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Thinking about adding a cassette deck to my set-up

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by malagacoolers, Aug 7, 2020.

  1. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    South Plymouth, Ma
    To OGP. Do it.

    Cassette decks are still found cheaply and little or nothing to repair, if you choose wisely. Thrift stores often get them and flip them for $20 or less. It's the airy pre-amplification and the Dolby NR that makes me nuts...

    ....but it's fun to relisten. Tapes I made and the time I spent on them. Whoo.
  2. Classic Car Guy

    Classic Car Guy "catch me if you can..."

    Northwest, USA
    I was wondering if you ever tried recording stream. I did a bunch of them but I really have to listen close. I got a lot of them really good,.
    I switched to qobuz and for some reason the sound of the music is very digitized. Its reaching a good low and high frequencies but it sounds "thin" or not real.
    I was thinking maybe its my familiarity of using that site and I don't know the settings.
    I was also thinking about getting an external DAC for recording purpose.
  3. luckybaer

    luckybaer Thinks The Devil actually beat Johnny

    No streaming here.
  4. Reamonnt

    Reamonnt Forum Resident

    Dear God I went down that route 2 years ago and I managed to damage and break nearly every cassette desk I tried to fix (technicians few and far between) so Im left now with no cassette player (except old Technics unit with gear problem). Im thinking again about the new modern TEAC unit and crying about the Sansui unit I wrecked because a ***** and a small screwdriver at a motor speed adjustor should never meet!
  5. Reamonnt

    Reamonnt Forum Resident

    Oh and to bring tears to my eyes I have an Aiwa HS-J09 that wont work and a retired BBC man did his best for me there but this old stuff, in my opinion cassette is very tricky. The Aiwa is beautiful to look at though and the raqdio works.
  6. Classic Car Guy

    Classic Car Guy "catch me if you can..."

    Northwest, USA
    Hi John,
    Whats 'jappening?
    Do you know wher I can get an idler tire for a NAK 481 here in the States or Canada?
  7. bluesky

    bluesky Forum Resident

    south florida, usa
    You got me thinking about cassettes.

    Thought I had kept 60 or so 'special ones' after I gave my brother a ton of them years ago, so I checked it out.

    300! :)
    john morris likes this.
  8. Classic Car Guy

    Classic Car Guy "catch me if you can..."

    Northwest, USA
    After 40+ of wonderful cassette years, I just began to realize not to even owning a serious Walkman. All I remember is I saw guys in the 80's playing cassettes and it was double sided. Avery nice looking artwork. I didn't pay much attention because of its price tag. As far as I can remember that Walkman was easily over 275.00 or more. It wont add up because I was making minimum at that time $4.25 and hour. Thanks to the overtime, double job I was able to pay for my own school, tuition, rent my own small room and gas up my beat up car. On barely making it and didnt stop me from acquiring medium to high fidelity equipments and thanks to the early thrift shops and the good ole American culture. If your rich neighbor doesn't need it, they'll ask if you want it for free. But no one will give this away not even one a thrift shop. All I remember it was red and black and the guy was flipping the tape in front of me. What an absolute of beauty! Now I want one.

  9. john morris

    john morris Everybody's Favorite Quadron

    Toronto, Ontario
    On the spare part issue - write / email Willy Herman. He will also have a web site. Assuming Mr. Herman is still alive.
    He would know for sure. Or buy a cheap "as is" crap condition 581 or 582. Great place for spare parts. Also look at Ebay and Reverb.

    No. Go buy a CD recorder. No more cassette decks for you. Stop making me jealous.. Ahhhhh!!!! :shake::realmad:
  10. john morris

    john morris Everybody's Favorite Quadron

    Toronto, Ontario

    Seems kind of gimmicky to me. I was after sound quality back then as I am now. With a single TDK MA-110 and auto reverse you get almost 2 hours of continuous music.. Do you really need more than that?

    What was a good Pro Walkman like back in 1998? Like a good 3 head cassette deck on the go. My Sony Pro Walkman was 20 - 19 000 hz +-3db. That says it all. Wow and flutter was super low. At the time this walkman was better than the deck I used to record my tapes on. (30 - 17 000 hz +-3db with Metal) For $300 CAN I call that a bargain....The best I ever had!

    With a single TDK MA-110 and auto reverse you get almost 2 hours of continuous music.. Do you really need more than that?
  11. john morris

    john morris Everybody's Favorite Quadron

    Toronto, Ontario
  12. Classic Car Guy

    Classic Car Guy "catch me if you can..."

