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Cassette Tapes are back?

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Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby twotoedsloth » Fri Oct 12, 2018 3:42 pm

I thought you folks might find this interesting:

https://www.recordingthemasters.com/2018/10/11/audio-cassettes-are-produced-again/

Strange that they are Type 1 cassettes... I'm not all that familiar with cassettes, as they were largely replaced by CD-Rs when I was studying, but aren't Type 2 (chromium dioxide?) or Type 4 (metal?) cassettes vastly superior?

The price is reasonable, $30 for ten. Will DAT have a similar renaissance? I kept my prized DA30 against this possibility...
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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Oct 12, 2018 3:55 pm

I like this "We manufacture and distribute audio products for professional recording engineers and audiophiles, providing superior recording and sound playback qualities." from their website..... :bouncy:

You'd be better off buying these though https://www.wilko.com/en-uk/maxell-ur90-audio-cassette-5pk/p/0455057?nst=0&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI8PeM96GB3gIVq73tCh2S_AItEAQYAiABEgIky_D_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

Image

Nowt wrong with DAT (I still have a DA-20) it was the same 'quality' as early CDs. But, I believe, the AD and DA convertors back then were not as good as modern ones.
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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby James Perrett » Fri Oct 12, 2018 6:23 pm

I understand that no-one makes type 2 or type 4 tapes any longer but the high frequencies on those tapes are reputed to self erase after a while which plays havoc with noise reduction systems if they've been used.

There have certainly been quite a few cassette releases recently - Kylie Minogue being one of the more well known artists to use the format.
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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby ef37a » Sat Oct 13, 2018 5:46 am

Nowt wrong with type 1 ferric either!

TDK AD was a terrific T1 tape when set up correctly but it did need a high bias. Properly set up most of the top ferric brands could equal the performance of vinyl when used with Dolby B. Even without it the tape was fine for most low dynamic range "pop", especially in a car!

I am sure it was JLHood that produced a series of articles (W.World?) about building a cassette recorder (oh yes! "Men" were men then!) and he concluded that even type 1 ferric should use the T2 70 microsecond EQ regime? This was I think due to the advances in tape formulations that had come about by then.

Another advantage is that today, any decent machine you get will have the higher recording and bias capability needed for chrome and so it would be easy to set up T1 cassettes to run T2 EQ.

T2 HF "self erasure"? How would one know unless you played one in a magged up deck?

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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby Humble Bee » Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:33 am

I love cassette tape! I think...
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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby ef37a » Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:44 am

http://www.keith-snook.info/wireless-wo ... 20deck.pdf

Even if you don't want to build one (who would today?!) the article gives a very good insight into cassette recording technology.

Even then I personally thought the use of the 741 was scraping the economy barrel a bit low! But then I don't think the NE5534/2 existed in 76? Maybe in TI's lab?

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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:47 am

I've got a feeling the precursor to the NE5534 was the TDA1034, and I think that probably was available in 75/76. TDA1034s were certainly used in the early Quad 44 preamp disc board which was introduced in 1979 and probably in development for a year or so before that, and I doubt they would have used brand new, unproven ICs...

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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby nathanscribe » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:26 am

This might be a daft question, but what happens if you use the 'wrong' bias setting for tape? For example, if the machine doesn't allow a selection.
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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:33 am

Degraded frequency response and more noise and distortion, basically.

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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:34 am

Not much in real terms, the tonal balance will be less accurate than if you use the correct settings for the tape but you won't damage anything and the tape will still play back.
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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby blinddrew » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:36 am

Harumph. If ever there was a medium that should have been consigned to the dustbin of history...
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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby ef37a » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:57 am

blinddrew wrote:Harumph. If ever there was a medium that should have been consigned to the dustbin of history...
:grumpyface:

Cannot agree. I had a Denon with 3 heads, dual loop capstans ( v low W&F) CPU tape optimization, Dolby B and HX. Using TDK SA it was VERY hard to tell a copy of a CD from the original, even TDK AD and even the better Sony t1 ferrics were very close and certainly good enough for general daily use, dubbing vinyl, recording FM broadcasts*.

The really "big lie" today is the mad vinyl revival! Scraping a tiny jewel along a trough of copolymer al la Edison! Yes, I head some superb sounds from direct cut disc (SME, V15ll, 405, big Castle Acoustics) but pressings? And how long do they stay click/dust free? Assuming you get a good one to start with! Self shows some of the design effort needed to make a decent disc replay pre amp. The technology and cost involved in disc cutting is astronomical and the results worse than I got with the Denon!

If we are "doing " revivals? I would love a "linear" coded minidisc recorder. 20 minutes or so per disc would do me for a bit of Bach or Floyd! As they are I think they are better than most MP3?

*Twas said in the day that a live prom stereo broadcast was THE best sound quality you could get given a top line receiver and reception 10/20. Sadly I could never aspire to either (Northampton stereo "birdies")

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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby blinddrew » Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:11 am

I had a couple of nice cassette decks (and a very nice, last-generation panasonic walkman) and agree that with appropriate care you could get a decent recording.
But any device that requires a bic biro as part of your long term maintenance kit is flawed.
Hopefully as networks speed up and memory continues its ever decreasing cost we'll soon be dumping MP3 and everything will just be wav files.
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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby Ariosto » Sat Oct 13, 2018 12:48 pm

Personally I never found cassette tapes to be much good, and very liable to break or get tangled up. Reel to reel on a good machine was excellent especially on two track quarter inch tape at 15ips.

