Cassette-recorders

One of the coolest things I remember from my childhood is the discovery of recording sound. I met people around me who had tape-recorders. My father had one, some older cousin had one, and suddenly they were everywhere. Those were large expensive machines I thought I would never be able to own and play with myself. Boy was I wrong ;-) Ever since I found out about the Compact Cassette, I was fascinated by audio-tape and wanted to know everything about this medium. My mother brought in one of those handy PHILIPS portable cassette recorders (thanks to her job as a teacher, I think), and I remember times when I sneaked into her study whenever she wasn’t home, to go and mess with this thing. I had noticed earlier how I had no difficulty whatsoever operating these machines, something which was considered special back then, and so I was very much drawn to it. I was only 12 years old when I recorded strange conversations with fake characters I played myself, for me acting and pretending were fun things to do with tape-recorders. I really learned a lot about myself that way, especially since you could rewind and listen to how believable or bad it actually was.

The first recorder I could call my own was from the obscure brand electown, I remember it had some really weird bugs in the audio-circuits. Next came the N2235 by Philips, also still mono. Amazing machine that was, it had a pitch control so you could change speed!

JP recently told me about this Russian guy, Artyom, who found a way to put his vintage cassette-recorders back in business, really amazing stuff (very slow site though). Inspired by that I photographed my old SHARP RT-10 cassette deck, after dusting it off a little ;-) It had some added functionality:
– eraser-head on/off switch
– play/rec head on/off switches (left and right channel)
– several speed-tricks; fast down to 0 (“stil-loop”), pitch-control, smurf-mode etc.
As you can see, I soldered switches to the cassette-heads to be able to disconnect the eraser-head, and the left and right-channel of the play/rec head(s). You need to have been there to know what it was for :-)
It’s one of the machines I used for the creation of special audio-effects that in turn were used for radio shows and new wave disco-mixes and stuff. This is how it was done before there were analog-to-digital converters, before digidesign soundtools and before editing software came into play. It was all analog cassette and reel to reel tape, vinyl 12″s, turntables, a StudeRevox tape recorder, a whole lotta’ patience (and of course brilliance and talent ;-)
We (me and my cousin) had even built pitch-controls on our turntables, since we couldn’t really afford the Technics ones back then. All our money went to buying records. Those freakin’ imports were so damn expensive 😉
Anyway, it’s surprising how long those reels and cassette-tapes last. Most of them are still playable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *