Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Ilusndweller, Apr 7, 2021.
At a time cassettes are becoming popular again, there's never been so few quality blank tapes available new, especially after Maxell seem to have discomfort them, or at least are making very significantly less of them. A shame.
There are still a few making them today. National Audio Company (NAC) is been around since the 70's. All their cassettes are Made in the USA from media all the way to the jacket. This is their late 2020 model in hi fidelity. They are coming out with type II anytime now. I been using their tapes on high fidelity for decades. Still sounds great! Plus there are more even in Europe.
The mechanism and heads are fine. It's the motor, flywheel, and belts that are lackluster in modern cassette decks. I recently worked on a Sherwood cassette deck from the late '80s that used the typical Tanashin boombox mechanism, but bolted two flywheels together back to back (!) and used thicker belts to improve its speed stability. Something like that could easily be done today. And over on TapeHeads, Pacific Stereo is selling motors that are compatible with the Mabuchi design used by all modern cassette equipment, but claim "extremely high quality" performance. I'd like to try retrofitting one into a cheap deck to see how much it improves the wow & flutter.
And for those comparing it to a Nakamichi DR-2... if a deck that cost $750 back in 1992, and thus over $1400 today with inflation, doesn't majority outperform a deck that costs $499 new today, then something is seriously wrong with it!
I have a Tascam 102 that I use as one of my recorders only. But I have to be really extra careful with using the right cassette tapes. TDK, Maxell, NAC and a few other cassette tape makers are exceptions. I can easily get dropouts or noticeable wow and flutter if the tape has a even a slight drag during playback or recording which is really evidently on playbacks. Not like when I record in the vintage decks especially on the BX-300, The old pioneer CT-F high end models,, even lower and some JVC. They have a super large flywheel and big motors. I lot of people doesn't like that motor because they can be noisy at low-volume. Well to me there is always a pros and cons to a good deck unless your using probably a dragon or upper class (which I never owned one).
Anyways going back to the Tascam.. If the recording is successful, just being honest, I am very surprise to hear the playback results especially on a nakamichi deck or most 20-20khz japanese decks.
I would not use inflation as an excuse for the high price of the modern Tascam deck. Electronics usually only gets cheaper and more powerful.
The first Walkman TPS-L2 was sold in the U.S. for about $200 in 1980. Following the inflation logic, a comparably equipped walkman should be priced at $500 in 2010 or more than $600 in 2021. Yet, the last walkman sold in the U.S. was sold for $30 in 2010, it was much smaller than the TPS-L2, had built-in radio with digital tuner and worked for 35 hours from one AA cell.
But cassette decks are largely mechanical, not electronic. A typical mechanism can have anywhere from around 50 to over 100 parts.
This does not negate the fact that historically prices on AV equipment have been falling down while features and performance improved. The electronic parts are not seen because ICs have replaced hundreds and thousands of discrete components.
A new Technics SL-1200 turntable cost $549 in 2001. Even accounting for inflation ($815 in today's money), that's less than half the cost of its modern equivalent ($1599).
So Panasonic is gouging the price just as Tascam for its "iconic" turntable. If people still buy it, why not. Although in terms of technical sophistication this price is even less justified than the Tascam's.
I just purchased a Tascam CD-A580 ( Tascam CD-A580 Professional CD player/cassette recorder with USB dubbing at Crutchfield ) which has a cassette deck. I bought it to transfer my old rock band's demo cassettes to USB.
With this unit I got a couple of unintended bonuses: The CD player has noticeable better fidelity than the NAD C538 I have in my "stereo room"; night and day difference. Also I threw in one of my many many pre recorded tapes that haven't been played in years and was immediately transported to nostalgia land. I must say I can't believe how good the cassettes sound in this unit. Now this is coming from a person that has never owned anything above a Sony dual well auto reverse unit.
Speaking of those Sony's, I had two; one never played (new) and one with moderate use. Tip: These things go bad like bananas. A decade or more had passed since I played them and neither of them worked. The new one wouldn't even power up and the used one, the auto reverse went spastic in both wells. Evidently these units go bad without use.
Lastly, I never thought I could rekindle any fascination with cassettes, but I'm having a time listening to tapes on this machine. It's no Nakamichi, but it's nice there is still something new you can buy with at least some quality. Thank goodness it's not auto reverse ... auto stop is enough tech on this cassette deck for me.
Apparently it's not that bad.....TEAC W-1200 review posted a few days ago.
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