Very much agree with Ted's main point here -- just because a completely obsolete format has graced 
you with good luck to be playable now, and you still have a working machine to play it, doesn't mean 
to leave it on the shelf. Transfer it today.

Ted, the other thing that's impressed me is how well the Betamax machine has held up. Early consumer 
machines, especially the portables, seem to be built solid rather than built to a low price point.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Ted Kendall" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Saturday, January 23, 2010 2:26 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] DAT ripping

> Agreed. I was at the BBC's Transcription Service in 1983, when we started digital acquisition 
> using F1, and we were bowled over by the sound quality and agreeably surprised by the relative 
> robustness of the medium. I transferred a whole collection (70-80 tapes) from F1 a couple of years 
> back, using a decoder with an SPDIF output and was again surprised by the smoothness of the 
> operation - a couple of mutes in programme is all I can remember. There were errors at stop and 
> start points, but you'd expect that. That doesn't mean you should leave all your F1s on the shelf 
> for another decade, of course, but for the moment, given the hardware, retrieval doesn't seem too 
> bad. There are questions of pre-emphasis, of course...
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Tom Fine" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Saturday, January 23, 2010 12:17 AM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] DAT ripping
>> Hi Scott:
>> Interesting thing about the Sony F1 format ... it's relatively robust, in my experience. I have a 
>> pile of F1 tapes that were made in the 80's and they all played perfectly last time they got 
>> played a couple years ago (they were transferred to DAW at that time). Most are on Betamax tapes 
>> and I'm playing them back on an _OLD_ Sony portable machine (the one that matched the original F1 
>> unit). I was shocked when I started playing them. All I could figure is, much lower data-pack to 
>> tape vs. something like DAT. And, Betamax tapes seem less sensitive to non-violent dropping and 
>> jarring compared to say U-Matic tapes. With the few old VHS tapes I have that were made with F1 
>> equipment, they work fine as long as the playback machine either has working auto-tracking-adjust 
>> or has a tracking adjust control.
>> I still use the format to time-shift radio programs (mainly NPR). Turn on tuner, turn on F1 
>> converter, set VCR timer, let it do its thing. Play back at the time of my choosing.
>> The last-generation F1 (EIAJ format) converter box even had a SPDIF output.
>> One other F1 story. I was told by a former Polygram employee that most of those Japan Polygram LP 
>> reissues of Emarcy/Mercury and Verve jazz albums were made from F1 tapes dubbed from the master 
>> tapes at Polygram's US facility, so the master tapes didn't have to travel overseas. Those LPs 
>> sound darn good in most cases. I think the first-generation Japanese CD's of those albums were 
>> also made from F1 tapes.
>> -- Tom Fine
>> ----- Original Message ----- 
>> From: "Scott D. Smith" <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Friday, January 22, 2010 6:58 PM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] DAT ripping
>>> Tom:
>>> While DAT wasn't lossy per se (at least in the recorded bitstream), the reality was that, 
>>> depending on the tape and the machine, there could be a significant amount of error concealment 
>>> taking place (or worse issues).
>>> I ate a lot of crow once when I foolishly used DAT on a day of pickup work on a picture, only to 
>>> find that there was a problem with the tape when they tried to play it in post. We never did 
>>> determine whether it was the tape or the machine that was at fault, but it wasn't pretty...
>>> When using DAT for production work, we had more than a few occasions where there were problems 
>>> with either the tape, or the shell, (or both) which would cause severe issues when trying to 
>>> reproduce them. My guess is that I've probably re-shelled at least a dozen tapes during that 
>>> period to make them playable (and this was using high-end Sony 7000 series machines).
>>> All in all, I'm glad to see 'em go. Now, how about the Sony F1 format?!
>>> --Scott
>>> Tom Fine wrote:
>>>> Hi Scott:
>>>> My take on DAT is, transfer what you got and be out of the format. But in its time, it wasn't 
>>>> lossy and it even offered (slightly) better resolution than a CD master. Also, Sony had "Super 
>>>> Bit Mapping" (20-bit A-D conversion down-converted to 16-bit storage) available even on 
>>>> lower-end machines.
>>>> All in all, sound quality wise, DAT was superior to MD and other lossy-encoded media.
