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    Return of the cassette tape ?

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    Bob Latino
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    Location: Massachusetts

    Return of the cassette tape ?

    Post by Bob Latino on Wed May 22, 2013 6:12 am

    There is a company in Canada called "Duplication.ca" that has reported an increasing number of requests for duplicating cassette tapes. The cassette tape duplicating they say now acounts for almost 25% of their business. Everyone knows about the resurgence of vinyl records during the past 10 years but vinyl records must be pressed in "large lots" to make it economically feasible to sell the vinyl. Cassette tapes can be replicated in small lots and don't really cost that much to duplicate each tape. Read about it at the link below ... There is also an interesting video about this (with a short ad - sigh ..) near the top of the web page ..

    Duplication.ca makes cassette tapes

    Varied color cassettes

    Bob

    Sprags

    Posts: 129
    Join date: 2013-02-27

    Re: Return of the cassette tape ?

    Post by Sprags on Wed May 22, 2013 7:04 am

    On another forum I wrote about how I was looking for a CD of an vinyl record I had when I was in college. Amazon had the CD available as a limited production import for $148. The vinyl LP was damaged in a flood so I bought the vinyl on Amazon for $7 and immediately started to consider purchasing a turntable because I still have a collection of 200 vinyl LP's. A member of that forum happened to have that vinyl and offered to convert it to FLAC files. The sound was surprisingly good but unfortunately the clicks and pops due to dust and wear we're clearly evident. Even though the analog smoothness of a vinyl recording were there the defects were also. It's made me rethink my plan on purchasing a turntable. Wow and flutter were the defects of cassette tapes if I recall. I find it hard to believe that people that strive for audiophile quality sound are willing to live with the defects of vinyl and cassettes. I think that that CD's and FLAC files are still better audio mediums.

    sKiZo

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    Location: Michigan USA

    Re: Return of the cassette tape ?

    Post by sKiZo on Wed May 22, 2013 8:40 am

    Vinyl is like tubes ... some get it, some don't. I've almost got all my records converted to FLAC, but that's more for convenience than anything else. The FLACs are technically "better" in that I rip the vinyl into SoundForge, restore clips, apply noise reduction, remove pops and clicks if needed, blah blah ... but they end up lacking a certain ... something. Flavor and nuance for want of better words. Even with no post processing, they sound a bit sterile compared to the original vinyl. Same holds true for high res FLACs purchased in that format. Short version, if I really want to LISTEN to music, I'll still give the turntable a spin.

    Cassettes is another story ... can't imagine why anyone would want to invest in those in this day and age. Even at their best, dynamic range was severely limited, topping out at what ... 14-16K? If you do need a copy of some nostalgia trip (I've got quite a bit of live performances from back in the day captured on my trusty old AMPEX portable), you can always rip it to digital.

    One thing cassettes have done for me is improve my vinyl listening.

    ?

    Just before the end (AKA: Birth of the CD), dbx came out with a Single-sided Noise Reduction device, cleverly named the SNR-1. Route your cassette thru that, and it acted to lower the noise floor significantly. Come to find out, it works just as well - or better - for vinyl. Like anything else, you can overdo it, but properly adjusted, it works wonders for completely eliminating background noise, and most major pOps and clicks without affecting the musical material at all. It's magic! One knob does it all.

    Fairly rare, but well worth searching for.

    GP49

    Posts: 499
    Join date: 2009-04-30

    Re: Return of the cassette tape ?

    Post by GP49 on Wed May 22, 2013 9:56 am

    Pops and clicks CAN be a problem but I've noticed that using my current main LP rig: Garrard 301, Rabco SL-8E linear tracking arm (modified) and Decca London Export Grey cartridge, upgraded by London to current Super Gold standard; I seem to hear less of them than on my record playback equipment from decades past. What does get through is less bothersome. I doubted my own observations about this but since I almost never sell anything off, I could experiment by retrieving a circa-1970 Dual 1218 record changer from the garage, overhauling it, fitting it with a Shure M75E, and playing the same records on both turntables. I first heard little difference in clicks and pops. They were a bit more pronounced on the Dual/Shure, to be sure, and I attributed that to frequency response differences. But then I substituted the Japanese receiver I had used when the Dual was in the system, and what a difference THAT made. What was happening...and analysis of a digital capture of the output from the phono stage confirmed it...was that the crude phono stage of the Japanese receiver was overloading on the high-amplitude but low-duration clicks and pops. It would clip them and oscillate for several cycles, thus making them much more audible than they were on the dual 12AX7 tube phono stage I normally use.

    The Japanese receiver is a brand and model popular among amateurs, many of whom claim that by promiscuous "recapping" it can be almost a High End piece. It is certainly NOT, in its phono stage (all the recapping in the world won't help its overload characteristics).

