Anyone have any experience with using cassette tapes recently?

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DCarmi

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Nov 15, 2019
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The record companies were to blame for the collapse of it, if you remember how much all this stuff used to cost, a new release cassette at HMV was £10, a CD was £16, a minidisc was about the same, it was absolutely outrageous how much they used to charge, no wonder napster came along, they deserve everything they got!
£16 then equates to about £26 at todays prices!
 
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iMark

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May 16, 2008
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I found the VHS HiFi recordings to be better than my Aiwa AD3800 cassette deck. But certainly not as convenient. Many people say that the sound quality was at least as good as reel to reel tapes.

I used to record (classical) concerts off the radio and then transfer them to Minidiscs for editing and archiving.
 
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Longchops

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Oct 15, 2020
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I found the VHS HiFi recordings to be better than my Aiwa AD3800 cassette deck. But certainly not as convenient. Many people say that the sound quality was at least as good as reel to reel tapes.

I used to record (classical) concerts off the radio and then transfer them to Minidiscs for editing and archiving.

My nakamichi deck has an 'mpx' filter which is for taping from the radio. Apparently there used to be a test tone at 19kHz or above on analogue radio broadcasts?

You must have been able to hear that on a cassette, or it must have caused some strange phenomena when recording. Else why would they include a filter to remove it!

nb I think I gave some wrong information earlier. It appears a DCC was actually slightly better than a Minidisc, compression ratio of 4:1 vs 5:1, not the other way around.

Must admit the recordings I have suggested otherwise, although I don't have the same album on DCC and Minidisc (yet)
 
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Gray

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Never knew you could use VHS recorders directly for audio!
At a price.
I got my Panasonic NV-75 cheap, but it still cost me £549 in 1991 when NICAM stereo broadcasts were new.
Normal VHS decks record audio on linear tracks, along the edge of the tape using a fixed head like on audio decks.
But hi-fi stereo decks stripe the audio diagonally, across the width of the tape using the same spinning head drum that records the picture. That's how they got the full frequency range.
During playback you can switch between the hissy linear track and the hi-fi stereo tracks - that's when you hear the difference.
 
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Gray

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My nakamichi deck has an 'mpx' filter which is for taping from the radio. Apparently there used to be a test tone at 19kHz or above on analogue radio broadcasts?
You're right. I think that was a pilot tone that told tuner's that the broadcast was stereo ( they could put it there because FM audio tops out around 15kHz I believe).
 
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Longchops

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Oct 15, 2020
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But hi-fi stereo decks stripe the audio diagonally, across the width of the tape using the same spinning head drum that records the picture. That's how they got the full frequency range.
Interesting...thats actually how DAT tapes worked too. Although without the linear two track analogue audio on the edge obviously. They required frequent servicing and studios used to log the amount of hours use they had, presumably because of that rotating head....that must surely be the achilles heel of both systems....

I think I need to hunt down a VHS audio recorder now. That sounds like it has some serious hifi potential....
 
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mikeyc38

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Oct 26, 2020
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Looking at the specs of the 480Z I think my BX-100E is almost identical, just a few years younger with a tape selector. They were both 'budget' models on the nakamichi scale of quality but compared to most other stuff they are in a different league....

It was the highs that caught my attention at first, on paper the high frequencies of a tape is not as high as a CD and the dynamic range is not as wide but my ears are having a very hard time accepting that listening to the Nak, the highs are beautiful, crisp and clear as a bell and sound so much more dynamic than every other digital sound source I have apart from SACD.

It seems tapes are having a bit of a renaissance tbh, I'm guessing its the zoomer generation who are discovering them for the first time. 5 of the tapes I bought this year are actually 2020 releases. Haven't actually listened to any of those yet, but I probably should....must say they look a little cheap compared to the tapes of old though. Call me sceptical but I think its perfectly possible we forgot how to make them properly in the 10-15 years they were basically obsolete, perhaps a vinyl and a 40 year old TDK SA-90 would be a better option
Thanks Longchops -even a "budget" Nakamichi could outperform most cassette decks on the market at the time so the Aiwa was a "poor mans" Nakamichi
 
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danny-79

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Oct 3, 2020
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Never knew you could use VHS recorders directly for audio!

The ADAT machines of the 90s used VHS tapes for digital audio though, those could handle 24 bit audio at up to 192kHz which was pretty incredible considering that was over 20 years ago and we've only just figured out a way of matching that with PCM

The innovations in audio of the 80s and 90s were just mind blowing, and the 'made in japan' stuff was of exceptional quality. It was like an audio arms race, everyone trying to make something better than the last...

The record companies were to blame for the collapse of it, if you remember how much all this stuff used to cost, a new release cassette at HMV was £10, a CD was £16, a minidisc was about the same, it was absolutely outrageous how much they used to charge, no wonder napster came along, they deserve everything they got!

One thing I miss so much about that era is the amount of record shops there used to be. Not to mention the arena-sized record fairs. Kids today will never know the joy of being able to flip through thousands of records to try and complete your collection and buying something just because the artwork looked cool :tearsofjoy:
I totally hear you in that. Not been to a record fair for a while for obvious reasons in the current climate.
Tapes used to be a means to an end (I’d buy an album, my mate would buy another and we would swap to tape up) so it does pain me ever so slightly paying £5+ for a blank tape.
Still some things never get old
 
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Longchops

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Oct 15, 2020
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At a price.
I got my Panasonic NV-75 cheap, but it still cost me £549 in 1991 when NICAM stereo broadcasts were new
I was looking at the NV-75 and NV-77, they both seem to be available for quite reasonable prices now.....I'm guessing it was Panasonic that had the market cornered for such things?

