On a dual capstan deck, the reason it's better for azimuth stability is its
uniform back tension. In a standard single capstan deck, back tension from
the supply reel tends to increase as the tape plays from start to finish.
Changing back tension can change azimuth. An interesting complication in our
situation is that the deck which originally recorded the cassette we are now
playing, may not have been dual capstan, meaning its recorded azimuth may
well change from start to end of tape side.
I was in a team digitising thousands of Oral History cassettes mostly
recorded on simple single capstan cassette decks. We used Tascam Mk III
playback machines which, like Naks have a constant back tension, but
controlled electronically, not by dual capstan. Often the azimuth alignment
would slowly drift from start to end of the tape side, seemingly always in
the same direction. If we'd used Naks I suspect the result would have been
Ideally, such tapes would be played in a similar deck with similar back
tension changes! Or on a model such as a Dragon, but I wonder how many of us
have access to one of those?
The other thing is that it's the constant back tension which *allows*
removal or lifting of the pressure pad. This means that many otherwise fine
dual capstan cassette decks would potentially benefit from the adding of a
pressure pad lifter, as per the Naks. I've modded a few such dual capstan
decks (Pioneer, Tandberg, Sony) with a custom made pressure pad lifter with
good results. It's not always appreciated that the absence of the pressure
pad greatly improves head life, which is one of the main reasons I like
The Tascam 122 MkIII retains the pressure pad but it mostly works againt the
record head, not the play, but has a role to play in maintaining the back
tension across the play head downstream of it. The pressure pad on the
record head causes quite a bad wear groove after not too long a time, but
in even the worst wear cases I've never seen a play head - sitting right
next to the record head- worn nearly as badly or unsalvageable.( The Tascam
122 head is a beautiful piece of engineering IMO, which unusually allows
full adjustment of the record head independently of the play head. They're
not locked together). In my view the 122 record/play head assembly should
be replaced not when straight line playback performance suffers, but earlier
when the record head becomes grooved due to the wear from the pressure pad..
This is especially so when azimuth is routinely adjusted and the tape is
forced to distort inside the "tramline track" of the worn record head as the
head twists with azimuth adjustments. Of course this applies to any tape
head in any machine.
I noticed on a head from a later model Nak deck, relief slots were factory
cut into the head faces. A nice feature, especially in a transfer situation
where azimuth is regularly being adjusted.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Corey Bailey" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, May 06, 2019 11:06 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Tascam 122n MK models
> Hi John,
> I prefer cassette decks with a dual capstan mechanism for playback. The
> reason is that cassettes, particularly old ones, tend to skew and a dual
> capstan deck will hold azimuth better throughout the length to the tape.
> Some Nakamichi's also have the added feature of a pressure pad lifter. If
> you are going to consider a NAK, be sure and buy one that was built post
> 1982. Dual capstan decks are expensive, even used which, I think, is the
> only way you will find one. The Tascam that you mention is current but a
> good used dual capstan machine will out perform it, hands down.
> My $0.02
> Corey Bailey Audio Engineering
> On 5/5/2019 7:19 AM, John Schroth wrote:
>> Hoping to get some input from everyone.
>> I'd like to add a Tascam 122 cassette deck to our inventory. I've been
>> studying up on the different models, reading conflicting reports. Does
>> anyone have recommendations on which of the models they prefer - the
>> original 122, MK-II or MK-III?
>> Thanks in advance for any input.
>> Kind Regards,
>> John Schroth
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