Sony DTC-2000ES DAT recorder J. Gordon Holt Again 1995
When the review sample of this Super-Bit-Mapped DAT deck returned from RH's testing facility, the drawer-close spring was broken. (The unit had been used, perhaps, 30 hours during my tests, 3 during his.) I was able to jury-rig a repair of this, but shortly thereafter one of the pivots popped out of the tape-loading bar and disappeared into the innards of machine, making it impossible thereafter to load a tape.
Fortunately, the unit I'd purchased (yes, I decided to take the plunge, despite the SCMS barrier) had arrived by then, and Steven Stone, my co-conspirator in recording, managed to track down an early model of an inexpensive anti-jitter box which strips out the SCMS code on our tapes, allowing for unlimited copying to his Sony D-7 through as many generations as we would ever need. I've spent more hours than I'd care to estimate collating and tightening up our growing collection of concert tapes, andexcept for some intractable problems interfacing with a professional D-10 portable machinethe Sony '2000 has been completely trouble-free for almost a year now (knock on wood).
The D-7/'2000ES combo makes as neat a basic editing and collating system as you'll find. The fadeup/fadedown feature is a godsend for compiling collections and cleaning up live-performance tapes. Fadeups are necessary if you want to excerpt part of something and don't want it to start abruptly. Fadedowns are great for ending an excerpt or exiting gracefully from prolonged applause.
Another nice feature of this combo is that both the DTC-2000ES and the D-7 (with its remote control/digital I/O box) use the same IR codes. This allows you to put the 2000ES in Play/Pause and the D-7 in record pause, and start them simultaneously. Unfortunately, there are times when you don't want this, such as when you want to Pause the 2000 while the D-7 writes a few seconds of silence. At times like these, you have to remember to use the deck's front-panel control, which isn't easy when you're accustomed to using the remote all the time (or cover the D-7's IR receiver window with a piece of electrical tape).
One minor problem has surfaced, not attributable to flaws in the D-7 or DTC-2000ES. Combining program segments that were recorded at different sampling rates often caused audible clicks at the changeover point. At least, it did when I played those tapes through any outboard D/A unit I had on hand. Interestingly, there were no clicks at all when using the D-7's or 2000's internal D/A for playback, or when converting via Steve Stone's EAD 7000. Most pro decks used by duplicators can switch seamlessly between sampling rates if the transition point isn't right at the start of a selection. This point should be somewhere near the midpoint of the space between selections. To be safe, though, 48kHzsampled recordings should be sample-rate-converted if they're going to be combined with 44.1kHz material.
The more I used the DTC-2000ES, the more I became aware of a certain dryness in its sound, even with SBM. Many recent CDs sound more liquid than our concert tapes do, and the fact that ours still sounded dry through some very good outboard D/A processors suggested trouble at the source.
I borrowed a Meridian 607 A/D processor from the manufacturer and did a few side-by-side comparisons. The Meridian was noticeably sweeter-sounding than the '2000ES, but was also more closed-down at the top. The Sony sounded more open, but not as much so as the original material, and was marred by that slight upper-range dryness.
What did this tell me? Simply what I already knew: That while the Sony DTC-2000ES may be the best-sounding affordable (footnote 1) DAT deck on the market, it ain't the State of the Art for 16-bit digital sound. How much of the problem is due to A/D conversion artifacts or to imperfections in the analog circuitry preceding the A/D converter is an unanswered question at this point, but as soon as my service manual for the '2000 arrives from Sony, I'll be looking into the possibility of bypassing the deck's analog input circuitry.
Meanwhile, I'm going to try to borrow some highly regarded professional outboard A/D processors.J. Gordon Holt
Footnote 1: The 20-bit, 4-channel Nagra that many perfectionist recordists favor these days costs $26,000 upward!