Anyone into cassettes?

I recently picked up a Nakamichi BX300 for a couple of bills on Ebay and after replacing the idler tire and the two belts, this baby sounds better that any cassette deck I've owned previsouly, and I have been playing pre-recorded tapes for the past week in analog heaven. Finally a deck that sounds amazing on Dolby B with commercial tapes.

I also won a Dragon for a good price on auction and will send this out for restoration as needed.

Anyone else into cassettes as an alternative form of analog heaven? Some of those mid to late 80s recordings really have wonderful punch and extension.
I still am into cassettes and agree, i wasn't expecting much, but have been blown away with the sonic qualities on many tapes.

i find many decks at Flea markets for $10-$20

I have a BX300 as well as a BX-100, I paid $10 for each.

I tend to look for and find the TOTL models from the late 70s or 80s, i.e. , the Akai 3 head decks with glass heads.

i also look and find sealed CrO2 tapes and if I am lucky Metal tapes. It has been a fun searching for and enjoying the old tapes/
I have a BX300 I bought in 1985. I don't have a need for it other than a handful of old tapes, but it's such a nice machine I hate to let it go. I should pull it out of storage and record some cds just to remember the sound.
Wow, another BX-300 owner and enthusiast. I found this deck here on Audiogon last year and still can't believe how great it sounds.
Used to own and love a BX300 back in the day. I always enjoyed recording compilation tapes, I still do but now I use a Tascam CD recorder (just made one last night;). I recorded many 100's of tapes on the BX300 from LP's & CD's that really sounded great. In my experience though, commercially pre-recorded tapes were inferior, I only owned a handful.
I am the original owner of a Nakamichi CR 7A. I recently had it serviced by Willy Herman. This work of art brings joy to my ears.
Yes indeed, have a NAK DR-8. It makes my tapes sound great, even the ones recorded on other decks. Most of the tapes are transfers from my LP's, R2R. Now used only for playback.
I have three Nakamichi decks and thousands of cassettes, along with several CD/DVD players and a high-end turntable. I find the sound from the recently serviced cassette players to be very easy to listen to and preferable to CDs when I listen through tube Stax headphones. Also, you can find cassettes at thrift stores for a quarter. Cassettes and cassette players get ridiculed on this forum, but I'm keeping mine.
I have a 90's vintage Yahama cassette deck on my rig that I use on occasion. Sounds better than ever these days in that my setup is the best I have ever had as well by far.

I have not recorded any new casettes since the 80's though when I dabbled with hifi VHS as well. I use my tape players mainly for old tapes I recorded back then and in college in the 70's. These are blasts from my past and a lot of fun to listen to still. SOund is not tech perfect, especially noise levels and high end, but still very enjoyable, more than ever. I have "ripped" a few of these to digital as well and play these now on my music server rather than via the tape decks. That enables me to do fast and easy a/b comparisons in sound quality between those tracks that I recorded originally to cassette on my college system years ago (using an Aiwa AD6550 cassette deck I bought while working at Tech HiFi back then) and tracks ripped from other sources. Lots of fun.
I had AIWA AD-F810 long time ago. It had HX-PRO in addition to Dolby C. HX-PRO was a servo on the bias. In short, bias is non-audible high frequency recorded with music that reduces distortions of the tape. Not enough bias and sound becomes less clean, too much and sound looses high frequency response. But high frequencies present in the music also work as a bias. HX-PRO allow to reduce bias by adjusting it dynamically to recorded material. As a result of that regular tapes sounded like chrome while chrome tapes sounded like metal. It was fantastic player.
Mid-late 70's AIWA cassette decks were very good performers with good build quality and looked great. The AD6550 I had specifically was gorgeous and stacked up quite well against Tandberg in a/b tests back then. I was a poo college student and could not afford Tandberg so settled on the Aiwa. More ergonomic for use in a dorm room as well.

Aiwa like much Japanese gear (save Nakamichi and a few others) went south fast after that targeting cheaper gear with more mass market appeal.

I gave my Aiwa deck to my wife to use in her apartment 25 years ago. SHe married me shortly after. Enough said. :^)
After two higher end H-Ks and one each lower end Tanburg and Nakamichi, I had an AIWA (770?, I don't remember) which offered better performance. Then I bought a Pioneer 3-head deck, about the same as their Elite cassette but without the wood end panels and for a much lower price. It sounded at least as good as the AIWA and was better built.