    I never encountered a dbX SNR-1, as reported by sKiZo. But I did try out a borrowed sample of the late 1970s Garrard MRM-1 Music Recovery Module, a device which combined a solid-state phono stage with circuitry that detected the impulses of clicks and pops, inverted their phase, and combined them with a digitally-delayed copy of the original signal. I recall that it worked quite remarkably well but it turns out that a goodly part of that improvement over typical Japanese receivers was in its phono amp, which was exceptional. Its performance with high-amplitude transients was exemplary, and its phase shift to ultrasonic frequencies was minimal. I would have been happy to use it as a phono stage alone, back in those days; but its build quality was "as demanded by the bean counters" with a cheap-looking flakeboard cabinet, flimsy knobs, and a power switch (sourced from Garrard's then-parent company Plessey) that had a bad habit of breaking internally, resulting in a dead set; so not many were sold, and not many dealers carried it. After all these years, I finally got one...broken power switch and all...last year. Its performance confirms my impression from the 1970s.

    peterh

    Posts: 298
    Join date: 2012-12-25
    Location: gothenburg, sweden

    Re: Return of the cassette tape ?

    Post by peterh on Wed May 22, 2013 10:28 am

    GP49 wrote:Pops and clicks CAN be a problem but I've noticed that using my current main LP rig: Garrard 301, Rabco SL-8E linear tracking arm (modified) and Decca London Export Grey cartridge, upgraded by London to current Super Gold standard; I seem to hear less of them than on my record playback equipment from decades past. What does get through is less bothersome. I doubted my own observations about this but since I almost never sell anything off, I could experiment by retrieving a circa-1970 Dual 1218 record changer from the garage, overhauling it, fitting it with a Shure M75E, and playing the same records on both turntables. I first heard little difference in clicks and pops. They were a bit more pronounced on the Dual/Shure, to be sure, and I attributed that to frequency response differences. But then I substituted the Japanese receiver I had used when the Dual was in the system, and what a difference THAT made. What was happening...and analysis of a digital capture of the output from the phono stage confirmed it...was that the crude phono stage of the Japanese receiver was overloading on the high-amplitude but low-duration clicks and pops. It would clip them and oscillate for several cycles, thus making them much more audible than they were on the dual 12AX7 tube phono stage I normally use.

    The Japanese receiver is a brand and model popular among amateurs, many of whom claim that by promiscuous "recapping" it can be almost a High End piece. It is certainly NOT, in its phono stage (all the recapping in the world won't help its overload characteristics).

    I never encountered a dbX SNR-1, as reported by sKiZo. But I did try out a borrowed sample of the late 1970s Garrard MRM-1 Music Recovery Module, a device which combined a solid-state phono stage with circuitry that detected the impulses of clicks and pops, inverted their phase, and combined them with a digitally-delayed copy of the original signal. I recall that it worked quite remarkably well but it turns out that a goodly part of that improvement over typical Japanese receivers was in its phono amp, which was exceptional. Its performance with high-amplitude transients was exemplary, and its phase shift to ultrasonic frequencies was minimal. I would have been happy to use it as a phono stage alone, back in those days; but its build quality was "as demanded by the bean counters" with a cheap-looking flakeboard cabinet, flimsy knobs, and a power switch (sourced from Garrard's then-parent company Plessey) that had a bad habit of breaking internally, resulting in a dead set; so not many were sold, and not many dealers carried it. After all these years, I finally got one...broken power switch and all...last year. Its performance confirms my impression from the 1970s.

    In the -80 i connected a tectronix > 100Mhz memory scope to a - guess what - decca cartridge.
    And i observed up to 0.5V at the highest pop's. ( nominally 5mV is what is produced)
    The measuring was direct on the phono-plugs from the turntable.

    It all started when i borrowed a quad-II preamp and used instead of my braun csv-500 and noticed after the switch that all dust had disappeared from my records.
    The braun had i phono-stage built by bc107/bc109 and what considered top-line at that time.
    This made my think about yet another reason music was more musical when played with tubes, and
    most importent tubes all the way. I even scrapped by braun TG502 taperecorder and got myself a used revox G-36. All this changes was somewhat inconvenient as i was employed at braun at that time!

    Tom

    Posts: 132
    Join date: 2011-04-04

    Re: Return of the cassette tape ?

    Post by Tom on Wed May 22, 2013 10:40 am

    I want my 8-Track back!

    Cool


    sKiZo

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    Join date: 2013-04-01
    Location: Michigan USA

    Re: Return of the cassette tape ?

    Post by sKiZo on Wed May 22, 2013 12:43 pm

    I'll stick with vinyl ...



