The two Peak Level Meters at the bottom of the display window show input levels and playback levels. This is switchable with the INPUT MONITOR button. The meters can also be switched to the Frequency Map mode by pressing the COUNTER MODE button and "4" simultaneously. In this mode, the meters become a "map" indicating the sampling frequencies used to record the different portions of the tape. The top of the tape begins at the far left of the meters, and the end of the tape is at the far right. If the 32kHz sampling rate is used, only the top bar will be lit. If the 48kHz rate is used, only the bottom bar is lit. If the 44.1kHz rate is used, both bars will light. To test a tape for various sampling frequencies, simply insert the cassette and fast forward it to the end. The unit reads the tape as it fast forwards and displays the sampling frequencies on the tape. This feature might best serve someone preparing a DAT for CD pressing. With this function they could quickly ensure that the entire tape is recorded at 44.1kHz.
The "Rehearsal" indicator lights up when the Rehearsal Mode on the PCM-2700 is engaged. This mode enables easy adjustment of the location of the Start, Skip, and End ID's. As you adjust the ID's, the display shows, to the tenth of a second, how far you have adjusted the ID in either direction.
The back panel of the PCM-2700 offers balanced XLR inputs and outputs (yes, your engineer will like this). RCA phono jacks are used for the digital in and out. A 37-pin connector is used for the optional wired remote control. Finally, analog record and playback master levels can be set from the rear panel. Out of the box, they are preset to +4dB and can be adjusted to a maximum level of +24dB. This easily accommodates installation in a variety of studio configurations.
Other specs include 16-bit linear/12-bit non-linear quantization. Rise time (the time it takes the machine to begin playback or record) is one second or less from Pause to Play, and two seconds or less from Stop to Play. Search speed is 150 times normal playback speed, and the cue/review speed is ±3 and ±8 times normal playback speed. It is at three times for the first four seconds, then automatically shifts to eight times normal playback speed after four seconds. The S/N ratio is greater than 90dB. THD is less than 0.05% in the Standard Play mode and less than 1.0% in the Long Play Mode. As mentioned, the unit comes with the wireless remote control. Also included are rack mount adapters.
When looking for a DAT machine for your production room, there are several things to consider. As with any piece of gear, the more major features it has, the more it will cost; and with professional, digital recording gear, the available features are often times features the radio production studio will never or rarely need. Why pay for extras you don't need? One feature found on many high dollars units is SMPTE time code capabilities. If you don't use SMPTE, don't pay for it. Other machines run up their cost by providing circuitry capable of delivering dynamic ranges pushing 100dB and THD of less than .001%. There are different types of A/D and D/A converters in use. Some are more expensive than others. Consider your needs; for radio production, this "near perfect" quality recording and reproduction is not necessary. Some units offer mike preamps and connectors (particularly on portable units). If you're not going to be plugging mikes into the unit, it's not for you. When shopping for a DAT unit, consider what features you would like, then look for units that offer those features.
In the same sense, be careful not to get less than you want. Perhaps most noteworthy when shopping for a DAT for your studio is whether it is a "pro" deck or a "consumer" deck. Consumer decks are less expensive and can be bought at your local stereo/hi-fi store, but you may need some "pro" support down the line. "Pro" dealers and manufacturers are more apt to take care of you when you need them. When you need repair work done, Joe Blow's Stereo Store might put your DAT deck on the bottom of a stack of cassette decks and car stereos and ask you to come back in a few weeks. When buying "consumer" or "semi-pro" gear, always consider support after the sale as one of the features.
The PCM-2700 has features that will appeal to the radio producer, but it doesn't overload you with major features you'll never use. It doesn't offer SMPTE time code functions (Saving $$$). It doesn't come with the ability to add an extensive number of options you'll never use (Saving $$$). There are no mike inputs (Saving $$$). On the other hand, you get the LP mode, 4-head configuration, and XLR ins and outs. It's rack mountable and priced such that you won't be making a major purchase to add DAT to your production room. All this, and on a deck with a respected name in professional recording.