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Alesis ADAT - Affordable Digital Multitrack (part 1)

Once upon a time having a home recording studio meant bouncing back and forth from one track to another on a stereo reel-to-reel tape recorder. It was a lot of fun at the time, but the generations of copying quickly built up and the quality of the end result was pretty dubious to say the least.

Once upon a time having a home recording studio meant bouncing back and forth from one track to another on a stereo reel-to-reel tape recorder. It was a lot of fun at the time, but the generations of copying quickly built up and the quality of the end result was pretty dubious to say the least. Now I have in my home studio a sixteen track digital multitrack recorder and I would only need to up the standard of the acoustics and monitoring to have the technical capability of equalling the sound quality achievable in the best studios in the world. Yes, this is progress and it feels very good indeed. The sixteen track digital multitrack in question comes in two boxes each the size, and something of the appearance, of a chunky VHS video recorder. In fact the tape in each machine is a standard S-VHS tape of the type you can pick up quite easily in high street shops. Surely it can’t be possible. There must be some compromise or trickery involved. Things just can’t get this good can they?

Well it’s been a long wait since Alesis’ first announcement of the ADAT eight track digital multitrack recorder, but it has finally arrived and will be available very soon. I imagine that many are thinking, “Why the delay?”, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for suspecting that Alesis have had difficulties in producing this not inconsiderable technical feat. These suspicions may extend to thinking that the finished model will be in some way less than perfect - an interesting proposition rather than a practical tool for everyday use. As we shall see, the Alesis ADAT is a serious piece of equipment. Whatever delays Alesis had must have been due to their desire to make it as perfect as possible at its launch. Of course, no piece of equipment is absolutely perfect and the ADAT is no exception. There are certain points that could have been changed to improve the ease of use but compared to the long list of problems that are inherent in analogue these are mere trivia. Read on and learn about what is probably the most important development in cost-effective recording since Fostex introduced affordable sixteen track…

By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004