How good does a tape deck need to be?

Hi people, I’m completely new to audacity and I’ve mucked my way through learning to record old cassette tapes. Only problem is, I just found out about the 4 different tape types. I have the high quality 70 µs CrO2 tapes and apparently my deck doesn’t specialize for the different kinds. Also, the deck has an upper limit of 8khz decoding for some strange reason. Is the quality gain from a better tape deck enough to invest in, or is any old deck fine?

Are you sure that’s right? If it is, that will sound very muffled.

The best cassette decks are capable of excellent sound, providing the tape and the recording are excellent quality, but such cassette decks are expensive and difficult to find these days. If all cassette tapes sound rubbish on your cassette player, then it’s likely that your cassette player is not very good but there is no way to know for sure unless you play a cassette that you know for certain is a really good recording.

Your question is difficult to answer because we’ve no idea if your tapes are any good. It’s a bit like if I asked “I’ve got a rubbish CD player and my CDs skip - will they sound good if I buy a new CD player?” The reason that question cannot be answered is because we don’t know if the CDs skip because the player is rubbish, or if the CDs skip because the CDs are damaged. The same goes for your cassettes.

yup, I checked the manual. The response curve is listed as 125hz-8khz -5db. I’m guessing that’s really bad.
Would that affect screaming guitars in a live recording?

It’s a bit better than an old fashioned telephone and quite a bit better than a walkie-talkie. It’s quite a lot worse than my $15 clock radio.

Cassette decks are currently available with USB output …

I’ve never used one so can’t comment about the quality, (and the $75 cost would buy a lot of downloads, which would be cleaner than the tape capture)

a copy of Audacity at no additional charge”, how generous :slight_smile:

Straight old oxide cassettes “worked” (in quotes) but nobody would mistake putting music on one. Over the course of their production run, the material on the backing went through at least two upgrades, chromium and metal, and the recording pre-processing went through two different equalizing curves and two different Dolby noise reductions.

So you could have a CRO2, 70uSec tape with Dolby-B and that will sound very nice on a deck that knew what that was. If you were missing any of the “features,” then the sound would suffer, sometimes pretty seriously.

I thought the sound on cassettes would go up further than that, too. 8KHz is just marginally up from AM radio (5KHz). Maybe that’s all the deck could manage without all the technical tricks.

If you lived through that, you know that periodically, somebody would come out with a New Cassette Technology and all the makers would magically come out with New and Improved decks that featured that improvement.

Now with Dolby B Noise Reduction (everybody got out their checkbooks).
Now with Metal Tape Bias (everybody, etc)
New! New! Dolby C Noise Reduction…

They were all different and they made sure that new tapes wouldn’t play well on older machines.


Not if the material on the tapes can’t be bought… For example, if it’s original recordings made by the user…

I probably still have somewhere at my parents home some tapes I recorded of myself playing guitar when I was a teenager… Maybe one of these days I’ll go search them and “steal” my father’s deck (which probably haven’t been used for quite some years now… but it used to be a top-of-the-line philips double deck player/recorder at the time…). The funny part is how I recorded my guitar sessions on that. The system didn’t have any mic input, nor did I have any mic preamp (I probably didn’t even know what that was at the time), but it did have a radio tuner. So someone sold me a mic with FM radio emitter and I would tune for that freq on the tuner and then record from the tuner to the tape…