Discontinued Cassette Recorders P to 9

Pioneer
The Classicaudio homepage has some information on vintage Pioneer cassette models. In the early 90's the budget CT-W103 dual deck was introduced and it continued in manufacture until the end of the decade. The recently discontinued CT-W616DR appears to have been the same model as the European CT-W606DR that is still in production, please excuse if the links below are dead but Pioneer USA appears to change them on an almost daily basis.

More interestingly in 1994 the company introduced a line of dual decks all based around the same frame, namely the 204, 404 and the 504, the basis of which form the mid/budget line up to this day. The CT-W204 was replaced fairly soon with the upgraded CT-W205 and the auto-reverseable CT-W205R but the CT-W404R model was more successful and is still in production albeit with a limited distribution. The CT-W504R is the most interesting of these models since it contained the NR/tape EQ processing electronics that ultimately resulted in the company's DNR system, probably the biggest advance in cassette technology in the last few years, it was replaced by a broadly similar 505 (and current see above) in the late 90's. I actually bought one of these older 504's on ebay for only 10£ recently, little used, and it's an interesting deck, while it's based around the same cheap dual well transport as the 204 and the 404 and will for that reason always exhibits some wow & flutter, has audio specifications well below the more expensive dual decks from the company that had a better transport, not to mention the single Pioneer decks that all had an even better transport, and for that reason this deck will probably have a shorter mechanical lifetime as well, not to mention that the transport is much noisier than the one in the dearer decks. But it is with the playback of old cassettes were this deck shines, the FLEX, Auto NR and TDNS technologies do an excellent job on old cassettes from the 60's, 70's and the early 80's, even in this early analogue incarnation of it and regardless if they are pre-recorded or home taped. Of course with such a simple single motor/capstan transport this deck will have problems with tapes that suffer from mechanical problems and this is not my favourite deck for headphone listening due to the less than spectacular transport, but for listening to a large collection of old tapes collected through the years or picked up at the local charity store it's ideal, some that sound dull and lifeless on my more expensive (and admittedly much better) deck get a new lease of life, even with the above mentioned failings it's so good at this that I would really like to properly test out the high end DNR single decks that the company made briefly in the late 90's.

RCA
The company exited the hi-fi separates market in 2002 but you can find information, manuals and repair/parts info on the last 3 dual decks that the company made on the Radio Shack hompage, NB these models were only available in the US but may have been available in other countries under the Thomson brand. The models are the ST-570 a model that sports both Dolby B and Dolby C but no HX Pro for some reason, the STC-550 and the very basic STC-520 model.

Revox
The first cassette recorder that the company made was the C88 which was built into the same desktop style casing as the monoblock amplifiers that the company was selling at the same time (early - mid 70's), it's a fairly simple machine that is remarkable only in that it offered a full remote control and in that it's one of the uglier pieces of hi-fi ever made. After the split from Studer the company continued to make cassette decks, the last ones to be made were a part of their Emotion series that was discontinued in late 2001 or so and was the B21 MkII and the cheaper H11 which is for all intents and purposes a consumer version of the C115, unsure what the difference between the B21 MkII and the earlier MkI version was. Since Studer discontinued all manufacture of cassette recorders at the time of the split Revox did continue making a line of professional recorders for a few years, as far as can be gathered the only pro products from the company, this was mostly the C115 but that is a 3 Head, 3 Motor recorder with off-tape monitoring and balanced I/O, it does not have the more advanced remote/computer control features that some of the earlier machines had but does allow for a remote start and has advanced seek, loop and timer functions built in. Frequency response is quoted as being 30Hz~20KHz for a metal formulated tape. Noise reduction is in the form of Dolby B, C and HX Pro, the recorder has an MPX filter, bias and calibration controls at the front and the power supply works with both 115 and 230v.

SAE
The company had a cassette deck or two in their lineup, they were admittedly nothing special even in their day and sound a bit vintage today, however when there is a gaping hole in your 19" rack nothing but an SAE will do. We have limited information on the actual models but do remember the Direct Line C101, a 3 head deck that offered Dolby B and C and hopelessly optimistic wow and flutter and audio specifications, did have a reasonable mechanism though and was produced from 82 to 88 or so, the Direct Line C102 decks were introduced in the late 80's and had a list price of 499USD in 1989, 2 head 1 motor affair and is best left alone. The SAE TWO line of the cheaper Korean designed an built decks were the C3D and C4, the C4 was early 90's Dolby B and C, bias adjustment and was better than the higher priced USA made 102 sold at the same time.

