Alesis ADAT User Manual

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ALESIS

ADAT

"BLACK FACE"

Reference Manual

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

 

1.0

ABOUT ADAT ....................................................................................

5

1.2

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT THIS MANUAL ..................................

9

1.3

OVERVIEW OF MAIN FUNCTIONS ...............................................

10

 

1.3A Transport ..............................................................................

10

 

1.3B

Record/Monitor functions ....................................................

10

 

1.3C Punching..............................................................................

10

 

1.3D Autolocation..........................................................................

11

 

1.3E

LED Indicators ....................................................................

11

1.4

“ENGAGED” VS. “DISENGAGED” TAPES .................................

11

1.5

A WORD ON ADAT's S-VHSCASSETTE TAPE..........................

12

1.6

OPERATING ENVIRONMENT ........................................................

13

 

1.6A Thermal Considerations in Rack Mounting ..........................

13

 

1.6B

Mounting on a Shelf or Non-RackEnclosure......................

13

 

1.6C

Avoiding Electromagnetic Interference ...............................

13

CHAPTER 2: HOOKUP

 

2.0

POWER

.............................................................................................

15

 

2.0A

The AC Cord........................................................................

15

 

2.0B

Avoiding Ground Loops .......................................................

16

2.1

AUDIO CABLE TIPS........................................................................

17

2.2

AUDIO—UNBALANCEDINPUTS..................................................

18

 

2.2A

Input Jack Characteristics ..................................................

18

 

2.2B

Typical Input Jack Hookups................................................

19

 

2.2C Special Unbalanced Input Jack Wiring ...............................

19

2.3

AUDIO—UNBALANCEDOUTPUTS..............................................

20

2.4

AUDIO—BALANCEDINPUTS AND OUTPUTS ...........................

21

2.5

DIGITAL I/O ......................................................................................

21

2.6

SYNC.................................................................................................

 

21

2.7

METER BRIDGE...............................................................................

22

2.8

FOOTSWITCHES .............................................................................

22

CHAPTER 3: GETTING READY TO RECORD

 

3.0

POWER-UPAND TAPE INSERTION.............................................

23

3.1

FORMATTING A TAPE ...........................................................

23

 

3.1A To Format A New Tape, or

 

 

 

Reformat/Erase an Old Tape..............................................

24

 

3.1B

To Extend a Format.............................................................

25

 

3.1A Additional Format Considerations ........................................

26

 

3.1B

Record A “Benchmark” Tape ..............................................

27

3.2

TRACK RECORD/MONITOR CONTROLS....................................

27

 

3.2A

Record Enable Buttons .......................................................

27

 

3.2B

Auto Input Monitor................................................................

27

 

3.2C

All Input Monitor...................................................................

29

 

3.2D

Digital Input..........................................................................

29

3.3

SETTING LEVELS............................................................................

29

3.4

TRANSPORT CONTROL OPERATION.........................................

31

 

3.4A

Eject.....................................................................................

31

 

3.4B

Rewind.................................................................................

31

3.4C

Fast Forward .......................................................................

31

3.4D

Stop .....................................................................................

32

3.4E

Play .....................................................................................

32

3.4F

Record/Punch In or Out......................................................

33

3.5 FOOTSWITCH-CONTROLLEDPUNCHING ................................

34

CHAPTER 4: PITCH, AUTOLOCATION, AND REMOTE CONTROLS

4.0

PITCH CONTROLS..........................................................................

35

4.1

AUTOLOCATION CONTROLS.......................................................

36

 

4.1A Setting Locations .................................................................

36

 

4.1B Autolocating to One of the Three Location Points...............

37

 

4.1C Shuttling Between Locate 1 and 2.......................................

37

 

4.1D The Auto Play Function........................................................

38

 

4.1E Record, Then Audition Your Part ........................................

38

4.2

FOOTSWITCH CONTROLLED AUTOLOCATION .......................

38

4.3

USING THE LRC REMOTE CONTROL .........................................

39

CHAPTER 5: MULTIPLE ADAT OPERATION

 

5.0

MULTIPLE ADAT BASICS41

 

5.1

SYNCHRONIZING MULTIPLE ADATS ..........................................

