Digital Audio Tape (DAT) FAQ

Silicon Graphics (SGI) decided that being able to read and write Digital Audio Tapes (DAT) is a neat idea, so they worked out a deal with Archive to have a special version of the 4320 DAT drive manufactured that would do this. Since then, there have been a number of newer drives released with the same capability, including the most recent from Sony.

Not all DAT drives support reading and writing audio

As far as we know the only companies that have ever released audio capable DAT drives are Archive/Conner/Seagate and Sony. Also these companies have released a lot of different drives that cannot read/write audio.

How to tell if your drive can read/write audio?

So far the list of drive/firmware combinations that apparently work are:
labeled Archive 4320NT:
ARCHIVE Python 25601-XXX2.63 (we've tested one)
ARCHIVE Python 25601-XXX2.75 (we've tested one)

labeled Archive 4330:
ARCHIVE Python 25601-XXX2.63 (we've tested one)

labeled Conner/Seagate CTD-8000/4326NT:
ARCHIVE Python 01931-XXX5AC (we've tested one)
ARCHIVE Python 01931-XXX5.56 (haven't actually had one in hand)
ARCHIVE Python 01931-XXX5.63 (haven't actually had one in hand)

labeled Conner 4530:
ARCHIVE Python 25501-XXX (haven't actually had one in hand)

labeled Sony SDT-9000:
SONY SDT-9000 1.11 (haven't actually had one in hand)
SONY SDT-9000 1.13 (we've tested one)
(SGI sells the Sony drives under the part numbers: P9-DAT12-INT (internal) and P9-DAT7-EXT (external) )

If your drive isn't one of the list above then it may be possible that you just need to get updated firmware. Here's the list of drive models (and links to Seagate's info) that are likely to work if you can find the firmware. (links from

Archive Python: 4320NT | 4320RT

Archive Peregrine: 4326NP | 4326RP

Conner/Seagate Peregrine: CTD8000E-S | CTD8000H-S | CTD8000R-S

Here's the list of drive models (and links to Seagate's info) that are unlikely to work since we've never heard of any firmware for them. Also, we have heard from quite a number of people that have managed to get some audio firmware loaded onto other Peregrine models, but not a single one of them has been able to get the audio mode to work. We don't know what is different about the 4326 Peregrine, but there is something that makes the audio work, and whatever it is, it is something hardware and not present in the other drives. (links from

Archive Peregrine: 4320NT | 4320RT | 4322NP | 4322NP-M | 4322NT | 4324NP | 4324RP | 4330XT | 4331XT | 4350XT | 4352XP | 4354XP | 4356XP

Archive Python: 4324NP | 4324RP | 4326NP | 4326RP | 4350XT | 4354XP | 4356XP

Conner/Seagate Peregrine: CTD2004E-S | CTD2004H-S | CTD2004R-S | CTD4004E-S | CTD4004H-SC | CTD4004R-S

You will notice that there are quite a number of different 4320 and 4326 drive model numbers, yet only only a couple of them are potentially audio capable. You cannot upgrade a 4320 Peregrine or a 4326 Piranha/Python.

How to tell the drives apart

Over the years, Archive/Conner/Seagate and Sony have had a large number of part numbers for a small number of drives. The following is a table that hopefully will help you figure out which drive you have.
DDS Type Capacity Speed Firmware Type Firmware Version
Python 4320 DDS 2.0G 183KB Nonflashable EEPROM 2.xx
Peregrine 4320 DDS 2.0G 400KB Flashable EEPROM 5.xx
Piranha /Python 4326 DDS-2 4.0G/8.0G 400KB/800KB Flashable EEPROM 4.xx
Peregrine 4326/8000 DDS-2 4.0G/8.0G 400KB/800KB Flashable EEPROM 5.xx
Sony SDT9000 DDS-3 12G/24G 1.2MB/2.4MB Flashable EEPROM 1.1x
Also the Seagate part numbers have suffixes. All they do is to tell you if the drive is 3 1/2" or 5 1/4".
4320 - NT - 3 1/2", RT - 5 1/4"
4326 - NP - 3 1/2", RP - 5 1/4"
8000 - HS - 3 1/2", RS - 5 1/4", ES - external

Seagate also has a web page called "Interpreting Seagate Tape Drive Model Numbers" (now only available from

Getting the Firmware from Seagate

The old option was to try to buy the firmware directly from Seagate, however we have not heard from anyone who was able to purchase it in the last several years. You can try if you want. This is not an easy task, especially when both SGI and Seagate claim that the other is the problem. "CONNER/SEAGATE PART # 25601-006 : Audio Firmware PROM 2.75-15"

Quotes from Seagate support:
"Seagate distribution DAT drives do not support audio. The drive is physically capable of supporting audio, but the standard distribution firmware does not contain the code required to support audio. Certain third party companies have the firmware modified to include audio support. The firmware is the property of the third party company and is not available for distribution by Seagate."

