digital tape recording system (DTRS)

Tascam DA-88 and Sony PCM800 8mm multitrack audio cassette tapes
rectangular, dark blue plastic cassette

Sony DARS 113MP DTRS cassette tape

introduction to DTRS transfer

The DTRS (Digital Tape Recording System) / DA-88 series of professional multitrack audio recorders were first introduced in 1993 by Tascam. They used Hi8 video tapes to record digital audio in the DTRS format, which allowed up to 108 minutes of recording time on a single tape.

At Greatbear, we carefully restore and digitise all variations of DTRS audio. There were two versions of DTRS: 16-bit and 24-bit. We are equipped to handle transfers from both types of machine.

We offer a range of delivery formats for our audio transfers. We use the International Association of Sound & Audiovisual Archives Guidelines on the Production and Preservation of Digital Audio Objects, delivering 24-bit/96kHz Broadcast WAV files, together with mp3 audio file or audio CD listening versions. We're happy to create any other digital audio files, according to your needs.

We can provide the appropriately-sized usb media for your files, or use media supplied by you, or deliver your files online. Files delivered on hard drive can be for any operating system MacOS, Windows or GNU/Linux and filesystems (HFS+, NTFS or EXT3).

Due to varying tape durations and extent of physical tape degradation it’s not always appropriate to create fixed prices for our services. We’ve found that assessing tapes prior to confirming costs a more accurate and fair method.

We offer free assessments please contact us to discuss your project.

DTRS machines

  • 2 x Tascam DA78HR DTRS 8 track digital multitrack tape
  • 3 x Tascam DA98HR DTRS 8 track digital multitrack tape
  • 3 x Tascam DA88 DTRS 8 track digital multitrack tape
  • We can support multiple machine sessions or 8, 16, 24 or more tracks
  • 16 or 24-bit recordings in standard or High Resolution (HR) mode, 48kHz, 96kHz or 192kHz can all be migrated to files.
  • Direct digital transfers using Tascam’s proprietory TDIF digital interface. No unnecessary DA and AD processing for these ‘born digital’ recordings.

DTRS format variation

text to be written

DTRS cassette shell open, tape width: 8mm (5/16")

Tascam DA-98HR DTRS machine & MOTU Digital Timepiece

DTRS cassette dimensions: 9.5 × 6.25 × 1.5 cm

DTRS risks & vulnerabilities

The Tascam DTRS format is an 8 track digital multitrack audio recording system using 8mm tapes, originally developed for video recording. The helical scan design similar to DAT has the 8mm tape wrapped around a high speed spinning head drum. Any physical problems with the tape will give problems with this format.

Tape based digital formats like these are arguably more at threat even though much newer than older analogue formats. They will also be much harder to restore and recover when degraded. It is highly recommended to transfer these tapes to a file based digital format such as .WAV or Broadcast WAV now.

The machines, while popular have fragile tape transports which can often develop ‘tape chewing’ problems. Never load a valuable, un-transferred master tape into a machine with an unknown history, it’s asking for trouble!

DTRS recording history

The DTRS (Digital Tape Recording System) series of professional multitrack audio recorders were first introduced in 1993 by TASCAM / TEAC. In 1995 the DA-88 won an EMMY award for technical achievement.

In 2012 the DTRS format was officially discontinued. It is still used in a few video post-production and remote recording environments, but music-only recording studios have moved on to hard drive recorders and Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs).