Recording Tricks: Tascam DA-30, DA-30mkII and DA-20 DAT Recorders

Tascam DA-30 DAT Recorder

The original Tascam DA-30 was updated as the DA-30mkii, and then replaced by the DA-40. The DA-30 and DA-30mkII were popular due to their numerous input and output jacks and longevity.

Defeat SCMS copy-protection modification

The original DA-30 came from the factory with SCMS (Serial Copy Management System) copy protection on its S/PDIF coaxial digital input (the AES/EBU digital I/O is clean). SCMS prevents you from making a digital copy of a digital copy. This means that a DAT recorded on the DA-30 via the S/PDIF digital input will be encoded with SCMS copy protection unless you perform this modification.This is easily done, and the following quick method will bring you years of SCMS-free recording joy with no side-effects. (Originally described in the Tascam Users Group Guide, Issue #8, 1992)

1. Unplug the DA-30 and remove the top cover.
2. Locate a short jumper wire labeled W-402, near the front of the main board, behind the front panel display. (Looking from the front of the unit, find the large green board to the right of the transport.)
3. Clip it. (Or install a switch if you want to be able to re-enable SCMS.)

That's it!

Tascam DA-40 DAT Recorder

Shop for recorders at zZounds

DA-30 is Pin 3 hot, DA-30 mkii is pin 2 hot

The original Tascam DA-30's BALANCED (XLR) inputs and outputs are wired pin 3 hot:

Pin 1 = Ground

Pin 2 = - (cold)

Pin 3 = + (hot)

The newer version, the DA-30 mkII, is wired pin 2 hot.

(Incidentally, Silent Way's DA-30 has the SCMS mod, and has rewired it to be pin 2 hot in and out.)

Tascam DA-30mkII DAT

Checking firmware version (rough method)

"If you buy a DA-30 mkII make sure you have the latest firmware release. Decks manufactured after April 95 should have it anyway. You can check it by pressing and holding SHIFT and pressing AUTOID several times. It cycles from AUTO-46 to AUTO-52 down to AUTO-72 and then to either AUTO-46 (old firm ware) or AUTO-dd (new firmware)."

Firmware upgrade adds function allowing start IDs to be read from the S/PIDF input

"The new firmware adds the AUTO-dd function. This causes START-IDs to be accepted from S/PDIF input and translation of track change IDs sent by CD players translated into START-IDs. Other handling of the mechanics is simplified by this firmware update as well.

In the case this deck needs the firmware update you should contact TASCAM for a replacement MPU. It can be done by TASCAM but every computer repair shop can also replace the MPU because it sits in a socket. However, a PLCC extractor tool is required. I got a replacement MPU for free because my deck was still under warranty and I assured the TASCAM people that I'm capable of replacing it properly."

-From an old newsgroup posting circa 1996, possibly by Norbert Hahn.

For more info contact Tascam Tech Support: 213-726-0303

Tascam DA-20/DA-20mkII DAT Recorders

Defeat SCMS copy-protection

With the unit off and no tape in it, depress & hold the "Execute" button and power up. This toggles it across restarts.

For more details see page 34 of the DA-20/DA-20mkII manual. There are more functions such as error rate readout in the DA-20mkII addendum.

Here are the manuals for the DA-40, DA-20/DA-20mkII, and the DA-20mkII addendum.

There are more DAT tips at Mike Wagner's Tascam Decks Tips-n-Tricks pages. Check it out!