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A leap of faith with an old tape deck

Audiolab 6000A Amplifier

greenhorn

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Jus FYI - this is not exactly an 'old' deck - Its a 1994 model. Most of the tape decks I have are from the late 70's. Heck, even most of my CD players are older than this one!
 

reubensm

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Congrats on the purchase. The are various views on Cassettes, some are generic while some are personal. What is important is how you feel about them :)

A lot of opinions about tapes are based on basic type-1 tapes played on Decks of varying quality. Most of the decks dominating the market were mass market ones with varied quality standards (both mechanical and musical). if you listen to well recorded metal tapes (not the music genre but tape type :) ) on a good deck like a NAK 1000, you'll be transported to another world. However as you drop down the value tree, the short comings of tape will become more and more relevant.

One key factor with tapes is noise (or tape hiss). With various noise limiting options like the Dolby, DNL, etc you can curb the noise, however some like to listen to tapes with noise (albeit listening to records with ticks and pops ;) ). Tapes aren't that bad for they were good enough to be the most preferred medium for a long time.

While playing those old tapes (on a newish deck), beware of fungus and tapes with dry oxide layers (the squeaky types). Prefer to use new tapes and before playing older ones, check them thoroughly (old tapes are real killers of rubber pinch rollers)

Now to quality, if you have the honour of owning a NAK 1000, NAK Dragon and other big league machines like the Tandberg TCD3014 (lovingly called the Dragon Slayer) or the Grundig CF5500-2 (the best ever German deck), your listening experience will be different. However the fact is that the lesser regarded (and lesser expensive) NAK models are more or less as good or perhaps a wee bit better than mass market decks. Akai, Sony, Technics, Pioneer, Aiwa, Sansui, Marantz, Yamaha, etc made some great sounding decks.

You may have noted the mention of the Sony TC-S1 deck in this thread. I have experience with this deck. It is actually one of the components of the famed Sony La Scala mini hi-fi system which in its day, cost about $1000 and won the What-HiFi Best Mini System award in 1995. Though small, this deck packs a punch and offers record and playback with Dolby B, C and S options. This is the highlight of this deck. It also comes with auto calibration which though I did not use, appears to be a useful feature. The recordings and playback with Dolby S is very good.

Cassettes may be dumb but they are fun, if you are serious about the format, you can achieve some heights with it, but again it all comes down to personal choice and preferences.

Check out this video by Youtuber Techmoan. The Sony TC-S1 features here, also he shares some good info on cassette tapes and how they can be made to sound better.
 

Jayant_S

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Congrats on the purchase. The are various views on Cassettes, some are generic while some are personal. What is important is how you feel about them :)

A lot of opinions about tapes are based on basic type-1 tapes played on Decks of varying quality. Most of the decks dominating the market were mass market ones with varied quality standards (both mechanical and musical). if you listen to well recorded metal tapes (not the music genre but tape type :) ) on a good deck like a NAK 1000, you'll be transported to another world. However as you drop down the value tree, the short comings of tape will become more and more relevant.

One key factor with tapes is noise (or tape hiss). With various noise limiting options like the Dolby, DNL, etc you can curb the noise, however some like to listen to tapes with noise (albeit listening to records with ticks and pops ;) ). Tapes aren't that bad for they were good enough to be the most preferred medium for a long time.

While playing those old tapes (on a newish deck), beware of fungus and tapes with dry oxide layers (the squeaky types). Prefer to use new tapes and before playing older ones, check them thoroughly (old tapes are real killers of rubber pinch rollers)

Now to quality, if you have the honour of owning a NAK 1000, NAK Dragon and other big league machines like the Tandberg TCD3014 (lovingly called the Dragon Slayer) or the Grundig CF5500-2 (the best ever German deck), your listening experience will be different. However the fact is that the lesser regarded (and lesser expensive) NAK models are more or less as good or perhaps a wee bit better than mass market decks. Akai, Sony, Technics, Pioneer, Aiwa, Sansui, Marantz, Yamaha, etc made some great sounding decks.

