A typical consumer hi-fi cassette deck from late 1980s, features full electronic transport, separate playback and record heads, Dolby B, C and HXPro noise reduction

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Dual Cassette

A cassette deck is a type of tape deck for playing or recording compact audio cassettes. The cassette recorder was introduced by the Philips Corporation in 1963 and marketed in 1965 as an improvement over reel-to-reel recorders designed for portable use. more...

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It enclosed both reels of the recording tape in a small case which eliminated the need to thread the tape through individual reels. The tape width was just 0.125 inches (3.2 mm) and tape speed was 1.875 inches (4.76 cm) per second, which meant that sound quality was appropriate only for voice or dictation use at the time. In 1971, the Advent Corporation combined Dolby B-type tape-hiss-noise reduction system with chromium dioxide tape to create the Advent Model 201, the first high-fidelity cassette deck. This deck was an OEM unit manufactured by Nakamichi.

Cassette decks soon came into widespread use and were designed variously for professional applications, home audio systems, and for mobile use in cars, as well as portable recorders. From the mid 1970s to the late 1990s the cassette deck was the preferred music source for the automobile. Like 8-track tape, it was relatively insensitive to vehicle motion, but it had superior frequency response and reduced tape flutter, as well as the obvious advantage of smaller physical size.

Cassette decks reached their pinnacle of performance and complexity by the mid 1980s. Cassette decks from companies such as Nakamichi, Revox, and Tandberg incorporated advanced features such as multiple tape heads and dual capstan drive without motorized reel motors. Auto-reversing decks came into popular use so the user did not need to flip the cassette manually to play the second side of the tape. Compact Decks sold by Japanese companies such as Akai, Pioneer, Sony, Technics, and Denon were also common, with each company offering models of very high quality.

The best cassette decks use three-head technology (developed by Nakamichi but used on top decks from all manufacturers), the Dolby noise reduction system including the newer C (in 1980) and S types, and microprocessors to adjust tape bias automatically. Bang & Olufsen developed the HX-Pro headroom extension system in conjunction with Dolby Laboratories in 1982. This was used in many higher-end decks. Manufacturers experimented with exotic tape formulations to improve high frequency response. Sony used a dual layer formulation known as Ferri-chrome.

Analog cassette deck sales began to decline with the advent of the compact disc and other digital recording technologies such as digital audio tape (DAT). Philips responded with the digital compact cassette, but it failed to garner a significant market share and was withdrawn. Tascam, Marantz, Teac, Denon, Sony, and JVC are among the companies still manufacturing cassette decks in relatively small quantities for professional and niche market use.

Despite the decline in the production of cassette decks, these products are still valued by some. Some audiophiles believe that cassette deck technology, due to its analog nature, provides sound recordings superior to current digital technology, such as CDR and DAT. However, cassette decks are not considered by most people today to be either the most versatile or highest fidelity sound recording devices available.

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See also...
JVC, Dual Cassette, Cassette Decks
Kenwood, Dual Cassette, Cassette Decks
Other Brands, Dual Cassette, Cassette Decks
Pioneer, Dual Cassette, Cassette Decks
Sony, Dual Cassette, Cassette Decks
Technics, Dual Cassette, Cassette Decks

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