What Are Some Good Cassette Tape Manufacturers

DAT service by MCS-MIK

On this page you will now learn something about the DAT drives and their history ...

MCS-MIK specializing in the repair of SONY DAT recorders would like to give you an insight into which Sony drives are available, what changes they have undergone over time, and that DAT recorders that are no longer working do not have to be thrown away, but rather repaired should put (let).

You have found this guide because you have to deal with Sony DAT recorders and their technology and possibly with their problems, want to buy a device, or your device may no longer work as usual. I am writing this because unfortunately I often read on eBay or in forums how bad or good certain drives should be, even though the same drives are installed. I would also like to correct this here. Here you can get some clarification.


Even if you are driven by despair:

Please do not adjust the tape guides if your device no longer works and please do not tip a small oil can into the drive - your device does not work for other reasons and will not run better with the oil can or the track position adjustment.

Adjustment of the track position is only possible with Sony measuring cassette and oscilloscope, unfortunately this test cassette cannot be copied! Stay away from "SPURLAGENEINSTELLKASSETTEN" which are initially offered on EBay for around 30-50 EUR and meanwhile for over 100 EUR with several alleged setting measuring tones of 10KHZ and 1KHz from an alleged laboratory. Even with a rough adjustment, the error correction tries to correct the reading errors, even then you would hear the measuring tones, but would the device then be correctly set ??? I hope no one follows this nonsensical setting method with the "setting measuring tones", without appropriate measuring devices and real approved test tapes from the manufacturer. Absolutely nonsense to want to adjust the track position by ear. That was precisely the advantage of DAT, that the error correction can also correct incorrect tape parts and the TON (as long as it does not have to be interpolated, i.e. it has to be guessed if the errors are too high) is equally fantastic. With a normal analog tape deck, this procedure is common practice (although measuring devices are also indispensable here), but it CANNOT be used with a DAT. Since there is only ONE worldwide standardized track position, you should rely on real official test tapes, which are used exclusively by us.

Furthermore, please use the cleaning cassettes (grinding cassettes) only sporadically, only rarely if necessary or before important recordings for a maximum of 10 seconds, DO NOT REWIND WITH CLEANING CASSETTES, do not rewind at the end of the cleaning tape, but THROW AWAY and buy a NEW one. Sony recommends cleaning 10 seconds every 10 hours of playback in their DAT manuals. This guarantees one maximum operational safety, Indeed also a maximum of wear and tear the head drum.

NO Q-Tip cleaning of the head drum !!! If a head is ripped off, it is a total loss.

Please also note that if you still have the first cleaning cassette, which is now 20 years old, it can now generate or generate abrasion from the tape material itself, and this old cleaning cassette may no longer be able to clean. Your device would certainly be very happy about a new cleaning cartridge, which then really cleans the heads. Stay away from used cleaning cartridges, they could already have been rewound by hand in a dirty manner (please NEVER rewind with cleaning tapes !!!!) and are more than 20 years old.

About MCS-MIK:

It was in 1987 when the eagerly awaited first preliminary test of an audio magazine of the first DAT recorder examined by this magazine - a Luxman KD-117 drive identical to the Sony DTC-1000es - appeared. And now after the CD (my first was the Philips CD202, still in use) it had to be a DAT recorder - since that time the DAT fever has never let go of me. (And so far I haven't been disappointed either.) I have countless Sony DAT recorders in my possession.

Now it starts technically:

With the Sony DAT recorders you have to have several - only three in total! - differentiate between different basic drive types, I am giving an insight into the SONY consumer drive types, whereby I would like to go into more detail on the two most recently installed drive types.

(I exclude the PCM7010-7030 / 7050 drives here, because they are not consumer devices - but also have the same 4 motor drives described here, with - and without rotary encoder - depending on the model. The 7040 have completely different drives (streamer drives ), are professional devices and I also exclude them here.)

The very first Sony device - the Sony DTC-1000es with 4-DD (DirectDrive) motor drive:

This device came on the market in 1987 and adorned the beautiful aluminum front "4-DD" and is a direct ancestor of the final drive series of the internal designation DTM53-55 (see below), but still had a rotary encoder for the drive status monitoring, where the associated gear was often distributed.

