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 Post subject: I have entered the Seventies..
PostPosted: Jan Wed 05, 2011 3:17 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 526
Location: Shiner ,Texas
Picked up 1979 JC Penney AM/FM/Phono/8 track player-recorder on a hunch on ebay many monthes ago.. I have not had a compact stereo since 1973 Toshiba... bought for 14.88 BIN plus 28 shipping.I just finished the work... BSR phono-no sound..crimped wires..after lube and adjustment..plays and sounds very nice. 8-track player-recorder..very erratic..turned out moving capstan head carrier had crack and play...very carefully glued and clamped tight. with that hard plastic glue...cleaned head and idler..plays like new.Checked FM stereo section found it had superb sensitivity and selectivity...ditto stereo seperation.Cleaned pots and the many switches...and features.The unit picks up scads of stations in Houston and San Antonio/Austin 85-100 miled away.I expected nothing whatsoever from the Am side..imagine my surprise when I found myself receiving stations from Chicago/St.Louis/Des Monies/Baltimore etc..very clear.My point is I spent next to nothing on an all purpose dinosaur from the late seventies and I have really good sound across a few formats.I have always snubbed these transistor compacts...and to think some also had a cassette unit ...And to think these things have no collector appeal whatsoever..they just play real well.For what it is worth


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jan Wed 05, 2011 4:57 am 
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Location: British Columbia
They have no collector appeal because there are so many still around, they are too new, have very little in the way of attractive or unique styling, and virtually nobody has cassettes anymore let alone eight tracks. I have over a half dozen eight track machines and most were given to me with a box of cartridges, some are extremely well made others were marginal. There was a lot of junk electronics put out in the 70's, some of it makes Lloyds stuff look like MacIntosh equipment, Soundesign and Electrophonic to name but two. Sometimes the department store stuff was alright sometimes it was junk, very seldom was it considered high end though Radio Shack put out a few good units.
Best Regards
Arran


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jan Wed 05, 2011 5:53 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 4451
Location: 253 Blanche St. Plymouth, MI USA
Arran, dont scare folks away from all the 70's stuff, as the original poster said, some of its real good... surprisingly, for what it is. Hook up a decent pair of speakers to some of the stuff and its not too bad. There is the rub though, decent speakers. You can find many top quality ones that need the surrounds re-done due to rotted foam. Re-foam kits run about $20 a pair... so , worth doing if the tweeters and cabinets are good.
70's-80's stuff should be peaking in collectibility right now if you go by the "30 year rule".
Mark Oppat
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jan Wed 05, 2011 6:26 am 
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Location: British Columbia
oldradioparts wrote:
Arran, dont scare folks away from all the 70's stuff, as the original poster said, some of its real good... surprisingly, for what it is. Hook up a decent pair of speakers to some of the stuff and its not too bad. There is the rub though, decent speakers. You can find many top quality ones that need the surrounds re-done due to rotted foam. Re-foam kits run about $20 a pair... so , worth doing if the tweeters and cabinets are good.
70's-80's stuff should be peaking in collectibility right now if you go by the "30 year rule".
Mark Oppat
****


I wasn't referring to higher end stuff from the 70s like a Marrantz or an Akai, Denon, etc. But I honestly think that the 30 year rule might as well hit the dust bin when it comes to the mass market consumer electronics from then, most has all the appeal of a washing machine. Sure they sound good with decent speakers, but so does an AA5 once you run it through something more then a 4 incher. But if you get a pair of decent speakers you may as well get a decent amp to power them, I have a Sears combo unit that I am running through a pair of Criterion speakers but it just doesn't have enough umpf to drive them. I'm not trying to scare people off of them but I'm just suggesting that it would be unwise to pay a premium for it unless it's something special.
Best Regards
Arran


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jan Wed 05, 2011 6:23 pm 
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I've got close to 200 8-track tapes and 2 working stereo decks.I still need to find a quad deck though.My collection will not be complete until i have one.