    Northwest, USA
    Aaah. John. Hope You and your Ex's don't live in Texas. On that Walkman its just a wishful thinking. If I find one for $5.00 even for repair, Ill buy it..
    Hey man so you vouch for 100 to 110 mins? How come when I used a 100miins before it felt like it was going Frankenstein? Or is it just my deck?
    So since then I just stuck with 90 mins
  13. john morris

    john morris Everybody's Favorite Quadron

    Toronto, Ontario
    I heard, I heard. Not fun. But as Canadian living in The Great White North we experience a whole winter like this. But not weeks without power but lots of snow and ice and below - 20 C temperatures. One day where I had to work outside the temperature was - 30 C and - 42 C with the windchill. All for $7 and hour. Ohhh, Yummy fun!!

    "Going Frankenstein??" Never had any problems with longer tapes unless you put them in cheap-ass machine. C-100 tapes were widely use. I heard some woman say to friend once, "..Even a 90 minute tape is too much of a drag on the motor...Buy a C-60."
    Bullderdash! Urban legend from the 1970's:

    * Metal tape will wear down your heads
    * Chrome tapes have poor bass
    * Never buy a tape longer than a C-60
    * Dolby B kills high frequency response.


    I didn't really start buying good tapes until the summer of 1985. As for 100 min tapes back in 1975 or whatever, well.....I can't speak for them.
    C-100s were heavily tested by the industry. If they had any problems I am sure the audio mags would have been screaming the news from the roof tops. C-110 I don't know. I used several BASF C-120 pure Chrome tapes. I still have them to this day. Never gave me any problem. A good tape machine will not have proplem with a C-100. You probably got a dud.
    Classic Car Guy likes this.
  14. Classic Car Guy

    Classic Car Guy "catch me if you can..."

    Northwest, USA
    Good to know these inputs. Thanks John. I always knew were buddies.... :hugs:
    john morris likes this.
  15. john morris

    john morris Everybody's Favorite Quadron

    Toronto, Ontario

    Most mid priced decks from 1991 and onwards were very good. I am not familiar with the models you speak of but even my 1992 mid priced Kenwood cassette deck managed:

    Type 1...... 30 - 17 000 hz +- 3db.
    Type 2...... 30 - 18 000 hz +- 3db.
    Type 4...... 30 - 19 000 hz +- 3db.

    Signal to noise ratio with Dolby C was 73 db higher with Metal tape. More than most need. Unless it's an opera or something.

    What do you mean by tricky? John's hints for great cassette playback...... (These are for everyone)

    * Never buy normal tapes. Why? Even if you have a great 3 head deck, Type 1 tapes will wear out very quickly. Always buy type 2 regardless of what you are recording. This will ensure your tape collection will last long after you are dead.

    * Always use some form of NR. But not DBX. Even the best 3 head decks with Metal tape (was $4 back in 1999. Today they are $70) will only get 62 db 'A' weighted signal to noise ratio if you use no NR. And No, this is and always was a super-crappy signal to noise ratio figure. Exceptions are for demos or for a deck that will have no NR playback

    * Don't record at low levels.

    * Don't buy a cheap dubbing deck. If you do never ever ever use the "high speed" mode.

    * When your cassettes are not in use always rewind them and put them back in the case.

    * DO NOT leave your cassettes in the back of the car to be exposed to sunlight and heat.

    * NEVER EVER use DBX. DBX pumps on woodwinds and bass. And trying to find a deck (20 to 40 years later) that will play your DBX tapes will prove to be a pain in your butt. It isn't worth it to get an extra 10 db over Dolby C.
    FYI: Most analog masters (1965 - 1984) will range from 62 db to 75 db 'A' weighted. And even if it is a DDD release DBX type 2 Is STILL overkill. The dynamic range of most digital masters never exceed 75 db.

    * DON'T let your kids / pets play or fool around with your cassettes. They hold your beloved music. They ARE NOT TOYS.

    * Clean and demagnatize your cassette deck, walman and cassette car player every 10 hours of use. A dirty car cassette player will damage a cassette like nothing else can.

    * Cleaning does not mean running a cassette cleaner through the machine ever month. Invest in a tape demagnatizer; cotton swabs and a bottle of rubbing alcohol. And no, pharmacy rubbing booze will not dry out your pinch roller. I used the stuff for decades. Another myth!

    * Buy a good mid priced 2 head deck at least.
    $300 - $375. (1989 - 1993 prices.)
    3 head is better.

