The greatest consumer cassette tape deck ever produced?*

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Cowboy Kim, Feb 3, 2017.

  1. Hymie the Robot

    Hymie the Robot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Nakamichi TD-700 and TD-1200 ruled the car decks. I had the 700 and a BX-300. Excellent combo.
     
  2. HiFi Guy

    HiFi Guy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    Yeah it was $4000 back then.
     
  3. ti-triodes

    ti-triodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    NYC
    Let's not forget the best auto-reverse deck ever made. It was also a great chick magnet!





    [​IMG]
     
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  4. Apesbrain

    Apesbrain Forum Resident

    Location:
    East Coast, USA
    You really need the video:



    The excitement starts at the 3:00 mark.
     
  5. Jimi Floyd

    Jimi Floyd Forum Resident

    Location:
    Italy
    Quite useful for any single-handed sailor :)
     
  6. GuildX700

    GuildX700 Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    I was reminded by one of my friends today about a deck he had and held in high esteem, the 1993 JVC TD-V1050TN, part of JVC's Super Digifine series. Direct drive with die cast transport block, HX PRO, about $700 MSRP back around 1993.

    I remember him making some pretty stunning sounding tapes on that unit.

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. GMav

    GMav Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Salem, Oregon, USA

    With all due respect, your frequency response figures are not on a level playing field. The DRAGON has a frequency response range of 20Hz to 22kHz at +/-3dB. The figures you quoted for the EL-7 are not at +/-3dB. At +/-3dB the frequency response for the EL-7 is 25Hz to 22kHz. Also, the wow and flutter figure for the DRAGON is LESS than 0.04% WTD Peak and LESS than 0.019% WTD RMS. I have owned many cassette decks, including several Nakamichi's and currently own a DRAGON. PHENOMENAL cassette deck
     
  8. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    This is the deck I always think of when I think of Nakamichi. Talk about bad@55!

    The page I cited didn't show levels for the frequency response. I do find it hard to buy the Nak delivers +/- 3dB out to 22kHz though, given the plots someone provided earlier in the thread.
     
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  9. GuildX700

    GuildX700 Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    "The DRAGON has a frequency response range of 20Hz to 22kHz at +/-3dB"

    Oh yeah, at DOWN 20DB! :laughup:

    In the real world it has horrible upper end frequency response, starting to fall off by 500Hz and is down 10DB at 15Kz and can NOT make it to 20Kz at all.

    Pretty poor performance, but that's why some folks love this deck, it sounds warm like a poorly designed tube amp does.
    [​IMG]
     
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  10. GMav

    GMav Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Salem, Oregon, USA
    Guild. The point I was trying to make was that (regardless of "REAL WORLD specs") the figures listed for the EL-7 were incomplete. I believe cassettes outlasted Elcaset for a reason. I don't buy equipment based on "specs". I buy it based on how they sound.
     
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  11. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    Maybe, but that had nothing to do with audio quality - Elcaset stomped the compact cassette well into the '80s. I think size and convenience had a lot more to do with it - cassette was "good enough" for most users, and many audiophiles already had open reel decks and a library of tapes to play on them. They had no real need for Elcaset.

    (Also, the name was, frankly, kinda goofy.)

    Even if Elcaset had survived to 1980, the rise of the Walkman, the proliferation of cassette decks in cars, and the arrival of Dolby C and metal tape almost certainly would have killed it off. Those things pretty much killed off reel to reel...
     
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  12. GMav

    GMav Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Salem, Oregon, USA

    The system is technically sound, but a nearly complete failure in the marketplace, with a very low take-up by a few audiophiles only. Apart from the problem of the bulky cassettes, the performance of compact cassettes had improved dramatically with the use of new materials such as chromium dioxide, Dolby B noise reduction, and better manufacturing quality. For most people, the quality of compact cassettes was adequate, and the benefits of the expensive Elcaset system limited. Audiophiles turned away from Elcaset and towards high-end compact cassette decks from companies like Nakamichi, which began making very high-quality tape decks using the compact audio cassette in late 1973, even three years before the Elcaset was released. The tapes they made could be played on any compact cassette machine. Also, the Elcaset machines were expensive. Elcaset began a fast fade-out in 1978.

    The Elcaset system was abandoned in 1980, when all the remaining systems were sold off in Finland.[

    sunspot42. The above text is taken from a Wikipedia listing for Elcaset. As you can see the format did not "stomp the compact cassette well into the '80's". It began a fast fade-out in 1978 and was abandoned in 1980.
     
  13. Dubmart

    Dubmart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    I have a recollection of an old Hi Fi magazine article, possibly Hi Fi World which claimed Sony shipped all the unsold Elcaset machines and tapes out into the Pacific and dumped them overboard, reading it in black and white I'm not sure my memory is correct, anyone else read that?
     
  14. Yes I added the Nak Dragon to my Revox B77 when I went Mobile. It put the end to my Mobile open reel days.
     
  15. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    It's PERFORMANCE stomped cassette well into the '80s (as well it should, since it had more in common with open reel tape, including the speed it ran at and the tape width). Not its sales. Cassette didn't catch up until the arrival of metal tape and dbx/Dolby C.
     
  16. Too bad DAT never took off. The advent of CDs buried that plan.
     
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  17. Dubmart

    Dubmart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    DAT was killed as a consumer format by the electronics companies not being able to sort out a cheaper and probably more reliable fixed head version and by the record labels lobbying against it, imposing SCMS, almost no software, etc., in my experience mini disc was the option that most people chose instead and replaced their tape decks with, standalone CD recording not really becoming affordable until this century by which time DAT was pretty much on it's death bed, although it did spend more than a decade as the professional choice for artists on a budget.
     
