DCC: Digital Compact Cassette

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Kylix, Jul 15, 2005.

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  1. Kylix

    Kylix New Member Thread Starter

    No I am not refering to the former re-mastering label.

    Does anyone remember the DCC tape format which Philips introduced in the early to mid-90s to compete with MiniDisc? DCC which stands for "Digital Compact Cassette" was a digital audio cassette similar in size and shape to an ordinary analog cassette.

    Back in 1994 or 1995, I think it was, I bought one of the first DCC recorders. It was a Technics. I forgot the model number. It could also play back analog cassettes but not record on them. It had a horizontal tape mechanism and it looked very fancy. A few portable walkman size units were made by Panasonic. Eventually the DCC format died out in 1996, when Philips stopped manufacturing DCC recorders and players. Only a very limited range of music was ever released on DCC.

    Despite being a tape, DCC used a compression format called PASC which was similar to MiniDisc's ATRAC.

    Read about the DCC format here:
    http://www.xs4all.nl/~jacg/dcc-faq/format.html

    More general info in the DCC FAQ:
    http://www.come.to/dcc-faq
     
  2. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Location:
    Sagamore Beach, Ma
    Yeah, I remember those. Once Radio Shack started selling them harder than they did CD players, I thought, "Time's ticking!" :)

    Sure enough! It was a nifty idea, but there were other PCM Sony recorders more expensive and better sounding. Oh, and then there was DAT. Duh!
     
  3. soundboy

    soundboy Forum Resident

    I think DCC came about before 1994 since Philips recruited Dire Straits to promote it on what turned out to be the group's final tour. I have some promotional material for DCC that I can scan and post.

    Can you still get pre-recorded DCC? With MiniDisc, one can still find pre-recorded titles (see signature).
     
  4. Kylix

    Kylix New Member Thread Starter

    Just a few tapes on ebay once in a while.
     
  5. BZync

    BZync Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I may be wrong but I have a memory of seeing my first DCC player in a store window (in the UK) in October of 1992. Am I way off base here? Am I remembering mini-disc instead?

    -BZync
     
  6. Kylix

    Kylix New Member Thread Starter


    No, you are right. According to the DCC FAQ:

    "Both MD and DCC were released almost simultaneously around the end of 1992".
     
  7. kaneman

    kaneman New Member

    DCC used a variant of Musicam for compression. IMO after hearing the first MDs (I had a Sony MD-RZ1) and DCC I gave up on bitrate-reduced media entirely. I haven't heard MD in a long while, I have heard it's getting better.
     
  8. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer

    Location:
    The West
    I remember reading about an 18-bit unit that was on the way before they pulled the plug on the whole thing. Not sure if some "high rez" units made it out in the UK or if it was only prototype models.

    I guess DCC had a cult following among some concert tapers, preferring it's near-DAT quality and portability.

    Cool technology. Might have had a slight quality edge over Sony's MD, but MD has so many cool editing features that trump DCC, IMHO.

    DCC was a flat out flop while MD has survived in sort of a niche arena. Perfect for professional radio journalism, for example. Wish American consumers had embraced MD more than they did.

    dan c
     
  9. Jeff H.

    Jeff H. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northern, OR
    Ahhhhhh, the ill fated DCC tape machine! I remember this very well. A rep from Philips came out to demonstrate the machine to get us excited for the huge push for this new format. Developed to compete with Sony's Minidisc format, DCC hit retail with a resounding thud. Retailers were indifferent to it from day one. Consumers were mad that DCC cassettes couldn't be played in their existing cassette players. Small amounts of pre-recorded cassettes were returned to stores and to Polygram. One of the biggest faults with the machines is when you played analog cassettes on the player. Oxide build up on the heads, or if the heads were out of alignment, it would stop the machine from playing, which the Philips rep did know about, but casually ignored my question about this issue when I brought it up. The other thing that killed the format was the limited number of music titles available. Besides Polygram, the only other distributor that had DCC releases was EMI IIRC.
     
