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Need Advice on Cassette Deck Brand

107.145.23.237

Posted on November 29, 2016 at 15:17:27
Posts: 8
Location: Florida
Joined: November 29, 2016
I own a JVC cassette deck, TD-W254. It has degraded, so there is now lots of wow, due to hard rollers, and perhaps bad belts behind the scenes. I need a new deck. Parts are, of course, non-existent.

On Ebay, I see the following "old friends" brands:
Marantz
Yamaha
Kenwood
Panasonic
JVC
Sansui

Which should I buy, or would any of them be OK?
Some claim "refurbished". Does anyone DO that, anymore?

 

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If it were me, I'd consider ..., posted on November 30, 2016 at 13:55:36
Dave Pogue
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...Nakamichi, Tascam, and Revox (in that order) before any of the brands you listed. The trick is finding one that's been in regular use. Anything that "worked fine before we put it in the attic 10 years ago" should be ignored. Unfortunately, so should a vintage deck claimed to be brand new or never used. Old "new" ones do not improve with age.

 

I have all these 3 machines..., posted on November 30, 2016 at 14:30:14
kootenay
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and sold all my Naks and Tascam except for the Revox B215 of which I just had it refurbished and recapped from top to bottom about 2 years ago. Sound wise I'd rank them like this Nakamichi, Revox and Tascam although both Revox and Nakamichi sounds very close it just that Nakamichi add sweetness to the sound as oppose to Revox, which is very neutral.

In terms of reliability I'd rank them like this Revox, Tascam and Nakamichi. Nakamichi and Revox machines are very hard to refurbished now a days especially the Dragon and B215 as the parts are hard to come by and if they do it'll be very expensive. And then to find the tech that you can trust is another issue.




If a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing well
(Proverb)

 

RE: I have all these 3 machines..., posted on November 30, 2016 at 14:50:26
Posts: 8
Location: Florida
Joined: November 29, 2016
Thanks for the info. Another poster recommended Teac and Sharp, too.

I found, online, JoeyStumpf@hotmail.com . Claims to be a refurb business. From what you are saying, either in constant use, or just refurbed?

Ebay ranges in price from $25 to $250. "Ya pays ya money and ya takes ya chance."

With the filters set to Teac, Sharp, Revox, Tascam, and Nakamichi, I'll look at the offerings. Not really in a hurry, but I'd like to hit a good one first go.

I see several formats. Dual tape, single tape, both vertical doors, 5" x about 14", all plastic front, aluminum front, tape door on the top instead of the front. Rack mount? Does any of that make any difference?

 

Like you say ..., posted on November 30, 2016 at 17:08:50
Dave Pogue
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... Nakamichis are the best sounding :-)

Nak Talk is a Yahoo site that attracts Nak owners from all over the world. In the U.S. there are at least two very dependable (but no, not especially cheap) Nak service centers, one in Connecticut and one in California. Though I'm on the East Coast I wouldn't trust my Nak to anyone except Willy Hermann in California.

Luckily, you don't need a Dragon to enjoy a Nak.

 

As the matter of fact..., posted on November 30, 2016 at 18:51:32
kootenay
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I compared the Revox B215 against the Dragon and as far as I'm concerned they did sound very close to each other. My other Naks the RX-505 and ZX-7 that I compared to the B215 didn't sound any better. If it wasn't for the Dragon's reliability issues I would have kept it. BTW, the Revox B215 cassette deck is the only true direct drive mechanism as it doesn't employ any belts unlike the Nak or any other cassette decks direct drive system in the same era.

Anyway, another cassette deck to ponder as well is the Tandberg TCD 440A, which surprises the heck out of me as it sounded just as good as the Tandberg TCD 3014, which is 4 times more expensive. The only problem is their reliability issues.

If a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing well
(Proverb)

 

RE: As the matter of fact..., posted on December 1, 2016 at 04:27:19
Posts: 8
Location: Florida
Joined: November 29, 2016
Magnificent setup.

I'm interested more in toughness and longevity than sound. It is, after all da blues. Now, if I were a Mozartista, it would be different.

So, Revox and Tascam float to the top?

Is there any difference between rack mount and shelf models?

 

Thanks..., posted on December 1, 2016 at 07:07:46
kootenay
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The rack mountable design supposedly were geared towards professional use, however it was diluted overtime as some cassette decks incorporated rack mountable option as part of its cosmetic design. All cassette decks will last for a long time during normal usage and with proper care and maintenance. It just that some design were well executed and constructed that it will withstand much better during the years of rugged and abusive use. These machines were very expensive and of course they were very expensive to maintain as well such as the likes of Nakamichi, Revox, Tandberg, Tascam, Sony, Luxman to name just a few.