>>>> I bet most of us here would have killed for one of these little $300 flash recorders when we 
>>>> bought our first $1000+ DAT recorder. You sound-for-picture guys would have mass-killed for one 
>>>> of these high-end many-tracks flash recorders.
>>>> -- Tom Fine
>>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Scott D. Smith" <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> Sent: Thursday, January 21, 2010 7:22 PM
>>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] DAT ripping
>>>> As Tom nicely points out in his summary of the life of the DAT, it
>>>> indeed was never meant to be a professional format.
>>>> After Sony realized their misstep in the market, they hurriedly tried
>>>> to figure out how to re-coup their development costs. The thinking
>>>> being: Hey-if consumers won't use it, maybe we can dump it on the pros!
>>>> Subsequent to my experience using DAT recorders to record sync sound
>>>> for a feature film ("The Package")in 1988, I sat on a panel discussion
>>>> at the New York AES show, discussing the pros and cons of the format
>>>> for pro use.
>>>> At that meeting, I distinctly recall pointing out the numerous
>>>> shortfalls of the format for pro users, and was nearly booed off the
>>>> stage by a contingent  who thought it was the greatest thing to come
>>>> around since the introduction of the CD. Hey, perfect sound, right?
>>>> Funny-I haven't really heard too much from that crowd lately...
>>>> --Scott D. Smith
>>>> Chicago Audio Works, Inc.
>>>> Quoting Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>:
>>>>> When DAT first came out, the original press on it was "here's a
>>>>> cassette-like home medium for the digital age." But the copy-protection
>>>>> scheme made it impossible to use it as many people were using cassettes
>>>>> at that point (tape-to-tape copies), duplication of DATs was a costly
>>>>> endeavor since they can't be run off on a mass-duper like cassettes.
>>>>> Remember that at that time period -- the Walkman era -- cassettes were
>>>>> the primary mass medium for music in the US, having passed LP numbers
>>>>> in the late 80's. So a cassette replacement needed to have a major
>>>>> pre-recorded component. The record companies had invested or were
>>>>> investing billions in CD plants, that's what they wanted to be the
>>>>> _ONLY_ consumer mass-medium. So it was another case of clever hardware
>>>>> engineering for a market that wouldn't buy in quantity. BUT, DAT was
>>>>> immediately and enthusiastically embraced by the portable-recording
>>>>> market, specifically higher-end radio recording, recording of events at
>>>>> colleges and other venues, and the Grateful Dead taping army, among
>>>>> other audiences. So, quickly, quantities of recorded DAT tapes started
>>>>> piling up in various organized and non-organized archives. Also at that
>>>>> time, recording-industry people realized DAT was a good way to make a
>>>>> listening/proof copy off the same digital buss feeding the
>>>>> U-Matic-based mastering system. After all, any producer or record
>>>>> company exec could have a DAT machine in their home or office, but few
>>>>> to none could have a 1630 playback system. So more DAT tapes started
>>>>> piling up. Then, lower-end studios and self-recording folks adopted DAT
>>>>> due to convenience and cost. Many more small studios than we'd like to
>>>>> think were mastering to DAT throughout the 90's and even into this
>>>>> decade. Also the commercial/industrial sound production business. And
>>>>> sound-for-picture.
>>>>> So, yes, never intended for the professional uses which became its market.
>>>>> -- Tom Fine
>>>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Ted Kendall"
>>>>> <[log in to unmask]>
>>>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>>>> Sent: Thursday, January 21, 2010 6:05 AM
>>>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] DAT ripping
>>>>>> As far as I know, DAT was never intended as a professional medium   at all, but a domestic 
>>>>>> one. The anti-copying furore in the US which  led to SCMS scuppered that, so the Japanese had 
>>>>>> to sell it as an  F1 replacement.
>>>>>> Agreed, though - those first generation machines can be very tolerant of marginal tapes. 
>>>>>> Whether this is a mechanical thing or more generous interpolation, I wouldn't know. I also 
>>>>>> harbour memories of a particular DAT which refused to play at all on any machine except a 
>>>>>> Fostex D20 - and that had the error light continuously on! The audio, however, was quite OK.