Nick

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jan Wed 05, 2011 7:51 pm 
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Location: Minnesota
I worked at two higher end audio stores from 1979 to about 1983. Got very spoiled. To each his own, but I wouldn't touch anything with a cassette or 8 track attached, even the ones Fisher made. A cassette deck is a different story. 8 tracks were designed to fail from the very beginning. The whole 8 track idea was for auto use so you didn't have to take your eyes off the road.

There are very few receiver/turntable combos that are any good either. The only high quality stuff was components and certain consoles. For those of you who say you can't hear the difference, you are either partly deaf or have never heard what "really good" sounds like. I'm not overly concerned with how my radios or TV's sound but stereos are a different story.

I know that some will think I'm being unfair and overly critical. This is my opinion only.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jan Wed 05, 2011 8:28 pm 
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Sperrkreis,
Kudos to you for bringing back that J C Penney unit! I am sure there is much satisfaction in getting the whole unit to function as it once did. Not to mention the enjoyment you have received in listening to it as well.

Gene


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jan Wed 05, 2011 9:02 pm 
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ggregg wrote:
I worked at two higher end audio stores from 1979 to about 1983. Got very spoiled. To each his own, but I wouldn't touch anything with a cassette or 8 track attached, even the ones Fisher made. A cassette deck is a different story. 8 tracks were designed to fail from the very beginning. The whole 8 track idea was for auto use so you didn't have to take your eyes off the road.

There are very few receiver/turntable combos that are any good either. The only high quality stuff was components and certain consoles. For those of you who say you can't hear the difference, you are either partly deaf or have never heard what "really good" sounds like. I'm not overly concerned with how my radios or TV's sound but stereos are a different story.

I know that some will think I'm being unfair and overly critical. This is my opinion only.

I completly agree.

Nick

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Life without music would be a mistake-Nietzsche
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jan Wed 05, 2011 10:53 pm 
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Location: Dayton Ohio
Oh, there were some very nice combos from the 1970s with 8-track decks. Some with very unique styling such as the Zenith "Wedge".

Here is an example.

http://www.instappraisal.com/content/ze ... reo-system

My mother bought one of these new back in 1978 when I was 11 years old. I was totally BLOWN AWAY at the sound this system gave! It has 15 watts per channel and the Allegro 2000 speakers have a decent 8 inch woofer and horn tweeter with a bass reflex port.

Very quality stuff here. Plus a style all its own. Though, I got very sick of the Barry Manilow 8-track tape my mother had....

-Steve


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jan Thu 06, 2011 1:24 am 
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Joined: Jan Thu 01, 1970 1:00 am
Posts: 526
Location: Shiner ,Texas
Well of course these units were common...some much better than others...I was with Sears and Roebuck 1976-89 and saw alot of combos sold as Sears by "Fisher"..the regular units in the seventies were Japan/Taiwan..the Fisher units by this time were also outsourced to Japan. The entire Fisher line ..some years 12-16 different units ..from receivers to 8 track players/cassette/phonos /speakers had their seperate display...and then the combo units had their own endcap display.I remember at this time many stereo units going out on the "repair" shuttle..I ran the receiving/shipping/package P/U...this was when stores actual tried to repair their sales.I remember that all we saw was the cheaper lines...We did sell cheap stuff...but the shipment of a Fisher built/designed unit required a packing blanket and this was a very rare occurence.I agree..the 8 track died the same sales death as the wire recorder/reel to reel...even though reel to reel is a great sounding medium....and quite a few people swear by them.Many people still appreciate the sound of these units.I did forget to mention that I am playing this unit through two identical Motorola mono tube EL90 amps each with their own factory dual speakers set-up.I simply split the output cord from the combo into these two amp/speakers.This no doubt has a lot to do with the excellent sound.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jan Thu 06, 2011 2:04 am 
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Location: Minnesota
Fisher, HH Scott, Sherwood, It was amazing to see what happened to them between the mid 60's and the mid 80's. Everyone once in a while, there was be a new owner and a spark of life for a while, then down again. The initial Japanese made stuff was still pretty good. I remember seeing Capehart all in ones at Zayre Shopper City. I think they were owned by Lloyds by then. Capehart for christ's sakes. It all became just a brand. I'm rambling. Sorry.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jan Thu 06, 2011 5:18 pm 
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Joined: Sep Thu 23, 2010 6:37 am
Posts: 8277
Location: Powell River BC Canada
From a consumers point of view magnetic tape was always
nibbling at vinyl to get a market share. They started out with
2 track staggered, then inline and ended up with 4 track. The 8
track was displaced by the cassette. From RIAA's side, there was
no threat to copyright until cassettes appeared. And even then
home machines could not equal the 'tone' and feel of a cassette
mass produced on pro-label high speed printer. When Walkmans
appeared, then people didn't care what stolen music sounded like
and RIAA went after the blank tape retail sales for a kickback of
special copyright levies. Vinyl had everyting beaten because after
2 track magnetic went, dropout simply meant tape didn't work well.
A far as quadraphonic goes, that was a joke. Stereo dealers
essentially gave away the metalware at cost and made their money on house brand speakers in packages meant for low
budget people that just wanted a 'stereo'.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jan Fri 07, 2011 5:28 am 
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Joined: Apr Sun 08, 2007 6:47 am
Posts: 4392
Location: British Columbia
ggregg wrote:
I worked at two higher end audio stores from 1979 to about 1983. Got very spoiled. To each his own, but I wouldn't touch anything with a cassette or 8 track attached, even the ones Fisher made. A cassette deck is a different story. 8 tracks were designed to fail from the very beginning. The whole 8 track idea was for auto use so you didn't have to take your eyes off the road.

