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Thread: Audio cassettes in 2017

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    Default Audio cassettes in 2017

    Do you still listen to yours?
    I've acquired a Nice Sony system and have been buying collections of audio cassettes from eBay.

    I have a pretty decent turn table but I find the convenient and cheap nature of audio tape too alurring.

    Records are too expensive these days.

    I enjoy grabbing a tape, popping out in the player and hitting play and just listening while doing things.
    Many are compilations from the 80s and 90s some are full albums and sound tracks.
    And then there's the cheap cds. I do have a PC with 1000s of tunes but it's not the same.



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    Anything of significance I had on cassette (and reel to reel) I transferred to hard drive and CD/DVD, as the tapes stretch, become brittle and lose oxide with age.

    The same with video tapes.

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    Also...over time you get "print through"....and the frequency response of a cassette player is woeful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtv View Post
    Anything of significance I had on cassette (and reel to reel) I transferred to hard drive and CD/DVD, as the tapes stretch, become brittle and lose oxide with age.

    The same with video tapes.
    The only tapes that really do that and suffer badly are Digital Audio Tapes that I used in the 1990s. Some were master tapes, so the loss for me was significant.
    With DAT it is either working or dead, like everything digital.

    Otherwise that's largely myth from the industry to promote going digital. Best throw it all away and buy on iTunes if it were up to them

    All my audio tapes from the 70s and 80s play fine. Some really cheap cassettes from back then (1970's) build up residue on the heads really fast but all my quality chrome cassettes are still good when I try them occasionally.
    All my 15 in/s reel to reel tapes are superb unlike the digital shit that I lost.
    Even reel to reel of jazz recordings from my father from late 1950s sound surprisingly good for the time.

    VHS Video is entirely a different story. That medium sucked from the beginning on. The Hi8 I have show no degradation and the digital video tapes from the 1990s strangely are OK too unlike the very similar DAT recording technology(rotating head on very slow moving tape).

    I have no trust in self made CDs and 50% of the DVDs I made 10-15 years ago are dead.
    Hard drives are best I guess when you have it on a few but they don't last as long as analogue tapes if they are in regular use.
    It is also an unpredictable medium even in storage. Working fine last time you used it, six months later you try and get the 'click of death'. All is lost.

    Never ditch the analogue original !

    What will outlive any other media will be vinyl.
    Even 10,000 years from now some survivors after all the nuclear wars might dig up some and be able to hear something on them with a very thin dry leaf in the groove, once they figured out that they need to be rotated.

    Music has become superficial these days, not much worth keeping anyhow. At least not what the music industry spits out.

    Some good stuff on youtube though, which I download and store on hardrives and watch/listen on multiple devices where ever I am. Can watch all the live concerts of the bands I love from the 70's and 80's and there are some really great young guys today too like the 2CELLOS.
    So the tapes and vinyls are rarely used these days and I am glad I didn't bother with all the work to digitise them.
    Last edited by nomeat; 18-04-17 at 10:08 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nomeat View Post
    The only tapes that really do that and suffer badly are Digital Audio Tapes that I used in the 1990s. Some were master tapes, so the loss for me was significant.
    With DAT it is either working or dead, like everything digital.

    Otherwise that's largely myth from the industry to promote going digital. Best throw it all away and buy on iTunes if it were up to them.
    A lot depends on the quality of the tape to begin with and how it's been stored over the years, but I have most definitely seen degradation of tape over time.

    It's an interesting topic, as I am currently transferring several broadcast archive recordings and some of the reels haven't coped with the test of time very well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtv View Post
    A lot depends on the quality of the tape to begin with and how it's been stored over the years, but I have most definitely seen degradation of tape over time.

    It's an interesting topic, as I am currently transferring several broadcast archive recordings and some of the reels haven't coped with the test of time very well.
    I actually never heard anybody tell me before that their reel to reel tapes suffered unless they were recorded at low speeds, which may have been to save money for archive purposes.
    They may have been exposed to humidity or strong temperature changes or unusual electromagnetic radiation. Maybe stored near the modulation transformer of an old AM radio station
    Of course leaving them around a while on top of a power amp will do no good either.

