Pioneer D-9601 DAT

The D-9601 was Pioneer’s professional Hi-Sampling deck.

It was based on the D-07 consumer model.

The D-9601 features XLR and AES/EBU i/os, Copy ID selector and RS-422 connectors.

The D-9601 also had something which was rarely implemented, except by Casio (DA-1) and many upper-end Pioneer units: TOC or Table of Contents. That nifty feature allowed to write a TOC at the beginning of the tape for trouble-free retrieval of the content recorded.

High Sampling Mode (High Sampling)
This unit is equipped with a High Sampling Mode (abbreviation: HS). The sampling frequency can be selected as 96kHz or 88.2kHz. By operating the signal processing LSI and the capstan and drum motors at 2 times the Standard (SP) Mode, Record and Playback beyond 40kHz can be performed. Since the tape is made to run at double speed, the recording time is reduced to half the normal time; but 1 hour of continuous High Sampling recording is possible with a 120 minute tape.

Built-in HS Digital Interface
In addition to a conventional digital interface, the unit is provided with an HS digital interface that enables digital copying even in HS Mode. Digital editing in HS Mode is possible through digital connection of 2 or more units.

Double-Speed Digital Copy (x 2 COPY) Mode
A Double-Speed (x 2 COPY) Mode is provided which, through digital connection of 2 or more units, enables digital copying at double speed with a tape in Standard (SP) Mode (sampling frequencies: 48kHz and 44.1kHz).
With this function the time needed for digital copying is reduced to half the conventional time, and since it is a digital copy, there is no deterioration in sound quality.

Sampling-down Conversion Function
By switching the DIP switch on the rear panel, output of digital audio data from the AES/EBU output terminal of this unit at the time of HS mode is possible by using a decimation filter to convert the sampling frequency of 96 kHz down to 48 kHz (88.2 kHz to 44.1 kHz). Master tapes recorded in HS mode using this function permit easy digital copying to standard mode tape.

Setting Auto ID Level
When recording in Auto ID Mode, the detection level of the Start ID between songs can be changed over. Any of the following set values can be selected: -40, -50, -60, and -70dB.

Versatile Remote Control Function
An RS-422, which is the industry standard for editing purposes, and an 8-pin parallel remote control terminal are provided as standard equipment. Also, by using a Wireless Remote Control, Search functions such as Up and Character Pack can be recorded.

Subcode Data Function
This function records and erases all types of time information, including the Start ID, which indicates the start of a song, the Skip ID, which is convenient for skipping portions you do not want to listen to, and the End mark, which denotes the song number data and the end of recording. Furthermore, TOC data, which are useful for tape editing and cataloging, can also be recorded, and by using these data, Al (Artificial Intelligence) Search can now be performed.

Character Pack Function
The unit is equipped with a function for recording and playing back (displaying) character data defined in DAT format. This function enables the analog recording of song titles up to 60 characters in length, names of performers, memo writing, and other character data at the start of each song (as Start ID contents), When character data are read during Playback, they are automatically scrolled (from right to left) in the Counter display part, Moreover, since the read data are stored in a microcomputer, they can be re-displayed by a simple button operation.

Start Memory Function
The status of the following settings prior to turning the power OFF will be stored in memory even after the power has been turned OFF: Local/Remote selection. Auto ID ON/OFF selection, and the detection level of the blank portion between songs.

High-Quality Sound Circuit
High-quality sound was made possible by providing a pulse flow 1-bit D/A converter, 1-bit wide-range linear A/D converter, and a clean clock circuit that suppresses directional swing of the clock signal timing axis.

Pioneer D-9601 1
Pioneer D-9601 2

Pioneer D9601 technical

Pioneer D9601

High Sampling Rate DAT Recorder

Reviews : Stereo Recorder

PAUL WHITE ponders the benefits of a DAT recorder with a 40kHz audio bandwidth.

You could be forgiven for thinking that one DAT machine is very much like another, but Pioneer’s D9601 is not only a fully professional machine with balanced XLR analogue connections, both XLR AES/EBU and coaxial IEC958 digital I/Os and RS422 9-pin serial interface; it also has the ability to record at twice the standard sample rate, by running the tape and the internal electronics at double speed. DIP switches are provided on the rear panel to allow the user to customise various interfacing parameters and, like some others in the latest generation of DAT machines, the facility is provided to record up to 50 characters of text along with the start ID subcode data so that track titles, for example, can be displayed during playback.