There are very few receiver/turntable combos that are any good either. The only high quality stuff was components and certain consoles. For those of you who say you can't hear the difference, you are either partly deaf or have never heard what "really good" sounds like. I'm not overly concerned with how my radios or TV's sound but stereos are a different story.

I know that some will think I'm being unfair and overly critical. This is my opinion only.


I would take an eight track over a Phillips style compact cassette any day of the week if they have the same content. The Eight Tracks used a 1/4 inch reel to reel tape and used a tape speed of 3 3/4 inches per second, the compact cassettes had a 1/8 wide tape that ran at about 1 7/8 inches unless it was a special machine, as anyone who has played with reel to reel recording knows you achieve higher fidelity with a higher tape speed.
What let the eight track technology down was the poorer quality cartridges that some manufacturers put out, ones with hard plastic pinch rollers and cheap foam pressure pads, and no bearings for the spool or the pinch roller. The best quality cartridges were the ones that RCA put out, they had bronze springs with felt pressure pads and used bearings for the spool and pinch roller with a rubber roller. Many of the cheaper cartridges also used a shorter length of tape and did a poor job of editing splitting many of the songs in half, the better quality cartridges did this less often.
I have hundreds of vinyl records and about equal numbers of compact cassettes and eight track cartridges, and have had just as much trouble with the cassette tapes as the eight tracks if not more. Most of the problems eight tracks have are due to disuse and age, not that the cassettes are getting older they are developing many of the same problems. I also find that the eight tracks are more convenient, once the splice is replaced and the tape cycled a few times and properly tensioned they are more less maintenance free, with records I have to clean the dust off periodically and with cassettes I have to flip them over or rewind them every 20 to 30 minutes not unlike the LP records.
Contrary to what people may think there was such a thing as a eight track recorder, and they worked extremely well. I have many examples of home recorded eight tracks and the sound quality rivals a reel to reel recording of the same speed. One advantage that the eight track has over the compact cassettes is that a long play eight track has 80 minutes of recording time divided over four programs, a 90 minute cassette has two programs of 45 minutes each on a 1/8 wide tape. The 90 minute cassettes (even the commercial ones always seemed to develop problems with tensioning, stretching, and end up with a lot of wow and flutter, 60 minutes seems to be about the maximum in this format.
The only reason that I can figure as to why cassettes too over from eight tracks was their compactness and slick marketing by Phillips and Sony, the same slick marketing that convinced people to dump their record collection in favor of CDs. Well they are new and the greatest thing since sliced bread according to the commercials so they must be better, right!!!
Best Regards
Arran


