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Formatting digital tapes

A post by David Mellor
Sunday February 16, 2003
Why a digital has to be formatted in order to record data. Pros and cons of formatting during recording.
Formatting digital tapes

Data is recording on digital tape in a pre-defined pattern, sometimes known as the 'footprint'.

The rotary head of the recorder records diagonal stripes of data, including audio data, sub-codes, track-finding signals etc.

To create the footprint, the tape must be formatted.

In a DAT recorder, formatting always happens during recording. There is no separate formatting process.

ADAT and DTRS tapes can be formatted during recording, but it is more reliable and convenient to format tapes before recording takes place. Recorders of this type create a data section at the start of the tape, which can be used to store a table of contents and other data.

Each tape should be formatted all the way to the end, otherwise you will have a part-formatted tape in your possession. You could start recording, only for the recorder to drop out of record mode when it reaches the end of the formatted section.

Formatting erases any existing recording.

With all digital tapes, including DAT, the tape must be formatted continuously with no gaps in the footprint. If there is a gap, this might be interpreted as the end of the recording, even though there could be more material after the gap.

A post by David Mellor
Sunday February 16, 2003 ARCHIVE
David Mellor has been creating music and recording in professional and home studios for more than 30 years. This website is all about learning how to improve and have more fun with music and recording. If you enjoy creating music and recording it, then you're definitely in the right place :-)