After allegedly Sony initially had slight (electronic control) problems with the first version of the DTC-1000 with 4-DD drive, Sony has apparently canceled one of the original DD motors for reasons of cost. Here brake bands and five brake felts came into play again. This elaborately designed 3-DD (DirectDrive) drive was found in the DTC-300 (DTM12) and DTC-55 (DTM13). Due to the design, this was a good drive, which allows a perfect adjustment of the tape guide and the predecessor of the final 4-DD drives. The main problem with this 3DD drive is a breaking gear, the rotary encoder, which will break or break in all DTC55, for example, over time. It is responsible to monitor the drive control. There are many DTC-55s on eBay, but a request for an overhaul and the specific request whether this gear was glued or replaced as a new part or replica is quite important. You want to use it for a long time and not be dependent on the possibly decreasing adhesive performance for the gear! Most of the time, the pinion gaps are no longer correct after gluing, so that further problems are inevitable. The gliders also slip or wear out on certain brake felts. In contrast to the following drive types, the supply of spare parts for the DTC-55es is already slightly limited and problematic for possible brake band or brake felt problems and the intermediate wheel with sliding felt, which unfortunately was often oiled to death and is no longer available unless you want to improvise . A drive repair is usually feasible and is worthwhile if the overall appearance of the device is good and the head drum is not yet worn, but it can no longer be successful if Sony no longer offers the required spare part and you shouldn't improvise not the norm for this device series.

Please stop using the device if the "Caution" message appears several times. Unfortunately, there is no gear belt in this device that can prevent pinion teeth from breaking away, so the first thing to do if this is not observed a Gear is irreparably damaged, which unfortunately there is no more than an ORIGINAL PART. (You can get identical gears from me, however)

A general peculiarity of all DTC-55es is that with a 120 minute cassette in fast forward and pressing the STOP button within the first 40 minutes of the displayed ABS time, the right roll of the tape runs a little when the brakes are worn out. If, within the next 3 seconds, both tape reels do not turn again in play mode, the device switches to emergency stop. This would generally not be so bad if this emergency stop did not cause the microprocessor to "forget" the evaluation of the (two) tape top and tape end (transparent lead-in tape). Here you should unload the cassette directly at the relevant point, switch the device off and on again and reload the cassette. The device then recognizes the feed belt again and moves the belt to the right place. You can check this by pressing the return button again at the beginning of a cassette - "TOP" must then be written here. At the end of a tape (without an end mark) there is of course "END". If an "emergency stop error" has already occurred, the device would simply try to continue winding. The only general remedy is to maintain the device (for me). If the brakes are worn, this behavior only affects the fast-forward mode. This problem will of course not occur with gummy, unmaintained devices that generally only wind very slowly, but with such devices you will not even reach the full rewinding speed and when rewinding you will usually not reach the beginning of the cassette tape. Drive maintenance / repair can be done at MCS-MIK.

You can already see from the list: This drive from Sony is widespread, this is a real blessing for the supply of spare parts - should you hopefully be forced to use used parts in the distant future ... (Please do not drop an oil can into the device, it does NOT work better after this, and only causes additional costs !!!) Please also not if you intend to sell the device! Please also do not SHORTEN any springs under the belt disks or directly on the winding mandrels !!! This causes other problems in the long run, which are then even worse and the shortened springs can unfortunately no longer be used! Unfortunately, this "remedy" has been circulated in a forum and is absolutely not necessary or useful. Unfortunately, as of October 25, 2011, the spring of the reversing lever is no longer available. PLEASE DO NOT TRIM THE SPRINGS - I don't do this either and my devices will work too. Also to all hobbyists: Replacing the head drum results in a new adjustment of the track setting and the DPG value, which can ONLY be set with a special test cassette !!!!

As of November 1st, 2011, the procurement of new parts is already somewhat limited, but still much better compared to other manufacturers.

