Dakota Quote

“I own 4 WaveCenters and 2 Dakotas! GREAT products. Rock solid. NEVER had a problem with them, year in and year out in Hollywood.”

Didier Rachou (Composer, Sex & the City)

Quick Facts

  • PCI interface card for Mac and PC
  • Compatible with most popular software applications via ASIO
  • GSIF support for GigaSampler and GigaStudio
  • 16 channels ADAT lightpipe in
  • 16 channels ADAT lightpipe out
  • 2-channel S/PDIF on coax or optical cables
  • 2x2 MIDI on standard MIDI cables
  • SMPTE using any compatible digital audio converter and its analog I/O
  • ADAT sync input for sample-accurate, multi-machine sync

Dakota Frequently Asked Questions

  1. I've seen pictures of Dakota, but where are the MIDI and SPDIF connectors?
  2. Can I use a WaveCenter and a Dakota together?
  3. Can I use all of Dakota's digital audio inputs and outputs simultaneously?
  4. Doesn't Dakota really support 18 channels of digital audio, not 16?
  5. What is "bus-mastering, scatter-gather, zero wait state, PCI DMA," and why should I care?
  6. How many channels of digital audio can my computer support with Dakota?
  7. Since it has an ADAT Sync In port, can I do sample-accurate transfers with it and my ADAT MDM?
  8. What is SoDA technology?
  9. Where do I plug in my SMPTE signal to make use of it as a SoDA input?
  10. I have an old 8-track analog tape with SMPTE striped on one track. How does SoDA help me put this on hard disk?
  11. I have another piece of gear with a 2-channel SPDIF optical port (TOSLINK). Can I use it with Dakota?
  12. What CD-ROMs have digital output that I can use with Dakota?
  13. Can I record and playback AES/EBU audio with Dakota?
  14. How do I record digital audio from my CD-ROM drive?
  15. Can I use an IDE (ATAPI) hard drive with Dakota?
  16. Is Dakota compatible with my Mac?

I've seen pictures of Dakota, but where are the MIDI and SPDIF connectors?

Dakota includes two breakout cables that aren't shown in the ads or literature. One connects to a small round 8-pin socket on the Dakota bracket. This molded black cable breaks out to 2 DIN-5 MIDI standard inputs and 2 DIN-5 MIDI standard outputs. The second breakout cable connects to a 15-pin high density socket on the Dakota bracket. On its other end are two RCA jacks, one for SPDIF input and one for SPDIF output, and the 9-pin ADAT Sync In jack.

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Can I use a WaveCenter and a Dakota together?

Dakota can coexist in a computer with another soundcard, including WaveCenter. For best results, multiple audio cards that are used together in a system should be using the same sample-rate clock. This minimizes drift between tracks that will undoubtably occur when different audio channels are being clocked at slightly different rates. With Dakota and WaveCenter, sample- rate lock can be achieved by making one of the boards obtain its clock via a digital audio connection from the other (acting as master). For example, if you set Dakota to 44.1 kHz internal operation, WaveCenter to "Sync:External" and connect a cable from the coaxial S/PDIF out of Dakota to the coaxial S/PDIF in of WaveCenter, the two boards will be locked and no drift will occur. Note that within a Dakota system, this is not an issue -- a common clock is always used for all audio channels. This is also not a problem when expanding a Dakota-based system with the 16-channel Montana expander, since the sample-rate clock is communicated across the ribbon cable that connect the two cards. Many analog soundcards have no mechanism for providing a clock to another card, or for accepting a master clock from an internal source. If you're using such a card with Dakota, we recommend that you avoid using both cards simultaneously, to avoid the drift problems mentioned above.

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Can I use all of Dakota's digital audio inputs and outputs simultaneously?

Absolutely. And you can add the Montana expansion card to Dakota for even more digital audio I/O.

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Doesn't Dakota really support 18 channels of digital audio, not 16?

