Zoë Blade's notebook


ADAT tech specs

  • Released: 1992
  • Company: Alesis
  • Type: Multitrack recorder
  • Sample rates: 48 kHz (40.4 kHz — 50.8 kHz)
  • Sample resolution: 16-bit
  • Tracks: 8
  • Audio in: 8 balanced + 1 ADAT lightpipe
  • Audio out: 8 balanced + 1 ADAT lightpipe
  • Size: 3U

The ADAT multitrack recorder was released by Alesis in 1992. It was essentially a VCR — an actual S-VHS videotape recorder — that could record and play back 8 tracks of 16-bit, 48 kHz audio. Its main rival was the Tascam DA-88, released a year later, which used Hi-8 videotapes to do the exact same thing.

Despite its name, ADAT has nothing to do with Sony's DAT format, besides both using magnetic tapes to digitally store audio.

Up to 16 ADAT machines can be linked together, providing a total of 128 tracks.

It was made obsolete by DAWs, but for those who prefer an older style setup without modern computers, it was perhaps more satisfyingly superseded by Alesis's own ADAT HD24, which sported a plentiful 24 tracks of 24-bit, 48 kHz audio. Up to 5 HD24 machines could be linked together, providing a total of 120 tracks.

Even though ADAT recorders themselves are no longer used, the "lightpipe" fibreoptic cable used to send eight tracks of digital audio became a de facto standard used in many other machines by different companies.


The ADAT's great, but to be honest it makes little difference to me whether the music's coming back off the ADAT or straight from all this lot. It seems really transparent. The only multitracking we do is for analogue synths, that's what I wanted it for — so that you can sit there, have the whole mix running live, and have up to seven analogue synth parts that you've taken particular care to modulate and change throughout the whole track. Whereas you just can't do that if you're trying to do a live mix at the same time, flicking delays on, and panning and so on.

— Paul Hartnoll, Orbital, 1993[1]

...at one point Steve was trying to dub something from one track to another track on the ADAT, something happened digitally, and he got this scratchy feedback. He thought, "Oh, this sounds cool," so he sampled it and managed to tune it into the song, and that almost became a hook. In fact, we're very into things that aren't necessarily musical but can still become hooks.

— Butch Vig, Garbage, 1997[2]

Notable users

Technical notes

You may wonder, if the PCM-F1 can record two 16-bit channels to consumer-grade videotape, how is ADAT able to record roughly four times as much data to such a similar format?

Bear in mind that the PCM-F1 had to work with existing videotape recorders. ADAT requires no such compatibility, as it includes its own built-in videotape recorder.

ADAT simply records to S-VHS tape at over four times its intended speed. However many minutes of video a given tape is able to record, it can record eight channels of digital audio for less than a quarter of that time. The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long.


  1. "The Magic Circle" Phil Ward, Music Technology, Jun 1993, pp. 56—60
  2. "Butch Vig: Nevermind the Garbage" Richard Buskin, Sound On Sound, Mar 1997
  3. "Apollo Four Forty: Ad Astra" Sam Molineaux, Sound On Sound, Nov 1999
  4. "Future Talk" Simon Trask, Music Technology, Jan 1994, pp. 16—18
  5. "Fluke: '80s Dance & Modern Remixes" Nigel Humberstone, Sound On Sound, Oct 1994
  6. Everything Is Wrong Moby, 1995
  7. "Recording Moby's 'Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?'" Tom Flint, Sound On Sound, Feb 2000
  8. "Behind the Classics: 'You Oughta Know' Alanis Morissette" Chris Neal, Music & Musicians, Mar 2011
  9. "Breaking Down Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill With Engineer/Mixer Chris Fogel" Produce Like a Pro, Jun 2020
  10. "Music of Spheres" Nigel Humberstone, Sound On Sound, Apr 1994
  11. "Second Course" Future Music, Oct 1993
  12. "Rack & Roll" Phil Ward, Music Technology, Dec 1993, pp. 20—22



Alesis: ADAT | ADAT HD24 | MicroVerb III | MicroVerb III guide | QuadraVerb

Multitrack recorders: ADAT | ADAT HD24 | DA-88