Alesis ADAT - Affordable Digital Multitrack (part 5)
The one way to find out whether a piece of equipment really works is to use it on a practical project. I spent two days using it in place of my analogue multitrack on a project which I eventually intend for CD. As far as sound quality goes I was quite happy that it was the equal of my Sony DTC1000ES DAT which, although it isnt indistinguishable from the live sound, is a million times better in my opinion than any analogue recorder ever made. When youre setting levels with the ADAT you do have to bear in mind that when the meter shows red it really does mean that you have gone too far. A check with sine wave tone produced some very interesting whooshes and wails. While I had my sine wave generator connector I tried some drop in tests. Yes, drop in and out are both gapless and clickless, although you will hear a click in the monitor as you do it. Crossfading at the join is very smooth and you can drop in and out undetectably almost anywhere in real music. I wondered whether repeated drop ins at the same point would be a problem but I didnt find any ill-effects.
Operating two machines synchronised together was only a very slight inconvenience. Apart from the record ready switching, everything can be controlled from the master machine or the supplied LRC remote control (and a drop in footswitch for DIY enthusiasts). The quality of sync is absolute: I tried some things you would never do on machines synced using SMPTE timecode and the result was perfection. You really can split a stereo track across two machines without any problems at all. I did find that the slave machine occasionally got confused about where it was supposed to be, which meant a long lock up next time I entered play, but this didnt happen too often to be really annoying. More annoying is when, on the supplied LRC remote control, you use the fast cue function by holding play and wind simultaneously. If one finger happens to leave the play button a tiny fraction sooner than the other leaves fast forward or rewind, then the tape will go into wind mode proper. You think you have found the spot you want and then the tape shoots off into the distance.
The other thing I found annoying was to do with the autolocation functions. There are three locate positions, 0, 1 and 2. You can cycle between 1 and 2 and also select an Autoplay function where the machine goes into play mode when it reaches the locate position. I found that the response of the Cycle and Autoplay buttons could be very slow, depending on what the machine was doing, and I often thought that the button hadnt registered and pressed it again with the end result that I cancelled the operation I had selected. Alesis should find a way to make the operation, or at least the LED indication, of all of the buttons immediate so the user gets the appropriate feedback and knows that the ADAT will do what you have asked it to do and its not ignoring your demands.