Chapter 12-DAT (Digital Audio Tape) Decks

Most consumers are not be aware of another existing tape format. Most commonly known as DAT for Digital Audio Tape, it is a format that was developed in 1986 but wasn't introduced to our shores until 1991.

DAT did not become a big commercial success for various reasons. There was a lack of prerecorded material because of the music industry's reluctance to release music in this format and the state of the economy at the time of its introduction was in a slump. Manufacturers did not heavily advertise this format either.

Nevertheless, this format still exists today and is available in most local electronics stores. Originally targeted at mainstream consumers, DAT has actually found a very loyal following among some music enthusiasts and audiophiles. It is also regularly used in recording studios worldwide.

The sound quality of DAT recordings are essentially limited by its sources. In fact, there are sounds that this medium can reproduce which even compact discs cannot, particularly extremely high-pitched sounds. This is one reason DAT is perfect for making original recordings or archiving existing ones.

Another advantage of the format is the size of the tape cartridges themselves. A digital audio tape is actually smaller than the size of a typical carton of cigarettes. Yet, it can contain up to four continuous hours of medium quality sound or up to two continuous hours of extremely high quality sound. Conventional analog audio cassettes can only record up to two hours with a break inbetween each hour.

At the same time, many DAT decks can fast wind through two hours of music in well under a minute, which is lightening fast compared to the typical winding speed of conventional cassette decks (a minute-and-one-half for one hour of music).

DAT decks also share some of the conveniences of compact discs players. Although slower in access time than cd players, DAT machines can play or skip songs in any order at the touch of a button.

While the market for DAT is apparently not as big as those for the conventional analog cassette and compact disc, it will continue to enjoy its own niche in the market for many years to come. Compared to two new digital recording formats (DCC and Minidisc) that are currently in the market, it is enjoying far greater consumer demand....