Sony
Sony dropped the TC-KA2ES from their lineup in 2003 shame since it was the cheapest 3 motor deck from the company, 3 motors have much less wow and flutter and there are less problems with old cassettes with bad shells etc., they also ditched the TC-KE400S at the same time, it's a mid priced 2 motor, 2 head deck but it's so recently deleted that I have been able to find it here in Europe for sale (sept 2003), it features Dolby B, C, S and HX Pro and has a good rather than stunning technical specs, and Sony also took out the TC-WE835S it is similar to the TC-WE675 that is still available from the company but adds Dolby S and a wide range pitch control to the equation, is should be noted that Sony still has the TC-K7ESA in their catalogue which is a slightly improved version of this model but removed the 2 top of the line dual decks as well namely the TC-WA8ESA that a model similar to the aforementioned K7ESA but has recording capabilities on both decks and the top of the line deck, the TC-WA9ES, it's feature list is almost complete, both decks are auto reverse and can record, they are both 3 head and 3 motor designs etc. and at a similar price to the TC-KA3ES, represent a relatively good buy if you can still find one new, the audio specification is very close to the KA3 but a 2 deck recorder will always be slightly noiseier than a single one. Portable models discontinued by the company in 2003 include the TCD-5M a high end stereo broadcast recorder, Sony still has the mono equivalent in production.

Studer
Studer made really high quality recorders beginning with the A720 in 1982, introduced in response to requests from the US broadcast industry, they were increasingly using the cassette format but had problems getting machines with the operational reliability of professional machines. Under their Revox brand you could get basically the same recorders somewhat cheaper (they no longer own the Revox brand), you can find an old review of the B-215 model here, and if you have one such recorder this company has replacement LCD lamps in stock for that model.

TEAC
There is a review of the V8000S model from 1994. A single deck budget model that the company was making until very recently was the V-377, you can find basic info on it here, it's a very basic devise with mechanical transport controls, you can also find info on the AD-500 a combination of a CD Player and an bi-directional auto reverse cassette deck, the deck sports Dolby B and a +-12% pitch control. As for the Tascam subsidiary they recently upgraded the dual deck model 202 MkII to a mark III status, I have not been able to find the specifications for the MkII so I am unsure what changed but the feature set is identical.

Technics


The Vintage Technics homepage has more info on some of their older models (this site is down occasionally, so do not be alarmed if it unreachable), and to a lesser degree so has this page. The RS-AZ6 is a mid end deck from the early/mid 90's, that featured Dolby B and C etc., you can find some user reviews can be found here and the technical specifications follow, that model had only a limited distribution in North America

The technical specifications for the Technics RS-AZ6 are as follows : Frecuency Response : Ferric/Normal/Type I Tape = 20 to 18.000Hz. Chrome/Special/Type II Tape = 20 to 19.000Hz. FerroChrome/Type III Tape = N/A. Metal/Type IV Tape = 20 to 24.000Hz.

Technics RS-BX646
Mid/high end deck from Technics first introduced in 1994 that has a curious blend of mid range and high end features, it has some high end features like motorised lid opening, high speed rewind (50 sec for C60), well implemented ATC, but on the other hand timer, memory and music search options are similar to one on a budget dual well deck, no remote and the transport is not the top model from Matsushita so it is slightly noisier than the top models, but it is a direct drive model which means it is more reliable in the long term than the belt driven models. That leaves this deck with good but not spectacular audio specifications.

The best thing about this deck is the ATC, which is well designed and an unusual feature on a deck in this price range at the time and if you do not agree with its biasing you have the option to manually choose Normal, High and Low instead. Couple that with 3 heads and HX this is an excellent machine for those who are still recording onto tape since this model usually sells for a lot less than high end decks and indeed at the time it was made it was something of a bargain. Next model up in the Technics lineup at the time was the Technics RS-BX747 and they share the frame, transport and basic functions.
Understanding cassette recorder feature lists
Technics RS-BX646 feature list
MechanismCounter:DigitalI/O
Loading:LidBias:ATC or AutoHeadphones:Yes + Level
Controls:LogicEQ:ATC or AutoInput level:x1
Heads:3Dolby/B&O HX:YesOutput level:No
Motors:2MPX Filter:YesDIN I/O:No
Mute:AutoRecNoise reduction:DB DCMic input:No
Auto Reverse:NoLimiter:NoMic Level:No
ElectronicsMusic search:YesBalance:Yes
Meter range:NoClock/Timer:TimerOther I/O:No
Metering:LEDMemory:1Synch:No
Pitch control:NoMulti-Voltage:NoRemote:Optional
Rec. calibration:No



Specifications:
Power consumption 21W, Size 420 x 125 x 293 WHD, Weight 4.6 kg.

