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Author Topic: DAT recorder suddenly acting up - Panasonic SV-3800  (Read 3046 times)

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Offline HenryB

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DAT recorder suddenly acting up - Panasonic SV-3800
« on: January 28, 2018, 08:26:38 PM »
Hi everyone - I'm new to the DAT format and picked up a Panasonic SV-3800 recently to do some transfers.  The unit had 180 lifetime head hours and my first FLAC transfers were going beautifully yesterday with low error rates of 0 - 20.

Come today, it's having trouble reading any tapes I put in there.  The error rate hangs consistently right around 5000 and the audio playback has some garbled noise over the top now.  I tried a brand new cleaning tape straight out of the cellophane today and it made no difference.

So what the heck changed?  All I can think of is I did leave a tape in overnight while it was powered off, but I don't know why that would cause this across different tapes.

Hopefully this sounds familiar to somebody.  Thanks!

- Henry

Offline old and in the way

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Re: DAT recorder suddenly acting up - Panasonic SV-3800
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2018, 12:19:12 PM »
have not used much dat in a while but if you have a cleaning tape you might want to clean the heads especially since you are probably running older tapes that are starting to degrade.if you don't have a cleaning tape it is possible to clean the heads with a q tip and 100% alcohol but be real easy on the heads. i still have a fostex d5 and hhb pdr1000 that still work good but they are sealed in air tight dust free containers.i used the hhb about a month ago and it still works fine as a transfer deck to a 671 marantz (spdif).any way most dat decks are pushing 20 yrs and are starting to fade away.good luck

Offline DATBRAD

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Re: DAT recorder suddenly acting up - Panasonic SV-3800
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2018, 01:59:25 PM »
I have a SV3700 that I bought brand new in 1994 and it needed a $400 head replacement just a couple years later. From that experience I learned to avoid using 90 meter data tapes because they shed so much magnetic material due to the thinner media. Computer data tapes 60 meter and smaller don't tend to have as severe a shedding issue, but now age is a factor regardless of tape length. Today you can buy a used 3700/3800 for a couple hundred bucks and they were $1500 new! Order one of these and it may fix the issue. Use it regularly and you should be fine.
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« Last Edit: January 29, 2018, 02:00:57 PM by DATBRAD »
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Offline GLouie

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Re: DAT recorder suddenly acting up - Panasonic SV-3800
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2018, 12:30:21 PM »
Hopefully you just clogged a pole piece on the head with sticky tape debris, and your cleaning tape just didn't work. You have little to lose by trying more aggressive cleaning tape action. I would try the cleaning tape again, longer than the suggested few seconds, even back cueing and fast wind a bit.

Sadly, this transport was never so good to begin with, and they have a tendency to develop poor back tension control and to eat tapes, so proceed with caution.

The best cleaning check would be to open it up, remove the loader mechanism, and use chamois sticks designed for rotary heads.
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Offline H₂O

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Re: DAT recorder suddenly acting up - Panasonic SV-3800
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2018, 01:27:25 PM »
It could be a number of things causing this - has the deck sat for a while unused?


I have owned a ton of DAT players/recorders over the years including the SV3800 and SV4100,  and for DAT xfers your better off with a professional grade Sony such as the PCM-2600/2800, PCM-R500/R700, or  PCM-7010/7040


I still own my SV-4100, an R700 and PCM-7040 - the 7040 is tops (although it won't play 32Khz tapes) then the R700.  The 4100 (which I have owned since new is now eating tapes and only have 500 or so hours on it - I have already had it repaired once for a similar problem)



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Offline HenryB

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Re: DAT recorder suddenly acting up - Panasonic SV-3800
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2018, 05:57:04 PM »
Thanks for the suggestions everyone.  I actually just ended up returning it and have shifted gears to buying a sturdier deck.

All I need out of a deck is long-term reliability and the best shot at reading these tapes error free.  (Recording features, etc. not a factor)  So with that in mind, I wonder which of the Sony's would be good to go with?  2600 looks the cheapest, but is that for a reason?  R500 has more reasonable prices than the R700 or 7040, but if the 7040 really makes a difference with errors I may hold out for one of those.

I also got a Sony SDT-9000 DDS drive up and running with the 12.2 audio firmware.  That works pretty well most of the time, but did get errors on sections the Panasonic had no trouble with when it was working.  Is that typical with DDS drives, or does this drive just have issues?  I wonder if DDS drives are worth pursuing more, if only as a backup to the decks?

Offline H₂O

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Re: DAT recorder suddenly acting up - Panasonic SV-3800
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2018, 09:09:28 PM »
R500 and R700 are pretty much the same except the main difference is the R700 has 4 heads so you can do confidence monitoring (i.e. you can hear the recording immediately as it is being recorded - a play back head follows the record head when recording so you can listen to the recorded result as it is being recorded) - for doing transfers this doesn't matter


2600 is the immediate predecessor to the R500 and the 2800 is the immediate predecessor to the R700 - they have the same or nearly the same transport and for transfers either should be fine - the only draw back to these decks is you can not display the head hours so you have no way of accurately how much the deck has been used.