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jan Fri 07, 2011 7:11 am 
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Location: Cincinnati, OH
There were tons of great products made in the 1970s..I would consider this the "golden age" for stereo products (Not radio or current surround receivers). Pioneer, Marantz, Sansui, Yamaha, and Kenwood all made excellent products. Anyone familiar with the Pioneer SX-1280? I'm even leaving out the extra high end stuff like McIntosh. It wasn't until the 80s, and the introduction of the IC that quality went downhill. Now is a great time to collect because prices are still relatively low, yet you get an excellent product. I would challenge anyone to buy a decent brand receiver from the 70s, recap and clean it, and tell me it doesn't sound as good, or better, as whatever comparable modern component you have.
Brands like Soundesign and the various department store brands were a different story. They threw a metal faceplate on anything and uneducated buyers looking for a bargain ate it all up. I once read that Soundesign made a pair of speakers that appeared to be 2-way, but when you took off the grille the "woofer" was actually a painted circle!

Pioneer system in the bachelor pad .. :D

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jan Fri 07, 2011 1:45 pm 
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Joined: Aug Sun 01, 2010 1:12 am
Posts: 8312
Location: Minnesota
Arran wrote:
ggregg wrote:
I worked at two higher end audio stores from 1979 to about 1983. Got very spoiled. To each his own, but I wouldn't touch anything with a cassette or 8 track attached, even the ones Fisher made. A cassette deck is a different story. 8 tracks were designed to fail from the very beginning. The whole 8 track idea was for auto use so you didn't have to take your eyes off the road.

There are very few receiver/turntable combos that are any good either. The only high quality stuff was components and certain consoles. For those of you who say you can't hear the difference, you are either partly deaf or have never heard what "really good" sounds like. I'm not overly concerned with how my radios or TV's sound but stereos are a different story.

I know that some will think I'm being unfair and overly critical. This is my opinion only.


I would take an eight track over a Phillips style compact cassette any day of the week if they have the same content. The Eight Tracks used a 1/4 inch reel to reel tape and used a tape speed of 3 3/4 inches per second, the compact cassettes had a 1/8 wide tape that ran at about 1 7/8 inches unless it was a special machine, as anyone who has played with reel to reel recording knows you achieve higher fidelity with a higher tape speed.
What let the eight track technology down was the poorer quality cartridges that some manufacturers put out, ones with hard plastic pinch rollers and cheap foam pressure pads, and no bearings for the spool or the pinch roller. The best quality cartridges were the ones that RCA put out, they had bronze springs with felt pressure pads and used bearings for the spool and pinch roller with a rubber roller. Many of the cheaper cartridges also used a shorter length of tape and did a poor job of editing splitting many of the songs in half, the better quality cartridges did this less often.
I have hundreds of vinyl records and about equal numbers of compact cassettes and eight track cartridges, and have had just as much trouble with the cassette tapes as the eight tracks if not more. Most of the problems eight tracks have are due to disuse and age, not that the cassettes are getting older they are developing many of the same problems. I also find that the eight tracks are more convenient, once the splice is replaced and the tape cycled a few times and properly tensioned they are more less maintenance free, with records I have to clean the dust off periodically and with cassettes I have to flip them over or rewind them every 20 to 30 minutes not unlike the LP records.
Contrary to what people may think there was such a thing as a eight track recorder, and they worked extremely well. I have many examples of home recorded eight tracks and the sound quality rivals a reel to reel recording of the same speed. One advantage that the eight track has over the compact cassettes is that a long play eight track has 80 minutes of recording time divided over four programs, a 90 minute cassette has two programs of 45 minutes each on a 1/8 wide tape. The 90 minute cassettes (even the commercial ones always seemed to develop problems with tensioning, stretching, and end up with a lot of wow and flutter, 60 minutes seems to be about the maximum in this format.
The only reason that I can figure as to why cassettes too over from eight tracks was their compactness and slick marketing by Phillips and Sony, the same slick marketing that convinced people to dump their record collection in favor of CDs. Well they are new and the greatest thing since sliced bread according to the commercials so they must be better, right!!!
Best Regards
Arran


Arran,
I totally disagree. The eight track concept was doomed by physics. When you have a tape and only one reel, you are going to have problems, not matter how you look at it. Head alignment was also a big problem and even if set correctly, the chances of it going out of alignment was just too great.

