Love the DAT cassettes which are cute and small. The only open question how long it will last ?

Cheers,
D.
__________________
Cassette: Nakamichi Dragon, Nakamichi ZX7, Revox B215, Tandberg TCD440A
R2R: Technics RS-1500US
CD/SACD/DVD-Audio: Denon DVD-2900
TT: Empire 598, tonearm: Jelco sa750d, cart: Denon DL110, Denon 103R, step-up: CineMag CMQEE 3440A
Amp: Kenwood KA-127
Speakers: Klipsch KSF 8.5
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  #9  
Old 11-04-2009, 03:17 AM
SaSi_Sidi's Avatar
SaSi_Sidi SaSi_Sidi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elite-ist View Post
Hi SaSi_Sidi,

Thanks for sharing your experiences with DAT! Would the Tascam DA-30 be worthy of buying? Any mechanical or electronic deficiencies in this particular model? Or wait for a Sony PCM R700?

Nando.
I have not seen a Tascam DA30 but read that it shares the same transport with some professional Panasonic units and the same transport used on the Revox DAT.

My thought is that all these are good machines so it's more like what looks better to you and what comes around in good condition and a fair price.
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  #10  
Old 11-06-2009, 05:43 PM
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Elite-ist Elite-ist is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaSi_Sidi View Post
I have not seen a Tascam DA30 but read that it shares the same transport with some professional Panasonic units and the same transport used on the Revox DAT.

My thought is that all these are good machines so it's more like what looks better to you and what comes around in good condition and a fair price.
Hello SaSi_Sidi,

Took the plunge into DAT technology. Here's the link to my new DAT recorder:

http://www.tapeheads.net/showthread....9733#post69733

Nando.
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  #11  
Old 12-15-2009, 12:19 AM
rscottdrysdale rscottdrysdale is offline
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i got a used R300 off ebay this year also.

mine has a bit of a problem. the tape wrap guides are moved into position along tracks by little folding arms, which are driven by plastic toothed gear rack. on my unit, the right hand wrap arm's gear will lose contact with the rack teeth and stick in the "wrapped" position.

for my convenience, the deck tries to continue to operate in this mode - until i rewind, fast forward, or eject. then the tape gets mangled and the door won't open.

while trying to figure out what was wrong without TOTALLY disassembling the deck mechanism, i discovered that if the mechanism was held sideways or upside down, the problem didn't occur. so i've got it running standing on it's side

i found a place (www.prodigitalinc.com) that will fix it. they say it's a common problem and easily corrected permanently once you take the mechanism apart.

my first DAT was a TCD-D3 (DAT walkman) i got in 1992, i think. i was joining the navy, and figured that was the most compact way to have high quality music with me. i later bought two more D3's. my original one spent most of it's life velcroed to the dashboard of my pickup truck, winter and summer, and got about an hour's use _every day_. it has been down more than few flights of stairs, and fell off the harley at highway speeds (in a duffel bag). this year it finally started acting a little cranky. i couldn't find anyone in the US willing to work on it, so i sent it to www.andyselectronicstuff.co.uk. about $150 and a few weeks later, it's perfect again (still looks beat on the outside!) the guy said he'd NEVER seen one so badly worn and still working - got a new head, new capstan/motor, line out jack, and BOT/EOT sensors.

as to tapes, they're pretty hardy. i have a couple modified "case logic" cassette boxes (i think i broke every nth divider so DATs would fit stacked sideways), and i spilled a 12 ounce bottle of diet coke in a box full of tapes while driving. i let them air dry for several days, and those tapes still work (and that happened 10 years ago). even tapes that got mangled seem to slowly heal if you carefully wind the tape back into the shell and ff/rew it so the mangled part gets packed flat.

just don't re-record over a tape that's been played many (20+) times or has been wrinkled. guaranteed dropouts. maybe a bulk eraser would solve that problem, but i don't have one and i've heard DAT tape is really hard to bulk erase due to the tape formulation.
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  #12  
Old 12-15-2009, 12:03 PM
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SaSi_Sidi SaSi_Sidi is offline
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Hello and welcome!

