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Cassette Tapes are back?

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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Oct 16, 2018 12:25 pm

ef37a wrote:Thank you Hugh and I bet that all came out of your head!

It did... but then I've been teaching that kind of stuff to students for over twenty years now! ;-)

I would love to know what politking went on to keep the MDisc out of car audio?

I don't think it did. MD was a hugely popular format in the US and Japan, and there were a great many in-car MD players. It just never really caught on that well in the UK.

The format is so obviously better suited having intrinsic protection.

Absolutely. The manufacturers learned from the mistakes of the CD format. They thought the biggest problem with CD would be dropouts due to pin-holes in the mirrored layer, so that's what they optimised the error protection system to deal with. However, the mirroring was quickly perfected and the real issue was deep surface scratches and optical contamination (grease etc) which caused mistracking and defeated the error protection systems. Encasing the disc in a plastic box removed those risks very effectively.

H
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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Oct 16, 2018 2:17 pm

I still have several working MD devices. Three in-car players (in storage now mind you but not yet consigned to the tip) and my ballet teacher wife used them as an upgrade from cassettes (which the dance festival world used from the very early days and most festivals still have cassette playback as an option). MD was superior in almost every way to cassette and has a fair few advantages over CD (recordability, editability, shock resistance on playback and robustness....).
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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby Wonks » Tue Oct 16, 2018 2:35 pm

Car manufacturers in the UK were never going to fit MD players in cars as standard without a MD customer base that was as large as for cassette players (and subsequently for CD players after the fairly quick changeover to CDs being the main music medium). Most of Joe Public weren't interested enough in the crossover period from analogue to digital to have a record player, cassette player/recorder, CD player and minidisc player/recorder at home to make MD players as standard in cars worthwhile. The anti-copy systems on digital media also meant that someone would probably be unable to copy from a CD to MD very easily (never had one so don't know how successful or widespread this was), whilst copying from record or CD to a cassette was easy, and generally the cassette sound quality was good enough for the car.
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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby John Willett » Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:35 pm

ken long wrote:
blinddrew wrote:
ef37a wrote:However, even today there is still no other convenient way to record an audio source such as a radio programme or TV sound.
Except for those of us who still have our minidisc recorders! :D

Aaaahh... but that's compressed audio, like MP3.

Compressed - but not like MP3 ;)
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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby Humble Bee » Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:49 pm

Thanks Hugh for that great read about the 44.1 kHz story! You could write a book on that and I for one would buy it!
Cheers!
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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby Dynamic Mike » Wed Oct 17, 2018 1:05 am

Wonks wrote:The anti-copy systems on digital media also meant that someone would probably be unable to copy from a CD to MD very easily (never had one so don't know how successful or widespread this was), whilst copying from record or CD to a cassette was easy, and generally the cassette sound quality was good enough for the car.
Copying to a Sony minidisc was easy, basically drag and drop to Sony's branded Jukebox/Media player (I forget the name, maybe OpenMD?) then copy to disc. Copying back was fine except it changed the format to NetMD such that it could only be played on OpenMD. The standard installation for OpenMD changed every mp3/WMA/WAV file it found on your hard drive into Sony's preferred format, even your own unprotected tracks! Undoing the damage was a nightmare. I remember someone here posting that if Sony had a school report it would say 'doesn't play well with others'. How true.
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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby James Perrett » Wed Oct 17, 2018 1:10 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Image

Thanks for that picture and the explanation Hugh - just last night I was trying to explain the idea of digital audio stored on video tape to a video editor friend of mine who hadn't come across the idea before. We have a mutual friend with some PCM-F1 tapes and my video editor mate has a working Betamax machine but I had no idea what the tapes would look like if he tried to play them.
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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby ef37a » Wed Oct 17, 2018 6:21 am

Dynamic Mike wrote:
Wonks wrote:The anti-copy systems on digital media also meant that someone would probably be unable to copy from a CD to MD very easily (never had one so don't know how successful or widespread this was), whilst copying from record or CD to a cassette was easy, and generally the cassette sound quality was good enough for the car.
Copying to a Sony minidisc was easy, basically drag and drop to Sony's branded Jukebox/Media player (I forget the name, maybe OpenMD?) then copy to disc. Copying back was fine except it changed the format to NetMD such that it could only be played on OpenMD. The standard installation for OpenMD changed every mp3/WMA/WAV file it found on your hard drive into Sony's preferred format, even your own unprotected tracks! Undoing the damage was a nightmare. I remember someone here posting that if Sony had a school report it would say 'doesn't play well with others'. How true.

