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Hands On – Casio DA-7 (part 6)

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Beating SCMS

SCMS is a system where a DAT tape may be identified in one of three ways:

  • Digital copying prohibited
  • One generation of digital copying permitted
  • Digital copying permitted.

If the DA-7 is used to make a recording from its analogue inputs then the result
will be a tape of the second variety. If this tape is digitally copied then
the result will be a tape which is of the first type and therefore no further
generations of digital copies may be made. Of course, you can make as many analogue
generations as you like, but a little bit of quality will be lost each time.


The idea of SCMS was to defeat large scale piracy, but it has turned out that
there is no large scale market for prerecorded DAT tapes and therefore there
is no piracy to defeat – and did anyone seriously think pirates would worry
about copying via the analogue outputs? So what is left is just a gross inconvenience
for home and professional recordists. But fortunately there are at least two
manufacturers of SCMS beaters – Thatched Cottage Digital and Audio & Design.
It’s a pity that you have to pay half the price of a DA-7 to remove this
nuisance though.


The first device to be advertised in these pages was the Thatched Cottage
Digital Stripper which you can use to copy otherwise digitally uncopyable tapes.
The only slight drawback is that you have to use it each time you make a copy,
you can’t make a Copying Permitted tape with it, which I suppose must be
a sop to the people who imposed this system on us in the first place – the record
companies. A little more versatile is the Audio & Design Copy-Rite which
will make Copying Permitted tapes at 48kHz but you still have to use it each
time you copy if you originally recorded at the 44.1kHz sampling rate. For complete
satisfaction and SCMS freedom you will need Audio & Design’s SmartBox
which will completely zap SCMS and also allow you to copy from a domestic machine
with SPDIF connections to a professional machine with the AES/EBU interface,
or vice versa. This will cost you around £500 including VAT which may
consider to be just a little out of proportion with the cost of the DA-7, but
I don’t think it’s really aimed at the home recordist.

Ebook = Equipping Your Home Recording Studio
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David Mellor

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David Mellor