Anybody know about ADAT machines?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by South Mad Sab, May 6, 2021.

  1. I have a recording of a old band of mine from 20 years ago. It is on 2 unmarked VHS looking ADAT tapes. I have no idea if it was recorded in 16, 18 or 20 bit. I am willing to buy a used machine to extract the tracks... but, I need an idea of what to get. Will a 16 or 18 bit recording play on a 20 bit machine? Any help is appreciated?
  2. Tosh


    Jul 12, 2020
    Salem, Oregon
    Don't buy a used machine unless you know for certain you can get it serviced before you use it.

    When I was faced with the same issue - original recordings on 2 tapes, needing to be copied to computer disk - I went back to the studio where the recordings were made. The engineer had 1 of his 2 original machines still working, so we copied the 8 tracks from tape A all in sync with each other, then 8 tracks from tape B. There was no sync between the 2 tapes (required 2 machines working in sync with each other) but I was able to re-sync them in my DAW.

    If your recordings were made as 16 bit, then you can play them back on either a 20 or 16 bit machine. If they're 20 bit, then only a 20 bit machine can read the tape correctly.

    I don't think there ever was an 18 bit ADAT machine.
    dkelley, dralionux, GoesThump and 3 others like this.
  3. mikewalker

    mikewalker Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    Wow! ADAT?!??! ...this thread is creating some serious time warpage... I used to have a pair of ADATs sync'd along with a Session-8 to chase SMPTE time code off a two inch Studer multitrack
    LBS-bass, dkelley, andruca and 3 others like this.
  4. That is the dilemma. The original studio does not exist anymore, nor am I able to locate the original engineer.
    So... These will have to be on a different tape machine. Thanks for the info, I will look for a 20 bit.
    C Stone likes this.
  5. I have stuff even older on 8 track reels...
  6. Tosh


    Jul 12, 2020
    Salem, Oregon
    If anyone is interested, I have a Mackie 24 track hard disk recorder and all the cables plus a remote control pad.

    It dumped it's operating system, and does not boot, but in theory it can be recovered. I do have the necessary binaries - you need a Windows 98 or 2000 system w/USB 1.1 to do it.

    on second thought, forget it - the thing is a boat anchor
    L Anthony and mikewalker like this.
  7. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    This is good advice. ADAT machines were unreliable even back in the day. Most of them are junk now if they haven't been regularly serviced.

    At the very least test the machine with some other tapes before you risk ruining your old band recordings.

    Your safest option BY FAR would be to find at studio that still has a well maintained ADAT machine. Don't expect ANY old ADAT machines you find used to actually work or be reliable. This is one piece of equipment that will NEVER achieve "vintage" status. As for used prices anything that doesn't involve the owner giving YOU money is too much IMO. :laugh:
  8. Jeff Hughes

    Jeff Hughes

    May 3, 2020
    Used ADATs are almost a disposable item. I bought one a few years back for about 89 dollars, and it worked pretty well. I managed to lay down about 10 tunes on it. And then it started to have problems with rewinding and fast forwarding.

    I found mine in a used shop, but now it just sits in a case. I have not been tempted to try it again.
    South Mad Sab and dkelley like this.
  9. bbh

    bbh Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2011
    If I remember correctly, you need to check it with tape. There’s a potential for roller and tape path issues so you must have a return policy.
    South Mad Sab likes this.
  10. C Stone

    C Stone

    Sep 4, 2020
    Mine still work, can't tell you how many pc's, o/s's, daws or protools versions I have gone through but my Blackface ADAT's take a lickin and keep on tickin, (although adat tapes are hard to come by) still use em...I'd offer to x-fer them for you but am in-between pc's right now lol, grab a cheap 20bit xt, x-fer to wav and rock on! GL
    Last edited: May 6, 2021
  11. Tosh


    Jul 12, 2020
    Salem, Oregon
    They're essentially VCR's connected to AD/DA converters. They run at higher speeds than normal VCR's, and the tapes are very finicky. Sometimes you can't play a tape on a machine that didn't record it. They are not a good investment, UNLESS it's the only way to playback a recording that is genuinely valuable.

    Question is - would it be cheaper to pay for someone else to do it, than buy a machine to use once or twice?

    I think it would be.

    EDIT - did some goog'ling. You can get 2 tapes dubbed for $60..

    ADAT Tape to DVD, Transfer Umatic Tape to DVD, Convert ADAT Tape to DVD
    Last edited: May 6, 2021
    dkelley, Jim Nazium, 60bass and 3 others like this.
  12. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    Man, some cool stuff was recorded on ADAT, but like the others said: the machines that aren’t completely trashed just aren’t worth it anymore.
  13. Slough Feg Bass

    Slough Feg Bass Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2007
    San Francisco
    Yeah just find a place online that you can send the tapes to and they will convert for you without hassle.
    lermgalieu and GoesThump like this.
  14. GoesThump


    Jul 13, 2007
    $1000 for that? Wow. I thought bass prices were getting irrational...

    Back in the 1990s I worked at a busy studio. We had one room with 2" 24 track, and another with 24 track ADAT. We had 4 machines, because 4*8 = 24, right?

    No, because one was ALWAYS in the shop. The ADATs simply couldn't hack the pace of daily use in a pro facility.

    Later I ended up at another studio, same problem. It was the happiest day of my career to send those pieces of junk into the dumpster.

    Lousy machines then, most are likely worse now. OP: By all means take the advice of several posters here : Pay the $ & get someone to transfer it for you.

    mikewalker likes this.
  15. R&B

    R&B Both kinds of music: Rhythm AND Blues! Supporting Member

    I guess this means I won’t be selling my ADAT. :( It’s been sitting in my home studio rack for quite some time.
  16. fourstringburn

    fourstringburn Supporting Member

    Jun 30, 2009
    New Mexico
    I still have my ADAT HD24.

    Works well because it records using IDE disc hardrives which I can still find. No tape or other moving mechanical parts to wear or replace.

    If you can find these, I would go this route for ADAT.
    AlexanderB likes this.
  17. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    If this is just a one-off deal it might be cheaper and faster to Google “ADAT transfer services” and see who is offering that service in your area.

    I doubt getting two tapes dubbed to WAV files by people who know what they’re doing, and who already have the properly maintained equipment, would cost more than buying an ADAT machine.
    12BitSlab and Nephilymbass like this.
  18. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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