  18. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    I think it wasn't technical so much as political issues that killed DAT. The record labels really shat all over the format, never really releasing pre-recorded material in the format, which was the kiss of death. I know it sounds silly, but a bunch of people never recorded anything in their lives - they only played pre-recorded material, and without that a format was effectively dead in the mass market.

    By the time Sony had bought a label itself, and was finally in a position to challenge the freeze out, it was already too late for the format in the consumer space. Partly that was due to technical issues - they were only able to shrink a gadget with a spinning head so much, due to mechanical and also power-consumption issues. But it was mostly due to continued improvements with the Compact Cassette - innovations like three head decks, auto-bias, HX Pro, and Dolby S all arrived and began declining in price, allowing for some or all of them to be had cheaper than a DAT deck. Armed with that technology, the lowly cassette offered broadly similar performance and the added allure of backward compatibility.

    Then the far more convienent MiniDisc turned up, along with DCC (which also offered backward compatibility), and both also got some label support. That was it for DAT - especially when pros started migrating to hard disc-based recording, stationary head pro digital tape formats and recordable compact discs.
     
  19. Dubmart

    Dubmart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    Although I totally agree that the record companies fought long and hard against DAT and released hardly any titles I don't think it would have taken off much more if they had, prerecorded DAT tapes would have had little audio advantage over CDs to the average person, even at 16/48 and there was no cost advantage and because it was a complicated tape based format it would always have cost more to make than a CD even if sales had reached similar numbers. If you look at Mini Disc it was a pretty big success as a recording format, it worked like a tape deck, but had the advantages that digital offered, it could be shrunk to tiny size for portable machines and the blanks were readily available and very cheap, that's the market DAT could have had if there had been no lobbying and they'd sorted fixed head machines, it would have taken all those Mini Disc sales and more and survived a lot longer. I've used DAT machines for a quarter of a century, I remember a couple of years before that waiting for prices to fall and there were always claims that fixed head machines were just around the corner, I still have two functioning Tascam DATs and inspired by this thread I fired one up last week, but I don't miss the format.

    I also agree about cassette decks improving, for me Dolby S was great, I went out and bought a Sony with it, not because it was better than my DAT machines or 1/4", it wasn't even close, but it was good enough and blank TDK SAs or Maxell XLIIs were around £1 whilst DAT tapes were £6, I think that if Dolby S had come along sooner or been fitted to every deck then cassette would have done better and Mini Disc may have been a failure. Talking of failures DCC was a total disaster, too late and too expensive, even the handful of people I knew who bought them ended up using them as overpriced normal cassette decks.

    For me the reason I switched to CD-R was the cost of blanks, in '96 a pro machine was £3,000 and blanks were around £5 each, two or three years later I bought a Marantz CDR 630 for £700 and blanks were down to £1, machines and blanks kept falling in price, but even that first machine had paid for itself within months and it was also a pretty much universal format, you could burn a disc and anyone could play it, you couldn't do that with DAT or even Mini Disc.

    The late nineties is a crazy period when it comes to recording formats, we still had 1/4" in TV, film and bigger studios, DAT in the same role, cassettes were still everywhere and the machines reached their peak, Mini Disc was effectively a poor person's DAT, I even encountered it in one or two bedroom studios, we had the failed DCC and we had the labels worst nightmare recordable CD going from hugely expensive pro machines to every home computer, because of work there was a period when I actually had 1/4", DAT, CD-R, Mini Disc and cassette all set up and ready to use because I never knew what format things would be delivered in.

    It's amazing to see and hear what £100 hard disk recorder can do nowadays, it really is a different world.
     
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  20. GuildX700

    GuildX700 Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    I oddly had a car with a factory DAT tape deck, a 1989 Mercury Cougar XR7, that was a top of the line car for Mercury/Ford back then, it also oddly had a supercharged V6 with a manual 5 speed, a bit unusual for a luxo barge back then, and it was totally loaded with every option one could think of, which I guess the DAT deck makes some sort of sense in there as the car was a bit "cutting edge" forFord/Mercury in its day.
     
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  21. triple

    triple Forum Resident

    Location:
    Zagreb, Croatia
    No mention of Sansui? A friend had a very nice Sansui deck, which he later replaced with a Nak. The Nak didn't sound any better, but everyone was extremely impressed by it, due to the reputation of the company.
     
  22. GuildX700

    GuildX700 Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Off the top of my head I don't remember any even halfway decent cassette decks coming from Sansui... ever.
     
  23. timind

    timind Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brownsburg, IN USA
    Back in the early 90 Glenn Poor's Audio in Champaign, IL had a Nakamichi sales event where they offered a free cassette check.cleaning promotion. A Nakamichi rep came in to do the service and sell his decks. "Free?" I'm in. It was a bit of a shock how well my Teac V800X deck measured. The rep actually told me there was no real reason for me to upgrade.
    [​IMG]

    I always thought it did a great job with the upper frequencies and only found the bass a little lacking.
    At the time I also had a Pioneer CT-90R which I thought sounded better as long as I didn't use the reverse play/record option. The problem with the Pioneer was reliability.
    [​IMG]
     
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  24. GuildX700

    GuildX700 Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    the Teac V800X was a very good deck in it;s day. Pioneer in my experience has often used some miniature relays in many of their electronics which sadly are highly prone to failure.
     
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  25. bags

    bags New Member

    Location:
    Near Boston
    Can't remember the designation but in the early 90's Onkyo produced decks with anti resonant heads. We put up the 2nd best one vs a Nak 582, and it was reasonably close. So a "poor man's" Nak could be found for tres cheap. I tossed mine about 2 years ago, it still worked fine but there was no more reason for it.
     

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