by Jerry Vigil
"It's a Sony." Now that's a slogan from a strong advertising campaign. It left consumers with the impression that if you had a Sony, you had a pretty good piece of audio or video gear. When it comes to DAT machines, the same pretty much holds true. And why not? Sony invented DAT. This month's Test Drive takes a look at Sony's new PCM-2700, a moderately priced, professional DAT recorder/player with a handful of features.
For the $2,900 price tag, the PCM-2700 brings to the studio a unit with the ability to record and playback at three different sampling frequencies: 48kHz, 44.1kHz, and 32kHz, of which the latter provides LONG PLAY mode. Frequency response of the unit in the LONG PLAY mode is 20-14.5kHz, adequate for broadcast applications. But the big advantage of the LONG PLAY mode is the four hours of recording time you get on one 120-minute tape. Four hours! Digital recording! No hiss! You can store over two hundred sixty second spots on one of these tapes. You can store almost over four hundred thirty seconds promos on one tape. But there's still one little glitch that needs to be addressed if manufacturers are going to please us prodo folks: we need DAT machines that can number programs beyond 99! (There is a way to number and access programs beyond 99 as discussed in Tips & Techniques, October '91 RAP. Basically, you have more than one set of 99 programs on one DAT.)
There are other "broadcast" advantages of the LONG PLAY mode aside from added storage. If your station airs syndicated programs that arrive on vinyl or reel-to-reel, up to a four hour show can be transferred to one DAT, which would eliminate having to mess with switching reels or disks live, on the air. Commercials and promos could also be transferred with the pre-recorded program to DAT so that even less "live" action is needed during broadcast. Ob-viously, if you're transferring music to DAT, one 4-hour tape can hold a lot of music. (Note also that a lot of DAT machines can playback a 32kHz recording, but they can't record in the 32kHz, "Long Play" mode.)