The Definitive DTRS Guide, Chapter 4: Hidden Functions

Silent Way's Definitive Guide to the
DTRS Modular Digital Multitrack Recorder

Part of the tips and tricks public archive, courtesy of Silent Way Remote Audio Recording and Media Asset Management in San Francisco.

Copyright © 2010 Silent Way. Unauthorized reuse is prohibited.

DA-88 Hidden Functions

This list explains the various hidden displays and functions of the DA-88. Many manufacturers hide essential readouts behind secret methods of access (eg. "hold down this button and press this other button" or the dreaded "power up while holding these six buttons"). The best example of this is determining the number of hours on a digital recorder's heads.

Their justification for "hiding" information is that it could be misused or misinterpreted, but this actually just serves to keep the novice user uninformed and the advanced user annoyed. The truth behind hiding info such as a recorder's headlife or software version (ie. it's age) is that the manufacturer is afraid to admit that their product isn't perfect: it ages, occasionally needs improvement and ultimately will not last forever. Hey, sometimes the truth hurts. Doling out information on a "need-to-know-basis" undermines the credibility of any product and in turn, its maker. Would you buy a car with no odometer? Pressure from users is pushing manufacturers to be more upfront, and newer models reflect this, such as the DA-98, which has all information readily available on the front display.

The following list of hidden functions should have been in every users manual. It still has not been fully published by Tascam.

These apply primarily to the DA-88. Some will also work on the DA-38 and DA-98, but these decks have menu-driven displays which give some of the info and access to functions. Almost all of these will work on the Sony PCM-800, but remember that the PCM-800 has reversed the position of the PLAY and STOP buttons. The DA-78 has many of these functions in it's maze of menus and submenus.


To determine the record and repro head wear time on the DA-88:

With the DA-88 off, hold down the STOP and PLAY buttons and turn the machine on.

The machine will display " d. " followed by the total time spent in Record and Play, in hours.

To determine the elapsed shuttle mode time on the DA-88:

With the DA-88 off, hold down the F.FWD and STOP buttons and turn the machine on.

The machine will display " d.S " followed by the total time the DA-88 has been in shuttle mode.

To determine the system software version of the DA-88 (PCM-800 version 2 = DA-88 version 4):

With the DA-88 off, hold down the PLAY, STOP and RECORD buttons and turn the machine on.

The machine will display the internal system software version. Contact Tascam for the latest.

To determine the system software version of the DA-78HR (Read this article for the latest version):

Menu Maintenance--> sub menu Version. The display shows the internal system software version. Press the UP-arrow button to access the "Front" and "Servo" versions. Contact Tascam to get the latest.

To determine the software version of the SY-88 sync card:

With the DA-88 off, hold down the F.FWD, PLAY, and RECORD buttons and turn the machine on.

The machine will display the SY-88's software version. Contact Tascam for the latest.

To determine the software release date of the DA-88:

With the DA-88 off, hold down the REC and STOP buttons and turn the machine on.

The machine will display the date of the system software.

To determine the servo version in the DA-88:

With the DA-88 off, hold down the REW, F.FWD and STOP buttons and turn the machine on.

The machine will display the servo version.

To determine the software version of the RC-848 remote auto locator:

Turn on the 88 with the RC-848 connected as usual. Once the "T-A-S-C-A-M" start-up display starts (but before it ends), hold down the RC-848's REW, F.FWD and STOP buttons.

The remote will display the internal software version /date and go into a "Self-Test" mode. Dialing the JOG wheel will cycle through all of the LEDs in the Time Window, and the remote's various buttons will light each of the remote's indicator lights. Contact Tascam for the latest.

To enter cleaning mode :
NOTE: Dry cleaning is very damaging to the heads. This should only be done if errors are occurring and a manual cleaning is impossible.

With the DA-88 off, hold down both the UP-arrow and the DOWN-arrow buttons (these are right under the display window) and turn the machine on. The display will show "CLEAning".

Insert dry cleaning tape designed for Hi-8 video. Do not press play. Cleaning tape will automatically play and eject after a few seconds. This time period was shortened to five seconds in software version 3.01.

To determine the number of times the DA-88 has been cleaned:

After invoking the cleaning mode (see above), press both the UP- and DOWN-arrows again.

The DA-88 will display how many times it has been put in cleaning mode and had a tape inserted. Note that the counter will only increment if you actually insert a cleaning tape, so checking the number has no effect on the number.


These two features are for a SY-88 timecode card-equipped DA-88:

To Engage Timecode Pull-up/Pull-down (SY-88 Only):

With display in TC window, hold down the UP arrow and press Fs (sample rate selection, next to the FORMAT button). The UP and DOWN arrows will then cycle through:

...PULL OFF, PULL DOWN, PULL UP Non-Drop frame, PULL-UP Drop frame...