7040 has a DDS drive transport which is much more durable then the others


I have a number of SGI SDT-9000's 2 x 12.2, 1 x 13.0 and 3-4 x 13.1 fw's - What software are you using for transfers?  I found DAT2WAV to read most tapes as long as consistent A-TIME or P-TIME was avail.  My transfer approach is to:


1. Transfer with DAT2WAV, If error go to 2
2a. 32Khz tape use R700
2b. 44.1/48Khz use 7040


I have found transferring tapes successfully takes a few different approaches to have the best chance of working.   I have had the DAT2WAV/SDT-9000 do better results on some tapes then the 3800/4100 and visa/versa - The 7040 will read almost any tape I have thrown at it that no other deck would play (I even got it to play a tape that was recorded completely out of alignment - although only every other frame would play - so the recording wasn't really salvageable)


DAT is not a great recording format compared to modern solutions and in general tapes can rot - I have found it worse on tapes that have been played a bunch and on areas of the tape left exposed between the spindles (if the tape has not been rewound to the start)

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Offline larrysellers

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Re: DAT recorder suddenly acting up - Panasonic SV-3800
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2018, 09:17:05 PM »
While I cannot recommend the PCM-R500 enough, the Fostex D5/Tascam DA20 (same deck) makes a nice compliment deck. I have had tapes that were awful in the Sony and played fine on one of those. These can be had for a sub $50 bargain if you're patient.

Offline jefflester

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Re: DAT recorder suddenly acting up - Panasonic SV-3800
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2018, 10:57:04 PM »
My Fostex D5 does much better playing a tape clean than my SV-3800. I still have an old Sony 75ES (from 1992!) for playing LP as necessary, though I haven't used it in ages so I don't know if it's any good anymore.
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Offline GLouie

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Re: DAT recorder suddenly acting up - Panasonic SV-3800
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2018, 01:10:25 PM »
Our Sony R500s have been great and is what I use first, but some tapes will still get error areas. We also keep Pana 3800s and a Sony 2700A. My general tactic when transferring a DAT that develops error spots is to just re-try a problem area. Sometimes, cleaning the head and re-trying a playback several times for a section will give me an acceptable playback that I can splice back into the main transfer. Sometimes I have to try another DAT player, it's great if you can have several to try. My last resort is to utilize the analog correction of the DAT player and ahem- redigitize that and splice that back into the main program.

I attribute most of our current transfer problems to tape rot, but DATs can be fussy about alignment. I've sat with an open 3800 with a tape guide adjuster and made constant adjustments to a concert tape for several passes. The original tape was made on a Panasonic SV250 portable with a loose tape guide. A complete digital mess was made listenable.

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Re: DAT recorder suddenly acting up - Panasonic SV-3800
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2018, 01:58:37 PM »
I am glad that this thread popped up.  I only need a DAT deck once in a blue moon these days and guess what, yesterday was a blue moon and my Sony R300 shit the bed.  I'll try a cleaning tape but also look at for the D5/DA20.  I only have 3 tapes to do too.  Ugh.
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Offline HenryB

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Re: DAT recorder suddenly acting up - Panasonic SV-3800
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2018, 01:41:08 PM »
Thanks a bunch H2O and everybody - this helps a ton and I'm on the hunt for an R500/R700 or 7040 now!  (And a cheap Tascam or Fostex as a backup)

I believe these tapes have P-TIME, yet the DDS drive was still having trouble in some spots.  And actually now, it's gotten worse.  After it loads a tape, it just sits there silently with the Tape light blinking forever, and no programs are able to interface with it.  Could just be a bad drive?

Here's two general DAT questions - somebody I was talking about transfers with mentioned a potential issue with "hidden audio" between track IDs if the tape wasn't recorded correctly.  He said decks will skip over it during normal playback, and that you have to manually seek into that area to hear it.  Is that a real issue to look out for during transfers, and how would you spot it?

Finally, is there danger in creasing a tape when stopping a fast-forward or rewind partway through?  I read that in a Panasonic manual, and it sure does feel harsh when you stop it on a dime like that.

Offline H₂O

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Re: DAT recorder suddenly acting up - Panasonic SV-3800
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2018, 05:00:25 PM »
That means you need to put in a cleaning tape

The sdt-9000 will force you to pop in a cleaning tape every 24 hours of head use

Until you do this the STATUS LED will just blink and the drive won’t play tapes


It’s best practice to avoid as much FF and rewind on DAT tapes as possible - play it straight through and Rewind only at the end as much as possible
« Last Edit: February 06, 2018, 05:03:15 PM by H₂O »
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Offline HenryB

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Re: DAT recorder suddenly acting up - Panasonic SV-3800
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2018, 02:15:49 AM »
Oh, great - I'll pop in a cleaning tape and see if that clears up that issue.

So about "hidden audio", I take it that's not something you've run into?

I'll try to fast-forward and rewind less often.  Is it still a good idea to FF and RW once through before beginning a transfer?  I've read that all over the place.

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Re: DAT recorder suddenly acting up - Panasonic SV-3800
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2018, 08:21:49 AM »
I don't know about "hidden audio", but I know that my HD-P2 will stop recording if the DAT switches from 48>44 or 44>48.  I've had more than a few DATs with two sets recorded at 44k with a millisecond of 48k in between (or vice versa).  This causes me to stop and re-start the transfer after the switch.

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