42

 

5.1A Hooking Up Multiple ADATs.................................................

42

 

5.1B ADAT ID (Identification) Numbers.......................................

42

 

5.1C How the Master and Slave Decks Interact.........................

43

 

5.1D Achieving Lock .....................................................................

44

 

5.1E Independent Slave Mode......................................................

44

5.2

FORMATTING WITH MULTIPLE ADAT SYSTEMS ......................

44

 

5.2A Master Format Enabled and

 

 

Performing a Complete, Start-to-FinishFormat...................

44

 

5.2B Master Format Enabled and

 

 

Extending the Format...........................................................

45

 

5.2C Master Format Disabled......................................................

45

5.3

AUTO-LOCATION/LOOPING

 

 

WITH MULTIPLE ADATS ................................................................

47

CHAPTER 6: BACKUP

 

6.0

BACKUP BASICS............................................................................

49

6.1

BACKING UP VIA DIGITAL I/O ......................................................

49

 

6.1A Normal Method .....................................................................

50

 

6.1B Optical-OnlyMethod............................................................

52

6.2

BACKING UP VIA ANALOG I/O.....................................................

53

CHAPTER 7: APPLICATIONS

 

7.0

COMBINED MULTITRACK/ MASTERING DECK .........................

55

7.1

ARCHIVING ......................................................................................

55

7.2

BOUNCING.......................................................................................

56

7.3

LIVE RECORDING...........................................................................

56

7.4

USING ADAT WITH MIDI SEQUENCERS

 

 

VIRTUAL TRACKING ......................................................................

56

7.6

VIDEO LOCATION RECORDING...................................................

57

7.7

MODULAR RECORDING 57

 

CHAPTER 8: ADAT ADVANCED FEATURES

 

8.0 ABOUT THE ADVANCED FEATURES..........................................

59

8.1 ADVANCED FEATURES 59

 

8.1A

Eject the tape in the Master ADAT of a Multi

 

 

ADAT System .....................................................................

60

8.1B

Device Id.............................................................................

60

8.1C Auto Input Monitor Option Select ........................................

60

8.1D Software Version.................................................................

60

8.1E

Tape Write Protect Status ..................................................

60

8.1F

Monitor/Audio Path Select ..................................................

61

8.1G Crossfade Select ...............................................................

61

8.1H Digital 48k Master Clock Enable/Disable............................

62

8.1I Total Running Time of Drum Motor......................................

62

CHAPTER 9: MAINTENANCE/SERVICE

 

9.0

GENERAL INFORMATION63

 

 

9.0A

Cleaning...............................................................................

63

 

9.0B

Maintenance .......................................................................

63

 

9.0C

Refer All Servicing to Alesis................................................

63

9.1

ADAT HEAD LIFE ............................................................................

64

9.2

ADAT HEAD MAINTENANCE ........................................................

64

9.3

TAPE MAINTENANCE - SAFE TAPE ............................................

66

9.4

ERROR MESSAGES .......................................................................

67

 

9.4A

ADAT Messages and Explanation ......................................

68

 

9.4B

Errors 1 to 9........................................................................

69

 

9.4C Steps to Take Before Calling for Help................................

71

CHAPTER 10: APPENDICES ..............................................................

 

10.0

APPENDIX 1

 

 

DIGITAL RECORDING— A QUICK TOUR.................................

73

 

10.0A Analog Tape Recording Basics........................................

73

 

10.0B Digital Tape Recording Basics ........................................

74

 

10.0C Why Does ADAT Use S-VHSCassettes?......................

74

10.1

APPENDIX 2

 

 

GLOSSARY..................................................................................

76

10.2

APPENDIX 3

 

 

SPECIFICATIONS .......................................................................

80

10.3

APPENDIX 4

 

 

SCHEMATICS ..............................................................................

