Sweet Notes Animation Q & A

Q: I keep hearing about "packing" my tape that I use with my ADAT. What is "packing" a tape?

A: Packing a tape is a process that you should do with all new tapes that you plan to use with any digital multitrack (Super VHS or 8mm format) or any DAT machine, as well.

First you find a suitcase... just kidding! Seriously, it is a very simple procedure: When you get new tape from Sweetwater, before you format the tape you should put it in the tape machine and fast forward the tape all the way to the end and then rewind the tape back to the beginning. You then fast forward to the end again and rewind back to the beginning. Do this before you format the tape! You have now packed the tape.

Why do you need to pack a tape you ask? There are a few reasons. First, packing a tape will equal out the tension on the tape. Your tape machine will like this! Second, this "exercising" will allow any initial stretching of the tape to occur before data is recorded on it. Third, packing will rid the tape of any loose particles of oxidation. These loose particles of oxidation, if not shed initially, can quickly dirty up your tape head and give you data errors!

A couple of other quick MDM tape pointers (all these rules apply to DATs as well): 1) It is unwise to record on the first two or three minutes of tape. You can if you absolutely have to but because this part of the tape is very tightly wound on the spool it is the least reliable. 2) Never leave your tape in the machine for extended periods of time and never turn off the machine with a tape in it. 3) It is usually a good idea to stay with the same brand and type of tape for the life of the machine. Tapes erode tiny "groves" into the guides and head of these machines and once they are cut, a different type of tape may not fall into these groves correctly for reliable performance. 4) Dry cleaning tapes, while being able to "scrape" the dirt off of heads and guides, are fairly abrasive and are no substitute for a real head cleaning. Use dry cleaning tapes sparingly but clean your heads (use a professional technician if necessary) regularly.

Q: Why should I buy my memory for my K2000 from Sweetwater when I can get it a little cheaper at a computer store?

A: This might seem to be a very simple question, but the answer is a bit more complicated. Essentially, it is because we have done all the necessary research and our memory is guaranteed to work in your K2000 or any other hardware you may have, like SampleCell, E-mu or Roland samplers, etc.

You should understand that all memory chips are not created equal. The types of boards they are on, as well as any number of the components mounted on the board can be very different. These subtle differences, while not often having a profound effect on their performance in computers, can sometimes be the difference between working well or not working at all in some instruments, most of which are not designed with the tolerances that computers must have and require very specific types of chips. In some cases, the chips required are literally "one of a kind."

Our sales staff will ask you exactly what you are planning to use the memory in when you buy, so you are guaranteed to get the right chips. How many computer store salespeople know what a K2000 or a SampleCell is? If you buy memory from a computer store, they most likely will not guarantee that the memory is going to work and may not allow you to return the memory if it does not function correctly.

At Sweetwater, we are always working to find the optimal types of chips for each instrument to ensure totally trouble free operation. All the memory Sweetwater stocks is specifically designed to be used in the K2000, for example (or SampleCell, or E-mu samplers, etc.). They are designed to require a low current draw. Have you ever looked at the power supply in your computer? It's HUGE and is capable of supplying anywhere from 250-400 watts of power. The K2000, on the other hand, has a much smaller power supply and supplies about 150 watts of power. You could burn out the power supply in your K2000 if the memory draws too much current. Of course, it is far more likely that it just will not work correctly. Crashes and corrupt samples are sometimes caused just by having the wrong memory chips installed. With RAM prices coming down (finally!), does it make sense to go through the hassle of having to return chips that won't work properly in your instruments just to save a few dollars?