The greatest consumer cassette tape deck ever produced?*

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

  1. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    Yeah, I'd agree with that. In the late '90s I was eyeing Dolby S decks, but they were hella expensive. Dolby was charging a fortune for licensing (stupid) and they also required the decks adhere to a much higher standard than before (not stupid, but bad timing), sorta like JVC had done with the VHS HQ term, mandating those decks include certain improvements to qualify for the label. I was waiting for the prices to drop, knowing that if I really wanted to record something, I could just tape it on my VHS Hi-Fi deck and it would sound as good as any cassette deck.

    I didn't have many tapes, and I didn't own a cassette deck anymore or have a car or a cassette Walkman, having used portable CD players since 1987. The ideal solution to my mind would be a recordable CD, but those were hella expensive.

    Then there was the DCC / MiniDisc format war. Both were more convienent than cassette, although you could argue they didn't sound as good as a 3-head cassette deck with Dolby S. I kinda wanted DCC to take off, but I realized it had come to market at least 3 - and probably 5 - years too late. MiniDisc was certainly rugged and convienent, and cute. But the lack of any sort of backwards compatibility seemed like a dealbreaker. And CD burners were, like I said, hella expensive.

    Until suddenly, they weren't. I think sometime circa '98, prices of computer CD burners began to plummet. The blank discs were cheaper and held more than Zip discs on the PC, meaning they were a viable - and at the time very high-capacity - backup format, too. If you had a lot of data to backup, suddenly the cost of a CD burner and a few blank CDs was a lot cheaper than the cost of that many Zip discs at $20 or whatever a pop. More importantly, suddenly they were cheaper than most if not all good Dolby S decks. So, why screw around with cassette at all, let alone DCC or MiniDisc.

    Splat!

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. jusbe

    jusbe Modern Melomaniac

    Location:
    Auckland, NZ.
    lol! I just told somebody this today on TapeHeads :D;)
     
  3. Classic Car Guy

    Classic Car Guy Analog to the Next Level

    Location:
    Northwest, USA
    Well for a normal consumer doing home recording is not really a rocket science in getting close to the optimum sound, If it sounds great basing from your sound source, or can be better after record level, adjustment or re-mastering then youre doing fine. Honestly I find myself enjoying listening to an "excellent" high fidelity type I.
     
    Sterling1 likes this.
  4. Om

    Om Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Oh lord. The one time I get lazy with the quote button. :pleased:

    Hello I am 'somebody'. My glasses must be fogging and yes I knew it was you. Anyhow the above list has some confusing categories and I have written a new one I will be posting tomorrow. I've now determined the difference between auto rec and manual rec and they are two completely different technologies.

    It's 3am here. Good time for me to take a nap.

    How's that Elton album go? Don't shoot me I'm only the piano player.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2021
  5. anorak2

    anorak2 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Berlin, Germany
    So did I, because I always like the idea of backwards compatibility.
     
    sunspot42 likes this.
  6. jusbe

    jusbe Modern Melomaniac

    Location:
    Auckland, NZ.
    Yup. Get some rest.

    It's probably time for you to try a Nakamichi, if you haven't already.

    Peace.
     
  7. Sterling1

    Sterling1 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Louisville, KY
    An HHB 850 CD Recorder pretty much was the game changer for me, sold all of my Sony Compact Cassette Decks, except for a TC-K950ES.
     
    sunspot42 likes this.
  8. Om

    Om Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    I must say I keep a large database of the best advice I come across in a journal I write down from forums I have visited throughout the years. Some of which no longer exist. I have no idea who wrote most of what I have but I keep it for good reference whenever I am answering others people's questions. Thank you to the folks who bought these $$$ decks so I don't have to find out on my own. Saves me from less trial and error.
     
  9. Om

    Om Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    6/19/21 Updated List With Clarification.

    Manual Playback - Refers to decks with a physical and easily accessible knob to adjust azimuth of the playback head. It does not include cassette decks which require you to turn a screw to adjust azimuth of playback head.

    Auto Playback - Refers to decks which will automatically adjust the azimuth of the playback head in real time. This excludes decks such as the CR-7A which does automatically adjust playback head azimuth for recording but not in real time during playback of prerecorded material.

    Manual Record - Refers to the small number of decks which included an adjustable knob or wheel to change the azimuth of the record head on the fly. It does not refer to cassette decks which have manual adjustment of record head by screw. The benefit of manual adjustment is that is makes you aware when your record head is aligned with your play head, but it doesn’t force you to align to your play head. This allows variable adjustment and great for those who recorded on a wide array of different brand tape.

    Auto Record - Refers to decks which automatically adjust the azimuth of the record head during calibration. This involves decks which have a fixed playback head which can only be adjusted manually by screw. The azimuth of the record head is automatically adjusted to match the playback head. This again excludes decks such as the CR-7A which adjust the play head to the record head which is not true automatic record calibration.

    *List is sorted from brand with lowest amount of models first, and brand with largest amount of models last.