Not too many years ago a friend played some tapes from an unfamiliar small label with jazz club performances. I was quite surprised by the lifelike sonics. My own experience with prerecorded tapes was less than favorable.
In summer of 1974 I recorded MOUNTAIN Twin Peaks,
Live in Osaka Koseinenkin Hall Japan, August 1973 from FM
radio broadcast to my Philips radiorecorder.
Now 40 years later in memory of Felix Pappalardi, the little
big musician and great producer and I honour the awesome
In August 30 I will transfer my Japanese Twin Peaks edition
to a metal tape with the Nakamichi RX-505 UDAR deck and I will
play the music LOUD :_)
Yes! Recently picked up a BX300 and a Dragon for good prices and will be sending the Dragon in for a refurb, calibration, alignment etc. I reaplced the belts and the idler tire on the BX300 and it simply sings. Been enjoying some NOS sealed recordings I found at my local record shop and these decks really let me hear things that I never knew were on tape. Really looking forward to getting the Dragon serviced. Thinking about going to Willy Hermann for this. Then the BX300 will follow later. But it's certainly nice to be enjoying another analog source once again.
How about the Kyocera D-811 cassette deck. I had thousands of hours of tape back in the day

Go see Willy Hermann for your Dragon. Nobody does it better! Just my opinion.
I also have the Nak BX300. I record my vinyl and play them in my Lexus which has the Mark Levinson sound system Analoge rules! Now if only the ML system in the car had tubes.
Yup, cassettes rule. I have ditched my modded Oppo set up in favor of a very simple relatively unmodded, untweaked portable walkman type cassette player with vintage earphones. This very uncomplex system produces dynamic, uncompressed, open, clear and uber musical sound. No transformers to muddy up the signal, no fuses, no ground, no AC power, no wiring and cabling half of which would be installed backwards, no capacitors.
I still have my Nakamichi 581Z and numerous cassettes I made from my vinyl. I think they still sound great, and I agree: next best thing to vinyl!
Commercial tapes were always compromised... If you are not anti digital...Pioneer developed Digital wonders
I recently gave away about 3-400 cassettes that I'll never listen to and currently have over 400 cassettes of mostly recorded music and some pre-recorded music.

I had a Nak BX-125 for many years, sold it, and now have two 3 head cassette decks that I really like. A Harman Kardon TD392 and an Aiwa ADF-660 that were both very inexpensive.

And I agree with Ebuzz, cassettes are the next best thing to vinyl of which I have about 1200 LPs and only 2-250 CDs
If you are using old tapes i.e. 30-40 yrs old there are a number of things to watch out for.
Although the mag tape portion is absolutely fine and probably sounds as good as it did on day 1 (subjectively)sometimes the leader tape can lose it's stickiness (rather like dried out cellotape) and the danger here is that the sudden shock of hitting the end-stops, either by playing or winding, can cause it to become detached. I wouldn't have too much confidence in the splicing kits sold on e-Bay if the kit's leader tape is of similar age.
Gently hand winding and avoiding the machine's automatic stop sensor is recommended as a preventative.

Next up is the pressure pad at the tape head. As with the leader tape these can drop off altogether or lose their tension (you'll notice immediately because tape speed regulation will be all over the place)
Tape jamming is rare and can be a problem if it happens in the middle. Long time ago I used to have a manual winder for the awkward ones that motors simply couldn't drive beyond that point.
With less severe cases it could be solved by fast winding to the opposite end then rewinding completely to re-layer the tape. Sometimes the housings and mechanisms were too cheaply made.

FWIW I've found the most reliable mechanisms and construction are in the Deutsche Grammophon tapes. Next are Decca.
EMI & Philips were sent by the Devil. ;^)
Hope this helps.
Speaking of the pressure pads falling off there are some very informative YouTube videos that explain how to reattach the little feller or in case It went Missing in Action how to replicate the felt pad and attach it. I have reattached five of the felt pads in the last few months. It's a piece of cake.
Good advice Geoff :)
I lost one of those pads recently and never did manage to find it - it vanished completely!
Don't think the cassette itself is too critical or fussy about the attachment. it doesn't have to be symmetrical just reasonably aligned and as long as it barely covers the edge of the tape.
DG always used massive pads. (They take no chances ;^)
Even if they did become loose you'd probably never know as they're wedged between the top & bottom of the housing

It's cost effective to salvage or transcribe those old tapes (digital transcripts are surprisingly successful at capturing the essence of the tape recording - and I say this as an analogue die-hard). The level of musical involvement & insight gleaned from these old tapes is incredibly rewarding.

