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WHat did Audiophiles hear during Tape deck era?

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  • #31
    Cassette = hissssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss. Even with Doby and chromium dioxide tape I found cassette to be unlistenable after a few minutes in a high-fidelity system. I generally considered it a medium for auto. Even the top of the line Nakamichi or other decks fell short. I had a Teac A2300S reel to reel with no Dolby and it blew away cassette performance. Of course the Teac was monolith.

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    • #32
      In their defense, I don't recall many people at the time taking cassettes seriously except for disposable and portable audio. It's only lately that hipster sorts decided that vintage must mean good, or whatever.
      Francis

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      • #33
        Cassettes were not originally intended for music. Philips invented them as an office tool, to record the spoken voice as dictation machines. If they'd intended them for music they would have been in a format large enough for adequate tape speed and width. Many attempts were subsequently made to polish this particular turd, but even when polished it was still a turd.
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        • #34
          Originally posted by dst View Post
          Cassette = hissssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss. Even with Doby and chromium dioxide tape I found cassette to be unlistenable after a few minutes in a high-fidelity system. I generally considered it a medium for auto. Even the top of the line Nakamichi or other decks fell short. I had a Teac A2300S reel to reel with no Dolby and it blew away cassette performance. Of course the Teac was monolith.
          I had Reel to reel and it did sound great, at least at 7.5 ips. But it still had hiss you could hear somewhat easily.

          I had a later HK Cassette, one of their best, with Dolby C and 3 heads, and rated down 3db at 20khz and it was better than just about any cassette deck I ever heard. VERY little hiss, but still not totally comparable to my Open reel in a way I can not easily describe. The highs were just more congested or something.

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          • #35
            Despite their shortcomings, cassettes had their place: for example, while their size was a drawback for fidelity, it also enabled people to sneak machines into concerts and preserve various shows for those who weren't there. Unfortunately, this was also illegal and the artists didn't make any money.

            I transferred all my valuable cassette recordings, such as Goon Shows, to digital and cleaned them up as best I could. Unlike LPs and CDs, I couldn't think of a use for old cassette tapes so they went into the bin. Perhaps I should have kept them to sell to 'the young ones' now that they're trendy!

            Geoff

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            • #36
              Originally posted by Geoff Millar View Post
              Despite their shortcomings, cassettes had their place: for example, while their size was a drawback for fidelity, it also enabled people to sneak machines into concerts and preserve various shows for those who weren't there. Unfortunately, this was also illegal and the artists didn't make any money.

              I transferred all my valuable cassette recordings, such as Goon Shows, to digital and cleaned them up as best I could. Unlike LPs and CDs, I couldn't think of a use for old cassette tapes so they went into the bin. Perhaps I should have kept them to sell to 'the young ones' now that they're trendy!

              Geoff
              We didn't appreciate clunky old manual typewriters either. What the heck were we thinking!
              Francis

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              • #37
                Originally posted by wogg View Post
                I'm GenX, mix tapes were a thing during the time after CD's were cheap, but CD burners were not and MP3's weren't a thing yet.
                This! Sound quality on the crappy car stereos of my youth were terrible, so the tape hiss and bad pitch (tape speed) control on some were barely a factor. The freedom to mix and trade tapes was transformative and a big part of learning new music and arguing about it. Dolby NR B and later C were more palatable when many of the first generation of CDs were badly mastered and tended to run hot in the treble.

                I know the question was about audiophiles, so this response isn't really on point. That said, I learned to love music because of cassettes.

                Making tapes from CDs, LPs, or other cassettes was part of the ritual before every trip with my friends. It was a lot of work, particularly matching levels between tracks if you didn't have a fancy deck that would speed through each tape to detect the peaks and set everything automatically.

                Squib

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                • #38
                  I used TDK SA 90 chrome tapes and recorded mix tapes from LP's for lady friends and parties. They sometimes produced priceless results! Recorded lot's of John Peel shows too which are irreplaceable gems. Sadly they mostly got played to death. I strangely always preferred recordings without Dolby NR?!

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                  • #39
                    Listening to music on the bus ride home from work would have been a bit difficult with a reel-to-reel.
                    It is estimated that one percent of the general population are psychopaths - New Criminologist: Understanding Psychopaths

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by mattk View Post
                      Listening to music on the bus ride home from work would have been a bit difficult with a reel-to-reel.
                      Or LPs. Cassettes had their place for portable sound.
                      Francis

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                      • #41
                        In 1978 I bought a midgrade Realistic cassette deck and made and listened to many tapes from borrowed records. The records came from friends and the high school library. We had a Librarian who was into the music of the times and stocked many great classic rock albums. I used only top of the line TDK and Maxell tapes and bought them by the tens. After about ten years the recorder died but didn't get much use later anyway. 6-7 years ago I bought a guys 1980 system which had a upper midgrade Technics cassette deck. For old time sake I set it up and played a few of those late 70s early 80s tapes. WOW did those tapes sound horrible! I can't imagine how we thought that was listenable back then. Good riddens.

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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by scholl View Post
                          In 1978 I bought a midgrade Realistic cassette deck and made and listened to many tapes from borrowed records. The records came from friends and the high school library. We had a Librarian who was into the music of the times and stocked many great classic rock albums. I used only top of the line TDK and Maxell tapes and bought them by the tens. After about ten years the recorder died but didn't get much use later anyway. 6-7 years ago I bought a guys 1980 system which had a upper midgrade Technics cassette deck. For old time sake I set it up and played a few of those late 70s early 80s tapes. WOW did those tapes sound horrible! I can't imagine how we thought that was listenable back then. Good riddens.
                          Good riddance.

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                          • #43
                            Round about the time that CDs got introduced, tape quality was very good. Nothing like the horror stories above would suggest. But you had to be critical about what tapes you bought and careful of optimising the recording level. Too low and you'd hear the tape hiss; too high and the tape could saturate. I kept the tape heads, capstan and pinch roller super-clean, never allowed anyone else to use my tape deck and never stuck my tapes into anyone else's deck. With proper care you don't get tapes creasing or unreeling. A good budget setup can give enjoyable results. With a high-end setup playback can be indistinguishable from the original CD.

                            About 4 years ago I acquired a barely-used 3-head Yamaha tape deck and some NOS chrome and metal cassettes - something I couldn't dream of owning in my youth. But it went unused. I couldn't get myself back into the habit. I was quite dismayed to realise how much of a chore the analogue ways were. I still have LPs, though.

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                            • #44
                              It's easy to forget how big a deal portability was. Eight tracks had no real competition for use in cars if you didn't want to listen to the radio. Most cars in the 8 track era had AM radios and that was it.

                              Like some others here, I had pretty good luck recording my own cassettes in the later years of that format. I had no pretensions of being an audiophile, but I bought good department store stuff, mostly Sony, and the tapes that I found to work the best, whatever they were. As others have mentioned, it was very important to record them hot but not too hot. I'd rather have a bit of distortion than a lot of hiss. More than a bit of distortion gives me the heebie jeebies. Anyway, for driving, decent cassettes were pretty good. They sounded about as good as a strong FM station. The two have nearly identical frequency ranges. The first pre-recorded cassettes I heard were horrid. Later, some were listenable but just barely.

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                              • #45
                                Like many here, I mostly used my Teac 7 inch with DBX. I did have a Luxman that was actually pretty good. 3 head and used TDK tapes. Stuck with CD's on my Rotel player until this year when I ripped al of them onto a SSD and now run Windows media server from a dedicated touch screen. External Wolfson DAC. As good as the old days? Not sure but I am an old fart and don't hear quite as well as I did 50 years ago.

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