Hi peeps

what is the best programme to use ( logic, soundtrack, main stage etc or any others ) to record old DAT tapes into my mac please? I have loads of old track masters in DAT format that I want to store on my mac.

also, if I want to do it digitally, do the usb, firewire, thunderbolt ports help here or do I definitely need to buy a coaxial enabled sound card? if so which one is recommended please?

any other hints or tips are appreciated as I hear its not necessarily a straightforward exercise what with clocks and stuff?

thanks in advance for any help
Ah... dat, the wonder after 1/4 tape. Many a panasonic and Sony dat was used as a mastering medium...LOVE it, that and my Apogee A/D 500. Sounded pretty good.

Anyways, you don't mention a dat deck or a computer model, so I can't say if you even require an audio card, since most Mac's have a digital input and some dats had a spdif lightpipe.. a marriage made in heaven.

So, if you have a dat with a lightpipe out (spdif format) and a dat deck that does, you are good to go with Logic. Big thing: be 100 sure you change to the correct SAMPLE rate before you record, or your digital audio won't play back as it should.

That is about the only thing I can think to warn you about. Logic can work good as a 2 track recorder and editor.


Hi George

I have not purchased the DAT deck yet but I am eying up a Tascam DA 20 mk 2. This reports to having a SPDIF out so should be fine there I think. I have a mac book pro, ( purchased Sept last year) fully suped up with flash drive. Mac OS X Lion 10.7.4 . It does not appear to have a digital in. It has one headphone in / out and then the usb, firewire, thunderbolt ports.

This I assume then will mean then I have to purchase a sound card of some sort ? I don't want to go crazy on a price for a sound card, ( I am actually surprised that the on board sound card in my mac seems to produce quite good quality anyway ) I was going to purchase a sound card when I first bought my mac book but as I only produce through headphones (presently) I am quite satisfied at this stage.

so any suggestions on the best way to go here?

thanks George.

Pete Thomas

Staff member
Hi George

I have not purchased the DAT deck yet but I am eying up a Tascam DA 20 mk 2. This reports to having a SPDIF out so should be fine there I think.
I don't know exact DAT models, but take note, George mentioned SPDIF lightpipe (=optic fibre). Some DAT players only havey SPDIF coaxial, which would definitely need an additional USB or Firewire interface with coaxial, so check this.

If you are going to record your old DAT tapes, I would recommend you hire a DAT machine rather than buy one, unless you would have a reason in the future to need one.


I used to have a Tascam DA 20 mk2. I just got rid of it last year. They are greta machines; solid and robust. I have used it for, among other things, transferring into Logic with an old Audio Media ll card, a Digi 001, and a MOTU 828 mk 2.

It does have spdif coaxial I/O. So if you want to maintain quality and keep things completely in the digital realm, get a sound card that has spdif inputs. That way you can do digital transfers and never have to use any AD/DA conversions to get your material onto your computer. It will be the most faithful reproduction of the original content possible.

And as George advises, make sure your sample rates match when transferring.
Yes you Mac has digital I/O... it gets piggybacked along the current in and headphone jacks, you just need the correct cable.

May sure the dat deck has fiberoptic spdif, get the right cable:

AKA: Optical Toslink to Toslink Mini Fiber Optic Gold Plated Digital Cable

Goes from the dat into the input jack in your Mac.



ok cool, thats very impressive & a real surprise then to hear that its a digital in too!

So to summarise and to be clear...

I should look for DAT machine that has the light pipe ( fiber optic out) instead of the Tascam (coaxial out) in question and then there is no need for a sound card, I can get the cable you mention above and go straight into the headphone jack and it will be a digital transfer?


by the way guys thanks for all your input, always appreciated.

George /Pete / Eli : can anyone recommend a DAT machine then that will have the fibre optic light pipe out? Pete , your said hire one and i can see your down there in Southampton, any recommendations where I could look? DAT machines seem pretty hard to come by in shops and dealers nowadays it seems.

The sony doesn't have the "Digital optical output" you need by the looks of it. AES looks more like a mic cable (3 prong connector, metal not optical).

Wish I could be more helpful regarding what to get, but that specific style out is what you require, unless you can find or purchase an additional audio interface.


Digital optical output


George sorry to trouble you again but are you definitely sure the 13'' mac book pro has this 'optical in' via the single headphone jack on the side? is just that I tried to find the option to switch to 'digital in' in my 'sound preferences' but there is nothing there to say that that is an option. Does it just happen automatically? you said I need to switch 'sample rates' but again that is not an option I can see?

Sorry to question the advice you have already given but everything I am seeing says that perhaps the 15'' and 17'' mac books have the optical in function but even apples own specs page says just digital out for 13'' not an in too?

''Combined headphone/line in (supports digital output)'' http://www.apple.com/macbookpro/specs-13inch.html

again sorry to question your advice but I just want to be sure before I purchase the DAT recorder that I am getting the right one.

Well it appears the 13 inch model doesn't have a digital in. Fracking apple. Then you need a simple audio interface that does have a Digital Input. Something like the M-Audio fast track would work, it has a S/PDIF coaxial digital I/O, it's pretty cheap, and for 2 track input it aught to work fine.

No problems asking, I have to admit complete shock and a bit of anger that Apple would toss something in a smaller version of the Mac Book PRO... I mean, it is supposed to be their high end line.

Pete Thomas

Staff member
The best thing will be to ask the hire company, let them know what you need. They may also have the cable adaptor.

Also try audiohire

Plus do a google search for

audio equipment hire london

£15 a day is much better than buying one.


ok cool guys. Thanks for your help. Looks like i will have to get the extra bits after all. thanks again George for your help anyway. I maybe back to bug you again soon!