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Old 31st July 2020
  #31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonny Casanovas View Post
I'd like to hear that!


...and what kind of deck did you use for that project?
It was a dual-well, relatively high-end Panasonic. It was the fourth one I'd gotten from a local electronics store. (It was Circuit City, if you're in the US, and I like to think that me buying and returning a bunch of crap that didn't work properly is what finally bankrupt them.) This was the last one they let me buy, because I'd returned 5 cassette decks within a month. I'd returned them all because they didn't play at the right speed fresh out of the box. This one did. Both tape transports played at the correct speed, and the deck could record on two cassettes at the same time which was -- and still is -- rare. This was going to cut my duplication time in half!

What I didn't know at the time was that actually using both tape transports at the same time put the strain on the power supply that I mentioned in a previous post. So the resulting tapes were not at the correct pitch or tempo.

Plus, having to manually set each tape past the leader when starting a fresh tape and starting and stopping the "master" deck and the "copying" deck after each song...advancing the tape before the next song...adjusting levels between songs...etc., etc. There's a lot you have to do when manually copying your individual "mastered" songs from one cassette to another. There's really nothing you can automate, and it's a long, monotonous, tedious process. And you have to sit there the whole time, because you have to be ready when one song ends and the next one needs to be prepared.

Also, finding blank cassette tape that's within 30 seconds of the length you need for your finished "album" isn't easy -- and you will almost certainly have to buy that in bulk (at least 50 at a time). Putting your own labels onto it and assembling the finished cassette isn't too difficult, but again, it's very time-consuming and monotonous.

The fact that the finished songs weren't quite at the right speed or tempo is what sticks with me most. You'll spend hours, days...weeks, even, writing, recording and perfecting your composition. You'll perform and record it to the best of your ability. But in the end, if it's being played back on everyone else's cassette player at the wrong pitch and tempo, and if everyone turned off the Dolby "B" noise reduction because the deck you "mastered" or duplicated the tapes on didn't record at the correct speed...was it all worth it?

That's something you'll have to answer for yourself, of course. I'm not suggesting it isn't, and there are steps you can take to make sure the deck you buy is in optimal shape. You'll find a lot in that forum I posted earlier about how to prepare and maintain any deck you get. I hope it works out great for you!

Steve
Old 31st July 2020
  #32
Lives for gear
 
soundebler's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by loujudson View Post
I beg to differ. Every cassette deck I have been inside has a small screw adjustment on the back of the motor. Even cheap Sonys! It is inside the motor shell. Just look at the back of the motor.
The one small screw got to be 2 screws , on the Pioneer CT-W208r has a global and a fine tuning . This deck can be found for low budget , it are the latest from Pioneer .
Old 1st August 2020
  #33
Gear Maniac
There is no real magic here. Just analog out -> casette -> analog in. Mind that most casette decks arent really "mastering grade" and they might do a lot of things you dont want, depending on what you want out of it. Most studio decks were heavily modified and included noise reduction built in. I have a professionally overhauled TASCAM 112 for example, which is an excellent deck, and by using dbx you barely hear the difference between the casette recorded and the dry signal. Which was of course the point back then. On the other hand my TASCAM Portastudio is going all over the place, but has a lot of tone in it. For mixdowns I prefer actual 1/4" tape. I have a professionally modified TASCAM 32-2b 2-track mastering deck for this. This one has an amazing sound no plugin or really anything else can get me. It just makes things "alive". 1/4" tape and casette are not really comparable in quality. The best high end casette decks with the best transport are comparable to low-mid end 1/4" tape machines imo.

If you want "lofi" things casette is pretty good, but then the cheaper the better. You get all kinds of wobble, noise, even dropouts with cheap casette decks, these can sound very cool and "retro". Very expensive ones will barely sound different from digital.
Old 2nd August 2020
  #34
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonny Casanovas View Post
Yes, for consumers. It's not to get the cassette sound in my DAW, I believe that could be emulated convinvingly with some software noodling. Thanks for the tips on decks. That b215 is well above my budget. Is there nothing cheaper that'll get a decent job done? And what do you mean by correct speed?

As already mentioned, the target speed can only be compared if you have a good test cassette that was dubbed on an "almost perfect" device. The inaccuracies when dubbing a test cassette are otherwise transferred to the tape deck to be set. Alternatively, you can measure tape lengths and stop times but I won't advice you to go through this struggle.
Obtaining test cassettes is not that easy and relatively expensive, but sometimes there are test cassettes in the bay, alternatively there are semi-professional cassettes available for purchase. They are a lot cheaper and so far I have not had any bad experiences with them, but you can usually not make azymuth settings with them.

If you want tapedecks that keep the target speed, use tapedecks with quartz-controlled direct drives. Just search the web, there are plenty of DD Quartz decks outside. Note that w&f of course continue to exist there, only with deviations around the target speed instead of a custom speed that you have set. Also DD decks are more pain in the ass to repair, and many also use belts .. The mentioned Nakamichi DR-1 (belt driven) is a nice deck. Nak heads are very nice, but check also for spare parts and stuff. Keeping a couple of Nak decks running in specs may also be quite expensive. There's lot of information in different forums out there.

