digital multitrack/2-track format comparisons

No replies
Joined: 02/12/2009

Format details: digital multitrack and two-track recorders (from a post I originally made on the Planet BMUG/ PlanetMUG BBS 3/2000):

ADAT is not DAT. All ADATs use SVHS tape, while the DAT tape is a 4mm tape.

All ADATs store eight tracks of audio per SVHS tape, and multiple machines lock together to yield more tracks. All DATs are two tracks.

This first generation of ADATS (The original ADAT and the ADAT XT) stored 16 bits. The second generation of ADATs (AKA ADAT type II, in models XT20, LX20, M20) store 20 bits. (This was achieved by packing the data tighter, but keeping the speed of tape the same.)

DAT is a two-track format. All DATs have stored 16 bits except the Tascam DA-45HR, which stores 24 bits. This is not a standard and is the only 24 bit DAT so far, but nooone else has come up with another way to do this. (This trick was achieved by speeding up the tape significantly).

The Tascam DTRS format (in the DA-88, DA-38, -98, Sony PCM-800) is a competitor to the ADAT which also stores 8 tracks of 16 bit audio per deck, with multiple machines yielding more tracks. A higher quality format, DTRS is popular in higher-end recording studios and film studios. A recent model (DA-78HR) stores 8 tracks of 24 bits (speed is the same as DA-88, data is packed tighter), but also reads and writes the original DA-88 format of 16 bits. All these Tascam decks can be operated together as one multitrack recorder with many tracks.

For more info on DA-88s and other formats such as ADAT, check out my tips and tricks pages:

Update 3/2004:
These formats are starting to lose their market share, being replaced by hard-disk recorders. But it's still important to know about these formats since they are still in widespread use.