Many people on the Internet tear their mouths at how bad it is supposed to be - of course, it is a much cheaper version compared to the previously used drive from e.g. the DTC-55es - but it is also faster and maintenance-related for Sony and service workshops easier to adjust. And above all cheaper for Sony. But it's not bad if everything is properly adjusted ... cracked cast-in plastic guides for the guide levers are not nice after such a long time, and it would have been praiseworthy to have the basic guides made of metal, but it's really not the end of the world, man you just have to know what to do with it - you can then also permanently solve these problems. How could Sony have guessed that there are still fans after so many years and now decades ...

The three-motor drive is a completely new design based on the 3-DD drive of the DTC-55, no more direct drive motor for the winding plates, no more rotating gears, no more rotary encoder, no more 5 adjustable pulleys - this drive only had at the beginning 2 and then three adjustable guide rollers. The basic variant of this type of drive is up to its last form in the DTC-Ze700 has been adapted several times through minor changes to individual parts. That doesn't have to mean that a first generation of this type is generally bad - it just means that Sony had problems adjusting the tape drive with some drives, so too many (for Sony at least) drives had to be reworked or scrapped. Here a lot of work had to be done with plates under a guide role (from Rev. 2) or the head drum and capstan, this costs time and money. Here the savings took revenge. Due to the subsequent changes to the drive through the adjustable screw guide in front of the capstan and the changed base frame of the pressure roller mount, the "waste" for Sony was then significantly minimized. This drive has two DD motors (head drum and capstan drive) and three normal motors: One motor for the cassette tray, one motor for the drive functions of the guide lever and the pressure roller, - and the winding motor, which can operate both reels. (as well as the DD capstan motor and the DD head drum motor). Strangely, this drive is called a three-motor drive, but as Sony calculates, I don't know because - if you add up the capstan and head drum motor as well as gear and winding motor, there are already 4 motors on the slip of paper - the cassette eject motor would also be there, so in total 5 engines. In terms of marketing, it was probably important not to have as many motors in the larger devices as in the smaller class, since the 4-DD motor drives were defined beforehand and the use of 4-motor drives (with 2DD drives) was to be avoided as far as possible. ..

The changes in detail:

  1. The fixed roller guide in front of the capstan was replaced by a "metal wheel guide" - adjustable with a plate
  2. The pressure roller lever was replaced by a double-sided rotating pressure roller lever
  3. The winding motor with gear was changed
  4. electr. Changes to the tape tension setting, running and winding behavior (DTC57 / DTC670)
  5. The right coil of the ribbon received several changed feathers
  6. electr. Changes to the running and winding behavior
  7. The brake specifications were changed by Sony (can only be set with a test cassette !!)
  8. The dissolving foam roller was replaced with a plastic scraper
  9. The DTC-ZE700 and partly also the DTC-790 do not have a slip clutch
  10. Drumboard no longer compatible with old LW generations on the DTC ZE700 and DTC790, but with these devices an error rate query is possible

Due to change no.1 in connection with change no.2, the capstan no longer had to be corrected in the vertical direction by a plate under the capstan screw connection, as was the case with many devices of the first generation, because the pressure roller lever was now more torsion-resistant.

After that came the variant with a really third setting option through an adjustable screw guide in front of the capstan, this was then also the last version, after which the slip clutch of the two tape wraps was later omitted (in connection with electrical changes to the drum board)

But still: There are many devices of the first generation that run better from the belt than an improperly set device of the third generation, whereby a device of the first generation can only be supplemented with the pressure lever and the metal guide in a complex and unfortunately uneconomically expensive way. if there are problems here. A replacement drive is definitely more useful here. However, if a device has never creased the tape and suddenly creases, the problem may be a worn pressure roller. Stopping the right reel of tape is usually a worn motor. Some hobbyists avoid the cost of a new motor by interchanging the gear motor with the tape winding motor. I don't think so. Stay away if you plan to replace the motor yourself, if you can no longer see well, or if you don't have a "watchmaker" screwdriver. You should also have a tape cassette. In general, an electrical change must still be made in some devices in order to be able to set the new motor properly. With the 57es, the quickest way to see an electrical change is on a potentiometer on the upright board, with the 670, a potentiometer in the front area must also be immediately recognizable. Unfortunately, simply replacing the motor does not necessarily ensure that the device works properly again after such a long time without maintenance. CAUTION: NEVER OPEN ELECTRICAL DEVICES UNLESS YOU HAVE THE APPROPRIATE QUALIFICATION