Incidentally, with all motors there is a tiny hole, where you can change the motor speed with a screwdriver. Many decks also have a trimpot (which often reacts very quickly) on the pcb to perform speed calibration.

I myself use various Tascam 302/322 decks for dubbing. These also have a very sensitive trimpot, which I will soon replace with multi turn pots. However, for my decks (and this applies to many, if not all belt driven decks), temperature is also a factor. A test cassette can differ +-40Hz on a deck when the temperature rises. So always let the decks warm up before calibration and cool in the summer with fans if necessary. Also pinch rollers, belts, the motor itself continue to wear out, so that regular readjustment is also a must when manufacturing for the consumer market.

The usual suspects in the duplication business will either dub your tapes with different bin-loop stations at speeds of sometimes over 80x. They also have very good results, but for my part I experienced less consistent results. The bin stations were quite accurate in speed but may have more loss in highs. Other manufacturers also use a bunch of single speed decks.. in UK there's a service that also uses Tascam 302s with relatively good results.

If you go with duplication services, the cost is (especially if your time expenditure is taken into account) much cheaper and you can complain when you receive bad quality dubs.. but I like doing my own single speed dubs. But I can tell, every month I give a day just for the deck's maintenance.
Old 2nd August 2020
  #35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter37 View Post
As already mentioned, the target speed can only be compared if you have a good test cassette that was dubbed on an "almost perfect" device. The inaccuracies when dubbing a test cassette are otherwise transferred to the tape deck to be set. Alternatively, you can measure tape lengths and stop times but I won't advice you to go through this struggle.
Obtaining test cassettes is not that easy and relatively expensive, but sometimes there are test cassettes in the bay, alternatively there are semi-professional cassettes available for purchase. They are a lot cheaper and so far I have not had any bad experiences with them, but you can usually not make azymuth settings with them.

If you want tapedecks that keep the target speed, use tapedecks with quartz-controlled direct drives. Just search the web, there are plenty of DD Quartz decks outside. Note that w&f of course continue to exist there, only with deviations around the target speed instead of a custom speed that you have set. Also DD decks are more pain in the ass to repair, and many also use belts .. The mentioned Nakamichi DR-1 (belt driven) is a nice deck. Nak heads are very nice, but check also for spare parts and stuff. Keeping a couple of Nak decks running in specs may also be quite expensive. There's lot of information in different forums out there.

Incidentally, with all motors there is a tiny hole, where you can change the motor speed with a screwdriver. Many decks also have a trimpot (which often reacts very quickly) on the pcb to perform speed calibration.

I myself use various Tascam 302/322 decks for dubbing. These also have a very sensitive trimpot, which I will soon replace with multi turn pots. However, for my decks (and this applies to many, if not all belt driven decks), temperature is also a factor. A test cassette can differ +-40Hz on a deck when the temperature rises. So always let the decks warm up before calibration and cool in the summer with fans if necessary. Also pinch rollers, belts, the motor itself continue to wear out, so that regular readjustment is also a must when manufacturing for the consumer market.

The usual suspects in the duplication business will either dub your tapes with different bin-loop stations at speeds of sometimes over 80x. They also have very good results, but for my part I experienced less consistent results. The bin stations were quite accurate in speed but may have more loss in highs. Other manufacturers also use a bunch of single speed decks.. in UK there's a service that also uses Tascam 302s with relatively good results.

If you go with duplication services, the cost is (especially if your time expenditure is taken into account) much cheaper and you can complain when you receive bad quality dubs.. but I like doing my own single speed dubs. But I can tell, every month I give a day just for the deck's maintenance.
All good points, Peter. Out of curiosity, at which speed were you duplicating? I’d read that higher speeds yielded a slightly more noticeable roll-off of the high end, but that some replication houses offered discount rates because it got the job done quicker and allowed them to run more tapes per day.

I still think a replication house with professionally maintained decks will give you better — and more consistent — results than two used consumer decks that probably won’t have the heads aligned (with azimuth adjustment) and de-magnetized, along with the speed locked in (as close as possible). This is nothing against the OP’s plan — he’s doing what he’s doing for his own realms, and that’s cool; I’m just mentioning in general, for anyone else who might be considering it.

For small batches, or if you definitely want “that cassette sound”, then two used consumer-grade decks is exactly the way to go — but I’d still tweak them as much as I could. 😉

Steve
Old 3rd August 2020
  #36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonny Casanovas View Post
Yes, for consumers. It's not to get the cassette sound in my DAW, I believe that could be emulated convinvingly with some software noodling. Thanks for the tips on decks. That b215 is well above my budget. Is there nothing cheaper that'll get a decent job done? And what do you mean by correct speed?

Is there a burgeoning cassette market all of a sudden? Why waste the time?
Old 3rd August 2020
  #37
Lives for gear
 
johnnyv's Avatar
I’m surprised to hear there’s still tape available as well as duplication service. I definitely used to prefer the service which for 100 or more was worth it. They used 50 Nakimichi decks fed by reels, vhs and then DAT. You could order the blanks in any length and you had a choice of what type of tape they used.

