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How much Tape hiss should a Nakamichi produce?
Old 21st February 2020
  #1
Here for the gear
 

How much Tape hiss should a Nakamichi produce?

A Nakamichi DR-2 to be precise. Supposedly recently serviced, and cosmetically looks great. I'm hearing a lot more hiss than expected running a mix through a new Maxell UR90, considering these are supposedly low noise decks. I was wondering if anybody has a reference I could check against?
Old 21st February 2020
  #2
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

A Nakamichi is still a cassette deck.

A properly set up Nakamichi with the Dolby level properly aligned should give you the very best that a cassette can give.

But it's still a cassette.
Old 21st February 2020
  #3
Maxell UR90? That's a normal bias tape.
Back in the era of cassettes, no serious studio would send out a reference cassette on normal bias tape. We always used high bias chrome or metal tape. Normal bias tape was for cheap applications.
Try a high end cassette if you can find one. Record with Dolby B. You'll be amazed how much better it will sound over a MP3.
Old 21st February 2020
  #4
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vernier's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackjam View Post
A Nakamichi DR-2 to be precise. Supposedly recently serviced, and cosmetically looks great. I'm hearing a lot more hiss than expected running a mix through a new Maxell UR90, considering these are supposedly low noise decks. I was wondering if anybody has a reference I could check against?
Clean the tape path with professional grade alcohol. Demagnetize (carefully and perfectly) the tape path. Locate some good tape, high bias or metal, and short in length. There shouldn't be any audible hiss.
Old 22nd February 2020
  #5
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John Willett's Avatar
 

I agree with the above.

Proper cleaning, alignment and de-magnetisation is essential.

In the day, for quality, I always used TDK MA-R 90 metal tape - the version in the reference metal housing.



Old 22nd February 2020
  #6
Gear Addict
 
FlyingMusician's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Timothy Powell View Post
Maxell UR90? That's a normal bias tape.
This is the problem right there. Need a good quality high bias tape and dolby C and frequency response should be flat and hiss minimal (>=70:1 s/n).
Old 22nd February 2020
  #7
Here for the gear
 

Okay great, thanks for the replies, I suspected it may be that cassette, it was just the one the seller sent with the deck. Are there any you might recommend me looking into that won't break the bank? Of course I don't mind paying a bit of a premium for something decent, but those TDK tapes look to be £50 each at a minimum and I'm partial to a bit of lofi hiss
Old 22nd February 2020
  #8
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FlyingMusician's Avatar
Others may have more detailed advice but I've used loads of these in the past and they've held up well over the years. :
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Maxell-XLII...oAAOSwjwdeUIye

Make sure you look fast forward any new (new old stock) tape and look at it. Let the light reflect off and make sure the tape is flat, and not bowed.
Old 22nd February 2020
  #9
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BIG BUDDHA's Avatar
way back in the day a standard cassette was about $2.00 and a chrome/metal was about $7.00.

Chrome and Metal have much better top end response.

worth the money.

Buddha
Old 22nd February 2020
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Timothy Powell View Post
You'll be amazed how much better it will sound over a MP3.
Maybe if he recorded at 96kbit/sec or less. My 160kbit/sec or higher mp3s using the LAME encoder sound significantly better than any cassette I've purchased or recorded myself, and I've owned many decks in my day including Nakamichi and other high end models. I own two decks now and have hundreds of cassettes including nicer ones like the MA-Rs in metal casings.

Now if he's looking for a lo fi sound with dropouts, wow and flutter, and artifacts from Dolby noise reduction, that's a different story.
Old 23rd February 2020
  #11
Here for the gear
 

I've got a Marantz field recorder that handles my dropouts, wow and flutter needs. This deck just seems to introduce a lot of hiss, how much impact should I expect a lower quality tape to really have on the noise floor?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackjam View Post
I've got a Marantz field recorder that handles my dropouts, wow and flutter needs. This deck just seems to introduce a lot of hiss, how much impact should I expect a lower quality tape to really have on the noise floor?
I think this has already been answered. I agree with others that high bias tapes in general offer an appreciable difference in lowering the noise floor, and some brands/models were better than others. I tended to prefer the more expensive TDK models/types myself.

But even though I still own two tapes decks and many cassettes, I abandoned the format decades ago, as it is inferior in so many respects, and really offers nothing but a misguided consumer-grade vintage aesthetic that is nothing more than that. For achieving lo fi sounds, it can be cool. But as a master tape media format? No way. Not even close. Even as a consumer grade product back in the day, it was inferior to say, any open reel 1/4" deck (consumer level Pioneer deck, for example. And that couldn't compete with studio grade decks from companies like Ampex and Studer).

My advice: Don't waste your time and energy with cassette unless you're wanting to degrade the signal with lo fi "qualities".
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
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Piedpiper's Avatar
I have a 10 pack of Maxell XLII 90 minute cassettes sealed in the box if you want to buy them for $35.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
Gear Addict
 
FlyingMusician's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackjam View Post
I've got a Marantz field recorder that handles my dropouts, wow and flutter needs. This deck just seems to introduce a lot of hiss, how much impact should I expect a lower quality tape to really have on the noise floor?
I will echo what some have said here, as I assumed you were using cassettes for the tape effect purposes. As someone who grew up using high quality cassette decks, it is a very compromised medium. Meaning, the tape starts to deteriorate in quality after the first use. And even a new tape first time is hit or miss to get a dropout free recording.

That's not to say you can't get great sound from a cassette, you can. A high quality cassette deck should be practically indistinguishable from the source. But it's never a solid place to put audio.

Even 1/4" reel to reel 8 track decks from the day, that were light years more stable than cassette still had issues with degrading / inconsistent sound. 1/2" 8 track is the minimum spec I'd use in a pro environment.

In answer to your question, yes, the noise floor and quality will be much better with a chrome high bias tape over a normal bias.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

I always thought the Naks sounded pretty special, and can't say I noticed any unwanted artefacts on good recordings. They were so far ahead of other tape decks. I still have car and home decks, but it's been years since I used them. From what I remember, CD players were a huge disappointment compared with what the Nak put out. I now have a Prism Lyra interface, and although I haven't heard them side-by-side, it seems to have a similar control of the music, and reminds me a lot of the Nak.
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