Digital Audio Tape

dachay2tnr

One Hit Wonder
Update: See below photos.. seems these are DDS2 tapes, which apparently are a somewhat different animal than DATs.
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Not exactly sure where to post this question, so if anyone has a better suggestion, let me know.

Before I got into home recording, my group went into a local “professional” studio to record. Upon completion of our sessions, the engineer gave us 2 DATs, which I assume contain the tracks and mixes from those sessions. Also pretty sure everything was done using Pro Tools. So I’m guessing the tapes contain Pro Tools files.

In any event, I would like to take a crack at remixing some of this stuff. Not sure, however, exactly what I‘d need. I use a DAW and Sonar. I’d like to get the data from the tapes into Sonar, but no idea how to go about that. I probably can live with just the raw tracks, even if I have to align them myself.

Can anybody point me in the right direction? I “might“ be willing to buy a DAT player (if the price is somewhat reasonable) but not sure if that would still allow me to import the tracks. If needed, the tapes are circa 2000. TIA.
 
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bouldersoundguy

Well-known member
For the most part, DAT tapes record stereo audio files. The sample rate can be 32 kHz, 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz. The bit depth (word length) is usually 16 bit, but I think there were rare machines that could record up to 96 kHz and 24 bit.

There was also a computer data storage format of the DAT tape that is incompatible with audio DAT recorders, DDS (Digital Data Storage). If that's what your tapes are, it's going to be tough finding a computer with the relevant tape drive hardware.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
It does - they can't be played on ordinary DAT audio machines, they are data DAT, a totally different system used to store backups from computer systems. I found one for sale online here.
 

bouldersoundguy

Well-known member
Right, not audio DAT but DDS backup storage. There seem to be a fair number of drives available on eBay, but the trick would be connecting them to a computer. Some of the drives seem to be SCSI. And there might be specific software required to run them. Plus, I think there is more than one generation of that system. It's not impossible, but I don't think it's as simple as getting any random drive off eBay and hooking it up.
 

bouldersoundguy

Well-known member
Regarding the generation of DDS system, it looks like your tapes say "DDS2" on them. So that should narrow down the possibilities.
 

dachay2tnr

One Hit Wonder
Right, not audio DAT but DDS backup storage. There seem to be a fair number of drives available on eBay, but the trick would be connecting them to a computer. Some of the drives seem to be SCSI. And there might be specific software required to run them. Plus, I think there is more than one generation of that system. It's not impossible, but I don't think it's as simple as getting any random drive off eBay and hooking it up.
I went down that rabbit hole as well. Despite the concerns you raised, I am also concerned that any files will be in a Pro Tools format, and still unusable to me as such. I believe you can export OMB files that are compatible between various recording software, but it’s highly unlikely these are OMB files. Not even sure that format existed when these were recorded.

Thanks for the feedback though.

Edit: Sorry. The correct terminology is OMF files, not OMB.
 
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spantini

COO of me, inc.
Is whatever Pro Tools data on these DDS data tapes the equivalent of Project Files which contain everything but the actual waveforms - so everything but audio? If so, did you not get a Master Tape or some other media with individual tracks? My confusion is centered on why would the studio give you data only tapes and no audio tapes for future Pro Tools use.. or another DAW using the audio tapes only?

 

spantini

COO of me, inc.
That's where I got confused - DDS2 not being audio tape... so the audio files are stored digitally because of the way they're read in their respective devices?
 

dachay2tnr

One Hit Wonder
That's where I got confused - DDS2 not being audio tape... so the audio files are stored digitally because of the way they're read in their respective devices?
I was recorded in Pro Tools on a Mac. So the ”audio“ files are digital in the first place.
 

bouldersoundguy

Well-known member
That's where I got confused - DDS2 not being audio tape... so the audio files are stored digitally because of the way they're read in their respective devices?
A playable audio DAT is formatted in a way that is specific to audio, while a DDS is a general data storage format that can store all kinds of digital files, including audio. It would be like backing up a whole Pro Tools session to a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM. You wouldn't be able to play that in a normal CD or DVD player, but you could read it on a computer CD/DVD drive.
 

spantini

COO of me, inc.
OK. Now we're getting somewhere (in my head:p). I did read that audio could be on those tapes but playback heads (are they heads?) operate non-linear like reading a spinner drive, so it would be difficult to impossible to replay audio on the DAT machines as it would on a linear tape machine.
 

