Early tape based digital formats such as DAT, Tascam DTRS and ADAT, etc are often problematic now, partly with tape issues and also reliability and spares availability. In 20 or even 10 years time these machines will be much less serviceable than the analogue tape machines of the previous generation and as a result more obsolete and a higher priority to migrate to a file based digital format.
We’ve also started to see a particularly nasty problem with some, and usually the 120 minute length, DAT’s. The first symptoms are a broken DAT tape usually on wind. The tape pack seems to become slightly sticky, with intermittent tension between the layers of tape and with the thinner tape in 120 lengths this can sometimes break the tape on wind.
You can see in the above image how the tape sticks slightly to the pack and then releases when hand wound. With the greater tension of a machine wind and the tape also wound around the head drum this becomes risky.
With large transfer jobs checking each DAT by disassembly is not feasible but the permanent damage and / or part loss of a section of audio caused by a break is not feasible either!