Another benefit of this particular machine is that if you have access to two of them, there’s a double speed copy mode that lets you clone standard sample rate DATs from one machine to the other in half the usual time, and in a busy studio environment where you regularly need to backup DAT tapes, this could be a very valuable feature. The digital outputs can either pass on the high sample rate signal or down-convert to the standard rate, and a user-selectable copy ID system allows the user to specify whether the tape can be cloned freely, once only or not at all.

USING THE D9601

Because the operational and subcode editing aspects of this machine are similar to those of other professional DAT recorders, I’ll skip over the obvious stuff and get straight on with the listening tests. When working with a new tape, this should first be initialised to create a lead-in section around eight seconds long, which allows the machine to build a table of contents, much as you might find on a CD.

In operation, the D9601 behaves much as a conventional DAT recorder, and as with the Tascam DA20, alpha-numeric data is entered using the infra-red remote control included. Even at the standard sampling rate of 44.1kHz, the sound quality of this machine is impressive, no doubt due in part to the pulse-flow single bit D/A converter and the stable clock circuitry. If there’s a subjective difference when you switch to the 96kHz sample rate, it’s very subtle, especially on routine material. I thought I could detect a tiny difference in the openness of the stereo image, and the overall listening material seemed indefinably more comfortable, but this could simply be a case of the emperor’s new clothes: perhaps I heard a difference because I expected one.

IN SHORT…

You’ve really got to make up your mind why you need a high sample rate DAT recorder before going out of your way to buy one, and one of the best reasons for me is still the practical advantage of being able to make digital clones at twice normal play speed. For routine CD manufacture, I can’t see any advantage in recording at the higher rate, though I’ll be quite happy to listen to any reasons, either technological or philosophical, that anyone would care to raise.

The bottom line is that the D9601 is a reassuringly solid, friendly DAT machine with professional audio and digital interfacing as well as facilities for hardwire remote control and RS422 interfacing. As to the high sample rate capability, I feel that whatever benefits that might convey will not be fully realised until a high sample rate consumer format is released.

THAT INCREASED BANDWIDTH IN FULL…

The most interesting feature is obviously the ability to record at twice the usual sample rate, which equates to 88.2kHz or 96kHz as opposed to 44.1/48kHz. This pushes the audio bandwidth up to around 40kHz instead of the usual 20kHz, and though 20kHz is already above the upper hearing limit for most humans, it is generally accepted that if you cut out everything above 20kHz, there is a subjective difference in the way the sound is perceived.

This could simply be due to the way very high frequencies interact with each other to produce signals in the audible band, but other researchers claim that we perceive very high frequency signals in a way that can’t can’t be explained via conventional wisdom. In the case of digital systems, increasing the audio bandwidth helps avoid the side effects (often related to phase) of the very steep filtering, both analogue and digital, needed to produce a flat frequency response which approaches half the sampling frequency. Whatever the real reason, many of the people who use their ears for a living claim to be able to hear the difference.

At this point, you might reasonably ask why you need double sample rate recording, because ultimately, the results are likely to end up on CD with a standard 44.1kHz sampling rate anyway. If a standard CD is to be the ultimate destination for the recorded material, then I think it’s difficult to find a counter-argument to this. For high-quality vinyl recordings, however, and for material that may still be needed when the next generation of high sample rate CDs comes along, high sample rate recording is a good idea — though arguably only when working with analogue mixers and multitrack tape machines.

pros & cons

PIONEER D9601 £1695

PROS • Professional balanced audio interfacing plus AES/EBU and co-axial digital interfacing. • Good external controllability. • TOC and alpha-numeric facilities. • High sample rate option.

 

CONS • Using the high sample rates obviously halves the available recording time from a tape.

SUMMARY Pioneer build some really nice DAT machines and this one is no exception. This model has an excellent range of facilities, including the ability to record at both standard sample rates and double rate.

 

 

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