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New Toy

How can I get excited about an electrical gadget, 15 years-old? Well, since the very early days of me using other people’s studios, I’d seen DAT recorders, these slow moving tape machines, and spent a small fortune on the little tapes – not much bigger than camcorder Mini DV tapes (oh yeah, we don’t use those any more), but quite a bit smaller than cassette tapes (oh yeah, we don’t use those any more either) to record a digital mix of my songs in stereo. I then carried my little case to a mastering house and finalised the album. It was the industry standard format for any high-end studio in the 90’s. If you wanted a CD burnt or Album cut, then the duplicators mostly accepted DATs to work from.

My first CD burnt from one of these cost me £40. One CD! Before too long every home computer in the land had a CD recorder built-in. Yes, in the beginning these were flaky, and almost impossible to play in anyone’s home CD player, other than the one that had burnt the disc. But before very long, all mixes were bounced down to CD. Mastering houses and duplication companies all accepted CDR’s as standard and the poor, ever-so reliable DAT machines, were moved to the bottom of the rack, to gather dust.

When I had amassed enough equipment to call myself a studio, I never gave purchasing a DAT recorder a second thought – I didn’t need one. Who needed a DAT recorder nowadays? Well, actually, there are many, many people who have a shelf or drawer (or perhaps, more likely now, box) load of little DAT tapes. Some of which have priceless recordings on, never having been transferred to CD and unable to access their masterpieces. Well, now you can. Because I can.

I feel quite guilty really, as I’ve managed to pick up a superb quality, professional unit for £150 (ebay). Yes, that’s still more than I paid for my consumer CD player, new, but this bit of kit retailed at £1300 in 1995. The guy selling it must be gutted!

The burning question is; would I every have paid the £1300 for a new one, if it meant I could transfer all my loved-and-lost recordings to iTunes? I have to say, I doubt it. But strangely, I feel more complete as a studio now I have a DAT recorder.


Shiny New DAT Machine

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