  10. Kylix

    Kylix New Member Thread Starter


    That's obvious. Nothing to be mad about. I would like to have asked those consumers how they expected an analog cassette player to play back a digital tape. The opposite was far worse: DCC machines were unable to record on ordinary analog cassettes. They could play back analog cassette tapes, but they could not record on them. A huge disadvantage.
     
  11. william shears

    william shears Active Member

    Location:
    new zealand
    The standalones had huge problems with overheating when recording. I believe a couple actually burnt up tapes!!?
     
  12. lv70smusic

    lv70smusic Senior Member

    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    I agree. I never even auditioned a DCC deck because I wouldn't even consider replacing my analog cassette deck unless the new digital one could also record on analog tapes. This was a big blunder on Philips' part. I also remember thinking at the time that I didn't really want a new digital recording option that had the same limitations as regular cassettes in terms of accessing the various songs on the media. Though I also never bought into minidisc, at least it had random access just like a cd and appealed to me a little more because of that. Still, I waited for cd-r burners and discs to become affordable before I moved away from my cassette deck.

     
  13. william shears

    william shears Active Member

    Location:
    new zealand
    Whats with the giant type and red letters? It reads like YOU'RE SHOUTING!
     
  14. Kylix

    Kylix New Member Thread Starter

    I no longer write in red. Hoffman did not like it. As for the "giant" type: my type is not "giant". I consider it normal. I use large fonts also as a protest against all the stylish garbage you see out there. When I go to a web site, I WANT TO READ THE CONTENT. Trust me, that micro-font everyone uses isn't nearly as original as they think.
     
  15. william shears

    william shears Active Member

    Location:
    new zealand
    Well for whatever reason (protest!?) you choose to use a larger typeface than anyone else here for me personally its distracting to read, and as I stated it has the effect that it reads like you are proclaiming loudly.
    William
     
  16. Kylix

    Kylix New Member Thread Starter

    No, because the large font I use is my default. I never write with a smaller font. CAPITAL LETTERS are used for writing "loudly" or "shouting".
     
  17. kwadguy

    kwadguy Senior Member

    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    Yeah, these came and went rather quickly. Compared to the competition at the time, i.e. Sony's MiniDisc (which flamed out in the US except among bootleggers, but which had some success in places like Japan), DCC seemed like a stupid idea. Sure, it PLAYED pre-recorded cassettes. But beyond that, it lost in every comparison to MiniDisc.

    A small number of pre-recorded titles were issued from a variety of labels. The only one I bought, just for yucks, is a Sun Ra title (!!!)

    Kwad
     
  18. We had one of these at the studio I worked for:

    [​IMG]

    Sound quality was surprisingly good - I think it was one of the latter models that Philips did. It was mainly used to make copy masters for cassette duplication, for which it was more than adequate.

    It was tough to live with though:

    1) The rewind was extremely s l o w.

    2) You could skip forward and back to index markers, but there was no cue/review at all - in otherwords, you couldn't hold a button down to jog the tape back a few seconds. No such facility on this thing. That doesn't sound like a major problem, but in actual use, it took a long time to disengage itself from play mode and switch to rewind, so cueing up the tape to a particular spot was often frustrating.

    3) Like DAT machines do, a DCC would record a timecode onto the tape as you recorded. It's the only way of knowing where you are on the tape. And, same as DAT, this timecode is lost if you accidentally leave a blank section on a new tape. On this machine, this had to be avoided, otherwise the tape bacame almost impossible to use. How much of side A was left before it flipped over to side B? You had no way of knowing for sure - unless you had a stopwatch handy. And, given quirk no 2) above, if there was only the tiniest gap at the end of the last recording, rewinding the to the last bit of timecode could be agony. If you overshot the mark, it would take you at least 20 seconds to get there again...
     
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