How are cassettes decks (players) constructed?


I have a cassette player, that i like very much!

makes me wonder what kind of magic do they have inside, for example:

are cassette player 100 procent analog, i mean they dont have a dac?


100% analog. The best ones have three motors: one each for the supply and take up and another for the capstan. The good ones also have three heads that include a monitor head so you can listen to what was recorded onto the actual tape a few moments before. There were some digital tape systems but they’re pretty rare.

There were good ones out there but the kinds of machines most people owned were pretty limited in capability. What kind of machine do you have?

thank you !!:smile:

i have a denon drs-610 that i bought for 25 dollars :grinning: can you imagine :smile:

it is in perfect condition, i just cleaned the head, i want maybe in the future change the belt but it seems a hard stuff to do?

at last it works fine now

i have very good cassettes some even new from the late 80 even the beatles cassette etc :grin:

so the cassette deck head is a kind of microphone like the cartridge of lps?

ps. sorry my english is low level :joy:

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Well, I look at a cartridge as a mechanical to electrical converter. A tape head, to me, seems different. There isn’t much of a mechanical element. It just creates the changing magnetic field to lay the image on the tape.

Enjoy your cassette deck. I owned hundreds of tapes in the day. My mix tapes, like in the movie High Fidelity, helped me romance my wife of over 30 years.


great stuff!

so we can say then cassettes are like reel to reels, magnetic😘

ps. let me record from radio old jazz :grinning:

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They’re like reel to reels in looks only - I was big into cassettes in the early days. It was a lot of fun. When I actually got to record and listen with reel to reel I realized it was a different animal all together.

I disagree, they are similar in most ways. They both use magnetic tape of the same kind, the cassette is of course in a cartridge and runs at just one speed. The differences are in flexibility and quality. A reel to reel depending on the model may use different width tape with the option of different speeds and number of tracks, resulting in much higher quality.
But, otherwise they both use the same technology. Tape going past tape heads that takes either a microphone or line level input while recording, and during playback a tape head reads the info on the tape, outputting a line level signal.
So they are basically the same technology, but cassettes were designed for home use, while RtR were primarily used in studios, although there were consumer models. While a pro RtR with it’s ability to record at speeds of 15ips, and some at 30ips could have anywhere from 2 tracks, 4 tracks, 8 tracks and then multiples of 8, I am not sure what the limit is, I think 32, but not sure, and it doesn’t matter in this comparison.
Consumer RtRs were usually limited to 7" reels and a top speed of 7.5ips, with the option of using 3.75 or 1.875.
In the '70s I owned a highly rated Tandberg RtR. The commercial prerecorded tapes were of poor quality, and I was never impressed with my own tapes either.
Cassettes were great for the car, and before digital, audience tapes from Dead shows.
In the last couple of years, Acoustic Sounds has been selling high quality tapes for $450 per album, and restored high end RtRs starting at I think I read $11k.
Bottom line, they are both based on the same technology.

Worked in a few recording studios over the years and I asure you there is a was a big difference between a professional 1 or 2" reel to reel (at 15 or 30 ips) and a cassette. All cars are based on the same technology also and I think you’d agree they are very different. I had a nakamichi deck years ago that was good but in no way did it compare to the studio reel to reels. I never thought I’d ever have a conversation about cassettes again. Now 8 track - we can agree that sucked right?

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8- track totally sucked.

As to cars, that analogy would be like saying all audio equipment is based on the same tech, producing sound.

The first reel to reel I ever saw had 3 or 4 inch reels. The quality of sound was worse than cassette.

If you re-read what I said, I am not disputing the quality differences, but Buho asked if a cassette was like a RtR, and it is, in general terms. And I would say how they work is closer than how they look.

I wouldn’t recommend anyone who does not have a collection of cassettes, to get one now. There are digital solutions that are much better.

well maybe we are few, but hey i have few cassettes, and the collection begin get slowly bigger, i like ver much the sound, i like also to feel like a litle home studio recording from dsd to cassette etc,

tape is the key, some extrange cassettes had been try to develop in the past like the big cassettes, elcassette etc

ps. let me take a example the song of guns n roses , patience is for me the cassette version the best and i had heard all the versions, the original lp came close( but i had not heard that lp in a good turntable tought)

I have over 160 cassettes. I retired my Sony years ago, lack of rack space. When I was changing some things in my bedroom system, I put the Sony in It no longer worked. I was at an audiophile friend’s house, and mentioned the Sony. He gave me a mid level Nakamichi that he had the belts replaced, but never used it after that. I took it home and it didn’t work. I would guess over 80 of the tapes are Grateful Dead or JGB. The rest are LPs or mix tapes. Only the Dead shows are of any value. I did have a friend digitize a David Crosby show, that was taped by a friend, that we went to. It sounds terrible.
I bought an ADC and have digitized some of my more rare vinyl. Those sound really good.
The trouble with cassette, both the players and tapes is that they don’t hold up well.
But, if you enjoy them, that is all that matters.

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great stuff

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There’d been attempts prior to Philips’ introduction of the “Compact Cassette” (the original trade name of the format) in 1963 of enclosing two spools of tape (then 1/4") within a shell: RCA and 3M/Scotch did it in the U.S. as early as 1958. It ran at 3 3/4ips and, started out as two-track stereo just like open reel had innovated.
They “looked” like an overgrown cassette the size of the 8 track cartridges which would extinct any further development of these by 1965.

“Compact Cassette”, though, was a portable office dictation format for speech that got co-opted into HiFi for all the same reasons (however) consumers and the record industry pander to: cost and convenience. Only when Henry Kloss (then under Advent) released an outboard Dolby B encoder/decoder and TDK came out with the first “low noise” ferric chrome cassette blank (around 1971), did people start thinking it was a possible replacement for 8-track portable sound-on-the-go (NOT a successor for the performance of open reel).

Technically, cassette needs too much eq gimmickry and pre-emphasis to hide all the problems inherent to: playback speed being too slow and the tape being too narrow to otherwise get a flat 50-15,000 frequency response standard minimum. A cassette deck’s frequency response was always measured at 250nanowebers/meter @ -20db BELOW “0 VU” (to indicate it had a lower oversaturation threshold due to the smaller tape) vs., open reel being spec’d at 400nanowebers/meter with no limiting at “0 VU”.

I wonder if it would had been bettter to have been better to develope a cheaper reel to reel then; than go all thé way to cassette?