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How good can a cassette sound?...well listen to this!


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#1 Transistorized

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 01:20 PM

Okay I repaired my JVC TD-W354BK cassette deck with new (modified) pinch rollers and belts. Cleaned, lubed and adjusted everything to perfection. Been meticulously and strategically putting everything back together with careful attention to detail.

 

Afterwards, I pulled out all the stops of my Machine to make the best recording possible. I used a Sony Metal Tape and biased my machine to the tape. Then I used Dolby HX-Pro along with Dolby C. I played a MP3 recorded at 256Kbps sampling rate and recorded that onto the tape with no EQ. I then played the cassette back and..... :jawdrop:  :jawdrop:  :jawdrop:

 

I ended up recording the cassette back onto a CD as a track file then used my PC to rip it back into a MP3 at the same 256Kbps sampling rate for comparison. 

 

Below is my dropbox link with all my photos and the two MP3 files to listen to. It sounds better if you download the MP3 files and play them on your phone / tablet / PC versus playing them through drop box itself as they lower the sampling rate on playback through their service.

 

I have never heard a tape sound this good. Would be nice if someone could graph the two (original file and copy) to get a scope of the recording quality....but to my ears it sounds dang close to a CD for sure...

 

Tell me what you think? Have you heard a cassette sound this good before? Headphones may yield the best sound quality for detailed sound quality comparison 

 

Link: https://www.dropbox....YNbFqDWTfa?dl=0



#2 T-STER

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 01:40 PM

Wow, i just checked the files. That is insanely good quality sound...

 

That deck must be dialled in just right as that is phenomenal.



#3 Transistorized

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 02:02 PM

Wow, i just checked the files. That is insanely good quality sound...

 

That deck must be dialled in just right as that is phenomenal.

I appreciate that T-STER. My hope is that many people listen to this and recapture what is possible on cassette when everything is just right. I thought to myself when uploading...."How many people are actually going to accuse me of just renaming the file?" it's that good of a copy. 

 

For that reason I welcome a graph because you would most certainly see the variance there. No question about it though...what you are hearing on the copy.MP3 file is exactly what I hear when playing off the tape. I did this on Feb 8 and I still keep playing it over and over. I'm still amazed. Tickled pink too because I don't have a Nakamichi Dragon ($1,200.00 Machine). This JVC can be had on eBay for 75 bucks!!!! +shipping. You will need to freshen it up with new rollers and belts and possibly adjust it again...but it can sound Amazing!



#4 Nickeccles

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 03:06 PM

Cassettes still knock me out - When you use a hifi cassette deck to record, it captures everything & tapes sound great in the good boomers!! That track is a good test even though it's compressed to hell on the original recording! Has some great stereo separation on the finger clicks effect they used & despite compression still has a great dynamic range :yes:  :yes:  :yes: 



#5 JVC Floyd

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 04:08 PM

I prefer the sound of a well recorded cassette over any other format.

#6 Transistorized

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Posted 13 February 2018 - 04:37 PM

Cassettes still knock me out - When you use a hifi cassette deck to record, it captures everything & tapes sound great in the good boomers!! That track is a good test even though it's compressed to hell on the original recording! Has some great stereo separation on the finger clicks effect they used & despite compression still has a great dynamic range :yes:  :yes:  :yes: 

Hi Nick. You are correct. I had hoped that at 256Kbps it wouldn't be too restrictive. I know that some of my MP3's are 128Kbps and that gets too compressed to fully enjoy. Anything over 192 I find ok. On occasion I wonder if I had bumped it up to over 300Kbps if the cassette could've matched it. It didn't seem to have any troubles at 256 :-)

 

I prefer the sound of a well recorded cassette over any other format.

I love magnetic medium. It's analog the way our ears are designed to hear things. I feel the same way about cassette versus CD (digital) as I do about HD 1080P versus 4K. 4K to me is too perfect and therefore appears fake to me. Yes it sounds weird to hear this but in my mind too perfect is unnatural and my brain interprets this as fake and not realistic.



#7 Danswizzle

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 06:28 AM

I prefer the sound of a well recorded cassette over any other format.

Yeah, I'm in total agreement with this comment.

 

I just recently switched back to mastering my own tracks I produce onto tape again and the main attraction for me is the vast difference in the warmth of the sound as opposed to a digital transfer.

 

There are some decent VST plugins that can emulate the sound of tape pretty nicely but if you have the real thing sat in front of you ,what's the point ?  

