Sony DTC-2000ES DAT recorder Dis'n'DAT

Sidebar 1: Dis'n'DAT

DAT is a format unlike any other. The tape cassettes use 1/8"-wide tape running at 0.3"/second, and run on what is basically an ultra-miniature VCR that records in a series of diagonal stripes across the tape (helical scan). The recordings have extraordinarily robust error correction (footnote 1), and can use several kinds of place markers that together constitute a rudimentary, but effective, editing system.

A start identifier (ID) signals the beginning of a recorded selection, and can provide a seek point for high-speed searches to specific locations on the tape. Start IDs can be placed (written) automatically while recording—at every spot where a louder section follows a prolonged quiet section—or manually during playback. Pressing the Start ID Write button once puts the deck into audition mode, during which it repeats several seconds of the program over and over, starting from the marked point. Pressing the forward or reverse button then advances or retards the ID's position by $s3?/?1?0 of a second for each press until the marker is exactly where you want it, at which time you again press Write, and the deck records it onto the tape. If you want to move it later, you cue up to the Start ID (the display shows $Bstart id) and press Write, which puts you in audition mode again. Use the shuttle buttons to reposition the marker, then press Write again to record the new Start position.

If you make the recording in Auto Start mode, you may end up with a number of unwanted Start markers on the tape, particularly when recording a live performance or a piece of music that has wide dynamic range. The extraneous IDs can be individually erased later, and should be erased before manually placing a new one nearby—if two markers are less than 10 seconds apart, neither may work, and it may be difficult to move or erase either of them. To erase a Start ID, you advance to or a little past it, put the deck into Play, and press Start ID Erase. The deck backs up until it locates the marker, wipes it off the tape, and continues playing. (A start marker can be precisely located by pressing Pause and using the Automatic Music Find button to shuttle directly to it. The deck will find it and pause on it.)

A Skip ID signals the deck to fast-forward to the next Start ID and start playing from there. Skip IDs can only be placed manually, and are useful for bypassing long lengths of unwanted material, which often result when you record a live performance unattended. Skip IDs also give you the option of auditioning the skip start points before you commit to their placement, but they can't be moved later; they have to be erased and rewritten.

After all extraneous IDs have been deleted and the desired ones placed, a Renumber function rewinds the tape to the beginning and renumbers all the Start IDs in sequence, for easy numerical call-out from the remote control.

Finally, the End ID marks the spot where the last recorded selection ended; the tape cannot be played or fast-forwarded beyond the End point. In playback, the End ID causes the tape to rewind to the beginning. Also, by putting the deck in Pause and hitting Fast Forward, the End ID can be used to locate the start point for another recording. The tape will wind to the marker and pause. Starting a new recording from there erases that end marker and places a new one at the new end point.

By combining Start IDs and Skip IDs, a ragged concert recording with audience coughs and shuffles and long periods of interminable silence can usually be cleaned up well enough for broadcast, duplication onto analog cassettes, or digital copying as a "clean" original with no wasted space on it.—J. Gordon Holt

Footnote 1: I erased a recording with a hand-held degausser and then tried playing it. Those few parts that were not completely erased actually played cleanly.

jimtavegia's picture

I still use my DTC 690 to record WABE FM NPR  broadcasts for listening later, but not much else.  I also had a Portable 7, but once it quit for the 2nd time and the repair was over $300 I was done.  My 690 is still rolling long nicely to this day. And yes, tapes are still available. I also still use my Sony Minidisc 330 as well when quality is not a real issue. 

I must admit that my 3 Tascam SDHC recorders; 2 DR-2ds that do 2496 and my older DR-07 that is redbook are now my go to recorders for everything that I want to transfer to CD or DVD - or + R. 

Poor Audiophile's picture

Nice to hear from you again!


I purchased a pair of Sony 75ES decks and later a 87ES deck as well as a PCM 300. These are gone now as none quite satisfied. But, I still have and use a pair of Sony PCM--7010F DAT Recorders connected to a Sony RM-D7200 Dual Remote Controller. The remote controller allows for auto edits with 3 frame accuracy. I think my PCM-7010F's represent DAT recording performance as good as it ever got. I do not have any more modern technology which sounds better.