This is a detail measurements of the iconic, Nakamichi Dragon Vintage cassette deck. It was kindly brought to me at a meet at our local audio store (Gig Harbor audio).
For those of you too young to know , the Nakamichi Dragon has the reputation of being the best cassette deck available at the end of the cycle for the format. It came out in 1982 and retailed for USD $2,499. That would be $6,500 today's dollar so quite a lot of money. I was too poor to afford one at the time so it was a pleasure to get my hands on one finally for this test.
We were testing it in a dark room and this is just with the light of a phone so please forgive the poor lighting:
Unlike digital products and amplifiers, we are at the mercy of calibration tapes for testing such products. The owner had a few of them and that is what I used for testing.
I unfortunately did not capture the results of 1 kHz tone but here are some other frequencies.
View attachment 18585
Oh boy. We are so used to SINAD (signal over distortion and noise) of 90+ that numbers like 41 dB seem so, so low!
Likewise distortion components are just 40 to 50 dB down from our main tone as opposed to 90+ in digital.
Let's jump up to 3 kHz:
View attachment 18586
Channels are mismatched in both phase and amplitude. The Dragon is supposed to auto-calibrate the phase but clearly it is not able to do so.
Increase in frequency has also increased our distortion.
Widening of the 3 kHz tone at the bottom shows random jitter/tape speed variations.
Lastly here is 12.5 kHz response:
View attachment 18587
Granted, the levels are low but 4.5% distortion??? Phase and amplitude errors followed us here too.
Even though this is not a thorough test and the pedigree of test tapes is unknown, these results are more than depressing for those of us who cherished this marquee audio product. Worst of the worst digital products have performance that is hundreds of times better. Oh, well.
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.
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It still might have Big Tone, though.