 

I'm more than happy to have switched back to tape personally ..I only wish I'd actually gone and done it sooner tbh ! 



#8 Ferguson3T18

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 02:26 PM

I think most people would be quite surprised at how good cassette can sound.
Does that deck have computer calibration? I used to have a similar JVC deck and thought the computer calibration was a really cool feature.

#9 Transistorized

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 08:50 PM

I think most people would be quite surprised at how good cassette can sound.
Does that deck have computer calibration? I used to have a similar JVC deck and thought the computer calibration was a really cool feature.

Yes sir. It FFs into the tape and records a series of test tones. Then plays them back and sets balance and bias based on what it "hears". Most of the time it gets the bias spot on. A few tapes it has missed it's mark slightly in the past however, it drastically makes a difference when it comes to adding that depth to the recordings. Also HX-Pro adds the extra headroom and C just puts the icing on the cake. 

 

From now on I will only have a deck where I can control bias, HX-Pro with at least Dolby C if not S. This is a drop dead gorgeous combination IMO



#10 caution

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 12:18 AM

Argh... all this talk of bias, HX, Dolby etc. has me pining for my old deck with dbx.

Might just have to buy one next instead of another blaster :-D



#11 Ferguson3T18

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 02:23 AM

Argh... all this talk of bias, HX, Dolby etc. has me pining for my old deck with dbx.
Might just have to buy one next instead of another blaster :-D


Yeah, I miss my decks too but at least my Ferguson 3t18 makes good recordings for a boombox.

Regarding Dolby IMHO I think its overrated and causes more problems than it solves.
A good recording an a good tape would have minimal hiss anyway even without Dolby for most types of music except some classical with quiet passages.
Dolby circuits can also impact sound quality in a negative way even if Dolby is switched off.
I would love a high end deck with no Dolby or noise reduction circuits but as far as I know such a deck was never made. A few decks were made with true Dolby bypass but I believe these decks were let down in other area's.

#12 Superduper

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 02:32 AM

The original recording was probably converted from a 44.1kbps to the 256kbps. 44.1kbps is the standard for CD audio.

Side note: when talking sampling rate, this applies to digital recordings only. The higher the sampling rate, the more samples per second so obviously more closer to the original live performance which is analog. Now cassettes are analog & not digital, and by definition, there are no samples per se, but if we were to assign a sampling rate to analog, it would be infinity and last I checked, infinity beats any sampling rate that digital can come up with. Even if it were possible to have a ten-zillion bps sampling rate, infinity bests that handily. So can cassettes handle audio fed to it at 256kbps? Guess what... Infinity beats it every time.

Now the recorded audio was then converted to CD audio. Which is.... yep, 44.1kbps. Further converting it to 256kbps mp3 does not actually make the lost samples missing from the original 44.1 recording magically reappear, it merely fills in the blank spaces to bridge the spots between the adjacent samples. Anyhow there is no doubt that analog recordings can handle any digital source, the only question is whether there is any loss of frequency response since this has to do with limitations of the tape composition as well as circuitry. Getting tapes to reproduce much above 14khz or 15khz will be tough, but guess what, there’s plenty of brightness in audio at 15khz to sound good.

#13 Ferguson3T18

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 08:43 AM

The original recording was probably converted from a 44.1kbps to the 256kbps. 44.1kbps is the standard for CD audio.
Side note: when talking sampling rate, this applies to digital recordings only. The higher the sampling rate, the more samples per second so obviously more closer to the original live performance which is analog. Now cassettes are analog & not digital, and by definition, there are no samples per se, but if we were to assign a sampling rate to analog, it would be infinity and last I checked, infinity beats any sampling rate that digital can come up with. Even if it were possible to have a ten-zillion bps sampling rate, infinity bests that handily. So can cassettes handle audio fed to it at 256kbps? Guess what... Infinity beats it every time.
Now the recorded audio was then converted to CD audio. Which is.... yep, 44.1kbps. Further converting it to 256kbps mp3 does not actually make the lost samples missing from the original 44.1 recording magically reappear, it merely fills in the blank spaces to bridge the spots between the adjacent samples. Anyhow there is no doubt that analog recordings can handle any digital source, the only question is whether there is any loss of frequency response since this has to do with limitations of the tape composition as well as circuitry. Getting tapes to reproduce much above 14khz or 15khz will be tough, but guess what, there’s plenty of brightness in audio at 15khz to sound good.


