After trading with people for a while,
I have some reccomendations for good recordings to be made.
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DDS Backup (Digital Data Standard) tapes are better quality, and quite
often cheaper to buy than audio grade dats, but be aware, they are measured
in meters, not minutes. multiply meters by 2 to get minutes. Most are 60
meter tapes, which means 120 minutes. Do not use
the 90 meter and 120 meter tapes in audio dat machines !
- Use good quality tapes of no more than 120 minutes.
I personally prefer 90 minute tapes, with no more
than 12 tracks per tape for the reasons, that many portable DAT
decks reccomend not to use long (120 min+) tapes to prevent wear on the
smaller heads and transport mechanisms of portables. Also, longer tapes
are thinner, and more likely to stretch and produce dropouts.
- If you have a preference for a particular brand tape, let the trader
know, although over time I have found that each person has their own personal
favourite, and that they all often disagree. At the moment, I am slightly
suspicious of TDK tapes, since I have heard of and personally experienced
trouble with these tapes. I have had no trouble with any other brands,
and have used Sony, Fuji, Ampex, BASF without problems.
- Try to avoid recording more than 12 tracks per tape. Apart from it
taking a long time to cue up tracks when there are 18+ tracks on a tape,
it is better to be able to fit the list of tracks
on the tape on ONE side of the DAT J-Card, so that tapes can be
quickly browsed for a track without having to open the DAT cover to see
the track list.
- Allow 3 seconds between tracks on a DAT, and 10 seconds at the start
of a tape. This makes it easier to cue tracks
- Do NOT
cut off the end of tracks suddenly ! This is really annoying ! So many tapes I get have
this done on them.. I know it's not always the traders fault, sometimes
you get a track from some else that already has the end chopped off. It
may not matter when DJ'ing it, since you usually mix out before the chop,
but it is very harsh to listen to when not mixing, and I think it shows
little respect for a track. If the original track
mixed into another track, then try using the record level knob on the dat
to do a fade as the track finishes.
- Be very careful with the recording level on DATs
! The infamous Sony D8 is already a little low in output level compared
to most CD players, so you need to make sure your recording level is as
high as can be done without clipping. For Psy Trance where the level is
reasonably constant, I try to keep the VU meters
around -4 to -2 during most of the track. Do
NOT use auto-level recording, since this will record at -12 and
the output will be very low. Also, if the track has a quieter ambient break,
the D8 in auto, will turn up the record level during the quiet bit, and
then turn it back down when the break finishes. which sounds really bad..
Do not allow the <OVER> meters to flash
during recording, since this will produce digital clipping which sounds
- Make sure you record at 44.1Khz or 48Khz. Do
NOT use Long Play (32Khz) recording. This will allow you to fit
more music on a tape, but cuts off all high frequencies above 14Khz ! I
presume you use a DAT for quality recordings, why throw it away by losing
all the high frequencies ?
- If a recording is bad quality due to events beyond your control (tm),
make a note on the recording. Sometimes a recording is from vinyl, or I've
even received DATS that sound like they're made from Audio Tape ! Let the
person you are trading with know if you think the recording quality is
not good - before you trade.
- Do not turn the Sony D8 backlight on or off during
recording, this can produce pops in the tape. In fact, its better
to record with it off all the time, since it does produce a very slight
but noticeable (in quiet parts) high frequency whine in the recording while
it is on.
- Do not have mobile phones (especially digital
ones) around while recording, since they interfere badly with the
- Try to avoid recording through a mixer
if possible, since even the best mixers usually add some hiss and hum to
a recording. The best way (for analog) is the line-out of one dat, straight
into the line-in of the other dat.
- Do not run both DATS off a common power supply.
This can produce a ground-loop effect that shows up as a strange sounding
intermittant hum the relates to the load on the power supply. Use seperate
transformers (plug packs) for each DAT or run them on batteries.
- Try to ensure the Start-ID's on a track are as close as possible to
the actual start of the music. The easiest way to do this on a sony D8
is to turn the Auto-ID Feature on. Do this by pressing STOP+RECORD at the
same time while in stop mode. When Auto-ID is on, a start ID will be written
whenever the D8 detects music starting afer 3 or more seconds of silence,
rather than whenever you release the pause mode, as it normally does.
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