I built a DAT-DDS station (and helped on a few others) while working in the archive at Democracy Now and managed the transfer of several hundred, if not thousands, of tapes through this process.
To answer Tom's questions:
For hardware we used a Sony SDT-9000 DDS3 drive (this seems to be the most popular model for this type of work). Note that the ability to read audio DATs is specific to DDS version 3, DDS version 1, 2, and 4 won't work. We used DDS firmware version 13.1. There are a few others that will work such as 12.2. There are a few tools available online that will flash a firmware upgrade. Also for hardware we used a Mac G3 with a SCSI PCI card and associated cabling.
For software there are about a dozen tools that will perform the audio read operations and we did working tests with about five of them to determine which met the most of our preservation needs. The results were that various tools had advantages of one another. I emailed the comparison to the developer of DATXtract who then integrated the additional features to release DATXtract 1.3 while also adding support for the long play 32kHz 12bit DATs. See: http://pdicamillo.org/~peter/datxtract/.
Setup: The configuration of the station certainly took a lot of tinkering. I think it wasn't until our third purchase of an ~$10 DDS3 Sony SDT-9000 off ebay that we got a suitable deck.
Advantages: Once the station was up and running we found several advantages over traditional playout from a DAT player.
- Faster than real-time transfer. This was particularly helpful where we had a huge collection of long play 32kHz tapes. In a DAT player these tapes would have to roll through at a slower rate for real-time playback. In the DDS3 drive the tape was be read much, much faster.
- Error detection: Frames from a DAT tape contains a type of checksum so that the accuracy of the tape read can be verified. Here DATXtract can output a list of timecodes were errors occurred during the reading of the tape. Slide 21 in a presentation that I did at the last AMIA Digital Asset Management Symposium (http://www.avpreserve.com/papers-and-presentations/amiadas2008_presentation/) shows some examples of this.
- Workflow: With this approach the operator's workflow is greatly simplified. There is no need to coordinate play on machine and record on another, set levels, configure audio settings, stop the record once the audio playout has stopped; it is simply a data transfer as would be done with an Audio CD. With this setup we had one operator running transfers and another technician reviewing the resulting error logs to determine if a second pass or playback by other means was necessary.
- Metadata: Since the collection we were working with was recorded by a news gathering organization, the usefulness of the metadata was significant. By identifying break points in the recording, the date and time setting for each recording, and how much time passed between recordings we could better catalog the material and develop temporal relationships between tapes that were often poorly labeled.
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On Jan 20, 2010, at 6:22 AM, Tom Fine wrote:
> So, does anyone have a working system that does all of this? If so, can you describe your hardware, software and extraction methods?
> Also the success and pitfalls you've learned from experience.
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Eric Jacobs" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 3:19 AM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] DAT ripping
>> There was a good thread on DAT Transfers on August 19, 2008.
>> In summary:
>> The primary software tools used were DATXtract and DAT2WAV.
>> Transfer with a DDS drive was not possible if ABS was not
>> Eric Jacobs
>> The Audio Archive, Inc.
>> tel: 408.221.2128
>> fax: 408.549.9867
>> mailto:[log in to unmask]
>> Disc and Tape Audio Transfer Services and Preservation Consulting
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
>> [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of Ted Kendall
>> Sent: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 11:06 PM
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] DAT ripping
>> Me too - the bit extraction from a DDS drive should be unambiguous, should
>> it not, since DDS is primarily a data storage format and hence interpolation
>> is verboten. ALL we need to do is get the stuff into a WAV and we're done...
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Shai Drori" <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 6:20 AM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] DAT ripping
>>> This is interesting to me ass well. I tried this before and couldn't ge
>>> the gizmo to work. There is someome on ebay claiming to sell a working
>>> Jim Sam wrote:
>>>> I am inquiring if someone that's transferring DATs via DDS, etc., drives
>>>> would be willing to transfer a few DATs for me. I'm interested in this
>>>> see how it compares to real-time AES/EBU transfers. Having data from
>>>> established setups would be very, very helpful.
>>>> If anyone's interested in this, please contact me off list. You can
>>>> me at [log in to unmask] or through this gmail address.
>>>> Thank you,
>>>> Jim Sam
>>>> Audio Specialist
>>>> Hoover Institution Archives