    Manual Playback:
    TANDBERG TCD 911
    NAKAMICHI Cassette deck 1
    NAKAMICHI DR-1
    NAKAMICHI CR-7A
    NAKAMICHI TD 100 (car radio)
    NAKAMICHI TD 500 (car radio)
    NAKAMICHI TD 700 (car radio)
    NAKAMICHI TD 1000 (car radio)
    SOUNDSTREAM TC 308 (car radio)

    Auto Playback:
    MARANTZ SD930
    NAKAMICHI Dragon
    NAKAMICHI TD 1200 (car radio)

    Manual Record:
    SONY TC177SD (later model)
    NAKAMICHI 680 (non ZX series)
    NAKAMICHI ZX-7
    NAKAMICHI ZX-9
    TANDBERG TCD 330
    TANDBERG TCD 340
    TANDBERG TCD 440A
    TANDBERG TCD 910
    TANDBERG TCD 3004
    TANDBERG TCD 3014A

    Auto Record:
    NAKAMICHI 670ZX
    NAKAMICHI 680ZX
    NAKAMICHI 681ZX
    NAKAMICHI 682ZX
    NAKAMICHI 700ZXE
    NAKAMICHI 700ZXL
    NAKAMICHI 1000ZXL
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2021
  10. john morris

    john morris Everybody's Favorite Quadron

    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Back up Classic Car Peeing Dude. Back up!
    You cannot get more of a 3D sound by running it through more preamps and another tape machine. More 3D requires more information and you can't do that. In analog you will lose info and detail everytime you copy. This is basic information theory. What you are hearing is most likely phase errors. All those phase errors introduced by all those tape machines and their circuitry will give it an "airry" quality. Polk speakers had the same sound..Why? Their cross- over networks were badly designed and introduced phase errors. Polk Speakers (at least in the 1986 - 1995 period) had an airy sound. If audiophiles feel free to blast Rega and say their tables run fast than I can I say this.

    But if it makes your cassettes sound great than screw the fat guy. No really, please, it's been 15 years.

    I am sure you like they way they sound but it is impossible to get more detail out of an analog copy than you can from the source. You know that. I know you know that.

    The reason pre-recorded cassettes sounded better by 1988 is because they dropped those inferior bin analog masters and used a DAT copy instead. You are going in reverse.

    Prove to me I am a wrong, because I am full of beans as many of you know. Send me one of your tapes done as described. Then I will send you one my 16/44.1 DDD mixes. Flat transfer copied straight from the master CD file ripped to another CD. And not one bit altered. Bit for bit perfect. I am curious as how the Analog King finds the sound of a primitive DDD 16/44.1 project. No compression, no MIDI or Auto Tune. MIDI is for song writers who can't play an instrument. I say that because I can't use MIDI to save my life. It is all a freaking mystery to me! Please coolest dudes of the audiophile world, no attempts to explain it to me. I am a lost cause.
     
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  11. john morris

    john morris Everybody's Favorite Quadron

    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    See, he knows. Any tube stuff Uncel used to deal with it. I am old and sick, (going blind with arthritis and pneumonia) and now retired. Deep breathes hurt. A 20 minutes walk now takes me at least 40 minutes. The only trips I make now are to the kitchen, bathroom and to the Pharmacy to get my Methadone drink.

    Thanks dude. Thanks for helping out my good friend!:thumbsup:
     
  12. jeffmackwood

    jeffmackwood Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ottawa
    Well it happened faster than I expected.

    Just bought a JVC NR-50E from someone in Germany and it's now on its way to me via DHL.

    I'd been using HiFi-Shark to track new listings and while there were a few for the Nak unit, it was only yesterday that a JVC came up. Apparently the JVC is a bit of a rare beast. This one looks like it was well cared for; hopefully it has no issues.

    It won't take long to integrate it, and the Akai GXC-325D, into my main HT shelves once it arrives. Then some calibrating and it should be all set. I'll post pics once it's done.

    Jeff
     
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  13. Om

    Om Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Yup huge market potential. That's what I do. I have a giant collection of demos and concert bootlegs recorded on hundreds of unknown tape machines that all benefit from adjusting the azimuth. I have no interest in making new recordings.
     
    sunspot42 likes this.
  14. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    I think the problem is, nobody makes quality mechanisms anymore, and making heads using new technology would cost a fortune (although it might be more practical than trying to make quality heads the traditional way, since nobody does that anymore and haven't in a quarter century or so). Many of the other issues - all the noise reduction decoding and such - could be handled in the digital realm relatively inexpensively, but the necessary physical components would present a challenge. The manufacturers capable of such a thing, like Sony, almost certainly aren't interested, and the smaller audiophile boutique brands like NAD don't have the resources.

    Maybe China, Inc. will come to the rescue. But I doubt it.
     
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  15. BrettyD

    BrettyD Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Zealand
    How often should Nakamichi cassette decks be serviced?
     
  16. macster

    macster Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Diego, Ca. USA
    At the most every 10yrs is what I'd recommend.

    But what do I know?

    M~
     
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  17. jusbe

    jusbe Modern Melomaniac

    Location:
    Auckland, NZ.
    I wouldn't leave it more than about 3 years at most.