I rolled my own on higher end consumer decks and I still have a Teac double that I keep maintaining just in case. Reading this thread only reminds me how much I don’t miss those days one iota
Old 3rd August 2020
  #38
Gear Addict
Cassettes. Why?!?!
Old 3rd August 2020
  #39
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadlessDinosaur View Post
Cassettes. Why?!?!
Various reasons, some music which is intended to be lo-fi-ish in the first place can benefit from that tape saturation sound. Another aspect is that giving your music a medium that it deserves.

When someone goes through the effort to release or distribute their music on a physical medium for some people it add value to the production. Ofcourse, you could release music on Vinyl, but it's expensive compared to cassette and you'll have to press a lot of them and also be able to distribute them. Cassette is (even more) a DIY thing, and cassette duplicators are pretty easy to find and you can make them in as small of batches you want.

There is also extra effort involved for the listener. As with Vinyl they are not just some mouseclicks away from another song, that -perhaps nostalgic- 'commitment' to listen to music is what makes it great.
Old 3rd August 2020
  #40
Quote:
Originally Posted by clixor View Post
Various reasons, some music which is intended to be lo-fi-ish in the first place can benefit from that tape saturation sound. Another aspect is that giving your music a medium that it deserves.

When someone goes through the effort to release or distribute their music on a physical medium for some people it add value to the production. Ofcourse, you could release music on Vinyl, but it's expensive compared to cassette and you'll have to press a lot of them and also be able to distribute them. Cassette is (even more) a DIY thing, and cassette duplicators are pretty easy to find and you can make them in as small of batches you want.

There is also extra effort involved for the listener. As with Vinyl they are not just some mouseclicks away from another song, that -perhaps nostalgic- 'commitment' to listen to music is what makes it great.
most people don't have cassette decks anymore. Please explain what the value of a garbage sounding cassette that doesn't sound the same on any 2 decks. Vinyl I get , I hated cassettes when they were popular, let's bring back 8 tracks or their smaller brothers 4 tracks. I had one of those when I was a kid.
Old 4th August 2020
  #41
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by Musiclab View Post
most people don't have cassette decks anymore. Please explain what the value of a garbage sounding cassette that doesn't sound the same on any 2 decks. Vinyl I get , I hated cassettes when they were popular, let's bring back 8 tracks or their smaller brothers 4 tracks. I had one of those when I was a kid.
Exactly! I own a turntable. I dont own a cassette deck. If I want that experience of putting on an album im going vinyl not cassette. They sound like piss. I can make a lofi sounding record in my daw and I promise you that 90% of the cassette loving group wouldnt be able to tell that it was mixed completely digital. Now I am not slamming tape. A good tape machine kicks ass. But like I said a GOOD tape machine. Something that actually has a decent track width.
Old 4th August 2020
  #42
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadlessDinosaur View Post
Exactly! I own a turntable. I dont own a cassette deck. If I want that experience of putting on an album im going vinyl not cassette. They sound like piss. I can make a lofi sounding record in my daw and I promise you that 90% of the cassette loving group wouldnt be able to tell that it was mixed completely digital. Now I am not slamming tape. A good tape machine kicks ass. But like I said a GOOD tape machine. Something that actually has a decent track width.
I beg to differ. A good quality tape deck with good tape and recorded well (see earlier in this thread) will sound excellent. I’m using a Tascam 238 and 644 for my (multitrack) recordings and they sound awesome (just look on YouTube for reference).

But part of the appeal for young kids is that a quality deck is cheaper than quality turntables.
Old 4th August 2020
  #43
Gear Nut
 
Thomaz's Avatar
 

It's something physical, you can hold it in your hands. You can design a cover, making it a small piece of art.
Plus cassettes are relatively cheap.

I think it's a nice trend that there's a mini comeback.
Old 5th August 2020
  #44
Here for the gear
 

Yamaha KX-330

I bought a Yamaha KX-330 for CAD$20 off Craigslist to have some fun experimenting with printing to tape. Then I bought a variety of lightly used old tapes (Type I, II and IV). I was surprised by how transparent a half decent deck w a metal tape can be. Even a used TDK D sounds pretty good. Surprised me. Was expecting a real 'effect'. Definitely still sounds like a cassette deck, but not as pronounced as I expected. Still experimenting. Do find it enjoyable. 3 heads would definitely be nice. At least get one you can adjust the bias on.
Old 9th August 2020
  #45
Quote:
Originally Posted by clixor View Post
I beg to differ. A good quality tape deck with good tape and recorded well (see earlier in this thread) will sound excellent. I’m using a Tascam 238 and 644 for my (multitrack) recordings and they sound awesome (just look on YouTube for reference).

But part of the appeal for young kids is that a quality deck is cheaper than quality turntables.
as compared to what? cassette and excellent DON'T go together, and I own a Nakamichi MR1 and I still think that.
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