    As for cassettes the little pad that presses the tape against the head can degrade or fall out if the glue fails, resulting in bad playback but that can easily be rectified.
    Last edited by nomeat; 18-04-17 at 10:46 PM.
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    Some of the older ones sound like life hadn't been to kind to them, but mid 90s to anything in recent times sound pretty good for type 1.
    We didn't get alot of chrome pre recorded stuff in Australia.

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    I converted most of my old audio cassettes to mp3 files (one per side) years ago. My ancient NAD cassette deck is direct drive, so no rubber bands to perish and stop the music.

    The cheaper tapes tended to shed oxide, so frequent cleaning of the heads was required. I had some problems with print through - it caused pretty funky effects where you hear a quieter pre-echo of each drum beat and things like that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tristen View Post
    Also...over time you get "print through"....and the frequency response of a cassette player is woeful.
    "Print Through", not so much of an issue with self-recorded tapes if one used metal or CrO2.
    Pre-recorded compact cassette tapes were generally bog standard FeO2 (Dolby B at best) in order to be compatible with every type of cheap player.
    Thin mylar tape was wound to length of the source. They shed oxide over every part of the mech. Went to a duplication house for a job at one stage and was stunned at how cheaply the whole process was done.
    Still have a Nakamichi ZX-7 in regular use; often playing tapes recorded from the radio back in the 1980s.
    Frequency response is woeful simply due to tape speed and head gap; but it is a format still usable after forty years.

    Quote Originally Posted by nomeat View Post
    The only tapes that really do that and suffer badly are Digital Audio Tapes that I used in the 1990s. Some were master tapes, so the loss for me was significant.
    With DAT it is either working or dead, like everything digital.
    Couldn't agree more. Digital storage is fraught with danger. I have used archive quality Taiyo Yuden DVDs for backup and they have failed after years of controlled climate storage.
    As bad as analog can be; it is generally a bulletproof format.
    (Slightly off topic) I was fortunate enough to tour the National Archives of Australia at Chester hill as a guest of SMPTE and was stunned at the wealth of material stored there.
    The old cellulose acetate film is located in a refrigerated vault that was absolutely huge. 4 C made it a brief insight, and the smell of vinegar was quite extraordinary.
    They had Hollywood machines there from the 1930s to transfer to digital. It was an absolute pleasure to meet the volunteers who keep this heritage alive.
    Last edited by TVguy; 22-04-17 at 12:35 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TVguy View Post
    "Print Through", not so much of an issue with self-recorded tapes if one used metal or CrO2.
    Pre-recorded compact cassette tapes were generally bog standard FeO2 (Dolby B at best) in order to be compatible with every type of cheap player.
    Thin mylar tape was wound to length of the source. They shed oxide over every part of the mech. Went to a duplication house for a job at one stage and was stunned at how cheaply the whole process was done.
    Still have a Nakamichi ZX-7 in regular use; often playing tapes recorded from the radio back in the 1980s.
    Frequency response is woeful simply due to tape speed and head gap; but it is a format still usable after forty years....
    Ahah! A Nakamichi is a completely different proposition as is also the use of metal or CrO2 tape.

    But the OP didn't mention the use of either high quality tape or the type of cassette player, apart from having "acquired a Nice Sony system". This begs the question of course.

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    Quote Originally Posted by voltare1 View Post
    Some of the older ones sound like life hadn't been to kind to them, but mid 90s to anything in recent times sound pretty good for type 1.
    We didn't get alot of chrome pre recorded stuff in Australia.
    Never bought a prerecorded tape in my life.
    Always bought the albums(vinyl records and later CDs) and recorded them onto chrome cassettes to protect the vinyls and have a compilation of my favourite tracks.
    I compare cassettes to MP3s today. Both a lossy medium and therefore not suitable for my quality demands if I would have to pay for it.

