Yes, in it's day, the F1 format was pretty good. I actually used it for 
at least 2 years for production work As I recall, WFMT here in Chicago 
was also an early adopter, using it to replace their Nagra stereo 
recorders for many of Rich Warren's folk shows. They worked pretty well, 
assuming that the deck and tape were in good condition. The larger 
physical size of the tape helped as well.

Actually, I primarily used 3/4" U-Matic as the recording medium for most 
of my work, as the decks and tape handling were superior to most of the 
consumer units. (Plus, we could use time code easily).

My only major gripe was the quality of the A/D and D/A converters (even 
in the Nakamichi version), which left a lot to be desired. Oh, yeah, 
then there was the pre-emphasis flag issue...

The one plus of recording on analog video decks with this format was 
that the analog audio tracks could be used for a reference, which made 
hi-speed locating of a specific portion of program fairly easy (as 
opposed to the virtually indecipherable output from a DAT machine in 


Ted Kendall wrote:
> 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.>>>>>>>>>>