OK, you win. Yes, a standalone Dakota really has 18 digital audio channels (16 on ADAT optical ports and 2 more on SPDIF ports), both input and output. And with an attached Montana it supports 34 channels in and out (32 on ADAT opticals plus 2 on SPDIF). Sometimes our literature says 16 or 32 channels just to "simplify."

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What is "bus-mastering, scatter-gather, zero wait state, PCI DMA," and why should I care?

That entire nerdy phrase is about efficiency, and Dakota is the best. The less time your CPU spends doing boring audio transfers on the PCI bus, the more time it has to pull tracks off disk, to run DSP plug-ins, and to respond to your commands. We've designed Dakota to be the most efficient soundcard possible so that you can do as much audio work as possible with your computer.

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How many channels of digital audio can my computer support with Dakota?

It depends tremendously on your computer, and especially on its disk subsystem. We have many customers who successfully record and play back more than 32 channels using high-speed CPUs and fast SCSI or Ultra-DMA disks.

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Since it has an ADAT Sync In port, can I do sample-accurate transfers with it and my ADAT MDM?

Currently there are no applications on Windows with a driver interface that supports sample-accuracy. We expect that to change dramatically in 1999, and hope to help lead the way. Stay tuned on that front. In the meantime, you can still use Dakota's ADAT Sync In port and its timecode. Dakota's software driver can take that information and translate it into a form that all current applications understand. The result is *very* tight. (Ask any of our golden-eared customers who use it!) And for phase-critical tracks, like drum kits with multiple microphones, the samples stay perfectly aligned with each other as long as those tracks are transferred to and from digital tape in one pass. Up to 8 tracks can be bounced in or out of the computer that way.

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What is SoDA technology?

SoDA (SMPTE on Digital Audio) is Frontier Design Group's innovative technology that lets you use any Dakota or Montana audio channel for transmitting SMPTE timecode. And once you are done using SMPTE, that channel can once again be used for audio. It's easy, flexible, and extremely powerful.

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Where do I plug in my SMPTE signal to make use of it as a SoDA input?

SoDA lets you select any digital audio channel for SMPTE use, input and output. Any source of audio that gets digitized can become a SMPTE input. That means any analog input on a converter box, such as Tango24 or Zulu, digital mixer, or MDM tape machine that is connected to Dakota can be used for SMPTE. Similarly, any analog output can become SMPTE out. And with a click of a mouse button, the SoDA input and output channels revert to their normal audio use. Of course, if you don't want to lose an audio channel to SMPTE use, you can attach a Sierra to Dakota and get dedicated SMPTE I/O jacks as well as 8 MIDI input and output ports.

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I have an old 8-track analog tape with SMPTE striped on one track. How does SoDA help me put this on hard disk?

Dakota can chase to SMPTE coming in on any digital audio channel, locking its digital sample rate to the timecode on the tape. With an 8-channel converter, such as Tango24 or an ADAT MDM in monitor mode, you can record that tape to hard disk in one record pass. If the original material lasted 01:15:02:16, the result on hard disk will be the same ... not one frame longer or shorter. And it will be recorded without the audio distortion (some would say "mangling") that software-only solutions inject.

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I have another piece of gear with a 2-channel SPDIF optical port (TOSLINK). Can I use it with Dakota?

Of course. The Dakota control panel lets you select the source of the SPDIF input to be the coax input jack, the CD-ROM connector, or any of the optical inputs on Dakota (or Montana, if present). The control panel also lets you route the SPDIF output to any and all of the optical outputs in addition to the coax output jack.

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What CD-ROMs have digital output that I can use with Dakota?

