March 21, 2011

The End Of The Road, Vis-A-Vis Hipster Cool...

by Chris Randall

My main purpose in putting this up, aside from strictly historical interest, is to make James from RetroThing wet his pants with jealousy. Jeff Laity from TASCAM (who posts as synthetic here) sent me this little gem completely out of the blue, because he knows this is the sort of thing that makes me all giggly like a little girl.

What it is: the TEAC Open Reel cassette system. Check it. You've got an empty shell of a cassette, and you can swap out the reels of tape as if it was a reel-to-reel. There's a take-up reel included with the system, and each roll of tape has its own little plastic case that screws apart. I think, from a commercial standpoint, that it's interesting this was ever released at all.

The construction quality of the reels themselves, and their little holders, is top notch, just as nice as a roll of Quantegy 2" or some such. The cassette shell thing is kind of not-as-awesome, but it'll get the job done. There's a slot in the side of the shell that you slide the reel in to, and then you spool the tape over to the take-up reel, and Bob's your uncle.

As far as I can tell, the point of this system is to be able to just leave the shell in your Walkman (or TEAC-branded version of same) and then you've got these little spools instead of a rucksack full of cassettes. They're much, much tinier, of course. A pretty cool concept all in all, but I wish (oh, how I wish) there was a tiny little 1/8" reel-to-reel deck they went with. No such luck.


Page 3 of 3

Mar.22.2011 @ 2:02 PM
Chris Randall
@bmedich: No, you saw the ones Adam linked to, which were fairly common. These never made it to America.


Mar.22.2011 @ 2:13 PM
Solipsist Nation
Holy cow. SWEET.

I totally want that. I would have been SO INTO THAT a few years ago.

Mar.22.2011 @ 5:37 PM
That is a very cool cassette. It just looks serious.

As a kid I remember looking at all the audio equipment in the Sunday circulars and the nice tape decks usually had those TEAC tapes Adam linked to in them. I always wanted one because the spools looked so cool. Like a 50's sci-fi control room.
I liked cassettes. Making a mixed tape was cool and fun.
Having two sides was way better than an extra 20min. on a CD with one side. Lame.
I like the two ideas on a mix.
Sides were a good divider.
I miss you sides.
Playlists seem so boring.
I must be getting old.

Mar.22.2011 @ 5:40 PM
The Nagra SNST is like an antique Swiss watch. An incredible feat of miniature engineering. These things were used by the CIA... one even went to the moon. Not surprised about the price on eBay. If you wanted a more HiFi version then this is the one to get is the Nagra SNST-R.

Here is a good video demonstration of the SNST:
link []

When I first started doing sound in the film industry they were still using Nagra. I use to transfer from Nagra to 35mm magnetic tape for editing.

- Hugo

Mar.22.2011 @ 11:14 PM
This picture just reminds me of days spent taking apart cassette cases to try and untangle chewed-up tapes, then spool it all back & re-assemble the whole shebang.

These are not happy memories.

@Hugo: syncing rushes with 16mm film and magnetic tape was fun!

Mar.23.2011 @ 12:17 PM
@MrMZ, I used to get excited when side 1 would drop off, everything would go quiet as the leader came in, the auto reverse would groan then clunk, there's be a bump as the leader ended and side 2 would start.
Happy days

Mar.29.2011 @ 2:21 PM
1/2 track/full width cassette deck: I had the same thought back in the day -- using the full width of the tape for two channels AND running the tape at double speed. You'd only get 22 1/2 minutes from a 90-minute cassette tape, but it seems like it would give you a huge improvement in sound quality.

Page 3 of 3



Sorry, commenting is closed for this blog entry.