83

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

1.0 ABOUT ADAT

Congratulations. You've just purchased an incredible piece of recording equipment. Here are a few of the features that make the ADAT Digital Recorder perhaps one of the most important advances in recording technology since the invention of multitrack. These features are of equal significance to the professional commercial studio and the personal home or project studio:

Low tape cost. ADAT records approximately 40 minutes of audio on a standardS-VHS® tape cassette. This is the same tape that is used withS-VHSvideo tape recorders. It's readily available and relatively low in cost for the purpose of multitrack recording. We choseS-VHSbecause the cassette shell, tape hubs and guides are precision crafted in theS-VHSformat to treat the tape gently and interface in a precisely controlled manner with the ADAT transport over long periods of recording. We recommend you always useS-VHStape to protect your valuable recordings. Your ADAT was packed with a complimentary AlesisS-VHSMastering Audio Cassette. It should perform to your highest expectations. You can order more through your Alesis dealer or directly from Alesis. See the accompanying flyer for information on how to order.

Superb fidelity. ADAT uses16-bitlinearanalog-to-digitalconversion, the professional standard 48 kHz sampling rate (variable from 40.4kHz to 50.85kHz), and 64 times oversampling forbetter-than-CDquality sound.

Ultra high fidelity digital converters. The digital converters in ADAT are the latest generation in converter technology.

® VHS is a registered trademark of JVC.

Because of the tremendous economies of scale realized in manufacturing ADAT, these high quality and

more expensive converters are included in the ADAT design (rather than having to be purchased as a separate accessory box as with some recorders) in spite of ADATs low overall cost. This converter technology allows recording and reproduction of the very highest quality. Plus, ADAT's design dedicates separate converters to the inputs and outputs of each individual track. That's 16 converters in all - no multiplexing.

Easy and familiar front panel controls. If you've ever used a multitrack tape recorder, then you probably already know how to use ADAT. Familiar controls like play, record, fast forward, rewind, and track select buttons perform the majority of functions you'll need. There are no difficult engineering routines for you to learn.

Sample accurate syncing capabilities. ADAT was designed to work perfectly as astand-alone8 track recorder and performs this function without equal. But its design goes much further to include a built in synchronization system that allows multiple ADATs to lock together in perfect synchronization; so, you can expand the number of recording tracks and buy more ADATs as your budget allows and your needs expand. Nothing in the system will become obsolete and ADAT's modular standard is the key to compatability between your studio and everyone else's; be it a home studio or fully professional commercial studio. You might have purchased 3 or four ADATS and the optional BRC Remote Control for a 24 or 32 track system, or you might even plan to build a large ADAT system of up to 16 ADATS and the BRCthat's 128 tracks of digital audio! Multiple ADATs, the BRC and other accessories (like the RMB Remote Meter Bridge) form what we call the ADAT System.

Each ADAT tape is "formatted" (a simple operation that can be done before or during recording) with a proprietary Alesis time code that is much more accurate than SMPTE or other time code systems, and time-stampsthe tape to an incrediblesingle-sampleaccuracy; that is, 1/48,000th of a second.

Why is this important? Because of such incredibly tight sync performance, multiple ADATs are virtually free of the evils of incoherent phase between tracks playing on different machines. This means that when you lock 2 or more ADATs together, you're really creating the equivalent of one large digital tape recorder and one very wide, seamless piece of tape.

And because ADAT's sync system is internalized and so accurate, you get machine synchronization without giving up an audio track, accurate tape counter readings without annoying slippage, and intelligent sample-accurateautolocation functions with the BRC.

Modular recording. This is the feature that makes ADAT and the ADAT System perhaps the most flexible multitrack recorder ever designed. Because ADAT's S- VHS tape format is so inexpensive, you can easily record alternate versions of vocals, solos, background accompaniments; whatever your creative urge dictates.

Modular recording means you can build as many tracks as you desire while you're recording and do composite editing with the BRC and ADAT's Optical Digital Interface (see next section) before the final mixdown.

Optical digital interface. In addition to conventional analog inputs and outputs, a “master” digital I/O carries all eight tracks simultaneously via optical cable, allowing for perfect,degradation-freedigital dubbing between ADATs. And with the addition of the optional BRC Remote Control, you can assign any part of any track to any other track in a multiple ADAT system. This means you can do complex composite editing. Like the chorus on track 2? Want to replace the chorus on track 15? Easy to do with the BRC carrying the timing and Sync

Information while the optical cable carries all the digital audio. The new chorus on track 15 will be an exact digital duplicate of the one on track 2. Feel particularly inspired one day, but can't make up your mind about which lead solo to go with? Fill five or six tracks of a single S-VHScassette tape with your hottest playing. Take the best performance, or the best parts of each one and recompose the entire solo on a new track. All in perfect sync, all sample accurate, all in the digital domain. The popular recording practice of composite vocals is just as easy, and more effective than ever with ADAT to support your efforts.