To change from ABS mode to TC mode:
This determines whether a slave DA-88 in a multi-DA-88 setup follows ABS coming into the sync jack or follows SMPTE coming into the TC jack. When the display is in the ABS window, simultaneously press the UP and DOWN arrows. The arrows will then toggle between "P.in ABS" and "P.in TC." Note that this does not affect the TC jack.


(For more timecode hidden features, see the Hidden Timecode Sub-Menu page.)


To enter test mode (for the next three features):

NOTE: "Test mode" bypasses certain safety mechanisms and may help to eject a stuck tape, but users should be very careful because who knows what else might happen!

With the DA-88 or DA-38 off, hold down the F.FWD, STOP and PLAY buttons and turn the machine on.

Press STOP (PCM-800: PLAY) before the "T-A-S-C-A-M" start-up display begins to scroll.

The display will show "--test--".

  • To get a very rough estimate of the error rate of the DA-88:
    Enter test mode (see above).

    Press REMOTE.

    The meters for tracks one and two will show a rough view of the error rate when in PLAY. You know you've entered the error rate readout mode correctly when, upon pressing play, you see a brief flash of major errors on the first two meters, then it should settle down to little or no errors on a healthy machine. If you see no brief flash of errors, you've missed a step in entering this mode. Track one's meter seems to show a graphic representation of errors for the Read heads and track two's meter is for the Write heads. Sony tech support referred to them as the "A" heads and "B" heads. These understandably show errors regularly when shuttling. You should power down and up again before using the 88 to record.
  • To reprogram the start-up message of the DA-88 (sys software 3.01 or later only):

    Enter test mode (see above).

    Press and hold the following keys in this order: DISPLAY, UP-arrow key, DOWN-arrow key, REMOTE.

    Scroll through the alphabet using the UP and DOWN keys, and enter each desired letter with DISPLAY.

    Press the UP and DOWN keys to enter the new greeting into memory. Restart to check. (A bug in early software caused very long user-generated start-up messages to interfere with the startup diagnostics. Long messages are also pretty annoying.)
  • To reprogram the start-up message of the DA-38:

    Enter test mode (see above).

    Hold down the SHIFT key and press the DOWN arow. The display will show an "A".

    Select your first letter with the UP and DOWN arrows.

    Press SHIFT to enter the letter.

    Repeat for each other letter.

    When finished, press both the UP and DOWN keys to finalize. Restart to check.

To reprogram the start-up message of the DA-78HR:

1) Press shift so the SHIFT LED blinks.

2) Press HR MODE and MENU until the display reads "mAintn2".

3) Press SUB MENU until the display briefly reads "mSGEdit". The counter will then display "1. T" and a "T" will scroll across the meters.

4) Press UP and DOWN arrows to change the letter. Some letters will not show in the counter, but will show in the meters.

5) Press SHIFT and UP to enter the letter and move to the next letter.

6) When you're done, select "End" as the last character. Pressing SHIFT and UP once more will display "PrEViEw" in the counter and your new message will scroll across the meters.

7) Press SHIFT to exit.

...More on the DA-78HR in this special report.


Here's a few transport functions which can be toggled on and off if you have DA-88 sys 3.10 or later:

To toggle the LED meter peak hold function:
With the DA-88 off, hold down the REW, STOP and RECORD buttons and turn the machine on to turn on the peak hold function.

To reset the peak indicators: press the "up" arrow and CLEAR.

With the DA-88 off, hold down the REW, PLAY and RECORD buttons and turn the machine on to turn off the peak hold function.

To toggle audio monitoring when shuttling:
Hold down the "up" arrow and press the shuttle button. The display will read "STL M" followed by either "on" or "off".

Press the "up" arrow or "down" arrow to toggle.

Press display to return to ABS display

To always have the tape play when rewound to the beginning:
With the DA-88 off, hold down the REW, F.FWD and PLAY buttons and turn the machine on.

To always have the tape stop when rewound to the beginning:
With the DA-88 off, hold down the F.FWD and PLAY buttons and turn the machine on.

To always have the tape rewind at the end of tape:
With the DA-88 off, hold down the REW, STOP and PLAY buttons and turn the machine on.

To always have the tape stop at the end of tape:
With the DA-88 off, hold down the REW and STOP buttons and turn the machine on.

Power On Auto Play:
With the power off, hold down the REW, FF, STOP and PLAY buttons then turn on the power. Any tape that is in the machine on power-up will automatically start to play. If there is no tape in the machine on power-up, the first tape into the machine will start playing automatically. I do not recommend leaving tapes in the deck during power up/down.

Reset Power On Auto Play:
With the power off, hold down the STOP button then turn on the power. The machine will operate normally.


For SY-88 functions, see the Hidden Timecode Sub-Menu page.

Please contact me if you know of any more tricks for the DA-88, RC-848, SY-88 sync card, DA-38, DA-98, DA-78HR and Sony PCM-800.

Thanks-

Tony Brooke

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