Admittedly, there weren't a lot of new DAT recorders introduced this year, but Tascam's DA-45HR would have been a winner in any year. The Tascam engineers went beyond the call of duty when they designed this DAT machine. Not only does it record at 24 bits, it is also fully backward compatible and can record and play 16-bit tapes, including those made on machines from other manufacturers. The DA-45HR has a 24-bit A/D converter and a 20-bit D/A, and it supports 44.1 and 48 kHz sampling rates.
We've been testing the DA-45HR for months, both in the studio and in the field, and it has performed admirably throughout this time. Recordings made with the DA-45HR in 16-bit mode sound better than those made with standard 16-bit devices, presumably because of the 24-bit A/D converters. The 24-bit recordings were, as you would expect, far superior to the 16-bit tracks: the dynamic range was greater, the transients were quicker, more low-level detail was apparent, and the frequencies were evenly blended across the spectrum. It made us wonder how we could continue listening to mere "CD quality" audio!
In HR mode, the DA-45HR records at double the normal speed to get a 24-bit word length on tape. Although you get half as much time from a DAT tape in HR mode, the results are worth it. One nice feature is that the unit automatically recognizes when a tape has been recorded in HR mode, so you never have to set the word length during playback. And the DA-45HR allows you to title each program ID with up to 60 characters, which is handy for cataloging your mixes. Best of all, the DA-45HR is as easy to use as any other DAT machine, but leaves room for growth and exploration. Whether you need a recorder for live recordings or mastering duties in the studio, the DA-45HR is the new benchmark in DAT technology.