trasferring my most loved vinyl on a mobile carrier not loosing quality was one of the challenges I was confronted with in the last months. You may copy records on digital microSD by using DSD 5.6 which I do. It really sounds good! Nevertheless I was considering if there is a way without using a digital transformation thus keeping the original analog signal. Regarding mobile usage there is only one way you may reach a somehow satisfying result: looking for one of the best Compact Cassette record players ever built.
Cassettes seem to be a relict of forgotten times (like vinyl years ago). In some minds they still have an image of a more unreliable technology with limited sound quality. I still have a Nakamichi RX505E deck which is very well serviced and adjusted. From time to time I am enjoying listening to a cassette in my second system. Honestly I do use the Naka very rarely. It is a fine machine and the rotating cassette in the outside hanging plastic window box always excites me.
As a R2R and tape user I know what it means when going for a very small recording tape as the cassette deck comes with. Only to mention adjusting the correct bias and azimuth when changing to different cassette types, chromdioxid II or metal tapes. The muddy sound results cassette users sometimes claim about are usually a result of misalignment. Cassette technology is not a plug and play technology at all. Still interested? Oh yes, now the challenge starts. Is there any other deck besides of the world famous Nakamichi Dragon and its even bigger and and more sophisticated & complex 1000ZXL (the golden one of course) and some other high rated derivates like CR-7A or ZX-9?
I remember that Studer, ASC and Eumig built excellent compact cassette decks too. I know the fine but unreliable image of the Tandberg R2R machines but I wasn’t really aware that the Norwegian engineers developed some of the finest cassette decks of their time, TCD 3014, 3014A, 910, 911. It is a lot of fun getting to see inside a piece of gear and seeing what its all about. The Tandberg impressed me the second I saw the layout. Mr Tandberg seemed to have been a perfectionist and despite what the others were doing he would not follow trends. He even used his own programming for the logic chipsets, not standard off the shelf. So maybe a niche player but really the best of the best (!😉)?
Looking out for a 3014 I found a Canadian technician restoring cassette and tape decks (darkmatteraudio on ebay). He exchanged the old caps with original Elna Simic II, Nichichon KW and VR series in the mains power supply and did some other refinements. In the end I received a state of the art TCD 3014 in excellent condition. And I had a lot of nice and insight related exchanges with Davor. I put in a new power cord and set the voltage to 240V. Now ready to start that kind of adventure? Would the Tandberg fullfil my expectations?
In the meantime I got aquainted with the 3014. My first recording results where not overwhelming. I did some preparations when discovering that the black plastic tab at the Azimuth knob is glued on the metal shaft, so you cannot take it off which I wanted getting more leverage. I put away the top plastic notch being now able moving the knob more to the left and right. I also studied the recording head how it moved by turning the Azimuth knob via the orange plastic bridge belt.
Then I adjusted the bias at 315 Hz and in the next step the Azimuth at 15Khz. I always needed moving the lever between chrom II and metal up and down. It looks like it wasn’t used very often in the last years, it produced sometimes wrong information. Finally I adjusted the recording bias by 315 Hz.
In the end I reached good information on the signal peaks really knowing all is calibrated in the best possible way. I tested the calibration with chrom II and metal tapes. Let me say the metal tapes are a revelation. You really can hear the good sound with chrom II and the very good sound with metal used.
Overall I got a much better sound!!!
The next step will be building in a remote control board so that I can use my remote control…
Working with the 3014 is so much pleasure. It is really a masterpiece of recording technology. The haptics are great – very important for me! You may compare the layout and implementation of the Nakamichi or others with the Tandberg and you easily know what the difference is all about. Ha, I know there will be other arguments. The 3014 produces a fine sound on a high quality level. It is absolutely satisfying! Now for me it’s the time going on a search for the Tandberg’s mobile partner…