I basically agree with Richard except that most microcassettes that I've encountered are just
interview or memo stuff recorded with the attached mic and are decidedly low-fi, just not something
worth a lot of precision effort, the only goal should be audibility. So I usually just use a
well-working microcassette machine. I have a Panasonic and an Olympus, and both do a fine job. I
take the earphone output thru an impedence-matching transformer into a line input. I usually apply
EQ to improve audibility, but it's up to the client. Most clients don't opt for fidelity to a
crappy-sounding source if they can have better audibility through modern tools.
My point is, you don't need to go spend a fortune to hunt down a Precision High Fidelity Playback
system for a lowly microcassette, in 90+% of cases.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard L. Hess" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, April 19, 2013 5:19 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Microcassette players
> There are professional units from JBR
> If the price of the above is beyond your budget, you might wish to consider two alternatives:
> (1) Find a portable or desk transcriber that works reasonably well, come out of the headphone jack
> and capture that in the computer.
> (2) Take the tape out of the microcassette shell, load it into a standard cassette shell, and use
> a high-end standard cassette player.
> For the relatively small volume of microcassette transfers I'm asked to do (maybe 10-20 per year),
> I take option (2). The sound will be backwards and at 2x or 4x speed. So record at 96 ks/s and
> then when you play it back at 48 ks/s, you'll still have full audio bandwidth in the digital
> domain--the analog player will have cut off somewhere around 20 kHz or so, therefore you'll only
> have 10 kHz of audio in the file, but it won't be digitally limited.
> If you have to go down to 1/4 speed, your top end will be limited (again in the analog domain by
> the repro deck) to 5 kHz.
> But, interestingly, those are the limits of the JBR unit as well. Standard speed on a
> microcassette is 2.4 cm/s (15/16 in/s) and LP is 1.2 cm/s (15/32 in/s) while a standard cassette
> is 4.8 cm/s (1-7/8 in/s). There just isn't much high end on the tape at 15/32 in/s!
> The technique on my website for reloading cassettes can be adapted to microcassettes as well. If
> you cut the tape right at the empty hub side of the opening, you'll preserve the start pulses that
> JBR talks about.
> You will not be able to return the tapes to the microcassette shell, but this has been acceptable
> to a wide range of clients. One potential client did not want the original artifact damaged, so I
> declined the project.
> On 2013-04-19 4:49 PM, Grant, Tyra wrote:
>> We need to purchase a microcassette player for creating digital transfers.
>> I'd like a durable player that will provide playback quality as good as is reasonably possible
>> from a microcassette.
>> Any recommendations?
>> Tyra Grant
>> [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
>> Digital and electronic media preservation
>> University of Kansas Libraries
>> Phone: 785-864-8951
> Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
> Aurora, Ontario, Canada 647 479 2800
> Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.