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Alesis ADAT - Affordable Digital Multitrack (part 6)

Cynics are bound to be thinking that there must at least be something wrong with the ADAT apart from stiff transport controls and a couple of slow-to-react autolocate buttons but really there isn’t.

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Doubt No More

Cynics are bound to be thinking that there must at least be something wrong with the ADAT apart from stiff transport controls and a couple of slow-to-react autolocate buttons but really there isn’t. Affordable digital multitrack is here and it works. OK, I did find one thing but I doubt whether you are going to come to grief over it. A pair of ADATs have the facility to clone any or all the tracks on a tape digitally onto another tape (which is great for back ups). The clone can be given the same sync reference as the original so if it was part of a master-slave pair and you cloned all eight tracks it should be totally interchangeable with the original tape. In fact the digital clone will play back approximately 20µs later than the original - I spotted this accidentally and did a rule of thumb measurement on my oscilloscope. If you did by chance split up a stereo pair of tracks by cloning one of them and then mixed them into mono you might notice a loss of very high frequencies, but this would be a very unlikely chain of events. With all normal copying and track bouncing operations everything else is perfect (and 20µs is in fact within Alesis’ single sample synchronisation accuracy specification).

Although I have no way of knowing for sure how well the Alesis ADAT will stand up to the rigours of studio use, I feel confident in saying that future musicians and engineers will look upon it as a milestone in audio development. It’s not the first digital multitrack, and it certainly won’t be the last, but it’s the first one the ordinary person in the home or small studio can seriously consider owning. High end professional digital multitrack users will be keeping an eye on this development too. It’s unlikely that anyone will be throwing away their DASH or PRODIGI reel-to-reel multitracks because they are both proven formats with a very strong user base. But just as we now have an alternative to a Tascam or Fostex analogue multitrack in the small studio, ADAT is showing the Sonys, Mitsubishis and Otaris of this world that there is an alternative way of doing things. Well done Alesis.

By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004
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