AI-1AES/EBU and S/PDIF Digital Interface with Sample Rate Converter.If you need to integrate your ADAT recordings with digital recording equipment from other manufacturers, an optional accessory box, the Alesis AI-1, can isolate the digital audio signal 2 tracks at a time from the optical interface's 8-track data stream, and assign that pair to the industry standard AES/EBU and S/PDIF interfaces. This allows for direct digital connection, with sample rate conversion, to and from other digital audio recorders, DAT recorders, CDs, hard disk recorders, synthesizers, and more.

LRC Remote Control. Each ADAT is supplied with the LRC Remote. This handy device duplicates ADAT's front panel play, record, fast forward, rewind, stop and 3 point autolocate system. You can also control the monitor select functions.

Highly sophisticated and comprehensive optional BRC Master Remote Control. The BRC is the brains of the ADAT System. It supplies sophisticated synchronization and overdubbing functions for multiple ADAT machines, remote control of virtually all recorder functions, reads and generates SMPTE time code, and generates MIDI Time Code (MTC) and MIDI clocks. The BRC can control up to 16 ADATs for a total of 128 tracks of digital audio.

RMB Remote Meter bridge option. When using the BRC in amulti-ADATsystem the RMB Remote Meter Bridge provides localized viewing of 32 channels of LED meters. It's designed to mount on top of the BRC (or be rack mounted) so that you can install your ADATs in a remote rack and control functions and view critical metering of the recorders directly from one location.

Easy interfacing with professional, project and home studios.

ADAT includes a balanced 56 pin ELCO connector for +4dBu interfacing, typical in professional studios. For the home and project studio using -10signals, ADAT includes unbalanced-10dBVinputs and outputs on 1/4" jacks. For convenience, the balanced and unbalanced inputs and outputs work simultaneously.

Voltage-tolerantpower supply.ADAT accepts any AC

voltage between 90 and 250 volts, without the need for external converters.

Compatibility with multi-channelmixdown formats.ADAT

is ideal for quadraphonic, surround, and theatrical sound applications that require more than two channels for the final master.

For more information on digital recording, see Appendix 1. Appendix 2 is a glossary of digital recording-relatedterms that may be helpful as you read this manual.

1.2 IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT THIS MANUAL

ADAT’s transparent user interface may tempt you to just plug in and start recording. We can certainly understand your excitement, but please at least do the following:

Read section 1.4 on the difference between “engaged” and

“disengaged” tapes, and section 3.1 on formatting tapes (with multiple ADAT systems, also refer to section 5.2). These important sections describe recording concepts that have no counterpart with analog recorders, and which must be understood before you start using ADAT.

Please read the entire manual at some point to acquaint yourself with the many ADAT features that you’ll know about only if you read the manual.

1.3 OVERVIEW OF MAIN FUNCTIONS

Here is a brief rundown of ADAT’s main functions.

1.3A Transport

The transport is like most standard multitrack recorder transports. Tape motion controls include play, fast forward, rewind, stop, record, and pause. The counter shows elapsed time from the beginning of the tape, or the time from where you last reset the zero counter.

1.3B Record/Monitor functions

ADAT does much of the recording/monitoring switching work for you. Generally, tracks monitor what’s on tape until you initiate recording (typically by punching), at which point any tracks set to record monitor the inputs so you can hear what’s being recorded. For live multitrack recording, a special mode lets you monitor all eight inputs regardless of record status.

The input jacks are wired using innovative switching techniques to allow for fast track selection, patching, and track switching. Section 2.2C explains this in more detail.

1.3C Punching

Punch-inandpunch-outare gapless and glitchless. Digital crossfades can be set to any of four different crossfade times.

A user-suppliedmomentary footswitch allows forno-handspunch-inand out. The BRC can do auto punch in and out referenced tosample-accuratelocation points.