Nice story of yours with the D3.

I think I understand what the problem is with the R300 transport. Which would mean it shares the transport of the consumer DATs. That's a bit flimsy.

What I didn't expect is for it to function correctly standing on the side. That does make some sense - as gravity isn't there to lower it and loose contact with the rack.

The Sony consumer transports I've worked on have lots of plastic gears and levers, all secured on rods with a plastic "safety spacer". Just a snug fit plastic spacer that secures them on the rod.

One deck seemed to be wrecked - nothing moved properly - and I discovered a few of those inside the transport and even down in the chasis. Some were also missing.

I have parted out 3 or 4 transports for bent levers, drums, gears, and ... these spacers. This is the part I'm mostly out when repairing transports.
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  #13  
Old 12-15-2009, 12:38 PM
rscottdrysdale rscottdrysdale is offline
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interesting. i haven't had the mechanism apart far enough to really see what's going on, as it looks like a 20,000 piece puzzle of small parts that i'll never get back together again. i just removed the circuit board so i could see (just barely) the rack and gear in question and stick a tiny screwdriver in to pop it back in place.

so you're saying that if i got it apart enough to, for example, superglue a plastic washer or something to the shaft, that arm/gear would stay put?

sony designs some really nice stuff. i just wish they wouldn't cheap out with the mechanical stuff all the time.
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  #14  
Old 12-15-2009, 03:23 PM
tcp100 tcp100 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaSi_Sidi View Post
Hello and welcome!

Nice story of yours with the D3.

I think I understand what the problem is with the R300 transport. Which would mean it shares the transport of the consumer DATs. That's a bit flimsy.

What I didn't expect is for it to function correctly standing on the side. That does make some sense - as gravity isn't there to lower it and loose contact with the rack.

The Sony consumer transports I've worked on have lots of plastic gears and levers, all secured on rods with a plastic "safety spacer". Just a snug fit plastic spacer that secures them on the rod.

One deck seemed to be wrecked - nothing moved properly - and I discovered a few of those inside the transport and even down in the chasis. Some were also missing.

I have parted out 3 or 4 transports for bent levers, drums, gears, and ... these spacers. This is the part I'm mostly out when repairing transports.
SaSi_Sidi,

I managed to run into two of these R300 decks actually. One only had three (!) hours on it, now has ten. The second has about 150 hours on it.

Any idea roughly how many hours one could expect out of these machines?

Also, any tips to keep them in working order? Cracking it open maybe and somehow reinforcing these 'spacers' you talk about?
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  #15  
Old 01-06-2010, 09:24 PM
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JXBJXB JXBJXB is offline
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So, I have an R500 myself - picked it up locally off Craigslist for way less than $100. I think it has maybe 50 hours on it. Functions perfectly, sounds great.

It presents a quandary. Arguably, the sound quality the deck provides is equal to that of my Naks but with the added benefit of a perfectly quiet background. I don't want to get into analog vs. digital or anything like that because they both have their place and I put the R500's sound in the "good digital" column.

The problem stems from what Dimitar mentions - it's a question of longevity. If I put a bunch of important recordings on DAT, and the R500 breaks, I suppose I can always find another DAT machine. But talk about an orphaned format - at least with the analog cassette, there are SO many decks out there that we enthusiasts can continue along with it for many, many years. I don't know that I can say that about DAT. I can make pretty much as many analog cassette recordings as I want on my Naks, and even if I wear out the heads I will most likely be able to find another Nak or other decent analog deck.

I think the R500 is known to be a very robust machine, but I don't really have any knowledge of "how" robust it is, or what an average lifespan will be, or even how to treat the deck so that it lasts as long as possible. A basic question, for example - do I ever clean the heads (a proper wet clean like I used to with my Betamax decks?) Or do I just always use quality tape that I wind through before use and hope that the heads don't get contaminated or clogged?

Sigh. So here the (very beautiful, excellent sounding) machine sits...
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