    Any love for R2R? At least with the quarter inch tape, there was room for MUSIC! tongue

    sKiZo

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    Join date: 2013-04-01
    Location: Michigan USA

    Re: Return of the cassette tape ?

    Post by sKiZo on Wed May 22, 2013 12:56 pm

    [quote="peterh"]
    GP49 wrote:

    The Japanese receiver is a brand and model popular among amateurs, many of whom claim that by promiscuous "recapping" it can be almost a High End piece. It is certainly NOT, in its phono stage (all the recapping in the world won't help its overload characteristics).

    Hey now ... I'm one of those "amateurs" of which you speak, and recapping CAN make a big difference if done right. The reason they overload is the electrolytics were typically undersized and didn't provide the reserve required to handle complex transients. Add to that some fairly loose interpretation as to what exactly RIAA compliance required, and yes, they had "issues". I do agree that the phono stage did seem to be a bit of an afterthought, and even on my TOTL Sansui quad does tend towards the mushy end of the pool.

    If you go by cost alone, the DJ PRE II stage I'm currently using should be worse, but does a remarkable job, outperforming stages that cost a LOT more. Even so, I was happy with the onboard stage until I got into vinyl ripping ... that needed an external stage to drive the SNR-1 and add additional gain for the DAC.

    arledgsc

    Posts: 224
    Join date: 2012-11-30
    Location: SF Bay CA

    Re: Return of the cassette tape ?

    Post by arledgsc on Thu May 23, 2013 10:14 am

    Ha Ha! The RCA 45-rpm record player for the car sure brings back a lot memories especially driving across railroad tracks! I had an 8-track in the car (Craig) but it seemed to eat tape on a regular basis. 8-tracks sounded OK in a car (relatively) but was annoyed that long songs would overlap to the next track and no search function. Always thought cassettes sounded inferior especially the high speed duplicated releases. Reel to reel is another story but the decks were expensive for the times as was good audio equipment in general.

    sKiZo

    Posts: 844
    Join date: 2013-04-01
    Location: Michigan USA

    Re: Return of the cassette tape ?

    Post by sKiZo on Thu May 23, 2013 2:50 pm

    Unspooling and jams were common to both cassette and 8-track ... Not a worry with the mobile record player - but one did have to keep a dustbuster handy to clean the vinyl shavings out of the carpet. tongue

    Where 8-track had the advantage was the wider tape and larger heads that didn't have to "crunch" the music to make it fit. Size does make a difference. Same holds true with the Sony BetaMax format ... still got mine, and VHS doesn't even come close to the quality.

    I've got two vehicles with factory cassettes ... still looking for a way to get better jams into those. You'd think in this day and age somebody would have come up with a cassette/USB adapter. Closest I've come is a cute lil MP3 player that plugs into your cigarette lighter and transmits to FM. The head of that pops off and plugs into USB for file transfers, but it's v1.0 ... I'd forgotten how sloooooooow that is. How soon we get spoiled.

    Apologies to the OP ... thread seems to have turned into a tribute to all dead formats, gone, going, and mostly forgotten. Won't be long we'll all be streaming everything and be able to say the same about the CD and DVD ...


    peterh

    Posts: 298
    Join date: 2012-12-25
    Location: gothenburg, sweden

    Re: Return of the cassette tape ?

    Post by peterh on Thu May 23, 2013 3:01 pm

    sKiZo wrote:Unspooling and jams were common to both cassette and 8-track ... Not a worry with the mobile record player - but one did have to keep a dustbuster handy to clean the vinyl shavings out of the carpet. tongue

    Where 8-track had the advantage was the wider tape and larger heads that didn't have to "crunch" the music to make it fit. Size does make a difference. Same holds true with the Sony BetaMax format ... still got mine, and VHS doesn't even come close to the quality.

    I've got two vehicles with factory cassettes ... still looking for a way to get better jams into those. You'd think in this day and age somebody would have come up with a cassette/USB adapter. Closest I've come is a cute lil MP3 player that plugs into your cigarette lighter and transmits to FM. The head of that pops off and plugs into USB for file transfers, but it's v1.0 ... I'd forgotten how sloooooooow that is. How soon we get spoiled.

    Apologies to the OP ... thread seems to have turned into a tribute to all dead formats, gone, going, and mostly forgotten. Won't be long we'll all be streaming everything and be able to say the same about the CD and DVD ...

    No way i will rely on streaming companys for the music i like. They might disappear any day
    or change the licens or other nasty stuff.
    Stuff i want to keep is saved on my own physical media, it's disk or CD/DVD these days,in
    addition i save the distribution media ( vinyl / cd ) and play when i like.