  • 09/01/10 Winding motor X33631101
  • 07.09.10 Gear motor X33631091
  • 09.11.10 Deflection lever X33645811 (it is not absolutely necessary to replace this part with a newer revision, no aging-related failures of this part, only detail improvement)
  • 21.10.11 intermediate felt 3119800 (only for DTC-57es, first generation)
  • 25.10.11 Gear (A) 334518101 (all 4-DD Drives)
  • 25.10.11 Spring for reversing lever 336843701 (all 3-motor drives, please NEVER shorten this spring, this spring is no longer available through the spare parts distribution, this spring is still available from MCS-MIK)

The best and last version of the 4-DD DAT drive. Adopted from the expensive version of the DTC-55 and DTC-300 as well as the DTC-1000 and completely improved and revised. Here everything that was good came together again. The winding plates are now driven again after the DTC-55es DIRECT and the breaking gear of the rotary encoder on the DTC-1000es and DTC-55es no longer exists. With its really 5 adjustable tape guides, the buttery-smooth electronic winding operation, this drive is in my opinion the best drive that there is. Only the loud clicking of a magnet disturbs the perfect picture of this drive, but this is due to the design.You can also generally hear the ball bearings under the coils very, very quietly in play mode. There is no problem that cannot be solved with this drive. Since this drive is also included in the studio versions, the supply of spare parts is still very good here too. This drive is also available with 4 head drums (instead of the 2 head drum) with which a rear belt control is possible. These 4-head drums are built into the DTC-77es, for example, which means that an exchange head is of course more difficult to obtain or, as a new part, significantly more expensive than the 2-head drum (01/2018: new consumer 4-head drums are no longer available from Sony). This should be taken into account when purchasing.

Please also consider that there may be a reason why you have not used your DAT recorder for a long time. Even after a repair, the last tapes you created could still contain an incorrect recording. With devices that were more than 10 years old, this is very likely to happen if maintenance was not carried out in good time. These tapes will not work even with a serviced device, as there is likely to be an INCORRECT recording on the TAPE if new recordings have been made with the device if the device is over 15 years old.


In general, NO drive is MAINTENANCE-FREE, depending on the place of installation (smoking household, solar radiation) the pressure roller can age prematurely, i.e. crack or become too smooth. With cracked pressure rollers you can hear recurring tones and a "tremor" in the sound image, with a pressure roller that has become too smooth, it then looks as if someone has stuck sticky tape around in the middle, it is too fast in play mode and the tape slips straight through or is not transported at all if the setting is incorrect. The plastic tape guides of the 3-motor drives also tend to tear, but everything can be done. If the first cleaning rollers are still installed, URGENTLY remove them or have them replaced, if they still exist. (No longer available from Sony since September 2010, own production by me!) The head drums hold like a car engine, I already have head drums that only lasted 2300 hours, but one of my devices has also been down over 4300 hours and works flawlessly. I also bought a device with an unbelievable 8800 hours, which actually still achieved good error rates in play mode and still good error rates when recording. (<20) But I gave the device a new drum and sent the old drum into "retirement" . Unfortunately, it is also crucial whether you have a vice (smoking household), as nicotine smoke settles everywhere and means premature wear and tear. The tape brand, i.e. the manufacturer, is unfortunately also a decisive factor, but you probably know that from your analogue tape decks, that certain brands make your head dirty more quickly than others ... but here, too, five people have six opinions. The worst experience with a well-known cassette tape manufacturer and their 20-year-old DAT cassettes is the sticking of the tape material in the cassette housing, so that the reel no longer rotated and even the tape tore after a clear attempt to twist it.

So far, however, this has only happened several times with one branded tape manufacturer. I personally use Sony tapes, but I can also recommend Maxell.