The only thing I agree on is fast tape speed equals better sound and drop out on old tape is a big problem. But, high quality cassette decks like Nakamichi and Tandberg, and good tape can outperform the average reel to reel. I've seen it done. Not just heard it, measured it. Even mid grade decks, in the $200 range, performed well and had specs that practically no eight track deck, no matter how expensive, could match. If eight track was so good, how come they never made expensive decks for them or even if they're were a few, why didn't people embrace them?

LP is probably the best media, in my opinion. I can't explain it, but LP's have a smoothness that no digital media can match. Yes, I've had good CD players including a Luxman with tubes in the preamp and I still stand by this statement. CD's have a hot S/N ratio and are usually recorded loudly, which fools the ears. Louder=better. No necessarily in my book. After LP, reel to reel is my second choice, but finding tape is becoming an issue. There are plenty of good old decks out there waiting to be rebuilt. I still regret selling my Revox. After reel to reel, I prefer CD, mostly for the reasons you've already given but would prefer LP if I had the same music on LP. Cassettes next. However cassette decks are capable of very high performance, very close to LP, given the right machine and tape. In my opinion, 8 tracks are garbage. I would not touch one with a ten foot pole. With all the stereo equipment I've owned over the years, I had one 8 track for a couple of months and went immediately back to cassette.

As always, this opinion is mine and mine only. Anyone is welcome to agree or disagree.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jan Fri 07, 2011 1:56 pm 
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Joined: Aug Sat 01, 2009 2:23 pm
Posts: 1278
radiotechnician wrote:
From a consumers point of view magnetic tape was always
nibbling at vinyl to get a market share. They started out with
2 track staggered, then inline and ended up with 4 track. The 8
track was displaced by the cassette. From RIAA's side, there was
no threat to copyright until cassettes appeared. And even then
home machines could not equal the 'tone' and feel of a cassette
mass produced on pro-label high speed printer. When Walkmans
appeared, then people didn't care what stolen music sounded like
and RIAA went after the blank tape retail sales for a kickback of
special copyright levies. Vinyl had everyting beaten because after
2 track magnetic went, dropout simply meant tape didn't work well.
A far as quadraphonic goes, that was a joke. Stereo dealers
essentially gave away the metalware at cost and made their money on house brand speakers in packages meant for low
budget people that just wanted a 'stereo'.



A couple of disagreements with what you have said. First off, you consider pre recorded cassettes better than one made on a high quality home deck? Don't think so. Pre recorded cassettes were notoriously inferior in sound quality. The quality of the tape and the cassette shell, and the high speed duplication process could not match the quality of a 1:1 copy. Consider that you could get very high quality tape from TDK and Maxell among others, and make superb recordings on a Nakamichi, Tandberg, Revox and many other decks that could lay down a frequency response flat to 20kHz. I made many a tape off of my vinyl using a high end turntable and cassette deck, and not only did they blow away the pre-recorded tape, they were nearly indistinguishable from the LP. The only "decent" pre recorded cassettes I ever heard were the Chromium ones from Advent which were done in the early days of Dolby cassette decks. These, were not high speed duplicates, however.
As for vinyl, I agree it was mostly superior to cassette, but you could get very close with good gear. And while tape was prone to wear, vinyl was no paragon of durability either. BTW, pre recorded cassette sales overtook vinyl sales by the early 80's.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jan Fri 07, 2011 4:35 pm 
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Arran wrote:
Contrary to what people may think there was such a thing as a eight track recorder, and they worked extremely well.


there are people who think this? :shock:

We had them come in all the time through the shop in Zenith systems. I made many test recordings on the things. I still have the short Zenith 8-Track test tape I used.