Wow and Flutter:

  • 0.07% WRMS
  • +/- 0.2% DIN

Frequency Response:

  • Normal Tape - 30Hz to 17kHz weighted +/- 3dB. - 20Hz to 18kHz DIN +/- 3dB.
  • Chrome Tape - 30Hz to 18kHz weighted +/- 3dB. - 20Hz to 19kHz DIN +/- 3dB.
  • Metal Tape - 30Hz to 19kHz weighted +/- 3dB. - 20Hz to 20kHz DIN +/- 3dB.

Signal to noise ratio (Chrome tape):

  • No NR - 57dB (A weighted)
  • Dolby B on - 68dB (A weighted)
  • Dolby C on - 74dB (A weighted)

Resources: -- User manual from diplodocs.com.

Technics RS-BX707
Mid/high end deck from Technics first introduced in 1991 and was on sale for a year or so, possibly slightly longer in some markets. Like other late 80s and early 90s Technics 7xx series deck the basic mechanism and electronics are similar to the high end decks from the company but the feature set of the 707 is much more like a mid-range deck from the time, with the exception of some fluff like a motorised lid. That being said the quartz controlled direct drive mechanism is better than in some of the later 7xx models which results in better wow and flutter specs while sporting an identical audio specification to the later 7xx models but lower than those of the top of the range models and some of their competitors at the time. The only feature it has really worth mentioning is APRS and perhaps the record calibration mode.
Understanding cassette recorder feature lists
Technics RS-BX707 feature list
MechanismCounter:DigitalI/O
Loading:LidBias:VariableHeadphones:Yes + Level
Controls:LogicEQ:AutoInput level:x1
Heads:3Dolby/B&O HX:YesOutput level:No
Motors:2MPX Filter:YesDIN I/O:No
Mute:AutoRecNoise reduction:DB DCMic input:No
Auto Reverse:NoLimiter:NoMic Level:No
ElectronicsMusic search:YesBalance:Yes
Meter range:YesClock/Timer:TimerOther I/O:No
Metering:LEDMemory:1Synch:No
Pitch control:NoMulti-Voltage:NoRemote:No
Rec. calibration:Yes



Specifications:
Power consumption 20W, Size 430 x 135 x 300 WHD, Weight 5kg.
Bias frequency: 80kHz
Headphone output: 125 mV/8 Ohms (8 Ohms ~ 600 Ohms)

Wow and Flutter:

  • 0.05% WRMS
  • +/- 0.14% DIN

Frequency Response:

  • Normal Tape - 30Hz to 17kHz weighted +/- 3dB. - 20Hz to 18kHz DIN +/- 3dB.
  • Chrome Tape - 30Hz to 18kHz weighted +/- 3dB. - 20Hz to 19kHz DIN +/- 3dB.
  • Metal Tape - 30Hz to 19kHz weighted +/- 3dB. - 20Hz to 20kHz DIN +/- 3dB.

Signal to noise ratio (Chrome tape):

  • No NR - 57dB (A weighted)
  • Dolby B on - 66dB (A weighted)
  • Dolby C on - 74dB (A weighted)
.

Telefunken
There is a page on 80's Telefunken Hi-fi here that lists most cassette models made prior to the take-over by Thomson, has pictures and technical info on some models.

Tesla
While there were some quite reasonable cassette recorders made in the DDR and Tesla on the other hand made some quite good open reel recorders the only hi-fi cassette recorder I have seen from this Czechoslovakian company, the SM-261 looks OK but sounds a bit off compared to the western models but then again it was cheap at the time, the Oldradio.cz site has pics and specifications.

Yamaha Corp.
There is a review of the K-600 here, the reviewer notes that this model is very well suited for the blind operator. Yamaha also still have info on the KX-690 online, it was their top of the line deck up until about late 2000 and was the last 3 head cassette recorder that the company made, it's very much like a high end version of the 580 and thus a very much desirable second hand buy. A manual is available online for the KX-380, KX-480 and KX-580 models from the 90's here, the company also discontinued the most basic cassette option for the "Pianocraft" line in late 2002, namely the very KFX 5, not a great loss really considering it's very proletarian specification.

See Also : Compact Cassette

© 1993 - 2013 lafur Gunnlaugsson, all rights reserved.


The site was last compiled on Sun Nov 10 2013 at 9:15:00am