But nothing comes up to digital in my opinion - 24bit wave files.

Interesting programme on Radio 4 Extra today on recording and it's history, even if very long winded ...
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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby ManFromGlass » Sat Oct 13, 2018 12:52 pm

blinddrew wrote:But any device that requires a bic biro as part of your long term maintenance kit is flawed

I know. Try to find an original biro these days . . . . . .

On the serious, well semi, serious side - after setting up a turntable et al I realized I was too lazy to stand up every 18 minutes to flip the lp over. At least with cassettes certain decks could play side 2 after side 1 automatically. I have a vague memory of side 2 played this way often sounded like crap, where turning the cassette over to play side 2 sounded fine.
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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby Martin Walker » Sat Oct 13, 2018 2:34 pm

ef37a wrote:T2 HF "self erasure"? How would one know unless you played one in a magged up deck?

A tape with frequency response that slowly degenerates, sounding duller over the years?

(or have I missed something? ;) )


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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby ef37a » Sat Oct 13, 2018 2:50 pm

Martin Walker wrote:
ef37a wrote:T2 HF "self erasure"? How would one know unless you played one in a magged up deck?

A tape with frequency response that slowly degenerates, sounding duller over the years?

(or have I missed something? ;) )


Martin

I was been a little flippant Martin but I really don't see why any tape format should lose HF over time unless exposed to a magnetic field? My point about a magnetized deck was that IF there is some "wives tale/myth" about this it could have started with someone with such a poorly maintained machine?

I also reiterate my point? Unless the tape had reference tones recorded on it (as studio Dolby A tapes always should) how could you know the HF was down on 5 years ago?

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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Oct 13, 2018 3:10 pm

ef37a wrote:I really don't see why any tape format should lose HF over time unless exposed to a magnetic field?

It's entropy innit? The signal recorded onto the tape via the orientation of magnetic particles degrades as those particles gradually attempt to revert back to their non-oriented state.

This happens on all tape formats, but is generally worse for thinner, slower tapes, and higher magnetic flux levels. So use standard-play tapes rather than long play, higher tape speeds where possible (open-reel, not cassette, obviously), and don't thrash the record meters to force heavy saturation!

Although gradual self-erasure affects all frequencies, it is the higher frequencies that are affected most quickly and most obviously, although keeping the tape cool helps to minimise the problem for long-term archives. The magnetic field embedded within adjacent layers of tape can also advance the self-erasure process (as well as leading to pre/post echos in some cases).

Moreover, the self-erasure issue with cassettes tends to appear worse than it really is because of the almost ubiquitous use of Dolby B, such that a slight loss of HF from the tape is further reduced by the mistracking action of the Dolby B decoder.

I also reiterate my point? Unless the tape had reference tones recorded on it (as studio Dolby A tapes always should) how could you know the HF was down on 5 years ago?

The obvious answer is to compare the (cassette) tape with the source. I have often done exactly that in my previous career, and can state that self-erasure really isn't a myth... although it might not be quite the huge problem some would claim!

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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby ef37a » Sat Oct 13, 2018 3:23 pm

Thank you Hugh, I am enlightened. Although, being 20dB down at 2kHz from age about 50 (73 now) I dare say the effect was lost on me!

The cassette medium was never I would aver designed to archive music for decades? It was a very convenient (and spoken as one who has installed more than one Philips 45 player in cars!) method of having black discs handier to play and with good equipment, tape and accurate setup gave nothing away in quality, other than the fact of course that you were making a copy.

I really never had problems with cassettes jamming or tangling up myself, although I did have a quite a few machines come in for repair in that state. If you bought decent tapes to start with, kept them wound up in their boxes and use a decent, CLEAN machine you should very rarely have an issue. You only have to take vinyl out of its sleeve ONCE and it is buggered in some way!

I am sure if people chucked NAB spools of their current work about the back seat of the car, out of box and amid yesterday's lunch some dropouts and stickiness might have ensured?

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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby The Bunk » Sat Oct 13, 2018 5:10 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:On the serious, well semi, serious side - after setting up a turntable et al I realized I was too lazy to stand up every 18 minutes to flip the lp over. At least with cassettes certain decks could play side 2 after side 1 automatically. I have a vague memory of side 2 played this way often sounded like crap, where turning the cassette over to play side 2 sounded fine.

I remember that! Presumably it because that tape basically played backwards which, well, surely just isn't right.

I had a decent-ish set-up at home years ago, in the old days of Turntable, Cassette Deck and Amp and always though that the sound quality of my vinyl recorded to cassettes was better than the vinyl original.

But is this whole cassette (and vinyl for that matter) thing something to do with the real drive behind it being the hardware manufacturers being in cahoots with the record companies, trying to convince us that it's the new (again) big thing?? I mean...the CD, way back when...best ever sound quality (well, maybe but let's not go there now), scratch-free (no) indestructible and playable anywhere in any condition (nonsense). Didn't they try that with DAT as well before getting rumbled?
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