Here is a partial list of CD-ROM drives known to provide digital output connectors:

  1. Goldstar GCD-R580B (8x IDE)
  2. GoldStar CRD-8320B (32x EIDE)
  3. GoldStar CRD-8241B (24x EIDE)
  4. GoldStar GCD-R542B
  5. Hitachi CDR-8130 16x IDE
  6. NEC 462 (8x SCSI)
  7. NEC 501 (4x SCSI)
  8. NEC 502(E) MultiSpin 6Xi
  9. NEC 251 4x4
  10. NEC CDR 4400A
  11. Panasonic (Matsushita) LK-MC686BP 24x ATAPI
  12. Panasonic (Matsushita) LK-MC682BP 32x ATAPI
  13. Pioneer DRA 24x Toshiba XM-5602B (8x IDE)
  14. Toshiba XM-5702B (12x IDE)
  15. Toshiba XM-6002B (16x IDE)
  16. Toshiba XM-6102B (12-24X IDE)
  17. Toshiba SD-M1002 (DVD player)
  18. Toshiba XM-1602 (20x ATAPI EIDE)
  19. Toshiba XM-1702 (24x ATAPI EIDE)
  20. Toshiba XM-6201 (32x SCSI-2)
  21. Toshiba XM-6202 (32x ATAPI EIDE)
  22. Toshiba SD-M1202 DVD/CD-ROM
  23. Mitsumi 24X CD-ROM
  24. Creative Labs 24X MX CD-ROM
  25. Acer 8x IDE model 685A048
  26. Smart and Friendly CD TurboWriter-SCSI Internal [SAF758]
  27. Toshiba SD-M1212 IDE 6x/32x DVD-ROM
  28. Mitsumi 48x IDE CD-ROM
  29. Memorex 40x CD-ROM
  30. Acer CD-640A 40x CD-ROM
  31. TEAC CD540E IDE/ATAPI
  32. Afreey 4006E 6x DVD-ROM
  33. Afreey 4008E 8x DVD-ROM
  34. Afreey 4010E 10x DVD-ROM
  35. Plextor Plexwriter 12/4/32 SCSI CD-RW
  36. Plextor Plexwriter 12/10/32 ATAPI CD-RW

Do you know of a CD-ROM drive that should be added to the list? Please send us e-mail!

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Can I record and playback AES/EBU audio with Dakota?

Yes. The Dakota control panel lets you set the output channel status bits to either Consumer (S/PDIF) or Professional (AES/EBU), and you can connect Dakota's RCA/coax jacks to an inexpensive converter, like the Hosa CDL-313. See the Dakota AES/EBU application note for more details.

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How do I record digital audio from my CD-ROM drive?

Here's the process for recording from CD-ROM to (or through) Dakota:

  1. Verify that your CD-ROM drive has a fully-functional 2-pin digital audio output. Some drives have a 2-pin output, but it's not connected to anything inside the drive! The Dakota FAQ page of our website has a list of CD-ROM drives that have a fully-functional 2-pin digital audio output.
  2. Make sure the ribbon cable (included in the Dakota package) is properly connected from the drive's 2-pin output to Dakota's internal CD-ROM connector.
  3. In the Clock/Device Status tab of the Dakota control panel, set the "S 1:2" device to CD-ROM, *and* set the "Clock Source" to Dig In S/PDIF. (CD-ROM drives are automatically set to Internal sync, so Dakota must be slaved to the CD-ROM drive.)
  4. Load an audio CD into the CD-ROM drive, and begin playback. (Some CD-ROM drives only have active output if an audio CD is spinning and the drive is actually counting playback time.)
  5. If you want to listen to the audio through Dakota's outputs connected to a D/A converter, open the Patchbay tab of the Dakota control panel and route the S/PDIF inputs to the desired (optical or coax) outputs.

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Can I use an IDE (ATAPI) hard drive with Dakota?

Yes. If you hear audible noise during playback and are using an IDE (ATAPI) hard drive, check to make sure that DMA is enabled for that drive. You can check by going to the Device Manager (Start->Settings->Control Panel->System->Device Manager), clicking the "+" next to "Disk Drives", double-clicking on the listing for the hard drive in question, going to the "Settings" tab, and making sure that "DMA" is checked under Options. You'll need to reboot for this change to take effect.

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Is Dakota compatible with my Mac?

Yes, as long as you use Mac OS 8.6 - 9.2, but there's no driver for OS X currently available. Note that the Mac driver for Dakota does support the digital audio and MIDI features of Dakota/Montana/Sierra, but does not support the timecode features (SMPTE, 9-pin, SoDA and so on).

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