There are many buttons on the front panel that are also on the remote control including all the transport controls, ID Write and Erase buttons, Counter Mode buttons, cassette compartment Open/Close and others. However, the remote control must be used to access Repeat Play, Skip Play, Programmed Play, Margin Reset, Music Scan, Frequency Map, Display Mode, and for entering program numbers. Also, the remote control includes a few buttons for controlling a Sony CD player and synchronizing the CD player with the DAT deck -- ideal for making CD to DAT dubs.

Functions on the front panel not found on the remote control include Power On/Off, Input Select, Input Level and Balance, Headphone Level, Timer Record/Playback On/Off, and Record Mode (standard/long play). The Long Play mode actually slows the tape speed to half normal speed and sets the sampling frequency at 32kHz, so a 120 minute DAT will provide four hours of 2-14.5kHz recording.

The Sony DTC-670 is an obvious hit as a consumer deck, but does it belong in your radio production studio? That depends on how much you have to spend on a DAT deck. The biggest drawback of the DTC-670 (and other decks in this class) is the need for the hand-held remote control, particularly when you need to search a program by number. If you're like many, remote controls tend to have legs of their own, and having to shuffle through stacks of reels, carts, and production orders to find a lost remote control can be an unwanted pain in an unwanted place at a bad time. BUT...if management says you can't have mega-bucks for a high-end DAT deck, and you want to make the jump to DAT, the Sony DTC-670, complete with its remote control, is an inexpensive, quality unit that appears to be durable enough for professional use. In fact, the unit is backed with a three-year parts and labor warranty.

Specs include 16-bit linear quantization in Standard Play mode and 12-bit non-linear in Long Play mode. Frequency response in Standard mode is 2-22kHz and 2-14.5kHz in Long Play mode. Signal to noise is greater than 90dB in both modes. THD is less than .005% (Standard mode) and less than .08% (Long Play). Inputs are phono for the analog inputs and phono and optical for the digital inputs. (The optical cable is an option.) There is no digital output, only analog outs on the rear and the headphone jack on the front panel.

DAT never did take off in the U.S. consumer market like manufacturers had hoped. This is due primarily to the lengthy battle between the record industry and manufacturers which resulted in the SCMS copy protect system. However, during this battle, DAT found its way into a large number of radio stations and production facilities everywhere. The DAT format is standard. It's an established, reliable, digital recording medium that should be around for years to come. DAT offers a step towards improving the quality of the production on your station through digital recording and mastering, and the storage benefits are tremendous in comparison to archiving on reel-to-reel. On this month's cover is a photo of a rack full of DATs. It would take 142 7-inch reels of 15 ips tape to replace the 38 DATs in the photo. If you haven't equipped your studio with a DAT machine because the price has been too high, take a look at a unit like the 670. It lets you reap the benefits of DAT without having to commit to a serious amount of capital.