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Transferring old ADAT tracks

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Transferring old ADAT tracks

Postby Tidwells@aol.com » Thu Jun 29, 2017 5:23 pm

I have some tracks on 20-year old Super-VHS ADAT tapes I want to transfer into DP. My original "black-face" Alesis ADAT deck has been sitting in the closet for probably 15 years. Anyone have advice on successfully transferring the audio tracks to DP? Do old ADAT tapes "shed" iron oxide like old reel-to-reel tapes? Should I have my ADAT deck serviced before risking sticking a tape in it?

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Re: Transferring old ADAT tracks

Postby rickorick » Thu Jun 29, 2017 5:39 pm

I would maybe stick a tape that doesn't have anything on it and see how it goes. I have an old DA88 with some tracks that I want to transfer, I also have a Digital Timepiece that I'm not real sure how to make it work with my 2408 system but I'm going to try to make it work 1 of these days.
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Re: Transferring old ADAT tracks

Postby stubbsonic » Thu Jun 29, 2017 7:19 pm

I transferred ADATs to DP awhile back. I remember recording a click to all tracks to help align the tracks of multiple tapes. I can't remember how I synced, but IIRC that part worked well.
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Re: Transferring old ADAT tracks

Postby Gravity Jim » Fri Jun 30, 2017 1:19 pm

20 years old??!?

They don't shed oxide that I know of. But they do shed data. If you can play any one of those tapes without the ADAT's data-correction ware just throwing up it's hands and leaving huge gaps in the playback, consider yourself a very lucky man.

I had some tenderly cared for DA88 tapes (arguably more stable than ADATs) that contained background vocals and bits and pieces of productions I tracked in other studios. 10 years on the shelf and they were toast.
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Re: Transferring old ADAT tracks

Postby Tidwells@aol.com » Fri Jun 30, 2017 3:05 pm

Yeah, that's what I'm afraid of....shedding data. But there has to be a physical cause for that "shedding", right? Some kind of physical deterioration of the tape?? I know there is a standard procedure for literally baking old reel-to-reel tapes before playback to prevent shedding. I'm wondering if anything can be done for old ADAT tapes...

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Re: Transferring old ADAT tracks

Postby Gravity Jim » Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:20 pm

I don't think it's like analog tape, where an actual physical destruction of magnetic material is required to screw up the audio.

I think it's just data instability. When the tapes are fresh, there are plenty of bits of bad data, but the machine's error correction software handles them easily. After the tapes sit around for a few years, the tape will probably be perfectly fine, but the data has begun to deteriorate on its own. When the machine sees a string of data it can't correct -- boom! 8 channels of drop-out.

When my old DA88 tapes failed,, all 8 tracks would go silent for as long as 30 seconds before playback would begin again. In other words: gone, baby, gone.
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Re: Transferring old ADAT tracks

Postby mikehalloran » Sat Jul 01, 2017 3:15 pm

Clean the machine—about all you can do. The problem with wet cleaning tapes is that the good ones were made 15-20 years ago. Isopropyl alcohol is the active ingredient so you might as well do it yourself.

http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/how-to-m ... vcr-heads/

Bits stored on magnetic tape will deteriorate over time. This can't be helped.

If you believe these guys, they can do everything.
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Re: Transferring old ADAT tracks

Postby EMRR » Wed Jul 05, 2017 7:00 am

Brake calibration: it's in the manual. Do it before anything else. If you clean the machine, do it again.
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Re: Transferring old ADAT tracks

Postby stubbsonic » Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:48 am

Yes, the mechanics is the same, but instead of storing audio waveforms, which have varying degrees of magnetism, the tape is storing very tiny pulses across the tape in diagonal lanes. If only a small area is damaged, I believe the ADAT will interpolate the errors (as best it can).

Making sure the playback machine is cleaned and ready is a good plan.
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Re: Transferring old ADAT tracks

Postby EMRR » Sun Jul 09, 2017 7:17 am

I can't recall if BF machines have an error count display mode, if they do like the later machines I'd put it in that mode so you have a better read on tape tracking problems.

I've never seen tape shed, only mangled tapes. Lack of brake calibration will do that in a heartbeat.
I ran ADAT's for around a dozen years in a commercial room, and so far have not found a tape that won't transfer many years later. The machines themselves are the weak point, not the tapes.

I've seen lots of old tapes not track (NOFO) at beginning of the tape, fast forwarding with heads engaged and trying various spots will sometimes find time code again, followed by rewinding to start with heads engaged sometimes keeping it whereas disengaging heads can lose TC again.

I've seen tapes not play in one machine, and play in another.

To my knowledge there's no one working on these machines as a service anymore, because there are a number of basic service parts that are long unavailable. I found BF machines to need a lot more service than the later machines.

Remember BF machines output polarity reversed audio during digital transfers, so reverse that once you have a capture.
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Re: Transferring old ADAT tracks

Postby sdemott » Tue Jul 11, 2017 3:41 pm

just make sure the ADAT is clean before you start. I've done this several times with old ADAT tapes (Ampex & BASF) and my old blackface. Haven't had a tape that was unreadable yet (knocks on wood).
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