"In response to your e-mail concerning available DAT drives from Seagate that have the ability to read audio DAT tapes, none of Seagate's current line of Scorpion 4mm DAT tape drives have that ability. In the past, any ability to read audio tapes was specifically designed for a single OEM manufacturer such as Sun Microsystems. Seagate or Conner has never marketed a DAT drive with that feature."

"we no longer support the drive after it has had it's firmware updated"

"we no longer supply the tape to do the firmware update"

"if you have the firmware, you can upgrade the drive, but you can't reverse engineer either the drive or the firmware"

"Seagate does not have audio firmware for DAT drives. Drives are supported as backup devices only."

Quote from SGI about Archive/Conner/Seagate:
"It is a special, but they are free to sell it to anyone they want. They just haven't marketed it."

Quote from a vendor:
"Sony may want to tell you that they cannot give you the audio firmware because SGI has got the rights on that firmware: This is not true...they (SGI) don't hold any rights on the firmware, so Sony is as free (as Seagate always was) to give/sell this firmware to anybody."

Getting the Firmware from Sony

Sony has been very good in helping us get our software running on their drives. During these discussions they made it very clear that they have not, do not and will not release the firmware so that people can upgrade their regular SDT9000 drive. They have made the business decision not to lose control over their firmware.

Sony was also very good at telling us about technical details of the drives that do support audio. One thing that was discussed was the question of other drives that might be able to support audio. The answer came back that the audio firmware was written specifically for the SDT9000 drive, and that the hardware differences between that drive and drives like the SDT5000 or SDT7000 are way too much for any of the new audio firmware code to be ported without a lot of effort.

Firmware on the web

It was bound to happen some time, some kind souls have put the firmware for the Archive Python 4320 and Peregrine 8000/4326 drives on the web. This means that a lot of people who have regular Archive/Conner/Seagate DAT drives can upgrade them to support reading audio! As best we can tell the firmware is for the newer release (2.xx firmware, 2PCB) version of the Archive 4320 drive. It does not appear there is the firmware for the older (2.xx firmware, 3PCB) version of the 4320 drive. The other firmware should allow you to upgrade the 4326/8000 drive.

First, here's the site known as "The Holy Grail of DAT firmware". If you can't get your Archive/Conner/Seagate drive working using this site you are out of luck.

Second, here's another site with some more of the files in their original form.
Here is the link to the other web site that used to have the firmware available.
It appears that there is an issue with direct linking to the file on the site, but it if it works for you, try the direct path.
or try getting the file via
(NOTE: it appears that went out of business at the end of May 2001. Unless this page gets moved some place else, we can assume these links are permanently dead)

There was a firmware that was briefly posted on, but it is really Dell firmware and not SGI. This means that it will not support reading audio. You need to be absolutely sure which firmware you are flashing. It appears that once the Seagate drive has been flashed with firmware from an OEM, it cannot be flashed again.

How to tell if the Firmware will work

There appears to be a way to tell if the firmware you've found is really audio firmware or not. If you look at the binary contents of the file you will be able to find some text strings that give some clues. In the two firmware files found on the web, they both contained the string "SGI". Below are the strings we found in the files.
V275-15.HEX "Archive Corp.Python2.75 ARDAT PYTHON - TRUE Computer Grade DAT SGI 2.75"
V5AC-15.HEX or V5ACB-15.HEX "Conner - Peregrine Drive SGI 5AC"

In the firmware files that we know don't work, the string "Standard" or "DELL" is found where you would expect to find "SGI". From what we have found there are at least 4 different firmware files called 5AC, and only one of them is audio. The other three will NOT work:
V5ACB-0.HEX "Conner - Peregrine Drive Standard 5ACB"
V5ACA-52.HEX "Conner - Peregrine Drive DELL"
V5AM-452.HEX "Conner - Peregrine Drive DELL 5.AM"

Where to buy a drive

You can always buy one directly from SGI, but for most people it is much too expensive.