    * Be extremely weary about lending your cassettes out to people.
    Reamonnt and fmuakkassa like this.
  16. Reamonnt

    Reamonnt Forum Resident

    Hi John
    The Aiwa HS-J09 is a personal cassette player. The retired BBC engineer fixed it as best he could but its an old device at this stage 32 years old and has started eating tape now. The Technics deck I have works but one of the sides (Deck A) has a gear problem specific to these model Technics decks (I looked into it in depth a few years ago and you can get new plastic gear/cog thingy made using a 3d printer I think) while Deck B works fine but it will eventually get the gear problem too. I also had an old Sony deck but the motor failed so it wakes a whirring noise and is not worth fixing.
    I think you need to be very specific on the old deck you buy and as you said the 1989-1993 3-head is a good place to start. Any views on Brand to look for with most reliable parts. I have maybe 60 cassettes that I would like to play.
  17. macster

    macster Forum Resident

    San Diego, Ca. USA

    Willie probably won't tell you anything about where to get parts. Try this guy gcalo@dynamtechgroup.com. www.dynamtechgroup.com. Also Russell Industries - Split Loom Tubing .
    If you check on tapeheads.com and find out what they say about compatible tires. I have new ones which came in my Cr1-4 repair kit. If they fit you can have one as I don't need them.

    Classic Car Guy likes this.
  18. fmuakkassa

    fmuakkassa Dr. M

    chilinvilin and Classic Car Guy like this.
  19. Classic Car Guy

    Classic Car Guy "catch me if you can..."

    Northwest, USA
    They possibly have it. I sent them an email on dynamtech. I'm gonna be needing a lot of stuffs from them including pinch wheels and belts . Thank you so much for that input. The other guy that I was getting parts just emailed me a few minutes ago. And he couldn't get me an idler tire for an old sony this time that measures 25mm OD. Which is really big.
    Thanks and Ill call Russell industries tomorrow.
    If you know someone too that does full capacitor change on a deck. I have a 2 pioneer ct-f555 and 1 jvc kd-a55. These are my 3 playback decks that I wanna keep. I got both pioneers done all the belts, Idler tire and I changed the pinch wheel to all brass pulley. What a workhorse this deck is. I been playing the pioneer deck for 5 months now, maybe 7-10 hours a day work from home almost non stop. I easily went to hundreds of different tapes. It doesnt stop. no mistakes and the sound is a bit better than my old teac. I'm beginning to like this deck that even if its a full-logic but the inside is simple. I end up buying another one and I wanna have both fully rebuilt.
    The jvc kd-a55 is another story.... I cannot compare it to the pioneer because they have their own pros and cons. The sound of this deck is "excellent". for being a 2 head playback unit, I was always wondering why it sounds so good. I looked at front cassette loading, the playback and record is a separate head besides the erase. It actually looks like a 3 head. I can send you a picture if your curios. "BUT" the con on this tape is a nightmare to work on the moving mechanism since the full logic mechanism is a bit "exotic" than some other units even vs with some of the naks I worked on. The belts are literally hiding inside a cave with so many screws, brackets, springs...... It was just a total nightmare to work on. But it can be rewarding after when its said and done. The board looks so easy to reach. I just don't have the time to change 100 capacitors that's why I wanna get it done.

    Single lever 4-stage tape select switch makes the KD-A55 compatible with all types of tape including the new metal tape format.
    Full logic control with 2-motor independent drive mechanism. SA record/play head with wear resistance comparable with ferrite and sound quality better than Permalloy.
    Highly efficient SA erase head capable of erasing high-coercitivity Metal tape. Self illuminating control buttons clearly indicate the operational mode. ANRS and Super ANRS greatly reduce tape hiss noise and improve linearity at high frequencies.
    Type: 2-head, single compact cassette deck
    Track System: 4-track, 2-channel stereo
    Tape Speed: 4.8 cm/s
    Heads: 1 x record/playback, 1 x erase
    Motor: 1 x reel, 1 x capstan
    Tape Type: type I, FeCr, CrO2, Metal
    Noise Reduction: ANRS
    Frequency Response: 20Hz to 18kHz (Metal tape)
    Signal to Noise Ratio: 65dB (ANRS)
    Wow and Flutter: 0.04%
    Total Harmonic Distortion: 1.0%
    Input: 80mV (line), 0.2mV (mic)
    Output: 0.5V (line)
    Semiconductors: 11 x IC, 59 x transistors, 61 x diodes
    Dimensions: 450 x 420 x 120mm
    Weight: 7kg
    john morris likes this.
  20. AVTechMan

    AVTechMan Forum Resident

    Texas, USA
    I have a Tascam 122 MK-II that I had got off ebay some years ago and had it serviced by a Tascam/Teac tech out of NJ.

