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I was a very early adopter of the DAT format, I'm pretty sure the first to use DAT as the primary format on major motion pictures. First used the original SONY D-10 (no D-10 Pro yet) but was very eager to use the "professional" machines that were starting to come out. After having fairly disastrous results with several other machines I settled in on the HHB PortaDAT. The people at HHB approached me and asked if I could write an article for an "Educational Journal" in the UK, outlining my history with the DAT format. They also asked if I could send some pictures of me on set using the HHB DAT machine. I agreed, had the Unit Still Photographer on Mel Brooks' "Dracula - Dead and Loving It" take some pictures and sent it all off to the UK. Later I find that the "Educational Journal" where my article was used was actually the main promotional brochure for the recorder. I was a little pissed off that they got me to do more than even a testimonial, had me supply the photographs, and then used it all without any compensation to me. When I called them on it, they said they would send me an extra battery and if ever in London they would buy me a drink. I got over it but it still pisses me off. The HHB PortaDAT, however, did serve me well on 15 movies  --- finally abandoned DAT altogether soon after getting my first Deva I and never really missed the DAT format. I fully embraced file-based production recording and I knew after my first week of using the Deva that this would be the way we would do our work in the future (and for the small group of us trying out this new format the future was now!) 

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Jeff- I wish you would have shared this info to the community, had I known, I never would have purchased my HHB. It did serve me well, although always one step away from an ulcer worrying when it would crap out. It actually did die on me working on a Rudy Giuliani presidential campaign (cost me a client)...I was running a SD 744 for back-up and it saved my butt. Sorry to hear the bums took advantage of you...all in the past so we just push forward to better days 😁.  

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Sony>Aiwa>Casio>Panasonic>HHB>Fostex plus rented "big" Sony and Otari "studio" deck DATS.  Crap, all of them.  The most reliable of them all (for me) were the cheap Casio DA7s, which I took all over the world and operated in every kind of shit weather:  wind, wet and dust--subzero mountains to deserts by way of jungles and so on.  Was lucky.  I generally always owned about 7 DAT machines at once through those years, and the ones that hosed me the worst were the most expensive (and overpriced), the HHB PDR1000TCs.  The only thing that kept me from using my last one for target practice was a decent cash offer for thing from an overseas buyer.   The replacements to those DATs, a pair of original 744Ts, are still recording super hifi audio with no issues.  If I had been able to do so, I would have followed Ag Andrianos's lead and hung onto 1/4" until I could go file based.  But that was not possible in commercials....at all.

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Thanks for the orig brochure, and great to hear Jeff’s testimonial. Although not in the same daily ballgame as the rest of the postees and growing up with really the HHB as the only pro option I had access to, I had memories of the alternatives generally being less bulletproof - the PD2 and the “desirable” Stelladat. Actually got through my (admittedly small amount of) experience with the HHB on and off over the years without trouble. My one major DAT catastrophe (no backup, but miraculously it all turned out ok since nothing on that tape was needed on selected takes!) was with a mini sony in a cave ... and I don’t actually now remember if the tape flipped in machine or afterwards in post. I did however have this tape unravelled on a huge sheet of cartridge paper trying to mend the chaos as cleanly as I could - tho it never ‘error corrected’ like an X80 tape would ... and I never trusted the format again, although in theory I still don’t know if it is down to transport, tape, recording system, replay system or error correction ability (after all I had early assistant experience with DASH, X80 and the Betamax PCM things). Still, I would probably choose DAT over ADAT ha ha!

 

Cheers! Jez

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I had extensive experience with Sony PCM F1+1/2" video formats (Betamax, and VHS) and found that setup far more reliable than DAT.  I've said it here many times before, but the great awful revelation about DAT was that the most important part of the machine--the tiny helical scan based transport--was not made by any of the companies who made the rest of the machine.  Thus a super-expensive StellaDat was no more reliable than a $500 Casio DA7, Fostex DATS were no more reliable than HHBs and very expensive studio decks like Sony 7030 were no more reliable than MI market decks like Panasonic 3700.  The various makers added many cool features to their decks (HHB external syncability, Fostex 3-input mic mixer) but they could not change the fact that once the machines had some serious hours on them they acquired "personalities", and then became unreliable in a very bad way.

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Regarding archiving - the last few threads (my fault!) - I have a vague memory of actually archiving to DAT back in the early/mid nineties ... called something like D-DAT perhaps (for data). That said, I don’t remember any of my post houses using it as a main thing. We in post having the same shit with DAT as our fellows in the field! We did use the (also cartridge based) DLT (short for for Dave Lee Travis, a BBC World Service DJ who kept the pop beacon alight for the short lived democratic renaissance of Burma). DLT seemed to work, at least I haven’t heard the bad stories. Beyond that, however, recording to open reel digital, and archiving to open reel digital, seem to be still accepted as trustworthy, and the latter preferred to disk or even solid state. Been a while since I talked to a data archivist though!

 

Jez

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On 9/14/2019 at 8:53 PM, Philip Perkins said:

I had extensive experience with Sony PCM F1+1/2" video formats (Betamax, and VHS) and found that setup far more reliable than DAT.  I've said it here many times before, but the great awful revelation about DAT was that the most important part of the machine--the tiny helical scan based transport--was not made by any of the companies who made the rest of the machine.  Thus a super-expensive StellaDat was no more reliable than a $500 Casio DA7, Fostex DATS were no more reliable than HHBs and very expensive studio decks like Sony 7030 were no more reliable than MI market decks like Panasonic 3700.  The various makers added many cool features to their decks (HHB external syncability, Fostex 3-input mic mixer) but they could not change the fact that once the machines had some serious hours on them they acquired "personalities", and then became unreliable in a very bad way.

I think most of the transports were made by alps.......    all were a nightmare.   I had a pd-4 bastardized with steladat headphone amp and L\R/M/ stereo headphone matrix. 

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On 9/18/2019 at 5:08 AM, Philip Perkins said:

DAT data backup was different from RDAT audio recording. 

 

As far as I recall it was (probably) just an application rather than a system as such. Just a digital feed that allowed data rather than audio to be put to a dat tape ... and it most likely followed all the existing archiving formats (DLT etc) in time - just being a cheap “this will do it” alternative. It just needed a digital in into a dat recorder. It screamed in at full scale so best not to monitor! I now remember I have some of my personal stuff archived such. From Akai DD8? Not too sure how I could retrieve it though the actual audio (rather than the auxiliary data) should be simple enough.

 

Jez

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On 9/22/2019 at 3:32 PM, johngooch said:

I think most of the transports were made by alps.......    all were a nightmare.   I had a pd-4 bastardized with steladat headphone amp and L\R/M/ stereo headphone matrix. 

I think the UK agents came up with a headphone amp modification as they were

not interested in the one that I developed and sold all over the world!

It was approved by Fostex in the USA.

 

Mike

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