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Old 10th Nov 2019, 9:39 pm   #21
m0cemdave
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Default Re: Back To The future with a C90

I found the biggest problem with cassettes was poor interchangeability between machines. It was rare to find two players with the same azimuth alignment, and the resulting poor frequency response was exaggerated if Dolby was in use.

When I needed to copy cassettes recorded on various random machines to my Revox (usually demo's, or board tapes of shows I had mixed live) I found I could get surprisingly good results by carefully aligning the head to each tape. I fitted a long screw to the head on my Akai cassette machine to make this easier. The technique was to first adjust the head for maximum HF whilst listening in mono, then repeat the procedure listening to one channel only. Some years later later I used a method of feeding both tracks to a double beam scope and aligning them visually.

-----

Does anyone remember the Elcaset? It was like a compact cassette but twice the size. A pro-audio manufacturer that I worked with had one in their loudspeaker demo room, along with the usual disc and reel-to-reel, and it sounded very good. It was one of those products, like Betamax, that failed in the mass market due to bad timing rather than inferior technology.
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Old 10th Nov 2019, 10:17 pm   #22
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Default Re: Back To The future with a C90

Earlier than the Philips Compact Cassette was the Garrard type from around 1959/60.

https://www.radiomuseum.org/r/garrar...tape_deck.html
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Old 10th Nov 2019, 10:26 pm   #23
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Default Re: Back To The future with a C90

Wow. This is properly my childhood. Recording from the radio, then mix tapes including sending one to a girl I fancied. I still have a few, and a few things that should play them including two of my cars. But have I actually played one in a while? Well not yet!
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Old 10th Nov 2019, 10:44 pm   #24
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Default Re: Back To The future with a C90

I recently serviced the [auto-reversing + high speed dubbing + Dolby A&B] double cassette deck in my Sony MHC 5500 [new belts, lubrication, de-magnetisation etc.] .... and it sounds great! I now regularly set the timer to record a BBC concert [from the great FM tuner] and scoot off down the pub for an affable quaffable whilst it's doing its stuff!

P.S. The results also sound very good on/in my [Sony] Gamma OEM car headset too ......................
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Old 10th Nov 2019, 10:58 pm   #25
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Default Re: Back To The future with a C90

Does anyone want a cassette recorder so they can take part in this new revival, I have about 30 of them, all ITT.

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Old 10th Nov 2019, 11:10 pm   #26
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Default Re: Back To The future with a C90

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Originally Posted by m0cemdave View Post
I found the biggest problem with cassettes was poor interchangeability between machines. It was rare to find two players with the same azimuth alignment, and the resulting poor frequency response was exaggerated if Dolby was in use..
Yes, this, a lot. It was a huge problem. The narrow tracks and slow tape speed seemed to make the azimuth adjustment extremely critical. I'm surprised that more good quality cassette decks didn't make the adjustment a front panel control. I know it's mechanically difficult but some manufacturers managed it, just not many.

My own experience with cassettes, and that of my friends at the time (mid 1980s to about 2000) was that they were reliable with decent quality equipment, if well maintained, which it had to be if you cared about the sound quality. I used a lot of cassettes in my student radio days (we even used them, leaderless and cut down to a few seconds long, as jingle cartridges) and I don't remember any tape chewing problems. None of us had cars, though, so perhaps that helped!

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Old 11th Nov 2019, 9:52 am   #27
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Default Re: Back To The future with a C90

The thing I certainly don't miss is the long brown ribbons glinting in the sunlight by the sides of the roads where frustrated motorists had heaved the tangled cassette mess out the window.

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Old 15th Nov 2019, 11:08 am   #28
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Default Re: Back To The future with a C90

Cassette tapes were not the perfect analogue audio medium and could be a pain. I remember spending many happy hours trying to dig out miles of tangled tape especially from car stereo mechanisms.
But these cassettes were our ipods or mp3's of our day and I still occasionally use my working Sony Walkman with a few C90 compilation tapes I made on my music centre about 25 years ago.
Digital technology is great but it lacks that involvement or participation that you get with vinyl, cassettes or cd's.
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Old 15th Nov 2019, 3:00 pm   #29
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Default Re: Back To The future with a C90

At one time I was making a lot of compilation tapes, but found it tricky if I wanted to replace a song part way through a tape. Either I had to find a song the same length or re-record the rest of the side of the tape.

I bought a minidisc player that made switching tracks around lot easier, before moving on to MP3s.
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Old 15th Nov 2019, 4:48 pm   #30
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Default Re: Back To The future with a C90

Is there a revival of tape-head manufacture to go with it? Otherwise the cassette revival is somewhat time limited.

Old record players can be kept going with the chinese red and black cartridges.

Reel-to-reel futures are limited, and I guess cassette players are too.