    I also have a Teac C-3RX that has yet to be serviced, but still works very well with no issues.

    Not sure if there's anywhere that these decks can be serviced now but if there are im all ears!

    I simply just love the big VU meters heh.
    Classic Car Guy likes this.
  21. Classic Car Guy

    Classic Car Guy "catch me if you can..."

    Northwest, USA
    I'm there and will let you know when I find the right guy and get mine sent out .
    Speaking of VU meters, Its not complete without it. I have a habit of recording and working at the same time as watching from a distance. Big VU meters comes in handy on recording or even playback. I ended up getting me an 8 inch LED VU meter workhorse too. If this goes out right, Ill get another one.
    Speaking of blank cassettes, anyone has experience with these late Fuji red covered cassettes?
    (not the black covered ones)
  22. RobbieBear

    RobbieBear Well-Known Member

    Northants, UK
    Haven't read the whole thread so may be repeating. I was looking at Paul Weller's store yesterday and was amazed to see that his latest album, 'On Sunset' is also available on cassette tape! WOW!
  23. macster

    macster Forum Resident

    San Diego, Ca. USA

    I got mine serviced locally, so I would Google first, then check with tapeheads.

  24. Keith V

    Keith V Forum Resident

    Jersey City, NJ
    I read that years ago and it made me biased :D

    Seriously, I really enjoyed cassettes a Lot before I knew better. I miss them more than vinyl actually.
    The Pinhead likes this.
  25. john morris

    john morris Everybody's Favorite Quadron

    Toronto, Ontario

    I assume they are either no NR, Dolby B or C yes?

    You know if I was building a new deck. My new deck would have:

    * 3 heads

    * Manual playback height azimuth adjustment via a front panel knob.

    * Dolby B, C, DBX Type 2, S and the new digital NR system to use on tapes with no NR. Yes, I know many of these licenses have expired. But it is my fantasy! Any the courts gave me special dispensation cuz I'm so cute adorable. :winkgrin: I list all four NR systems here so that whatever tape you have my Super Andrade 3H001 will play it.

    * The option of a 3.75 ips recording and playback speed for RTR like sound. (Bare with me here)

    * Manaual or automatic calibration.

    * Mechanical average peak meters. (Just like in the old Nak 581 / 582)

    * A varible EQ u.s. control. Instead of a 70 or 120 switch you will have range of 50 - 160 micro seconds. Some old cassettes decks had that.

    * A lifter that that pushes the flimsy cassette pressure pad out of the way. Most Nak decks had this feature.

    * Audiophile analog circuitry built by Conrad Johnson just for my machine.

    * An adjustable low cut filter.
    16, 20, 30 and 40 hz. And you can adjust it to either: 12, 18, 24 or 36 db per octave. Can be used in playback or record modes.

    * Audiophile headphone amplifier.

    * tape / source switch, output level knob.

    * Can record using Type 1, 2, 3 or Type 4 tapes.

    * pitch control +- 8 %

    * Platinum plated (not flashed) inputs and outputs.

    But.....No such machine exists. My advice is to stick to restored 3 head machines. 3 head tape decks will give you flat 20 - 20 000 hz +-3db with a Type 1 normal tape.. But if you need it to just play back tapes a good 2 head model will do. Any good 2 head model between 1991 - 2000 should be good. Even my crappy modest 1991 Kenwood could yield:

    Type 1......30 - 17 000 hz +-3db
    Type 2......30 - 18 000 hz +-3db
    Type 4......30 - 19 000 hz +-3db

    Pretty good for $315 back in 1992!

    Or let's at my super crappiest Sony dubbing deck from 2003.

    Type 1....... 30 - 16 000 hz +-3db
    Type 2........30 - 17 000 hz +-3db
    Type 4........30 - 18 000 hz +-3db

    Any restored 2 head casstte deck from the 1990's will do really. But if you want something really excellent check out the Sony 3 head, Dolby S decks. Some of the best ever made.

    Naks of course are great but
    Nakamichi decks cannot just be fixed by anyone. Sure they are "qualified persons" to fix a Nak deck but the only dude you really want fiddling with your Nak is WILLY HERMAN. So either way Nak decks are way too much trouble.

    Stick to: Sony, Nad, and JVC.
    The Pinhead likes this.

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