Import DAT files to Audacity?

Will audacity accept DAT tape for editing and conversion to WAV? Completed a recording using DAT equipment/recorder. If I can import this digital tape to audacity I can eliminate one person in the process of creating a CD. But I don’t know if audacity can handle DAT or not.

There’s no easy way of getting the actual digital data on the tape straight into an audio file for use in Audacity without the need (I guess) for additional hardwaresoftware. If your DAT player and PC soundcard have optical or co-axial digital inputsoutputs then you could play the tracks and record in Audacity via that route. Failing that you could simply transfer the analogue output from the DAT player into Audacity via the Line In on your soundcard.


And you would be shocked the number of DAT transfers that are done that way.

What is intended to happen is you put the DAT machine into a digital video facility machine room along with the D1, D5, DigiBeta, and other digital videotape machines. DAT machines slide right in. They use full-on SMPTE Timecode, bidirectional serial machine control, and AES/EBU audio streams.

However, in your living room, you may not have all those services. Just a guess.

So it’s analog audio cables.


I’ve done this several times. I have a DAT deck with optical I/O. My MacBook also has optical I/O. I just patch the DAT to the MacBook and set the appropriate input in Audacity. This should work fine on a Windows machine too as long as you have the input. Many sound cards now (as well as laptops) have optical ports. If not, there are inexpensive USB or firewire interfaces for them. Another (more expensive) option is to use a MOTU or similar multi-track audio interface that also has optical or coaxial digital audio ports on it (to match those on the DAT deck).

When I’m doing the recording to the DAT, I do a shadow recording into Audacity at the same time by grabbing the digital out from the DAT deck. It has much better A to D converters than my Mac has. This way I can skip the import later unless I screw up the file in the computer.

You MIGHT be able to read an audio DAT tape in a DAT computer backup tape drive. I have not tried this as I don’t have one. I know the tapes are compatible as all mine are retired computer backup tapes that I use for audio.

<<<I have a DAT deck with optical I/O. My MacBook also has optical I/O.>>>

I know my Mini has optical, but I don’t think my PowerBook does. I gotta go into the racks and see if our Broadcast DAT machine has optical outputs.

Grand idea.


My external USB soundcard (Edirol UA-1EX) has a digital input - I used it to transcribe my minidiscs to avoid doing DAC=>ADC repeat conversion so that I could go straight digital , it worked a treat.

So should work for DAT too, in situations where your computer doesn’t have a digital input.