>>>>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Paul G Turney" <[log in to unmask]>
>>>>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>>>>> Sent: Thursday, January 21, 2010 9:18 AM
>>>>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] DAT ripping
>>>>>> Further to this, you will find that some mechanisms perform better than others, the PCM 2500 
>>>>>> for example will play tapes that the 7000 series won't.
>>>>>> And often more plays will yeild a better file, but DAT was always meant to be an editing 
>>>>>> medium, not long term storage.
>>>>>> Paul Turney
>>>>>> Sirensound Digital Audio
>>>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>>>> From: Shai Drori [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
>>>>>> Sent: Thursday, January 21, 2010 09:14 AM
>>>>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>>>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] DAT ripping
>>>>>> Okay, that I understand, but I am thinking about correctable   errors. We are then assuming 
>>>>>> that both systems will correct the   errors the same way since both use the schemes 
>>>>>> implemented. How do   we know which system has fewer errors over the other? My experience 
>>>>>> with rotary head systems is that sometimes second or third reading  yielded better results, I 
>>>>>> think due to "cleaning" actions of the   previous playing. Maybe we should compare five 
>>>>>> readings of the same cassette?ShaiTed Kendall wrote:> In my view, yes.>> Consider - you have 
>>>>>> two data files. One is a text document (for the > sake of argument). The other is a digital 
>>>>>> audio file. Both have errors  > in the storage medium. This is inevitable, so we devise error 
>>>>>>  > correction strategies (redundancy, check codes, etc). These allow   us > to correct errors 
>>>>>> completely and accurately.>> Suppose now   that there is an error in the storage medium which 
>>>>>> is too > large   to be corrected. This will cause an obvious error in the text >   file, 
>>>>>> which is unaceptable, so the system does not allow for it and
>>>>>> > declares the file corrupt. The audio file, however, can be
>>>>>> rendered > inoffensive by interpolation, and this is implemented in the DAT audio > format. 
>>>>>> If we retrieve DAT audio in a system which does not admit of > interpolation, we therefore 
>>>>>> know that the data are accurate, as any > uncorrectable errors are recorded as 
>>>>>> such.>>>> -----  Original Message ----- From: "Shai Drori" > To: > Sent: Thursday, January 
>>>>>> 21, 2010 7:37 AM> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] DAT ripping>>>> My own experience with dat is that 
>>>>>> almost all tapes have some form of >> errors on them. I think the idea in dds is   that 
>>>>>> errors are better >> fixed than dat machines. There were many machines that came off >> 
>>>>>> assembly lines not at spec, thus making the tape not a standard tape. >> Some machines are 
>>>>>> better at coping with these (my experience with >> Sony is better than tascam for example, 
>>>>>> but I suspect this is highly  >> subjective). All in all,   I think the DAT format was the 
>>>>>> word digital >> format I have ever come across.>> Also' checking two files one against the 
>>>>>> other will   not necessarily >> prove one format better than the other. If you   get some 
>>>>>> audio, how >> can you be sure one stream is correct and   the other is corrupt? >> Either the 
>>>>>> dat or dds stream could be better, or am I missing >> something in the methodology?>> 
>>>>>> Shai>>>>  Tom Fine wrote:>>> I'm happy to do a SPDIF to hard drive transfer   and then 
>>>>>> exchange
>>>>>>>>> tapes with someone using a PC-drive transfer system so we can do the >>>
>>>>>> comparison Richard mentions.>>>>>> Please ping me off-list if you have a working PC-drive 
>>>>>> transfer  >>> chain and want to exchange DATs and computer files.>>>>>> -- Tom 
>>>>>> Fine>>>>>> -----  Original Message ----- From: "Richard L. Hess" >>> >>> To: >>> Sent: 
>>>>>> Wednesday, January 20, 2010 5:14 PM>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] DAT ripping>>>>>>>>>> Hi, 
>>>>>> Tom,>>>>>>>> After I saw your post and   re-read Jim's post, I think I understand >>>> where 
