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New Cassette Machines?

pozz

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#1
I have a small collection of music from the 80s and early 90s on cassette, and one of my favourite artists has been releasing ambient music on cassette the last few years. The only player I ever had was a portable Aiwa, which went to hell at some point.

Anyone know of manufacturers producing new decks, portable or otherwise? For example, the Tascam 202 MKVII, or the Marantz PMD-300CP.
 

pozz

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#3
Thanks, but I was hoping for more specific recommendations of models built by manufacturers that you and other members respect for quality, not just any working player.
 

pozz

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#5
I'd look at a good used deck rather than new ones. Something like the Yamaha KX-580
Any specific reason why? I'd be buying a 20 or 30 year old machine if I did that.
 

somebodyelse

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#7
Any specific reason why? I'd be buying a 20 or 30 year old machine if I did that.
I suspect that the mechanisms and heads being produced today won't be as good as the ones produced around the end of tape's life as a mainstream medium, and that you'll get better value that way as used ones seem pretty cheap. Try comparing the specs of the Tascam you linked to the KX-580 specs and reviews which seem to confirm this.
 
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#8
Thanks, but I was hoping for more specific recommendations of models built by manufacturers that you and other members respect for quality, not just any working player.
There really isn't much new to choose from anymore. A great cassette deck will have 3 heads, dual-capstan drive, and Dolby C or S; I can't find anything like this out there now. TEAC/Tascam have been in the tape business for about as long as anyone. If I needed a new player today, that would be my choice; probably the combo CD/cassette unit as I'd want to dub my cassettes over to digital and that's an easy way to do so.

If you decide to go "vintage", look for a refurbished unit from a reputable seller. Cassette decks, more than any other piece of hifi gear, are chock full of motors, belts, rollers, switches, and other component parts that deteriorate with age. Right now, there are a few Nakamichi RX-202 and LX-5 units on eBay. Both were very good, but are well over 30 years old and certainly now or soon will need an expensive overhaul (if you can find someone to do it). Honestly, I'd go with the new Tascam and its warranty.
 

pozz

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There really isn't much new to choose from anymore. A great cassette deck will have 3 heads, dual-capstan drive, and Dolby C or S; I can't find anything like this out there now. TEAC/Tascam have been in the tape business for about as long as anyone. If I needed a new player today, that would be my choice; probably the combo CD/cassette unit as I'd want to dub my cassettes over to digital and that's an easy way to do so.
You mean the TEAC AD-850? There's also the TEAC W-1200, which two has separate decks with equivalent specs. 59dB SNR at 3% THD, A-weighted? Bring it on.

'cause you want to play a 40 years medium ...
I'm surprised there been no deck renaissance apart from nostalgia/novelty gear like what @Xulonn posted.
 

anmpr1

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#11
I'm surprised there been no deck renaissance apart from nostalgia/novelty gear like what @Xulonn posted.
Here's the thing--cassettes were never really hi-fi. They were 'pretty good' in the best iterations. I recall comparing a Nakamichi 1000ZXL something or other, that was gold plated, and cost a fortune, to a bottom of the line Dual (I think it was a 505) with an Ortofon cartridge. We recorded a direct to disc, using Nakamichi tape (probably sourced from TDK or Maxell). The Dual was better. Not that the Nak was bad. You can't say that. It was just that there is only so much you can do with tape running at 1 7/8 ips, quarter track.

With companies like Nakamichi, Tandberg, ReVox long gone, the tooling for a high end cassette deck, not to mention the engineering that would have to go with it, is just not there. Cassette was a medium for copying your records so you could play them in your car. Once that didn't matter, cassettes didn't matter.

All that said, I admit that it was fun using cassette decks. I remember my erstwhile Pioneer CT-F 9191. Lovely deck.
 

StevenEleven

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#16
In addition to what everyone else has said, I’d add or reiterate that the older cassette tapes may have deteriorated over time, both magnetically and mechanically. Also, high frequency performance can vary a lot from machine to machine, even when all else is well. It’s very sensitive on cassette decks. As far as sound quality achieved per dollar it’s not the best game in town, IMHO. I used to record to cassette off of the radio or from friends’ LPs or CDs. I ended up digitizing a lot of my cassettes and then in the long run if I really loved the music buying it on CD, or, now, I can stream it.

If you’re hell bent on it, I’d get a mid priced machine that can hopefully match the type of bias / tape type and noise reduction of the tapes you are using (Standard bias, Dolby B, etc.). Does Dolby even license out its Dolby B, C & S noise reduction technologies anymore? Maybe get a Teac/Tascam since they still have skin in the game. Also, you may need to clean the heads and perhaps demagnetize them to maintain fidelity over the long term—not fun.
 
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