You may have noted the mention of the Sony TC-S1 deck in this thread. I have experience with this deck. It is actually one of the components of the famed Sony La Scala mini hi-fi system which in its day, cost about $1000 and won the What-HiFi Best Mini System award in 1995. Though small, this deck packs a punch and offers record and playback with Dolby B, C and S options. This is the highlight of this deck. It also comes with auto calibration which though I did not use, appears to be a useful feature. The recordings and playback with Dolby S is very good.

Cassettes may be dumb but they are fun, if you are serious about the format, you can achieve some heights with it, but again it all comes down to personal choice and preferences.

Check out this video by Youtuber Techmoan. The Sony TC-S1 features here, also he shares some good info on cassette tapes and how they can be made to sound better.
Thanks @reubensm :)
I'm being extra cautious about playing older tapes. Will definitely pay attention for any signs of fungus.
Will watch that video tonight!

I was offered a Nak CR3 and the Pioneer. Couldn't afford the CR3 and felt it was too much of an indulgence for what's going to be occasional nostalgic listening.

On a side note, love the Garrard 301 in your profile! Is that yours?
 

kuks1

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Here goes Sachin...
If I'm totally objective about it, cassettes clearly suffer as a medium for SQ. Crackling sounds on some of them, random level dips and not so well defined stereo separation or staging.
But it's impossible to keep emotions out of a music listening experience. So let my try and write about them for all three media I now have. Entirely my emotional opinions so bear with my ramblings.

With CDs, everything is exact, precise and cold cut. Apart from badly mastered originals, cd listening is about laying bare every little detail of the performance under a microscope and dispassionately examining them. Imperfections have no place to hide.

Records are my favorite medium from the perspective of the whole listening experience. Again discounting poor mastering, music come alive, I feel like I'm pulled into the middle of the performance and am compelled to drop everything I'm doing, sit on the sweet listening spot of my couch and live the story being told by the artist. The occasional crackles and pops humanize the experience for me. Dynamism, presence and sound staging in spades.

And now tapes like these two gems I've dug out:
View attachment 42556
Through all that I've heard so far, "warm fuzz" is what I could consistently feel. Imagine a cold evening, a warm blanket, sitting by the fire in the company of an old friend and drinking hot chocolate/your favorite beverage. You're entirely free to get up and go about what you want to do while the music keeps you company. Always there for you, imperfections, warts and all.
Don't buy cassettes and tape decks if you want an audiophile experience. Buy them for that long lost childhood friend who always had your back.
I had that John Mayall Tape. Gave away some 300 tapes about 10 yrs back since they were lying unused for the longest time. What nostalgia :))
 

Jayant_S

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I had that John Mayall Tape. Gave away some 300 tapes about 10 yrs back since they were lying unused for the longest time. What nostalgia :))
Nostalgia is the right word :)
I've come close to chucking out my collection several times. Really thankful I held on this long
 

reubensm

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Thanks @reubensm :)
I'm being extra cautious about playing older tapes. Will definitely pay attention for any signs of fungus.
Will watch that video tonight!

I was offered a Nak CR3 and the Pioneer. Couldn't afford the CR3 and felt it was too much of an indulgence for what's going to be occasional nostalgic listening.

On a side note, love the Garrard 301 in your profile! Is that yours?
Yes, the Garrard 301 and 401 are my primary listening decks. I also have a couple of these and a Technics SL1210 MK2, in storage.
 

Jayant_S

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Yes, the Garrard 301 and 401 are my primary listening decks. I also have a couple of these and a Technics SL1210 MK2, in storage.
OT again (will desist after this post). What do you make of the newly released Garrard 301? Built by SME
 

COOLDUDE7808

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have a lot of fond memories when it comes to tapes ..but once I got into CD's gave away my entire collection of some 200 cassettes for free .
Mumbai has a humid climate and the original tapes develop fungus ...got tired of cleaning the head , pinchroller etc ..I was spending more time in doing that and then rewinding and forwarding to listen to a specific track ... to get the same analog sound one can listen to radio ..