David
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Old 15th Nov 2019, 5:18 pm   #31
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Default Re: Back To The future with a C90

There's also the matter of a worldwide shortage of recording tape.
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Old 22nd Nov 2019, 9:10 am   #32
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Default Re: Back To The future with a C90

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Originally Posted by julie_m View Post
Field recordings probably will need to be edited; and with open reels, that can easily be done by cutting and splicing the actual tape. A cassette loading system would just get in the way of that.
In the 80s, I worked on the Transcription Service programme "Taliking About Music". Quite frequently, the producer and presenter would go out with a Pro Walkman and gather material which we then dubbed to quarter inch (from the machine on which it was recorded) and edited. Suffice it to say that the fidelity of the Sony was not the quality bottleneck...
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Old 26th Nov 2019, 12:32 pm   #33
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Default Re: Back To The future with a C90

I used to love tapes, and have great memories of them.
Getting a compilation tape from an overseas penpal was always a joy!
I got to know some great world music I would never have known about if it weren't for tapes!
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Old 27th Nov 2019, 1:51 pm   #34
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Default Re: Back To The future with a C90

I'm still a cassette fan - not really for HiFi listening but for in a damp rattly old Land Rover they are great, they don't skip, and nobody wants to steal the stereo.

My daughter (5) loves audio book stories as well as real books. I got her a cassette player and she loves the cassettes. There's something physical about them and they are more robust than CD's. We've only had one tape all over the floor incident and she was fascinated with the process of tape splicing!

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Old 27th Nov 2019, 2:59 pm   #35
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Default Re: Back To The future with a C90

Cassette tapes had other uses too.

Of course data storage for early computers.

But one use I saw for them was pretty ingenious. One track had an audio recording on it. The other track had a PWM signal, the same type of proportional digital control used to control servos in model planes. This controlled servo motors. Two were the upper and lower jaws/mouth the other the eye position of a Teddy Bear named Teddy Ruxpin. More of the control channels were reserved for his friend named Grubby a large slug like creature.

The tape would consist of Teddy Ruxpin talking and telling stories and at the same time his mouth and eyes would move, making it look like he was really talking.

The manufacturers recorded over 20 tapes. If Grubby was plugged on via an interface cord, he would have an interactive conversation with Teddy.

It was all ingeniously clever for a child's toy. Later the company moved away from standard cassette tapes and went to a small custom tape and changed the encoding, it was nowhere near as impressive as their first effort.
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Old 27th Nov 2019, 3:04 pm   #36
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Default Re: Back To The future with a C90

Annother cunning use of cassettes...

I have a talking robot toy which is essentially a cassette player. The tape provides the voice, I think a couple of small bulbs are wired to the amplifier so that the 'eyes' flash in time with the speech.

The 4 tape tracks (think of the 4 tracks of a normal stereo cassette, but all recorded in the same direction) each have a head winding wired to 4 interlocked buttons.

The clever part is the tape recording. It will ask a question which you answer by pressing a button (and thus selecting a different track). All tracks are suitably recorded to give 'right/wrong' and then continue. Timing that on the tape must have been 'interesting'
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Old 27th Nov 2019, 7:19 pm   #37
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Default Re: Back To The future with a C90

There was also a brief - and largely unsuccessful - kiddies' toy that used a Compact Cassette to record video!

The Fisher-Price PXL-2000

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PXL-2000
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Old 27th Nov 2019, 8:20 pm   #38
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Default Re: Back To The future with a C90

Hoping this won't be too OT, I found some documentary programs yesterday related to the Journalist Ray Gosling [I recorded them on VHS tape circa 2006/7]. He died six years ago [November 2013]. This was in very sad circumstances, after losing the Nottingham house he'd lived in for forty years [when it could have been avoided]. He wrote and produced over a thousand programs for BBC Radio. There's a scene in his crowded cellar/office where he's looking at boxes of these [all on standard issue Beeb audio cassettes-hopefully not originals.] He finished up reduced to living in a sheltered housing situation [looking much too young for that]. His house contents were just skipped, as far as I know. I'm going to find out what the Broadcaster has preserved in it's archive. BBC4 let him make the three TV programs. The last one [about pensions] won an award in 2007!

Dave W

I know what the BBC audio cassettes looked like as I'd missed most of a R4 play in the eighties [no repeats then] and the producer offered to send me a copy, after I wrote in praising it to her. She stressed the need for absolute secrecy as it was no longer permitted to do this "in -house". The cassette arrived but it was blank. I wrote to say that there had not been any security breach as the tape had nothing on it and I hoped it was a mistake, not a change of heart!! I got a very apologetic letter two weeks later saying she had been dashing off on holiday and had now enclosed a tape with content included!

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Old 27th Nov 2019, 11:46 pm   #39
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Default Re: Back To The future with a C90

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Originally Posted by G6Tanuki View Post
There was also a brief - and largely unsuccessful - kiddies' toy that used a Compact Cassette to record video!

The Fisher-Price PXL-2000

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PXL-2000
I remember it being demonstrated on Tomorrow's World, but I don't think it was ever sold here.

Teddy Ruxpin could also play normal tapes, one owner once he got older found it was fun to play heavy metal in theirs!
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Old 27th Nov 2019, 11:50 pm   #40
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His house contents were just skipped, as far as I know.
According to Wikipedia, his archive was rescued and preserved by Nottingham Trent University.
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