(Just try costing replacement CDs on the net. For the rare ones you could be looking at hundreds of $$$/£££ per item. You are absolutely right. Salvage is well worth the effort)
All the best!
Thrift stores are a great source of premium quality tapes ... used of course. Just make sure the tapes aren't broken, then use a tape erasure (available at Radio Shack). I use the large eraser intended for VCR tapes. As a side benefit, you can also use the tape erasure to demagnetize your CDs to reduce the digital grain. If you buy the used tapes, just for fun, take a listen to what was recorded on them by the previous owner. Its amazing what crap people record and listen to .. even on the premium tapes.
I'd better mention the finest cassette machine ever made the Studer Revox B***studio..(before it we used the Nakamichi decks) the thing is crystal clear and smokin with those great TDK XG tapes.
It really is amazing how good a well recorded cassette sounds considering how slow the tape moves. A good vinyl record recorded from a high end system onto a cassette tape can sound amazing.
Bought a used Nakamichi about 10 years ago,Can't remember the model but remember it sounding excellent and still have it. Not quite as good as a friends reel to reel deck from back in the 70's though, man did that sound sweet.
Yes, I just loved when it clicked and changed tracks in the middle of your favorite song. That, the the pack of matches propped underneath to make it sound normal :)
If you spend time away from your primary system listening room, and want to enjoy portable Walkman level analog performance upgraded to truly pleasurable heights, give a listen to Machina Dynamica's surprising offering.
Mine even has a CrO2/metal switch for that part of the cassette legacy.
For some reason, either fanatical Japanese precision manufacture (a great day on the assembly line?) or as a result of the upgrade itself, there is no audible wow/flutter.
Not only the click when changing tracks but the fade out and fade in during the best part of the song. Yeah those were the days as a captured listener in the back of the family station wagon with Andy Williams and the Osmonds blaring full blast on 8 track.
I use Nak 682ZX with Maxell Vertex tapes regularly. I make the recordings from records and cds. Not quite as good as my Nottingham Spacedeck turntable but not far. The biggest difference is in soundstage depth.
Ha! Yes I still use cassettes. I used to be into them big time.  Had a Nak 1000, ReVox B215, a Pioneer 1250.  These days I've been using a pristine 1975 Nakamichi 500 Dual tracer.  I am amazed at how good it records and plays, especially for a two head machine.  

I would love for Maxell to get back into the game as I am running low on tape.


It is amazing by how much Maxell Metal Vertex backcoated reference cassette is better than everything else, at least with my deck, and the deck was not specifically biased for it. But these days each sealed Vertex is over $100 on ebay. Still worth it if you don't record much.
^^^  normansizemore ...

Again, premium Maxell and TDK tapes are available used from thrift stores. They run about .50 cents each. I have a large stock acquired over a period of several years. Once they are erased, they record just fine.


Never thought of trying thrift stores.  I do find some NOS on ebay.  I just wish that maxell and TDK would return to tape manufacturing.  Even for reel to reel, I personally always found maxell to be the best in my machines, even when compared to many 'plus 6' professional tapes.

Any of you cassette guys; send me pm if you are interested in NOS or used tapes or hardware. 
I lucked out and found a few RCA Living Stereo and Mercury Living Presence on cassette. They're sublime.

Anyone have any of the Advent brand chrome cassettes? I'm not talking about the blank ones, Advent has a series of classical and jazz records out on cassette and they were excellent.

I also loved their 'pain the neck' to operate but bullet proof cassette decks, the ones with the commercial 3m transports (201 & 201A).

I have several and they still sound excellent, though my likewise ancient Nak dual tracer is a bit sweeter.

I did find a source for new chrome cassettes a few years back. It's the BASF formula and very good.  I can look it up if anyone is interested.

geoffkait, I was surprised to see your comments on the RCA and Mercury cassettes.  In my experience, and I played with tapes for several years, commercial recordings were always a disappointment.  I attributed that to the high-speed reproduction utilized to mass produce commercial cassettes.

On the other hand, I was able to make many decent sounding tapes myself, recording in real time.

Norman, were the Advent tapes made in real time?

828 posts
07-26-2016 12:37pm
geoffkait, I was surprised to see your comments on the RCA and Mercury cassettes. In my experience, and I played with tapes for several years, commercial recordings were always a disappointment. I attributed that to the high-speed reproduction utilized to mass produce commercial cassettes.

I have to to admit I find cassettes to sound wonderful. Especially the RCA and Mercury cassettes that are as smooth and uncolored and dynamic as the LPs which I used to have. By comparison I find CD to sound thin, anemic, airless, lifeless, but there are some exceptions, like everything else. Cassettes are a natural medium. They breathe.

Yes,'the Advent cassettes were made in real time, which is why they were so expensive. 

I only have have a few, and they are remarkable. 


I love cassettes.  Had a friend over the other night, who happens to be a multiple Grammy award winning mix engineer.  She said,, “it’s just nice to see that tape spinning.  It’s like you have a tiny reel to reel playing”