    Back then you could 'download' songs from an FM radio in quite reasonable quality onto a cassette, at least better than the purchased cassettes and nobody (including the music industry) made any fuss about that. There were even radio shows that encouraged recording, telling you the titles in advance and no ad breaks.
    Today copying is considered a crime, well I suppose they won't track anybody down that desperate to record the junk they play these days on radio

    Despite the fact that I could get a lot of good stuff off the radio onto cassettes back then, I still ended up with a collection of over 700 LPs and hundreds of CDs, which is average for a 1970's kid I suppose. Some of my peers always had more.
    Last edited by nomeat; 22-04-17 at 10:14 PM.
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    My system is a Sony s1 "Scala range" unit sold in Europe and the states but never seen one here.
    Imported the amp/tuner, cassette deck and cd player recently after seeing a review of the deck on techmoan YouTube channel. Only missing the matching minidisc deck, however I've had my stint with those, happy to miss out for noe.Model of the deck is tc-s1 a Dolby S - hx Pro unit. The while system is right at the end of Sony's good days.
    Plenty of power, it's not nak or one of those but a great consumer level deck.
    Last edited by voltare1; 22-04-17 at 10:49 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tristen View Post
    ...But the OP didn't mention the use of either high quality tape or the type of cassette player, apart from having "acquired a Nice Sony system". This begs the question of course...
    Mea culpa; I did digress. Apologies to the OP.
    That said; Dolby S and HX Pro = good kit.
    Once more I digress; had the pleasure of attending a lecture at Screen Australia by one of Ray Dolby's colleagues, Ioan Allen.
    Learned more in those three hours about audio than five years of college.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtv View Post
    A lot depends on the quality of the tape to begin with and how it's been stored over the years, but I have most definitely seen degradation of tape over time.
    I find the ones that sat on the cars dashboard are a little degraded

    I can remember seeing ones that melted.

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    Quote Originally Posted by admin View Post
    I find the ones that sat on the cars dashboard are a little degraded

    I can remember seeing ones that melted.
    ...and I can remember taking apart quite a few auto cassette players with those melted cassettes that people still jammed into them.

    Thanks to this thread I wanted to check out a few cassettes on my harman kardon TD470 and all I get now is a faint red glow behind the on buttton.
    There is always something unexpected to do here but I will procrastinate and go out on my bike first.
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    Crazy Clarke's up until The late 2000s sold the BASF/emtec 90 minutes cro2 tapes for $2 each, I lost alot of my tapes. As a mid to late teen in the 90's my tape of choice was the TDK sa-120. My tape only Walkman would play those for 20 hours on 2aa alkaline.
    60 on lithium but those were dang expensive.
    Mdr-787 earphones (neck chain) would last 6-12 months of continuous use. sounded great and only $29.

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    Oh and scored another 24 cassettes for$60 (two eBay listings including delivery)
    Some good sound tracks (grease, Ghost busters) and albums like Michael Jackson dangerous.
    Ending up with alot of 100%hits -4 so far- (good) and new kids on the block (not good) in the bundles.

    It's getting unopened, Malaysia market (recently made) albums such as the bee gees double compilation for $12
    Delivered that does it for me.

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    Back in business
    - Intermittent PCB connector behind the panel
    - head servo motor drive belt was slack
    Underneath are the now useless Digital cassette machines.





    What I really wanted to show off is this piece of art I discovered inside. It is solely only in there to press the Dolby S button





    And here is another cassette recorder in my cave but for production level, 8 track parallel recording which is great for live recording and still pretty hard to do with a computer.
    The tape runs double speed, has timecode and it uses DBX noise reduction.
    I probably haven't used it for over a decade.

    Welcome to Australia where corruption is legalised.
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    That Dolby s is an expensive tool to implement for what would never be used by many who bought it. Mine was a refresh, one version was BC only and the other has s added, in the same model number.

    To be honest I haven't tried it myself, but knowing it's there dates the player at some where near the end of the formats heyday.

    I'd like to see that multi track in operation. Some nice hardware there
    Last edited by voltare1; 24-04-17 at 09:58 AM.

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    Many years ago a workmate had a not inexpensive Reel to Reel recorder on which he taped classical music from ABCFM.
    He said although the unit played back beautifully, one problem was tape stretch which he claimed to be able to hear.
    I have no idea how big a reel he was using but it would have had more tape on it than the standard 60 minute per side cassette that was very common back then.

    My other concern with tape is demagnetizing as well as 'shedding' its coating as it ages.
    Tape wears every time you play it so it must one day eventually by the way its made, become useless.

    Every recording medium has its 'Cons' so all you can do is hope you have chosen wisely to record your audio/video selection.
    I stand unequivicably behind everything I say , I just dont ever remember saying it !!

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