    For you and I in New Zealand, that would mean making contact with Gennlabs in Wellington for the best outcomes, I reckon. That's where my ZX-7 was due to go in January (got sidetracked) and will go later this year.

    He doesn't do lower-end Nakamichis but would probably consider your CR-7. Best to check with Gennady first.
     
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  18. jusbe

    jusbe Modern Melomaniac

    Location:
    Auckland, NZ.
    I reckon you could probably service your own decks. You've got loads. :agree:

    Doing one approximately each year would likely take you about a decade to cycle thorough them anyhow!
     
  19. johnny q

    johnny q Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bergen County, NJ
    I would say, don't wait. At least here in the United States, qualified techs are becoming more and more scarce and the ones that remain are charging a lot of money. If you know someone locally, get your deck in there now, even if it is for a basic overhaul or "once over" to ensure everything is working correctly and up to spec.

    One bit of advice (and I learned this from experience) do NOT let them sit unused for any length of time. I had a mint Nakamichi DR-3 with no more than 20 hours on the heads and I placed it in cool, dark storage for 20 years. Let's just say I will soon be selling it "for parts." My other Nak is still working and I make a point to play some tapes in it weekly.
     
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  20. macster

    macster Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Diego, Ca. USA
    Hell no!

    I can change belts on the Tascam, and CR1-4's, clean the heads and pinch rollers, but that's it. I track my top tier :sigh: decks and won't hesitate to send them in at the first sign of malfunction. One good reason is the prices of a fully functioning deck. I purchased my Dragon for $850.00 when I retired in 2007 and immediately sent it in. It's now worth at least 3x times that. My CR5 I purchased for around $600.00 and it's worth about twice that and has been fully serviced by WH. My CR7, I purchased new for $1800.00 and it of course has been fully serviced by WH. I sendmy B215's to Jack in Tennessee, and the Tascam122MKIII is done local. Next year (God willing) the Dragon and CR4 are going to uncle Willy. I am going to make good use of his services while he is alive.

    M~
     
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  21. macster

    macster Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Diego, Ca. USA

    I fully agree with this, not only do I run all of mine once a week, I do FW and RRW on them also, and turn the buttons and I just finished cleaning all the interconnects and jack on all of my decks and system.

    M~
     
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  22. Classic Car Guy

    Classic Car Guy Analog to the Next Level

    Location:
    Northwest, USA
    Hey @macster. I was working on new recordings and leveled all the songs of echo and the bunnymen - ocean rain and the 1987 album using performer plus then ran it through my motu m4. I recorded it with the BX-300 and with your TDK high output. after that I recorded it again using a sony ferric-chrome using the Pioneer CT-F850.
    I can swing on the TDK with +4db. Comparing the sound on the two, I cant really tell much difference. This really proves with the right settings, the TDK are optimal type I cassettes. When I use the Fuji DR-I red label its a little it warm. .. well not exactly warm but the TDK rings more on mid bass and highs.
    Just incredible. I'm really in the mood to record today since its my day off. I thinking of new wave albums that I can do next. I'm running out of list in my head... Happy Friday to everyone and happy recording!
     
    macster likes this.
  23. norliss

    norliss Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cardiff, Wales
    This and the K-04 are my dream, holy grail decks. Colour me envious!
     
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  24. Classic Car Guy

    Classic Car Guy Analog to the Next Level

    Location:
    Northwest, USA
    I been thinking, and thinking a lot of about getting a ZX model exclusively for recording and there are more cons than pros "on my position".
    a. The very first thing is the "object" (the money) to send it out and get it dialed the right way is astronomically expensive.
    b. or.. "If" I get one, its gotta like new off the box. Why?? there are no hard part for those machines anymore. It means you gotta find a donor to resurrect the deck if needed.
    c. To spend this kind of money in a deck, besides the bells and whistles, one major purpose is getting a high fidelity sound on playback or recording.. or both. Youre are sworn to use higher quality tapes than high fidelity type I to get that sound your looking for. and... I guess we all know what the price is today.
    I don't know but it doest sound good based on these list....
     
  25. Classic Car Guy

    Classic Car Guy Analog to the Next Level

    Location:
    Northwest, USA
    As of in a year knowing these guys @macster , @john morris , @McLover .. I began my nakamichi quest starting with a midrange 3 head, then most of the 2 head models. When they are done correctly, they last for a very long time. I worked on close to 40 of them and a lot of well kept ones that came out in the 90's, still performing amazing. But I still change all the belts and tires including the idler. and complete transport job. I'm using a BX-1 on playback at my work from home. Sometimes I have it on auto repeat switching several cassettes. It runs 10 hours a day, 6 days a week no failure.
    The upside is you'll get spoiled of listening to high quality playback all day long.
    The downside effect on me is I couldn't stand listening to my streamer anymore. Unless if I probably need to upgrade or buy a high caliber DAC... But its gonna be tough to match the warmth and classy high fidelity sound of an excellent cassette deck delivers especially if the recording combination is done close to perfection. Its just a total drop jaw experience in music.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2021
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