It was an age ago but I am pretty sure I copied CDs from a PC with a 2496 card. Output via S/PDIF and a cheap co-ax/optical converter. The card stripped out any copy protection?

Mind you, no great loss doing it annylogically!

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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Oct 17, 2018 9:50 am

James Perrett wrote:Thanks for that picture and the explanation Hugh - just last night I was trying to explain the idea of digital audio stored on video tape to a video editor friend of mine who hadn't come across the idea before. We have a mutual friend with some PCM-F1 tapes and my video editor mate has a working Betamax machine but I had no idea what the tapes would look like if he tried to play them.

The consumer (PCMF1) generation of PCM adapters used a slightly different video structure from the professional 1600 series. Basically the same idea, but with fewer synching pulses and more of the horizontal line used for data.

Sony PCMF1.jpg
Sony PCMF1.jpg (69.1 KiB) Viewed 1038 times


The most significant bit (MSB) of each sample is to the left, so you can see the signal cycling between +ve and -ve peaks as the changing broad black and white vertical sections. As you move from left to right across each line you can see six distinct samples (three pairs of left-right couples). These are all 14 bits wide. The louder the signal, the more bits in each sample start getting toggled and the narrower the black and white left-hand stripes become. Then there is another chunk which carries bits 15-16 for each sample, and then some housekeeping and error protection data to finish off the line.
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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby James Perrett » Wed Oct 17, 2018 11:58 am

Thanks Hugh - I have a copy of Sony's Digital Audio and Compact Disc Technology book from 1988 which covers all the data formats but it doesn't show any pictures of what they look like if played on a normal video recorder.

One thought that has just occured to me - I wonder if anyone has created a software decoder for these formats that works with a video capture card on a computer?
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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby blinddrew » Wed Oct 17, 2018 1:27 pm

Dynamic Mike wrote:
Wonks wrote:The anti-copy systems on digital media also meant that someone would probably be unable to copy from a CD to MD very easily (never had one so don't know how successful or widespread this was), whilst copying from record or CD to a cassette was easy, and generally the cassette sound quality was good enough for the car.
Copying to a Sony minidisc was easy, basically drag and drop to Sony's branded Jukebox/Media player (I forget the name, maybe OpenMD?) then copy to disc. Copying back was fine except it changed the format to NetMD such that it could only be played on OpenMD. The standard installation for OpenMD changed every mp3/WMA/WAV file it found on your hard drive into Sony's preferred format, even your own unprotected tracks! Undoing the damage was a nightmare. I remember someone here posting that if Sony had a school report it would say 'doesn't play well with others'. How true.
Yep, sounds about right. Lovely hardware, horrible software.
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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby Mansderr » Thu Oct 18, 2018 5:02 pm

I guess how sony handles its items is their business but idk.
I've never been an expert but its interesting to read the comments of yours, the people who can tell so much about all these specific crates of audio aspects, im impressed.
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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby ken long » Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:37 pm

John Willett wrote:
ken long wrote:
blinddrew wrote:
ef37a wrote:However, even today there is still no other convenient way to record an audio source such as a radio programme or TV sound.
Except for those of us who still have our minidisc recorders! :D

Aaaahh... but that's compressed audio, like MP3.

Compressed - but not like MP3 ;)

Er... it is a compressed format. And so is MP3. I didnt mean it is equivalent.
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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby ken long » Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:38 pm

ef37a wrote:
ken long wrote:
blinddrew wrote:
ef37a wrote:However, even today there is still no other convenient way to record an audio source such as a radio programme or TV sound.
Except for those of us who still have our minidisc recorders! :D

Aaaahh... but that's compressed audio, like MP3.

Better than MP3 though I would aver?

Yes, lol. But still compressed.
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Re: Cassette Tapes are back?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Thu Oct 18, 2018 10:47 pm

ef37a wrote:However, even today there is still no other convenient way to record an audio source such as a radio programme or TV sound.

True a few years ago but now very easy. On the Mac I use Audio Hijack Pro, on Windows machines I used to use Audio Grabber. Just go to the programme you want on iPlayer (BBC) or whatever the equivalent is for the specific radio/TV programme, trigger the software and do as you will with the resulting recording.

I still have many cassettes that I made back in the day when it was the only convenient way and I listen to them, but there ain't no way I'm going back to recording on the buggers.

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