Frankly I believe tapes don't offer that sound quality of say Vinyl's (.so its worth cleaning those vinyl's) and in terms of convenience CD is the best .

digital is more convenient but the quality is not as good as CD's ( always) .
 

Jayant_S

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have a lot of fond memories when it comes to tapes ..but once I got into CD's gave away my entire collection of some 200 cassettes for free .
Mumbai has a humid climate and the original tapes develop fungus ...got tired of cleaning the head , pinchroller etc ..I was spending more time in doing that and then rewinding and forwarding to listen to a specific track ... to get the same analog sound one can listen to radio ..

Frankly I believe tapes don't offer that sound quality of say Vinyl's (.so its worth cleaning those vinyl's) and in terms of convenience CD is the best .

digital is more convenient but the quality is not as good as CD's ( always) .
I've lucked out with living in Pune and then Bangalore. Not humid in either place and my tapes have survived all these years :)
No question about the SQ - can't match good quality vinyl and CD. But the joy of playing them again is unmatched. Such as listening to these tunes on tape :

2C15B8C3-1E2A-4192-A5FD-3D39FD1540D4.jpeg
 

reubensm

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OT again (will desist after this post). What do you make of the newly released Garrard 301? Built by SME
SME or rather, Garrard (SME owns the Garrard brand) claims that the current ones are refurbished or perhaps rebuilt with original spares. There is a lot talked about and a lot to be assumed at this point, however I would assume that they are setting up for manufacturing the 301 ultimately, in its entirety. The oil bearing rig comes with the SME M2-12R tonearm and with a very high price tag of £12,500. Reviews of course are rave and the rig often features at high end audio shows. Now, for that kind of investment, one would need top of the range components in the audio chain and pristine vinyl pressings to really justify that kind of investment.
 

sandeepmohan

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Check out this video by Youtuber Techmoan.
Interesting you bring this up. It was almost as if it was a coincidence that I ended up watching one of his videos on Kenwood yesterday. I do not subscribe to his channel.

It was a small history lesson on Kenwood. Not to be confused with the British kitchen appliance manufacturer. The presenter covered a unique feature on a Kenwood cassette deck and cd player called CRSS. What looks like a stereo mini jack interconnect, you could get the two components to talk to each other, not just to get record function started but to adjust record and bias levels automatically. Not all components did this. The one he purchased did not. There was another feature, when you did CD to Tape dubs where the cd player would analyze time on all tracks and do a track program of what would fit on each side of a blank cassette. Impressive for something designed and built 30 years ago.

It struck only after watching this video that out of 20 main stream Hi Fi manufacturers, 16 of them were Japanese! Sony were at the top as the most remembered Hi Fi gear brand.
 

Jayant_S

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Seeking some help from you guys! Is that fungus in the tape window?? If you look close, there's some white flaky stuff in there. Would hate to chuck this out :(

13FF2FB9-879B-40C0-B7C3-2DD1FBF0963E.jpeg

Can't make out from the visible tape at the bottom

2271726D-AFC4-40D6-B9B4-21889204DFCE.jpeg

Please help! Would go a long way in judging the rest of my really old tapes.
 

jmascreen

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try multiple rewind and forward also open the case and clean with some cotton. I use a local type with heavy mechanism to do rewind and forward which cleans up a bit
 

rikhav

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Jayant_S

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Thanks Rikhav! Exactly the same flaky powder I've seen in the old tapes.
Looks like a big cleaning job that maybe beyond me.
 

reubensm

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In my personal opinion once your tape suffers a fungus attack or starts dropping oxide, it’s time to just discard it. If the recording matters, try a cleaning exercise and record out the content. Playing these will lessen the life of the pinch rollers and heads (constant cleaning). The only way to avoid this is to follow the cliche - prevention is better than cure
 
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