Four short years ago, Alesis revolutionized the concept of the home recording studio by introducing its 8-Track Digital Multitrack Recorder, the ADAT. That introduction changed the way musicians thought about recording music, and its influence was felt way beyond the home and project studio owner - pro studios began adding this phenomenal machine to their existing collection of analog recorders. And now, in 1995, there are better than 70,000 ADATs in use in studios around the world.

Of course, Alesis kept upgrading the original ADAT design by improving the operating software, as well as releasing their Big Remote Control (BRC). But many wondered, now that the digital multitrack wars have really heated up, what was the company going to do to top the introduction of the original ADAT.

At the recent AES Show held in New York City this past October, Alesis presented the world with its newest generation multitrack, the ADAT XT. Carrying a suggested list price of just $3499, the XT offers a number of major improvements. The most noticeable at first glance is the XT's professional-looking, custom-designed, brushed aluminum chassis - a significant cosmetic advance over the original machine.

But since beauty is, as they say, only skin deep, the engineering team at Alesis decided to add something ADAT owners had long hoped for: The XT's transport mechanism is now significantly faster than its predecessor. Its advanced transport software continuously monitors autolocation performance, and the head constantly reads ADAT's built-in sample-accurate time code, even in fast wind mode. The result is faster search and lock times so your creativity doesn't get put on hold while you wait for your tape to rewind or fast-forward. Yet despite the speed increases, ADAT XT's intelligent transport handles your tapes with care via new Dynamic Braking software controls.

Also new are the XT's advanced editing features which can be accessed directly from the front panel, so you can make flawless copy/paste edits between machines or even within a single unit. The new Track Copy feature allows you to make a digital clone of any track (or group of tracks) and copy it to any other track (or tracks) on the same recorder. This feature lets you assemble composite tracks for digital editing: Record six "takes" of a guitar solo on separate tracks, then choose the best sections from each track and use Track Copy to digitally build a single new track from the selected sections. There's also an on-board 10 point autolocator system with auto-play, auto return and auto-record subsystems. Auto record is so accurate that it lets you automate punch-ins/punch-outs that are accurate to 1/1000th of a second - a heck of a lot faster than you or I could do it manually. A Rehearse mode lets you enter and exit record modes without actually laying down tracks to tape.

Even the XT's display has been improved. The new unit ships with a beautiful vacuum fluorescent display that lets you monitor your record/playback levels (with three modes of peak display), set selectable absolute and relative tape counter time, and view complete status information on the unit's many sophisticated functions.

Of course, Alesis didn't forget all of the musicians and engineers that already own an ADAT, so they thoughtfully included both the ADAT Multichannel Optical Digital Interface, as well as the ADAT Synchronization Interface, which means you can easily link the ADAT XT up to any existing ADATs, as well as the Fostex RD-8 and any other ADAT-compatible units that might be released.

How about specs? Well, the original ADAT was pretty awesome, but believe it or not, the XT is able to improve upon those features with user-selectable 44.1 and 48 kHz sampling rates, an 18-bit digital-to-analog converter (per channel), a 20-bit analog-to-digital converter (per channel), plus a +4dBu ELCO I/O, as well as unbalanced -10dBV I/Os via RCA connectors.

Of course, one of the many other benefits of owning an ADAT is the fact that it records to easy-to-find, inexpensive S-VHS video tapes, a real money-saver. Record your tracks, mix down, then store your finished masters for archival purposes. You can even supercharge your ADAT system by adding a BRC (Big Remote Control) for commanding up to 128 tracks and 460 nameable locate points from a single location, as well as full SMPTE and MIDI sync, plus extensive digital editing power.

Is the ADAT XT the machine for you? Considering the fact that there are now so many excellent digital multitracks available, how do you make a choice between all of them? Easy, just call your Sweetwater sales engineer. He or she will be more than happy to go through all the available machines, compare them to each other, then match one to your particular needs. Chances are good you'll be choosing an ADAT. So pick up the phone and call now for more information, availability and your special pricing on the ADAT XT.