Ahh memories :wink:

-Steve


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jan Fri 07, 2011 4:56 pm 
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Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
After reading the banter of 8-track vs. cassette, I had to chime in. I'm in the cassette camp as well, for several reasons-many of which have already been pointed out. Despite the narrow track width, and slower tape speeds of the compact cassette; the development of chromium dioxide tape, along with other exotic formulations, coupled with the advent of Dolby B noise reduction (as well as the C, and DBX) gave the lowly cassette format the ability to produce excellent sound quality comparable to reel to reel. Granted, in order to achieve this goal (parity with the king of analog tape=Reel to reel) required precision transports, with well designed mechanics to minimize wow and flutter, along with electronics that could exploit the newer tape formulations.

But I have to say to the group that I still own my TEAC 360-S which I purchased in 1974, which has these features qualifying it as a true high-fidelity format. The golden age of cassettes truly was in the mid to late 70's when precision transports, exotic tape formulations, discreet electronics, true 3-head design, and effective noise reduction schemes added up to give the cassette (originally created for voice dictation, remember) the characteristics of a true audiophile class status. 8-tracks, despite the physical advantages of speed and track width, never achieved that status. The endless loop design, which by nature required the tape to slide across itself, destined the media to become unplayable over time as the lubricants dried out. I have cassettes that were recorded almost four decades ago that are still playable. Show me an 8 track that old that's listenable now. I don't think so.

Bryan

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jan Fri 07, 2011 6:07 pm 
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I suspect that JC Penny unit was built by Panasonic. If so, I'm not surpresed that it's a decent performer. I've had my hands on many Panasonic made "all in one" units and, while still not up to component stereo equipment standards, they seem to perform better than the junk brands (Lloyds, Juliette, Electrophonic, Soundesign, etc.). Zenith, Scott, Fisher, Sylvania, Magnavox, Sony, and KLH also made decent "all in one" systems during the late '60's and '70's. Many of these used Garrard record changers fitted with magnetic cartridges.

My first stereo, which I received in the early '80's, was a hand-me-down Arvin 8-track/radio combo with a blown right channel. I used it for a long time like that until my Dad finally had it fixed. Shortly after getting the stereo, I received a hand-me-down el cheapo Westinghouse late '60's solid state suitcase record player that used a BSR changer. This was one of those really cheap models with seperate L and R volume controls and no tone control.

When I was 13 or 14, I bought my first real "all in one" system for $2 at a church rummage sale - a mid '70's Electrophonic 8-track/radio/3 speed BSR changer combination with a round green illuminated tuning dial. Even though it was an Electrophonic, it was still an improvement over what I had. After 2 or 3 years, I graduated to a mid '70's Kenwood receiver, decent turntable, and cassette deck. I still have, and use, the receiver.

In the early '90's, I used to pick up broken "all in one" systems for cheap or free. All that they usually needed was a good cleaning. The only parts that were usually needed were tape player belts and needles. Sometimes, I'd get one with a fried output stage. Even in the '90's, there were still plenty of senior citizens who had 8-tracks and records and these "all in one" systems sold very well (usually in the $50-$100 range). Then, as the decade progressed, the older folks died off and everyone else would only buy a stereo if it would play CD's. A few years ago, I had a Soundesign silver faced "all in one" that played everything except CD's. I let my flea market friend take it to sell and it took over a year to find a buyer. Had it been some POS Lennox Sound CD player wal-mart cheapie, someone would have probably bought it the same day he took it up.

The "all in ones" that I really despised were those ultra cheap "no name"jobs from the late '80's and '90's that had a cassette player, radio, and a cheap all plastic single play turntable on top.

It's now gotten to the point where I won't touch an "all in one" system unless it's cheap, clean, and one of the better brands.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Jan Fri 07, 2011 6:17 pm 
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Bryantenn wrote:
I have cassettes that were recorded almost four decades ago that are still playable. Show me an 8 track that old that's listenable now. I don't think so.

Bryan


Bryan, I agree with most of what you said, but the last part. Yes, cassettes are a better format. But saying 8 track tapes aren't listenable now is a rather large statement to make. Right now, at last count at least, I have around 600 8 tracks that are all playable, and actually sound quite good. There's a little bit ef everything in there quality wise, and the lower quality ones are low quality, but they are still good. The only ones I've had that weren't any good any more had been mainly used and kept in cars. All are played through a Wells Gardner combo unit also.

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