Back to the Digital Audio Tape, the medium that was supposed to replace the audio cassette

Digital Audio Tape or DAT is an audio cassette format developed by Sony in the late 1980s. It is a digital recording medium and playback medium on magnetic tape that is approximately 3.81mm long and which was originally designed to replace the audio cassette.

Only, due to the cost of the associated devices and support, the DAT turned to professional use. Thus, it was mainly recording studios that used it because, at that time, there was no other compact solution that allowed digital sound to be recorded without compression.

Back to the Digital Audio Tape, the medium that was supposed to replace the audio cassette
– Yaoleilei / Wikimedia Commons

The DAT cassette is therefore more compact than the traditional audio cassette. The first model measured 73 x 54 x 10.5 mm while the more recent models, like the DAT-DDS6 have a thickness of 12 mm.

The DAT could even serve as a storage device

DAT has not had the desired effect on the general public. It has also received little support from publishers and record companies who have imposed limitations on digital copying possibilities on consumer DAT cassette models. Still, a few models were marketed as high fidelity turntables , portable recorders and car radios with DAT drives .

Computer scientists have been able to extend the use of DAT to make it a high-capacity data storage device. We have seen generations of DATs that can accommodate 4, 8, 24, 40, 72 and even 160 GB.

Recording quality up to 96 kHz in 24 bits

Note that DAT technology is very similar to that of video recorders. This audio cassette format effectively uses a diagonal rotating head to save digital data. In addition, it can store a large amount of data on a single length of magnetic tape.

The DAT standard allows recording qualities of DAT varying in 12 bits from 32 kHz, 44.1 kHz or even 48 kHz in 16 bits. It even makes it possible to reach 96 kHz in 24 bits. However, in the latter case, the tape running speed is doubled and the maximum recording time is then reduced by half.

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