1.3D Autolocation

You can set three autolocate points on the front panel or on the LRC Remote; simply pressing a button will cause ADAT to seek and find the desired point. “Looping” is also possible by shuttling between two locate points. An auto play feature can automatically put ADAT into play mode when the autolocation operation is complete.

1.3E LED Indicators

In addition to specific LED indicators (such as those that indicate if a track is recordenabled), several switches have built-inLEDs. Sometimes these flash to indicate that a function is ready to be initiated, then turn solid to indicate that the function is being implemented. Most switchestoggle, meaning that pressing once will turn a function on, and pressing again will turn it off.

In this manual, LEDs are spelled with all capital letters (such as RECORD LED or FORMAT LED).

1.4 “ENGAGED” VS. “DISENGAGED” TAPES

When you first insert an S-VHStape cassette into ADAT,

a portion of the tape is pulled out of the tape cartridge and threaded against a rotating head drum where the digital information is actually read and recorded in diagonal scans across the tape. This is called engaged mode. Even when the tape itself is stopped, it is still in contact with the head drum. If the STOP LED is lit solid, the tape is engaged.

This allows for going into play or record faster, as well as “cue” and “review” functions that let you monitor the tape audio during fast forward and rewind. When the machine is paused, the head remains spinning, and the tape is not disengaged from the head.

If you press the Stop button twice, the ADAT mechanism will unthread the tape and pull it back into theS-VHScassette. The STOP LED will blink to indicate that the tape isdisengaged.

When the tape is “disengaged,” the head is not spinning and it takes slightly longer to go into play or record. Cue and review are no longer possible, but rewind and fast forward speeds are much faster.

As a general rule, if you need to fast forward or rewind over a long length, disengage the tape first; if you only need to fast forward or rewind a short distance, leave the tape engaged.

If the tape is engaged, and no transport activity (play, record, rewind, etc.) occurs within about 4 minutes, the tape will automatically disengage itself to minimize tape wear.

1.5 A WORD ON ADATsS-VHSCASSETTE TAPE

Use only premium quality, name brand S-VHScassette tape in theST-120length. Alesis cannot overstress the importance of this. We recommend using AMPEX489 DM Digital Mastering Audio Tape, or AlesisADAT Mastering Audio Cassettes. Other acceptable brands include MaxellXR-S Black, JVCXZ, 3MMaster Broadcast andASD 40+, and TDKSP Super Pro.

We do not recommend that you use inexpensive,

budget VHS cassettes. While they may work technically, their unpredictable quality and less than premium formulation could decrease the reliability of your recording. Don't trust your music with anything less than premium S-VHStape.Inferior tapes not only jeopardize the recordings made on them, they may shed oxide and leave behind a coating of dirt that will interfere with future recordings, even if you switch back to premium quality tape. Defective tape may even clog the head, requiring service.

Accidents can happen— so digital audio, like floppy disks and hard disks, should be backed up to prevent loss. Back up your tapes to another ADAT using the fiber optic digital connector (section 6.1).

Treat your tapes as the precision, fragile components that they are. Do not expose them to extremes of heat, cold, or humidity. Never place tapes near magnetic fields (power amps, TVs, monitors, magnets, etc.), and handle tapes gently.

1.6 OPERATING ENVIRONMENT

1.6A Thermal Considerations in Rack Mounting

ADAT can be mounted in an equipment rack (taking up 3 rack spaces) or placed on a table or shelf. When you install it, keep in mind that heat is the major enemy of electronic equipment. Please observe the following:

ADAT is designed to perform properly over a range of ambient temperatures from 10° C to +40° C (50° F to 104° F), in up to 80% non-condensinghumidity. These are not absolute limits, but Alesis cannot guarantee that ADAT will meet its published specs or remain reliable if operated outside of these ranges.

Always allow adequate ventilation behind ADAT. Do not seal any enclosure that holds ADAT. It is not necessary to leave an empty rack space above or below ADAT unless it runs hot enough to affect equipment above or below it.

1.6B Mounting on a Shelf or Non-RackEnclosure

To mount ADAT on a shelf or other flat surface, Alesis recommends using the enclosed stick-onfeet to avoid scratching the shelf’s surface with the deck’s bottom.