There have been a number of used Seagate drives showing up on eBay selling for very little. With the firmware easily available, this might be the best option these days.

We were working on ways to get bulk purchases of either the Seagate or the Sony audio capable drives. Unfortunately when we did have a deal lined up, so few people actually wanted the drives we couldn't get enough together to meet the minimum numbers. We have heard from a number of people that there are now a few places that are now, or have recently sold audio capable DAT drives. We don't have any connection with these companies, so we cannot guarantee that any of the drives they sell will work.

We've had a whole bunch of customers report to us that they were able to buy and use a drive that came from Mashek. Mashek tells us that the drives are guaranteed to be Audio Capable and work with DAT2WAV.

Mashek Consulting Corp.
16329 Kenyon St. NE
Ham Lake, MN 55304
Phone: (612)434-4998
Fax: (612)434-5512
dds2 drives with audio firmware reporting ARCHIVE Python 01931-XXX5.63

Used $200 incl. shipping, New $300 incl. shipping

We have been told by Compuplus that they sell the SDT9000 drive with audio firmware:
External SCSI 2 - CP2900ES $615
External SCSI 3 - CP02900ES $625

Updating your 4320 drive

So now you have yourself a 4320 Python drive with 2.xx firmware, and you have downloaded the 2.75 firmware from the web. What do you do next? You will have to burn the data into a new EPROM and then replace the chip in the drive. You are going to have to find a friend who has an EPROM programmer to do this for you. We don't have one, nor do we know anyone anymore that has one.

If you are trying to burn version 2.63 firmware then you need need 64Kx16 Flash 44plcc 150ns 5vcc

Here are a number of part numbers of chips that should work:
Intel 27C210-200V10
Mitsubishi M5M 27C102J
AMD AM27C1024-200JC
ATMEL AT29C1024-15JC

If you are trying to burn version 2.75 firmware then you need 28Kx16 Flash 44plcc 150ns 5vcc

Here are a number of part numbers of chips that should work:
AMD AM27C2048-150JC
ATMEL AT29C2048-15JC

Once you have burned a chip you will need to open the drive and change the chip. This is done entirely at your own risk. Whatever warranty you have on the drive will be gone by the time you are done.

2 PCB Python 3 PCB Python
Drive with cover
2 pcb drive without cover 3 pcb drive without cover
Main 2 PCBs removed 2 pcbs removed 3 pcb removed
Socketed firmware 2 pcb socketed firmware 3 pcb socketed firmware

Other links:

Ade Rixon - quite a lot of DAT info and links

DAT Studio - a UK based company selling a drive and software solution for the MAC
Here's the original web site that seems to be gone since Aug 2001?
Here's a mirror old the old site from

DATlib - a library of source code for Solaris/Linux to do reading and writing of DAT
Here's the original FTP site that seems to be gone forever?
Here's a mirror of the main file:

DAT Goodies - a library of source code from SGI

Dave Olson's old SGI web site (this site is gone forever, but thanks to, you can at least view the old info from it)
Roo's Software - an Australian based company with a MAC tool

Read DAT - an Australian LINUX tool

DAT World

Eddie's VDAT Win9x/NT/2k read/write software home

Joseph Gray's DAT audio read/write project page and DAT links

DAT Audio on DDS Drives

A list of error codes returned by the Sony Drive

Other DAT info:

LED flash codes for Seagate DAT drives
LED State Drive status
yellow ON (lit) the drive is reading or writing normally
yellow flashing rapidly A hardware fault occurred
green ON (lit) A cartridge has been inserted and is operating normally
green flashing slowly A cartridge has been inserted but is generating excessive errors beyond a predefined error threshold (warning only)
green flashing rapidly The drive could not write the tape correctly (a write error has occurred)
green and yellow both flashing slowly A prerecorded audio cartridge has been inserted and is being played automatically
green power LED (external drives) ON (lit) The external drive is powered on

Seagate DAT tape installation manual (snapshot from

IRIS Digital Media Programming Guide
PART TWO Digital Audio and MIDI Programming Chapter 9, "Programming with the DAT Audio Library," describes the DAT Audio Library and explains how to use it to control the DAT drive for playing, sampling, and recording audio from digital audio tape.

Media Recognition System (snapshot from

SGI IRIX release notes (see section 7 for DAT)
IRIX 6.5.13 product release notes

DAT sense code list
DAT sense codes

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