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Vintage Tape (Audio), Cassette, Wire and Magnetic Disc Recorders and Players Open-reel tape recorders, cassette recorders, 8-track players etc.

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Old 1st Sep 2020, 3:03 pm   #1
Edward Huggins
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Default Are there any cassette machines in current production

As best as I can recall it, the last release of new Cassette Hi-Fi Separates came out from Sony and Yamaha in the mid/late 1990s. These were relatively Budget units at the c.180-250 price point. Even after production ended, these seemed to stay on the shelves for some time until they were eventually discounted off.
Since then I have not been aware of any new market entries....
Given a so-called Cassette Revival, do Members know if any of the volume manufacturers have introduced (or hinted at) any form of new cassette player production?
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Old 1st Sep 2020, 3:45 pm   #2
Ted Kendall
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Default Re: Are there any cassette machines in current production

I think there's a Tascam of some stripe available, but it's an inferior product - crude Chinese mechanicals, as the Japanese don't make them any more, and no Dolby, as they don't licence it any more. Used or NOS is the only viable option for a quality machine, I fear.
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Old 1st Sep 2020, 3:54 pm   #3
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Default Re: Are there any cassette machines in current production

I would expect the patents on Dolby B and C to have expired a long time ago. The only thing Dolby can licence is the use of the name. So someone could make a compatible system even an exact replica, they'd just have to pick their own name.

The whole purpose of patents is to bring inventions out into the public domain. The patent period is a reward, by giving the inventor an open playing field for a limited number of years. In contrast, registered trade marks last as long as someone keeps paying the fees.

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Old 1st Sep 2020, 8:10 pm   #4
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Default Re: Are there any cassette machines in current production

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The only thing Dolby can licence is the use of the name. So someone could make a compatible system even an exact replica, they'd just have to pick their own name.


David

Boldy perhaps!
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Old 2nd Sep 2020, 4:00 am   #5
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Default Re: Are there any cassette machines in current production

I think it's due mostly to a lack of demand. Most people will only pay for a very cheap cassette player if they're bothered at all.

For quality transfers archivists still need good quality, long lasting decks which will not damage tapes. They're forced to use quality older decks and repair them. Interestingly in the professional Tascam 122 Mk III, a common deck used in quality archival transfers, we can readily buy the special plastic gears which fail in these decks, but only at a very high price for what you get. Again it seems due to the (limited) demand for the gears, by people who can afford to pay.
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Old 2nd Sep 2020, 2:46 pm   #6
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Default Re: Are there any cassette machines in current production

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I would expect the patents on Dolby B and C to have expired a long time ago. The only thing Dolby can licence is the use of the name. So someone could make a compatible system even an exact replica, they'd just have to pick their own name.
I know you can buy software decoders for Dolby A and B but I've yet to see anything for C, S and SR. On the software that I'm thinking of (Uhe Satin) they're just referred to as A type and B type noise reduction.
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Old 2nd Sep 2020, 10:52 pm   #7
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Default Re: Are there any cassette machines in current production

I've seen newly produced decks with integrated USB sound card, intended for copying tapes directly to a computer. What quality the mechanism is I don't know, as these machines seem fairly cheap it's probably something rather basic.
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Old 2nd Sep 2020, 11:19 pm   #8
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Default Re: Are there any cassette machines in current production

Does that mean someone is making tape heads?

Because otherwise, the whole tape thing ends when the last head wears out. Reel to reel or cassette, that is the end.

Unless the degree of finesse and the gamut of materials in some future 3-D printer allows them to be done as a hobby.

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Old 3rd Sep 2020, 2:17 am   #9
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Default Re: Are there any cassette machines in current production

Yes I guess making tape heads is not for wimps, especially high grade and miniature ones. I get the impression they're made by hand. The cost of materials must be trivial but the techniques of manufacture wouldnt be. Close tolerances. I've thrown out tape machines but kept the tape heads.

A wholesaler of electronic servicing parts over here still sells a few types of generic cassette head.
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Old 3rd Sep 2020, 6:27 am   #10
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Default Re: Are there any cassette machines in current production

I'm speculating here, but as I understand it, tape ("streamers") is still used for high volume computer backup. So someone is at least making some form of tape heads. Hard disks also use heads of course, but they are vastly different from tape heads, although a lot of the underlying technology and know-how must be the same.

