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Article from The Mix, May 1995

Although digital tape has been around a long time now, many have thought of it as a intermediate step between analogue tape and direct-to-disk systems. The massively expensive Sony and Mitsubishi digital multi-tracks may have offered some of the benefits of digital, such as track copying without signal degradation, but at the end of the day they still used a thin piece of tape stuck between two capstans. Nor did they have the cut-and-paste facilities that we take for granted on computer-based systems.

The success of ADAT and other tape-saved digital multi-track recorders has obviously prolonged the life of digital tape, while simultaneously draining the lifeblood out of the analogue multi-track market. With these formats, good quality digital audio can be enjoyed by a large percentage of recording musicians, and their reassuringly familiar interfaces have probably had as much to do with their success as anything else. Let's face it, a stand-alone tape machine is much easier to get your head around than a bunch of disks, circuit boards and computer peripherals.

Although these low-cost digital tape formats are popular with music producers and post-production houses alike, can anyone doubt that they will sooner or later give way to non tape-based systems? Be it dedicated units, such as the Akai DR8 in this issue and the forthcoming Roland DM800, or computer-based systems, the undoubted benefits of hard disk-home digital audio will surely win through, eventually.

Whether you were a d-to-d cynic or one of the converted, most people would now agree that the benefits of it outweigh the disadvantages. What about ease of use? The original Akai DR4 appealed particularly to guitarists, who appreciated its tape-machine style controls, but equally appreciated its cut-and-paste facilities, so there's no doubt that non-tape based systems can be user-friendly. With the arrival of low-cost but sophisticated software such as Digidesign's Session software, which is native to the Power Mac (and needs no extra hardware), we now almost have the d-to-d equivalent of the portastudio. Needless to say, the relative merits of d-to-d and tape-based systems will continue to be debated, but their co-existence can only be good for the choice of music producers...

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Publisher: The Mix - Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.

The current copyright owner/s of this content may differ from the originally published copyright notice.
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The Mix - May 1995

Donated by: Colin Potter

Coverdisc: Nathan Ramsden

Editorial by Chris Kempster

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