>>>>>> he is coming from.>>>>>>>> What we _should_ be able to do is take the DDS ripped file and an 
>>>>>>  >>>> AES/SPDIF'd copy of the DAT from an audio DAT machine, align the >>>> starts, invert the 
>>>>>> phase of one, and get dither or silence.>>>>>>>> In both instances, we're pulling numbers off 
>>>>>> the tapes (although >>>> the basest representation of the numbers is analog on the tape, the 
>>>>>>  >>>> processing in both instances interprets these analog signals as >>>> either ones or 
>>>>>> zeros).>>>>>>>> I would not, without doing the tests that Jim is   talking about, be >>>> 
>>>>>> 100.0000% confident that the two files are   identical.>>>>>>>> I think that the DDS reading 
>>>>>> could be "better"   than the audio DAT >>>> reading as there is no error concealment   stage 
>>>>>> in a data recorder, >>>> so if you grabbed all the bits via   the DDS route, you could be 
>>>>>> sure >>>> that they were correct.>>>>>>>> These are all subtle differences and are probably 
>>>>>> not as large as >>>> the "Interstitial Errors" that Chris Lacinak   is talking about 
>>>>>> here:>>>> 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> I would expect some burst differences between the two methods,
>>>>>> and >>>> those bursts would be where the audio DAT's error concealment
>>>>>>>>>> kicked in. Other than that, they should be identical, presuming
>>>>>> you >>>> haven't introduced an interstitial error in one copy or   the other.>>>>>>>> I'm 
>>>>>> glad to see Chris offering to help. I am interested in this. I >>>> would also like to know 
>>>>>> who is set up with the DDS Mass Ingest of >>>> DATs as I am sometimes asked who can do large 
>>>>>> DAT collections. At >>>> the moment, I am not interested in doing any because of anticipated 
>>>>>>  >>>> remaining headlife on my machines, the growing lack of parts for >>>> DAT machines, the 
>>>>>> need to transfer my own DAT collection first, and
>>>>>> >>>> the analog work that I have piling up.>>>>>>>> Cheers,>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>  Richard>>>>>>>> At 04:27 PM 2010-01-20, Tom Fine wrote:>>>>> Hi Jim:>>>>>>>>>> How could the 
>>>>>> data be "better" than a direct-digital out from a  >>>>> properly-working player (ie no head 
>>>>>> problems or mechanical >>>>> issues)? I thought the main advantage of the computer-drive 
>>>>>> method >>>>> was to save time. Is there more to it?>>>>>>>>>> --  Tom Fine>>>>>>>>>> -----  
>>>>>> Original Message -----  From: "Jim Sam" >>>>> To: >>>>> Sent: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 
>>>>>> 12:45 PM>>>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] DAT ripping>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> All,>>>>>>>>>>>> First, 
>>>>>> Dave, that information is very helpful.>>>>>>>>>>>> That said, I didn't ask because I'm 
>>>>>> worried about the theory. I >>>>>> was asking>>>>>> for a collaborator in 
>>>>>> testing.>>>>>>>>>>>> The theory's been discussed before on this list, and I'm aware >>>>>> 
>>>>>> that more>>>>>> than one person/organization has experimented with this to some >>>>>> 
>>>>>> success. It>>>>>> was also *briefly *discussed at last year's   conference in DC.
>>>>>>>>>>>> However,>>>>>> every time I've seen a discussion about the
>>>>>> topic, it has never >>>>>> come along>>>>>> with what matters to   me: testing to make sure 
>>>>>> what's coming off
>>>>>>>>>>>> the DDS>>>>>> drive is the same (or better) data than what would go
>>>>>> down the >>>>>> AES/EBU>>>>>> pipeline.>>>>>>>>>>>> I'm still extremely interested in this 
>>>>>> situation, and after >>>>>> having had to>>>>>> deal with other similar formats, I've got 
>>>>>> ideas for   testing that >>>>>> I'd like to>>>>>> do. But I don't have a   working DDS setup 
>>>>>> here. I could build my
>>>>>>>>>>>> own, which>>>>>> I might do, but that's a can of worms, and there's
>>>>>> other things >>>>>> to be gained>>>>>> by having a collaborator in these tests.>>>>>>>>>>>> 
>>>>>> Thanks,>>>>>> Jim>>>>>>>>>> Richard L.   Hess email: [log in to unmask]>>>>> Aurora, 
>>>>>> Ontario, Canada   (905) 713 6733 1-877-TAPE-FIX>>>>> Detailed contact information:
>>>>>> >>>>>>>>>> Quality tape
>>>>>>  transfers --  even from hard-to-play tapes.>>>>>>>>>>