I can't really tell you which machines to buy as it will depends on your budget. The best thing to do is buy one that has a very limited usage, but even then there's no guarantee that it will last you a long time.


If a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing well
(Proverb)

 

RE: Thanks..., posted on December 1, 2016 at 07:59:35
Posts: 8
Location: Florida
Joined: November 29, 2016
Thank you all.

OK, here's the plan. Lose the JVC. Buy a Tascam or a Sony on Ebay. Test it. If there is ANY problem, send it to a rebuilder. May end up pricey, but the net effect is a good-as-new machine that will last awhile. The JVC just couldn't hang.

 

RE: Thanks..., posted on December 1, 2016 at 10:42:48
Posts: 8
Location: Florida
Joined: November 29, 2016
Just a quick question. The Marantz 1810 looks awesome, and it's a Marantz. What is your opinion of Marantz?

I have a Marantz direct drive turntable I bought in 1988, and it has never given me a moment's problem.

If there is a real issue with Marantz, I get the Tascam 202 MKIII.

 

Just a caution when buying..., posted on December 1, 2016 at 11:05:29
kootenay
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professional machines like Tascam as some of them are worked to their death and then discarded afterwards and most of them ended up in ebay. Marantz are very nice sounding machines, hopefully it was well maintained by the previous owner.




If a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing well
(Proverb)

 

RE: Just a caution when buying..., posted on December 1, 2016 at 11:23:39
Posts: 8
Location: Florida
Joined: November 29, 2016
I remember, Marantz was expensive. Brutally. Never heard of Tascam, back in "the day". But then, I was not a broadcast pro.

A rebuilder will charge me between 400 and 600 to make it new. If I'm going to spend that much, I'd like to spend it on a machine that cost about that, new. The ones on Ebay are all hurt, so the rebuilder is necessary, regardless. I know the Marantz would have been out of my league in the 1970's. I'm going to guess the Tascam was the same.

Now, it comes down to appearance. What a choice!

 

I know what you mean..., posted on December 1, 2016 at 12:07:53
kootenay
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Just keep searching and hopefully you'll find something that's worth spending your hard earned money on.

Good luck!


If a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing well
(Proverb)

 

I am amazed thet there is no mention of the NAD - 6300., posted on December 1, 2016 at 15:50:38
kavakidd
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Monitor Series. Mine is 28 years old and still bullet proof with terrific sound.
"Man is the only animal that blushes - or needs to" Mark Twain

 

RE: I know what you mean..., posted on December 3, 2016 at 05:32:52
Posts: 8
Location: Florida
Joined: November 29, 2016
Decision made.

I found a guy, locally, who repairs cassette decks. I took my JVC in to him. He's checking it out. If it's repairable, I go with that. If it's not, there's a Marantz 5025 or a Marantz 5020 available on Ebay. He likes to work on Marantz, and has parts sources. He said the Tascams, Revox, and Nakamichis are usually so worn out from professional use, it would cost an arm and a leg just to get them to work.

According to the other tech, who wrote up my order, this guy has been in the business since he was 15, and he's older than I am. More than half a century fixing TVs, radios, tape decks, and other home electronics. He still works on tube TVs!

My next door neighbor is a professional machinist. He makes dies for the plastic industry. He's very dependent on his old EDM machine. He just had to swap out boards in the controller/power supply. I'm telling him about this guy. He can take the bad board in to him to get the blown transistors replaced.

My Sansui 8 Deluxe has not been serviced in over 20 years. Maybe I should consider having it done(?)

This whole process has been a wonderful process of discovery. Amazing what you find in your own environment.

Thank you all for your help in this.

 

RE: Need Advice on Cassette Deck Brand, posted on January 13, 2017 at 13:20:24
gordguide
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Posts: 135
Joined: January 20, 2002
I wouldn't buy any of the brands you list. Cassette decks have fallen deep into the "give away" category. You should only pay actual money for a premium deck. You only come close in your list with Panasonic, and even at that it's Matsushita's Technics brand, not Panasonic, you should consider.

TEAC, TASCAM, Nakamichi, or Technics, and only premium models of any of those brands. If you se a REVOX deck, well, they were all premium units, so go ahead on any one of those.

