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Hands On - Casio DA-7 (part 3)

As with all DAT recorders you are recommended to allow the tape to roll for at least fifteen seconds (some would say thirty) before you start your source material...

That was the full length version. Once you have set your levels, it is easier to initiate recording by pressing Record, then Play immediately after. As with all DAT recorders you are recommended to allow the tape to roll for at least fifteen seconds (some would say thirty) before you start your source material. This is so that when you are copying digitally the destination machine has time to lock up to the sampling rate of the source. If you don’t leave this gap, you may be forced to copy via the analogue outputs, which is obviously less than ideal.

The meter on the DA-7 reads from -50dB to ‘Over’ which you might be inclined to take at face value. However, ‘Over’ really means ‘not quite over yet’, so your recordings will end up being a little lower in level than you might expect if you always play safe. I don’t get too excited if the Over segment lights up occasionally. I always monitor the output anyway and if it sounds OK then, to me, it is OK.

Start IDs

The ID codes on DAT are a great invention. The Casio DA-7 can implement Start and End IDs but not Skip, which is a bit of a pity - I for one use them all the time on my Sony DTC1000ES. In normal operation the DA-7 records Start IDs automatically, which can be a big pain since your tape will end up peppered with IDs in all the wrong places. Just by looking at the machine I doubt if you will be able to figure out how to switch off the automatic Start ID insertion, no matter how deeply you furrow your brow. But hidden in the manual is a valuable piece of advice: while the machine is in Record Pause mode, press the Mode button. This will switch the ‘Auto ID’ flag in the display off. What’s more, you can still add IDs manually as you record by pressing the Play button each time you want one. It’s a bit disconcerting to press the Play button while you are in the middle of an important recording, but it inserts Start IDs just like the manual says.

During the recording session, it’s likely that you will want to wind back and listen to certain takes. Usually, you then have to be very careful to go back exactly to the end of the last thing you recorded otherwise you might erase something valuable. But if you started off with a new, unrecorded tape, then the DA-7 will handle this for you. If you stop playback anywhere in the recorded section of the tape and press the Fast Forward button, the machine will stop automatically at the beginning of the unrecorded part of the tape. This is particularly convenient but unfortunately it can only work with new tape. If you are reusing an old DAT cassette which was formerly recorded right to the end then there will be no unrecorded sections on the tape, therefore the DA-7 will just wind straight to the end. If you are saying at this point why not bulk erase the tape before use, yes this would be ideal but bulk erasers that are powerful enough to erase high coercivity DAT tapes are extremely expensive. Come on you manufacturers - make us a cheap DAT bulk eraser please!

By David Mellor Wednesday July 25, 2012