As far as existing heads and stocks thereof go, I feel it's a bit like unopened boxes of tape, it never ceases to amaze me how one can find unopened boxes of magnetic tape over 50 years since it was made, with a bit of luck. Like, when is someone going to open the last box of shrink-wrapped magnetic tape? I think it will be far in the future. Or like just when you think you've seen all the models of tape recorders there ever were, a previously unknown one pops up.

Certainly there must be a finite number of workable tape heads in this world, and the number is certainly going down as we ware down our precious machines, but I still think that there is an unimaginably large number of heads out there and will be for some time.

Last edited by ricard; 3rd Sep 2020 at 6:34 am. Reason: More thoughts on the scarceness of heads (and tape).
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Old 3rd Sep 2020, 12:56 pm   #11
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Default Re: Are there any cassette machines in current production

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I've seen newly produced decks with integrated USB sound card, intended for copying tapes directly to a computer. What quality the mechanism is I don't know, as these machines seem fairly cheap it's probably something rather basic.
That is interesting, do you have any Make/Model numbers for these ?
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Old 3rd Sep 2020, 3:10 pm   #12
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Default Re: Are there any cassette machines in current production

A google search for 'usb cassette player' (no quotes) will find some.
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Old 3rd Sep 2020, 5:04 pm   #13
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Default Re: Are there any cassette machines in current production

Thank you Tony, I have found loads.
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Old 3rd Sep 2020, 7:24 pm   #14
andrewn
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Default Re: Are there any cassette machines in current production

Teac still make cassette decks https://www.teac-audio.eu/en/product...00-152362.html
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Old 3rd Sep 2020, 8:09 pm   #15
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Default Re: Are there any cassette machines in current production

Edward!

A lot of cheapos about apparently, Techmoan has done a couple of videos recently on YouTube regarding current tape machines. He makes the point that there’s only one mech available these days, and it’s very much lowest common denominator. Available in stereo or mono, apparently.

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Old 3rd Sep 2020, 8:33 pm   #16
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Default Re: Are there any cassette machines in current production

VWestlife on YouTube has done some reviews on newer cassette decks,

https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...tlife+cassette

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Old 3rd Sep 2020, 8:57 pm   #17
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Default Re: Are there any cassette machines in current production

Apparently there is still music being released solely cassette too, for instance:

https://www.ultravioletlight.blue/pr...J6DTA6Hklpf9L8
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Old 4th Sep 2020, 4:06 am   #18
TIMTAPE
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Default Re: Are there any cassette machines in current production

Quote:
Originally Posted by ricard View Post
I'm speculating here, but as I understand it, tape ("streamers") is still used for high volume computer backup. So someone is at least making some form of tape heads. Hard disks also use heads of course, but they are vastly different from tape heads, although a lot of the underlying technology and know-how must be the same...
Yes digital data backup with tape is still big business. Most of us never see it and there are perceptions that "tape is dead" which in this role it isnt. Cost and reliability are the advantages. The disadvantage is slow access so it tends to be used as reliable backup when primary storage fails. Technical advances are still being made I believe.

This article attempts to address some of the "myths" and claims around 80% of modern businesses use tape as part of their backup.

https://www.nakivo.com/blog/debunkin...egular%20basis.
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Old 4th Sep 2020, 11:06 am   #19
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Default Re: Are there any cassette machines in current production

The Teac machine in psot #14 boasts "noise reduction to reduce hiss on playback equivalent to Dolby B".
It looks nice, but any recent TEAC products that have visted the workshop have looked great but internally were very poor. I wonder if the name has been sold? TASCAM products are still pretty good as always.
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Old 4th Sep 2020, 11:38 am   #20
TIMTAPE
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Default Re: Are there any cassette machines in current production

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...TASCAM products are still pretty good as always.
Yes but Tascam havent made decent cassette decks for many years. Not that they can be blamed. There's very little demand for them these days.

The remaining two current Tascam cassette decks quote wow and flutter as 0.25% WRMS.

Tascam's flagship 122 MkIII from the mid 90's had a more than 6 times better W & F spec at 0.04% WRMS.

It had a lovely heavy duty direct drive, brushless, fully servo speed controlled capstan motor, and a servo controlled tape back tension system. AFAIK Tascam were the only manufacturer to feature such a servo back tension system in a cassette deck. It sensed the rotational speed of the supply reel and from that inferred the diameter of tape left on the spool and therefore the back tension, which it regulated to constant tension like a pro open reel deck, via a magnetic clutch arrangement.

Last edited by TIMTAPE; 4th Sep 2020 at 11:53 am.
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