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Decent cassette deck recommendations...?
Old 8th February 2009
  #1
Gear Addict
 
drycounty's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Decent cassette deck recommendations...?

I did see an older thread on this but was curious if the current consensus might have changed...?

My Tascam 112 bit the dust, I think the motor is gone, so I'm looking for a decent cassette deck to transfer old 2-track recordings to digital. I don't know if it's worth spending $400 for a new Tascam, so any older, more affordable recommendations are good.

Thanks in advance!
Old 8th February 2009
  #2
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Nakamichi, end of story - check eBay!
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #3
Gear Guru
 
theblue1's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
My last cassette deck was a 'pro' model and cost the equivalent of about $1100 when I bought it in the mid 90s.

What I realized, finally, after owning 10 reel machines and certainly well over 20 cassette decks is that there simply is only so much fidelity one can get out of the degraded-from-the-word-go cassette format.

I hated the sound of cassettes when I first heard them (a wildly expensive Sony deck circa 1969) and, after dumping some good dough on my latest, hoping for the best case scenario -- I still hated them.

I would not put a bunch of money into it because there is simply only so much you can get out of a cassette (and the originals are undoubtedly already seriously compromised -- even if they haven't degraded substantially in storage, which is likely).
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #4
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
The Nak Dragon is a great deck, but getting them fixed is a bear. I've been using a Yamaha C300 for much of my transfer work for the past year or two and I've had really good luck with it. Doesn't have the bells and whistles of the Nak, but the transport is really smooth (which is great for those old and fragile tapes). Sound, for a cassette, also isn't bad.

--Ben
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #5
Lives for gear
 
doncaparker's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
What about buying an old cassette 4-track Portastudio? Those handle normal speed playback (when you properly set the tape speed, of course). Just make sure to only play back the proper two tracks; the other two are side "B" of the cassette in reverse.

These aren't great cassette players, but they don't completely suck. Plus, if there was a tape speed problem while the original recording was made (that happened a lot back then), you can correct that with the tape speed adjustment.

I still keep one of these around for the odd occasion when I need a cassette player.
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #6
Gear Guru
 
🎧 15 years
A 'good sounding' cassette deck is, as theblue1 implies, an oxymoron, so don't go nuts. It looks like you only need playback, so I would guess any decent consumer deck should fit the bill.

That said, if you can find a JVC V-661 for cheap, grab it

it was a real workhorse for me and substantially cheaper than the Nakamichis. It made (and still makes) a respectable copy. And I still use it for transfers.

While I silently curse those who put their archival material on cassettes.

If you do need to record, it's 3-head machine -plus it has Dolby HX Pro. (A cheat, but a must, IMHO)
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #7
Gear Nut
 
Lasermonkey's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TapeOpAl ➑️
Nakamichi, end of story - check eBay!
What he said! Honestly, a well-maintained Nakamichi sounds incredible. I love my LX-5. I wouldn't even consider any other make.
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #8
Lives for gear
 
vernier's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Tascam 122 MKIII is one of my prized possessions ...fantastic recording device.
'
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #9
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier ➑️
Tascam 122 MKIII is one of my prized possessions ...fantastic recording device.
'
Agree with that. These are outstanding machines, both recording and playback. I regularly play back or transfer old tapes that I thought were junk when being played on 'normal' hifi cassette decks. The 122 MkIII just brings them to life. And they can be repaired and maintained for reasonable cost and effort.

Steve
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #10
Gear Guru
122's and 112's are good decks. I prefer the 112 as the heads are fixed so alignments hold better. They use standard opamps in these. The weak spot in most all modern casstte machines is the dolby HX chipsets. Although HX works well, the audio path through these chips is degraded compared to a straight record/play designs. Cassettes still sound better than MP-3's which is why I don't own/use Ipod devices.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #11
Lives for gear
 
waxx's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
i've got a old Marantz Model 1820 MK II wich i got for free from a friend and it's the best i've ever used... Including some hi tech old Toshiba and Nakamichi decks ...
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #12
Lives for gear
 
Bob Ross's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lasermonkey ➑️
What he said! Honestly, a well-maintained Nakamichi sounds incredible. I love my LX-5. I wouldn't even consider any other make.
ime the LX-5 was the "sweetspot" of Nak machines; best price/performance ratio. If you didn't need the balanced i/o of the MR-1, the universal (sic) compatibility of the Dragon, or auto-reverse, the LX-5 offered superior audio performance to any of them for less money.


Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier ➑️
Tascam 122 MKIII is one of my prized possessions ...fantastic recording device.
While I don't think I'd go quite so far as to call them "fantastic", that would be my recommendation for someone seeking a professional cassette machine these days. They sound resonably decent -- adequately close to whatever a cassette is capable of...not a Nakamichi killer but close enough -- with the added advantage that you can buy them brand new with a warranty. And you can drive a truck over them.
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
camus's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 ➑️
My last cassette deck was a 'pro' model and cost the equivalent of about $1100 when I bought it in the mid 90s.

What I realized, finally, after owning 10 reel machines and certainly well over 20 cassette decks is that there simply is only so much fidelity one can get out of the degraded-from-the-word-go cassette format.

I hated the sound of cassettes when I first heard them (a wildly expensive Sony deck circa 1969) and, after dumping some good dough on my latest, hoping for the best case scenario -- I still hated them.

I would not put a bunch of money into it because there is simply only so much you can get out of a cassette (and the originals are undoubtedly already seriously compromised -- even if they haven't degraded substantially in storage, which is likely).
I'll save my withering contempt for DAT... so many lost master recordings because of this useless format. On the other hand, my cupboard is full of old cassettes without covers from all the recording I did in waaay back in school, they still play just fine!
Old 10th February 2009 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Addict
 
drycounty's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Thanks for all the replies!

It's doubtful I would find much use for the deck after the transfers are complete, but that said I never know what I'm going to uncover in those old boxes in my shed.

I'm leaning on picking up another TASCAM if only for the fact that I would then have a parts machine just in case.
Old 19th May 2009 | Show parent
  #15
Here for the gear
 
gaxxard's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
For copying 2 track cassette to computer I bought a Nakamichi LX-5 and copied about 200 SA-X and MA-X TDK masters of mainly my own music and then sold the LX-5 again. I still have a BX-2 which is great.

What I've found though, is that I get better recordings from the machine I recorded the songs on to begin which was usually a Sony Pro Walkman or the BX-2.

I transcribe the recordings through an Apogee Mini-Me at 44.1kHz 24bit into Ableton without dolby and subtlely apply Waves C4 to expand the top end. The settings can be pretty different for each tape.

I've carried this approach through to my 4 track recordings. I transcribe through an Echo Audiofire 8. Again, I tracked down the same model of recorder for each tape; 1) Fostex X15 2) Tascam 244 3) Yamaha MT100 MK2, and recorded each tape twice with and without noise reduction.

Through this process I was able to get good renditions of about 400 peices of music that I made between 1983 and 1993 that will not further degrade for the forseeable future.

These days I have some really good gear and can produce virtually commercial quality sound, but my early stuff had it's own specialness and contained material and performances I'll never repeat.

I don't think I'll try and make another Techno/Industrial hit with a 100in1 Tandy electronics kit, 3 x 6volt Lego motors, a pair of Tandy headphones as a mic and my cat trapped in a wine box!
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