    When i want to my car i burn it to CD ( as this car is to old to have a USB-stick connector). I do not
    bring my originals to the car but always a burned copy. If i would
    like it in my phone i'd copy it there. One have enough space to make this possible.
    Tape or cassetts ? No way. It's 30 years too late for that, it bad sound, it's unreliable.


    Sprags

    Posts: 129
    Join date: 2013-02-27

    Re: Return of the cassette tape ?

    Post by Sprags on Thu May 23, 2013 3:24 pm

    Back in the 70' my system consisted of A Yamaha receiver, turntable, cassette player/recorder and DCM Timewindows. At that time I thought the cassette deck did a pretty good job of recording. Though there was a loss in sound quality the benefit at time was to record my vinyl to tape and then use that as a source for listening to preserve the quality of the vinyl.

    As soon as I got my new truck last November it did have a USB port and it would allow me to listen to mp3 files directly from a flash drive. The sound quality is terrible using that source. The mini RCA jack allows me to plug in my phone or ipad. The sound quality to me is acceptable for listening while driving.

    I think the cd format is still a better way to go as opposed to any kind of a hard drive, even SSD's. I can't tell you how many hard drives I've gone through in my 25 years of experience with computers. The cd, when taken care of, will last for a much longer time than any other media. I think that perhaps it would be nice though if they took CD players to the next level. Since we now have DVD's that can hold over 4 gigs of data there's no reason they can't develop DVD players that can play high quality FLAC files.

    If there are players like that already available pease let me know.

    arledgsc

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    Location: SF Bay CA

    Re: Return of the cassette tape ?

    Post by arledgsc on Thu May 23, 2013 3:27 pm

    Thanks Bob! Wanted to see the cassette duplicator in action but didn't see much in the video. The quick turnaround time to distribution seems to be reason for tape cassette preference. And seems to be cheaper over CDs which is hard to believe but the materials for a cassette are pennies. But if someone handed me a cassette today I don't think I even have a player to give it a listen.

    sKiZo

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    Re: Return of the cassette tape ?

    Post by sKiZo on Thu May 23, 2013 4:01 pm

    Sprags wrote:As soon as I got my new truck last November it did have a USB port and it would allow me to listen to mp3 files directly from a flash drive. The sound quality is terrible using that source. The mini RCA jack allows me to plug in my phone or ipad. The sound quality to me is acceptable for listening while driving.

    I think the cd format is still a better way to go as opposed to any kind of a hard drive, even SSD's. I can't tell you how many hard drives I've gone through in my 25 years of experience with computers. The cd, when taken care of, will last for a much longer time than any other media.

    I can think of at least one instance where USB is much better than CD ... bouncing down the road on the dash of a motorcycle ...



    I'd get limited plays on a disk before it got trashed with head crashes ... I wa wa wa wa wa nanananana take you back to sch sch sch ooo oo ooo lelelelelelelelelelelele. Wasn't too easy on the player either.

    USB is great - just plug in an 8gb thumb drive and you're good an extended road trip. Then again, you're not talking the fidelity concerns of a decent acoustical environment either.

    Speaking of optical media ... I've been saving movies off satellite for years using a DVD recorder. Now I use a Maggie DVR with a 2tb hard drive for new titles. I've modified that for an external dock, and that also gives me automatic disk cloning for backup. Gets around the reliability issue you mentioned. I'm also slowly but surely transferring the DVD-r's to MKV format with the same external dock/cloning solution on a video server. Fill up a drive, make sure the clone is up to date, and swap in another set of drives. This is the equivalent of 800+ movies on DVD-r ...



    Sprags

    Posts: 129
    Join date: 2013-02-27

    Re: Return of the cassette tape ?

    Post by Sprags on Thu May 23, 2013 4:40 pm

    My motorcycle isn't powered by an electric motor. Plus the exhaust system is pretty loud. Listening to music while riding with ear buds is actually more annoying and I think it's actually illegal in the state I live in. I think it's unsafe to be distracted.

    I also don't go speeding over railroad tracks or construction zones and in all the years I've been driving and i don't think I've ever had a head crash. Even while flying down the expressway at 130 mph in a Corvette I used to have.

    As I said I've had more hard drives die and when they do is sometimes unpredictable. Even when I knew a hard drive was on its way out and backed up files stored on that drive files had been corrupted to a point where they would open but still lose information. That was for files of all types including movies, music, office docs, CAD/CAM files, etc.

    Maybe the audio system in my truck isn't designed to play the files on a USB flash drive as well others. I haven't had the chance to try out a lot of audio systems in vehicles. My Sony receiver played them ok though...just not my truck.

    I suggested used a high capacity DVD to store FLAC files to play through an home audio system.

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