Many can't even hear over 15khz anyway due to old age or damaged hearing (ironically often caused by listening to loud music). Even FM radio is good enough for a lot of people.

#14 Ferguson3T18

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 09:01 AM

Argh... all this talk of bias, HX, Dolby etc. has me pining for my old deck with dbx.
Might just have to buy one next instead of another blaster :-D


There are some "new old stock" JVC decks on a well known auction site, might be less trouble than buying a used machine.

#15 JVC Floyd

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 02:41 PM

Even with n.o.s decks they can still have dried out belts
its always nicer to have an unused piece though at least you know it hasn't been messed with.

#16 caution

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 02:56 PM

There are some "new old stock" JVC decks on a well known auction site, might be less trouble than buying a used machine.

 

Not with dbx. They are not as easy to find, Dolby S even less so.

They are not cheap, even used, because they were generally higher end decks.



#17 Lasonic TRC-920

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 03:43 PM

Wow Transistorized, I put on my Bose noise cancelling headphones to have a listen and DAMN, that sounds amazing. 0 hiss at all. 

 

I have a local tech working on some of my best decks. I want him to do all my logic decks. Once I have more of them. I am going to start making really nice tapes recorded on High Bias or METAL tapes (I have a massive stack of them). 

 

I have made a few using my Clairtone 7979 that was serviced last year before I left Cali. But I didn't use my High Bias tapes. They were more of a test. But they still sound good. I might try recording on the Aiwa TPR-950 that Sal gave me. That deck was recently serviced. See how that turns out.

 

I could also make tapes on my classic Marantz home stereo after it gets serviced.

 

Oh, to many options!

 

Nice work on that recording!



#18 Ferguson3T18

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 04:13 PM

Wow Transistorized, I put on my Bose noise cancelling headphones to have a listen and DAMN, that sounds amazing. 0 hiss at all. 
 
I have a local tech working on some of my best decks. I want him to do all my logic decks. Once I have more of them. I am going to start making really nice tapes recorded on High Bias or METAL tapes (I have a massive stack of them). 
 
I have made a few using my Clairtone 7979 that was serviced last year before I left Cali. But I didn't use my High Bias tapes. They were more of a test. But they still sound good. I might try recording on the Aiwa TPR-950 that Sal gave me. That deck was recently serviced. See how that turns out.
 
I could also make tapes on my classic Marantz home stereo after it gets serviced.
 
Oh, to many options!
 
Nice work on that recording!


You are very fortunate to have a local Tech, here in the UK they are like hens teeth.

#19 Transistorized

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Posted 16 February 2018 - 06:13 PM

Wow Transistorized, I put on my Bose noise cancelling headphones to have a listen and DAMN, that sounds amazing. 0 hiss at all. 
 
I have a local tech working on some of my best decks. I want him to do all my logic decks. Once I have more of them. I am going to start making really nice tapes recorded on High Bias or METAL tapes (I have a massive stack of them). 
 
I have made a few using my Clairtone 7979 that was serviced last year before I left Cali. But I didn't use my High Bias tapes. They were more of a test. But they still sound good. I might try recording on the Aiwa TPR-950 that Sal gave me. That deck was recently serviced. See how that turns out.
 
I could also make tapes on my classic Marantz home stereo after it gets serviced.
 
Oh, to many options!
 
Nice work on that recording!


Thank you. I appreciate that. Being that it is a 2 head deck it took a few times of rewinding and testing to make sure the level was right. I use this deck to produce recordings for my boomboxes. Having it top notch is important because it really makes a difference when playing them back on my portables. Plus I enjoy listening to new music on cassette. I am so happy to get this machine going but I am really looking forward to getting the Sony TC-K850ES going. It's a 3-Head and I would be able to listen to the tape while recording so I can get it right the first time without trial and error.



#20 Ghettoboom767

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 11:15 AM

I always loved recording music from my technics turntable with a brand new Grado stylus and recording using my JVC PC-55 deck through my brand new Pioneer SC-V90 home receiver and of course using a brand new TDK-MA-R reference tape and recording from the turntable in a first play brand new record to record. Man my tapes I made back in 85’ are so crystal clear!!! I also played them back on my car stereo which is over 10K and has a Alpine 7347 reference deck with Dolby B,C,and DBX!! I was and still am in awe,cassettes can sound amazing if recorded right!!!😎🎼🎶📻📻