And then I stumbled across this. A super betamax hi fi! These sort of things seem to fetch some serious coin, maybe £400-£500 ish, or £200 for spares/repairs. What a cool machine though! Can't be many of those around today....
 

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Gray

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I was looking at the NV-75 and NV-77, they both seem to be available for quite reasonable prices now.....I'm guessing it was Panasonic that had the market cornered for such things?

And then I stumbled across this. A super betamax hi fi! These sort of things seem to fetch some serious coin, maybe £400-£500 ish, or £200 for spares/repairs. What a cool machine though! Can't be many of those around today....
iMark said he had a Hitachi and JVC certainly made hi-fi VHS decks - so maybe worth looking out for, doubt the hi-fi tapes will still be available though (which were necessary to get the best out of the decks).
You'd be in your element in my museum loft. One of the many things in there is one of the earliest Betamax recorders, a Sanyo model 9300 I think. I read someone saying the heads on those were like diamonds so didn't wear out!
When I opened it (years ago) I saw a broken belt, got a new belt kit for it (I worked at Maplin when they used to sell them).....probably will never get round to doing it - even if I could guess where the broken belt went.

For decades I've been the dumping ground for people's cast-offs / repairs as they know I can't bear to chuck anything away......just put a new belt on a Trio KD1033B turntable, think my mate paid £50 new, saw one or two going for £100 on e-bay....my Thorens TD160S is going for three times what I paid new.......crazy demand for (decent condition) old TTs.
 
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Longchops

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Oct 15, 2020
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iMark said he had a Hitachi and JVC certainly made hi-fi VHS decks - so maybe worth looking out for, doubt the hi-fi tapes will still be available though (which were necessary to get the best out of the decks).
Looks like there's still new old stock tapes available on ebay....I'll check the others out, I saw those panasonic ones were 6-head though. That must be an absolutely premium sounding tape player, assuming all of the heads are used for the purpose of audio. I think 'museum piece' would be a fairly accurate description of what I'm going to use it for, haha.

Those panasonic videos brought back some memories, they had that little barcode scanner pen where you scanned the barcode in the radio times and it was supposed to record programs for you. Could never get that to work :tearsofjoy:

Belts are a nightmare on old equipment. Why didn't they just use toothed gears.....
 
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Longchops

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Oct 15, 2020
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Disaster. Put in a tape, and noticed the pitch was noticeably higher than it should be. Spent about an hour flipping between tapes and spotify and confirmed yes, there is a problem, its playing back way too fast :pensive:

Quick google search, there is a potentiometer on the back of the motor, which needs a £90 nakamichi test tape and some precision frequency measurement equipment to calibrate which I don't have, arrgghh. Tried phoning a service centre, no answer.....was looking like game over.

Fearing the worst, I decided to have a look inside. Wow. No wonder Nakamichi have a reputation for building such quality equipment. Found the pot and gave it a few turns. Nothing. tried again, nothing. It took probably took 200 turns to drop the pitch by about a semitone. I thought it was broken, I was turning it and it seemed to do nothing.....

Thats absolutely insane, NASA-tier levels of precision. But basically I managed to tune it pretty much spot on by ear after about an hour of A/B switching. Feeling very pleased with myself now haha
 
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Disaster. Put in a tape, and noticed the pitch was noticeably higher than it should be. Spent about an hour flipping between tapes and spotify and confirmed yes, there is a problem, its playing back way too fast :pensive:

Quick google search, there is a potentiometer on the back of the motor, which needs a £90 nakamichi test tape and some precision frequency measurement equipment to calibrate which I don't have, arrgghh. Tried phoning a service centre, no answer.....was looking like game over.

Fearing the worst, I decided to have a look inside. Wow. No wonder Nakamichi have a reputation for building such quality equipment. Found the pot and gave it a few turns. Nothing. tried again, nothing. It took probably took 200 turns to drop the pitch by about a semitone. I thought it was broken, I was turning it and it seemed to do nothing.....

Thats absolutely insane, NASA-tier levels of precision. But basically I managed to tune it pretty much spot on by ear after about an hour of A/B switching. Feeling very pleased with myself now haha
this video of use ?
according to the comments below it seems a bad idea (?)
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guEqGcYdEa4
 

Longchops

Well-known member
Oct 15, 2020
137
56
170
this video of use ?
according to the comments below it seems a bad idea (?)
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guEqGcYdEa4

Ah the heads are always very clean, I had to learn how to do that after I bought my first mouldy tape off ebay, there has been many more since.....its quite a regular thing unfortunately. I guess a lot of people store their tapes in the garage/shed or somewhere damp because they don't know the damage it can cause

he uses some strange chemicals there, is he using floor cleaner and lighter fluid? lol. I just use isopropyl alcohol....that seemed to be the most commonly used thing for tapes (and 8 tracks as well according to my dad)
 

Longchops

Well-known member
Oct 15, 2020
137
56
170
While on the subject of tapes, has anyone seen this?


Its an mp3/flac/wav etc player thats built into a cassette chassis, which you can use as a stand alone player, or you can play it in a tape deck and stream music from your phone.

Might have to buy one of those tbh, it looks like such a cool thing. That would be brilliant in old cars!
 

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