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Hands On – Casio DA-7 (part 5)

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Potential Problems

The worst problem of the DA-7, which I have seen on the two examples of the
unit I have handled and therefore presume it to be a software bug, is that it
can sometimes get itself in a state of confusion. This may manifest itself as
an inability to do anything at all, or you may think the machine is recording
when in fact it is just turning the tape. This last one is the real problem,
but you can spot it by the fact that there is no Absolute Time indication during
recording when there normally always would be. The simple answer in both cases
is to eject the cassette and load it again. Simply switching the power off and
back on doesn’t cure the fault, even though it’s the standard solution
to many of the recording world’s ills.


Another problem which could catch you out is that every time you stop the
DA-7 after recording, it winds back a couple of seconds. I’m sure it does
this for a good reason, but I don’t know what. The potential result is
that you could clip the end of the last thing you have recorded. I have done
it myself and I have seen others do it. The answer is simple however – just
record for an extra couple of seconds at the end of the take, or five seconds
to be on the safe side.

Drawbacks

I make a distinction between problems and drawbacks, and I wouldn’t expect
absolutely everything to be perfect on a machine at this price. I would however
have really loved a back lit display. This one really is very dim and difficult
to see. Another drawback, which other machines have too, is that it will only
record from the analogue inputs at a sampling rate of 48kHz. Unfortunately 44.1kHz
is the standard for CD mastering and your master tapes will have to be copied
via the analogue outputs or digitally converted. Also, the DA-7 uses pre-emphasis,
a technique which involves boosting high frequencies during recording and cutting
them back on replay, which increases the signal to noise ratio. Since most machines
will have provision for de-emphasis, and do it automatically, you won’t
have any problem playing back your tapes, but this technique inevitably reduces
high frequency headroom. Compact Disc also has a provision for pre and de-emphasis
but it’s a rare CD these days that uses it. If you are using a DA-7 to
collect sample material, then you need to be aware that if you transfer digitally
into an S1000 via the IB-104 interface that the pre-emphasis will not be corrected
and the sound will be excessively toppy.


The final drawback is of course SCMS, which is as ever an unwarranted intrusion
into the lawful activities of home and professional recordists. Fortunately
for me I have my pre-SCMS Sony and I can make as many generations of copies
as I like as long as I always copy Sony originated recordings from the Casio
to the Sony and Casio originated recordings from the Sony to the Casio. And
despite having this unlimited copying facility I still don’t, after four
years of DAT ownership, have any illegitimate copies on my DAT shelf! If I didn’t
have the Sony, then I would undoubtedly invest in one of the SCMS removing devices
which have recently appeared on the market. They shouldn’t be necessary
though, should they?

Ebook = Equipping Your Home Recording Studio
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Recommendation?

Since this is an article in the Hands On series, I think my recommendation
ought to be to get your hands on a DA-7 quick before Casio realise that they
have an underpriced product on the market. How DAT prices will go in the future
I can’t tell, as DCC and MiniDisc loom on the horizon for hifi enthusiasts,
but here is a machine which, with some limitations, is suitable for professional
use and an absolute steal at its current price.

David Mellor

Acoustics & Studio Design

Acoustics & Studio Design

The NLE AudioPedia series, our video-based audio encyclopedia, is an invaluable resource for sound engineers, musicians, students, educators and all audio enthusiasts. This second installment is about Acoustics & Studio Design.

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David Mellor