 

RE: Need Advice on Cassette Deck Brand, posted on January 13, 2017 at 13:34:19
gordguide
Audiophile

Posts: 135
Joined: January 20, 2002
Other posters (and myself) have listed the brands that actually manufactured their own machines. I have never seen a "worn out" professionally used deck in my life; they are maintained to a level no home user typically bothers with.

I bought a Nak from a tape duplicator many years ago. Guess what ... it had new motors and new heads and was biased and calibrated perfectly. That's the kind of "abuse" and "worn out" deck you get from Pro users.

Recording Studios only use their cassette decks sparingly to listen to something a musician might want to play, or maybe to check a duplicator's efforts. They were never used in production, and so are very low hour units. Art Galleries bought Pro decks, again, low hour units. Radio Stations ... same thing. Pro users have all low hour machines because no-one actually used cassettes for any production or broadcast purpose; they have the deck because they needed the ability to occasionally play a tape, nothing more.

The other brands you mention contracted their manufacturing to various "no name" factories in Japan and Asia. Alpine was a major contract manufacturer, for example. The trouble is the job went to the lowest bidder. You figure it out.

What really makes people want to help you ... not ... is to ask advice, get knowledgable and reasoned answers, and then ignore them. Why did you ask in the first place if you had no intention of following the advice offered?

 

RE: Need Advice on Cassette Deck Brand, posted on January 13, 2017 at 13:47:34
gordguide
Audiophile

Posts: 135
Joined: January 20, 2002
" ... I see several formats. Dual tape, single tape, both vertical doors, 5" x about 14", all plastic front, aluminum front, tape door on the top instead of the front. Rack mount? Does any of that make any difference? ..."

Yes, they all decrease reliability. Get a single well deck. Auto reverse is a common feature, but unless it's a 3-motor dual capstan design, which is the mark of a premium unit usually, even that is just more complexity waiting to break.

Rack mount is irrelevant, because you don't have enough knowledge of the products available to know which were actually intended for pro users and which were glued on "bells and whistles" designed to attract the naive and uninformed buyer.

The front door material is irrelevant. All cassette deck doors are removable; it's purpose is to keep dust off the heads. Many pro users would remove the door (lift up and off it comes) when actually using the machine and always when servicing.

 

RE: Need Advice on Cassette Deck Brand, posted on June 2, 2017 at 03:06:51
gordguide
Audiophile

Posts: 135
Joined: January 20, 2002
Personally, I wouldn't buy any of the brands you've listed.

TEAC, Tascam, Nak, Technics (some specific models), and although Alpine made a good deck, but they were mostly "value" models so nothing high end. For that reason I wouldn't pay more than $20 for one.

Fact is, there is no reason why you should settle for anything except a top machine. On eBay sellers really have no idea of the quality of cassette decks, so one that sold for $200 is often priced similarly to a $800 machine. Hold out for premium units only, it won't cost you more as long as you are patient.

Also, there is no need to seek complexity, it only increases the chance you will have problems. So Auto-Reverse is not necessary, and avoid all twin deck machines regardless of the features or who made them. They were not high quality units.

The TASCAM 122 Mk2 and it's bigger brothers are highly recommended, mostly used in professional environments they are sure to have been properly maintained. There are many low-hour units purchased by entities such as Government research and Museums.

The TEAC clones of these decks sell for about half the TASCAM units and aside from not having balanced outputs, are identical.

If you want to make tapes from analog and digital sources, in the mid-90's there are some Dolby D decks that were made. They offer +10dB noise reduction broadband over Dolby B and +25dB in the high frequencies. It's hard to argue with S/N in the 80 dB range. But they are quite rare.

More common are some decks with DBX noise reduction, which also offer s/n's that rival CD.

In both cases you need the playback processing, so not for car tapes, for example. But if you are just using them in the home on the same deck, perfectly worthwhile.

You have to realize that under the Japanese T-bar system, there are only a few manufacturers of cassette decks. Alpine made most of the Japanese brands (Marantz, etc) under contract. TEAC (also made TASCAM), Nakamichi, Sony (whom I don't recommend because they made models aimed at everyone from low-fi consumers to high end ones, but if you don't know the models, you are lost as to what you are getting) Alpine (Alpage), Matsushita (JVC, Technics and Panasonic) and the europeans made the machines for all the Japanese brands. Woe to you if you buy one made under contract by Dokorder. Completely unreliable.

 

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