jamesperrett

Active member
It is worth saying that some people used DDS tapes in audio machines because DDS tapes tended to be higher quality. However, it was never a good idea to use longer than 60 metre DDS tapes in audio machines because the tape was thinner in longer tapes and most audio machines couldn't handle the thinner tape. So these 120 metre DDS tapes are almost certainly data tapes. Your first hurdle is finding someone to extract the data from the tapes - a search for "DDS tape retrieval" brought up a number of companies that offer this service. The next hurdle is to convert the Protools sessions to something that you can work with. Fortunately this is easier to overcome with software like AATranslator which can translate Protools sessions to a whole host of different formats.
 

bouldersoundguy

Well-known member
OK. Now we're getting somewhere (in my head:p). I did read that audio could be on those tapes but playback heads (are they heads?) operate non-linear like reading a spinner drive, so it would be difficult to impossible to replay audio on the DAT machines as it would on a linear tape machine.
As I understand it, you could use DDS1 tapes in a DAT machine.

But the main difference between DDS and DAT is the data formatting. It's like the difference between an audio CD and a CD-ROM. You could put audio on a CD-ROM, but a normal CD player wouldn't recognize it. A CD-ROM is just a container with a bunch of computer files on it, some of which might happen to be audio files. An audio CD has audio files formatted specifically for real-time playback on an audio CD player.
 

spantini

COO of me, inc.
As I understand it, you could use DDS1 tapes in a DAT machine.

But the main difference between DDS and DAT is the data formatting. It's like the difference between an audio CD and a CD-ROM. You could put audio on a CD-ROM, but a normal CD player wouldn't recognize it. A CD-ROM is just a container with a bunch of computer files on it, some of which might happen to be audio files. An audio CD has audio files formatted specifically for real-time playback on an audio CD player.
That helps clarify things. Thanks.

So @dachay2tnr's Pro Tool session(s) on the DDS tapes would eventually load right up in a new Pro Tools session with all WAV files in their respective tracks as audio waves, looking just like it did when the session was saved - but probably not having the same plugins available. But he's not using Pro Tools, so they need to be converted somehow for use in any other DAW. Does this sound right?
 

dachay2tnr

One Hit Wonder
The DDS tapes most likely contain the whole project folder including audio files.
That’s my assumption as well. In Sonar you can export a .bun file which contains the entire project. However, it’s only readable by Sonar. These days you can also export it as an OMF. AFAIK, the OMF is readable by other software, but unlike a .bun, will only contain the audio data and track alignment. No effects and the like.

Not sure what file format Pro Tools uses, but I would guess it’s proprietary. Hence even if I could pick up a device that can read DDS, I’m probably still SOL. ☹️
That helps clarify things. Thanks.

So @dachay2tnr's Pro Tool session(s) on the DDS tapes would eventually load right up in a new Pro Tools session with all WAV files in their respective tracks as audio waves, looking just like it did when the session was saved - but probably not having the same plugins available. But he's not using Pro Tools, so they need to be converted somehow for use in any other DAW. Does this sound right?
That’s basically my assumption… with some caveats. First, these tapes are from 2000. So who knows what version of Pro Tools they were created in, and what changes the software has gone thru over that time. And whether current Pro Tools software can still even read these files.

I started using Sonar when it was still called Cakewalk. And the file formats were .pa9 or something like that. I know the earliest versions of Sonar could still read them, .but I’m not sure the more recent versions would still be able to.

Bottom line, I’m only interested in the audio, and that is most likely still intact. ASSUMING I can read, extract, and convert it into something I could import into Sonar. 😁

Not sure I’m going to pursue this any further. The payoff is pretty small, and probably isn’t worth the effort. But if I do, I’ll keep you all posted on the results.
 

spantini

COO of me, inc.
... Bottom line, I’m only interested in the audio, and that is most likely still intact. ASSUMING I can read, extract, and convert it into something I could import into Sonar. 😁

Not sure I’m going to pursue this any further. The payoff is pretty small, and probably isn’t worth the effort. But if I do, I’ll keep you all posted on the results.
There must be a company that can extract and split the audio out, at least. Possibly cost prohibitive.. dunno.
 
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