LINGUIST List 8.967

Tue Jul 1 1997

Sum: Digital/Analog Tape Recorders

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <>


  1. Arienne Dwyer, Sum: Digital/Analog Tape Recorders

Message 1: Sum: Digital/Analog Tape Recorders

Date: Mon, 30 Jun 1997 17:41:25 +0200 (MET DST)
From: Arienne Dwyer <dwyertrudi.zdv.Uni-Mainz.DE>
Subject: Sum: Digital/Analog Tape Recorders

In April (!) I posted a query about the pros and cons of field tape
recorders. I would like to thank Robert Englebretson, Douglas
S. Oliver, and MJ Hardman and for their helpful and detailed
responses. I will be (far a-)field-testing a Sony TCD-D8 DAT recorder
in a matter of days. Thanks again -- Arienne Dwyer (Mainz)


R.Englebretson writes, in part:
The advantages of DAT include: (1.) storage capacity. At 32K, which
is more than sufficient sampling for acoustic analysis, you have four
hours of uninterrupted recording. This is especially nice for
recording conversational data (especially when the researcher is not
present), and does away with worrying about flipping and changing
cassettes. (2.) Recording quality. With a good microphone, quality
is far better than any cassette recorder ever could be, especially
regarding tape noise. As for microphones, I've had good experiences
with the Sony ECM-959A stereo microphone (a great mic in terms of
frequency response and price) and also with Sony ECM-155 lapel mics.
(I've had fairly bad experiences with the Sony ECM-909 mic, and
similar mics of lesser price.) (3.) Size. The portable DAT I use is
in fact smaller than the Sony Professional (cassette) Walkman.

Regarding your second point:
> digitizing analog tapes is extremely time-consuming.

I don't know that DAT would be any less time-consuming. Unless you
have a soundcard which supports direct digital input (in which case
there will probably be issues with sampling rate), most people find
they end up connecting the line out from their DAT into the line in on
the computer-- essentially re-digitizing the analog signal from the
DAT line-out.

Finally, you had asked about "long-term archiving potential of the
tapes." (...) If the question is "DAT versus cassette", then DAT is
better. If the question is "DAT versus something else", then the
something else is probably better (especially analog reels, or digital
CD). There was a fairly pessimistic article written last year in _Pro
Audio Review_, basically arguing against the use of DAT for long-term
archiving. I agree: the physical media of DAT tapes is fairly
unpredictable. However, what people often miss about that particular
article is that there was no mention of archiving on analog
*cassette*--pro audio people would not even consider this. Anyway,
DAT is better than analog cassette, but far inferior to analog reel,
or to optical media such as CD. People I've discussed this with in
the recording industry mostly agree that the lifetime of a DAT is
15-20 years before you start getting serious degradation.

>From "Douglas S. Oliver, UCR Anthropology":
I got a Walkman Professional WM-D6C stereo recorder. It is small,
light, and easy to use with one hand. It has all of the needed inputs
and outputs--line in, line out, mic, headphone, etc., a led vu meter,
speed control w/on-off switch. The drawbacks are that it does not
have an internal microphone or speaker. The Mic jack allows you to
use plugin power for using powerless mics. You have an option of
using dolby B, C or no dolby; tape types Norm I, CrO2 II, or Metal IV.

From: MJ Hardman:

go try stores that sell machines for people like court reporters. I am
currently using a Sony BM-23 which I like better than the


Thanks again to everyone who responded.

Arienne Dwyer

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