Really a real reel to reel?

In 2004 you could buy this unique nostalgic novelty reel-to-reel, CD player combo. But is it just a novelty if it really works?

00:00 Start
01:40 Here it is
04:59 Unboxing with a story
06:01 First look
07:06 Power on tests
08:57 Getting the tape on
12:46 Tape Tests
17:50 Undercover secrets
20:29 Inside the back
22:36 A cassette experiment
23:54 Audio demo
24:53 Summing up
27:55 Patreon credits

Q) When you played the audio from the cassette was the wow and flutter due to a lack of back tension on the tape/friction against the tape shell/insert other thing here?
A) Yes – This was only a basic demonstration to prove the tape in this machine has the same track configuration and plays at the same speed as a typical cassette tape. But of course it would do, after all it is just a cassette mech. Don’t get hung up on how crappy this cassette demo sounds – it was just an experiment to prove specs – not sound quality. If you want to hear a demo of the sound quality…keep watching as there’s a full section with a comparison against a CD.

Q) Did you put the cover screws in wrong – I noticed one was sticking though to the back?
A) Yep – I swapped them across later.

I transposed two digits. The speakers are 8ohm 5W.

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Over Time – Vibe Tracks

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Comment (1,501)

  1. I would not have found your channel if I had not found your video couple of years ago about comparing your Smart Fortwo to your new Toyota IQ. I haven't missed a video since. Your videos should be archived in the Smithsonian or The British Museum. Smart cars and retro audio devices are very important to me. I would guess that you probably have moved on from your Toyota IQ to something else.

  2. I wonder if the creation of this format was a product of buying outdated surplus by Polyconcept. Let me explain: imagine Polyconcept was going to make money by repurposing old outdated materials. They call up 3M, Phillips, or RCA and say "hey you guys don't have any magnetic tape lying around you'd like to get rid of do you" and Phillips says"sure, we aren't selling cassettes anymore so we can sell you a couple of spools of tape… About 50,000 feet at a discount" Polyconcept buys it and then, to avoid patent infringement just wraps it onto these weird format "reel to reel" takeups. Of course they are tapping into the nostalgia market by making it look like reel to reel but in the end I'm guessing it was just that age old adage of "buy low sell high". Nice find though. Good video.

  3. I sincerely wish you could have heard my wife and I screaming and cursing at the television when you took that front panel off and it was just a cassette mechanism! Ingenious? Maybe. But also hilarious and wrong.

  4. This device simply rocks! As stated by Matt, it is truly fully functional and that is a very rare aspect today as it was 20 years ago. As others have stated, and as an engineer, I echo the perception that the designer had a budget, picked a target and worked toward it and the overall mechanicals demonstrate that perfectly.

  5. If it had come out earlier it looks like the kind of thing a cheap A/V department would have bought, and everybody who had to use it grumbled about.

  6. I want one I know I have a Revox but I think I would play with this and just sit there with a big smile on my face…appreciating what thoughts have gone into this device, all for the build cost of five Bob, thank you technoman the entertainment you bring us is just fantastic👍

  7. I too appreciate the ingenuity here. Its a full step up from shitty crosleys et al with cassette on the side. It takes itself just about as serious as it should. Asian import aesthetic here, where functionality and economy leverage product knowledge and history.

  8. Ok wow, with the front plate removed you can see the "tape mechanism" and I can honestly say I'm impressed. Not impressed about any audio quality but more by the ingenuity. The idea to make a reel to reel from a cassette mechanism is just cool on it's own.

  9. I am a famous eccentric avant-garde music composer and I intend to release my next ambient album in this exciting new retro format. However, I shall be recording at 2.784 times the normal speed in order to ensure the fidelity I require. I will, of course, be working from shellac masters.

  10. It's funny how things change, in the 2000s when this was made, people couldn't not care less about cassetes, good or bad, even between hifi enthusiasts, it was almost despised as a format. What people cared about was iPod with thousands of mp3s for portability costing hundreds of dollars. Therefore the market for good and even not so good cassete mechanisms was very narrow. How could possibly some engineer in Hong Kong, or wherever it was made, do better? The person or team that pulled this off was really good at his trade and delivery all things considering. Fast forward in time we have ipods going to the trash, handed down or being sold for next to nothing, good cassete devices expensive as hell and thousands of people on the internet discussing tape deck mechanism quality.

  11. There are some uses for that for example my friend had a rare Metallica cassette and I had to record to the end but it didn't have e leader so I had tape running all throughout the room. It was a mess but it worked. If I had this I could've put it on a reel

  12. What you don't know is that you go over China and there are streets in a part of town lined with grocery stores that carry any type of electronic components
    That you would ever need to build what ever your emagination could dream up…………
    PS thears even a U Tube Chanel that explores theas market's it's really interesting 🤔

  13. I have a 16mm Bell and Howell projector from 1940 and the thing is built like a tank. It weighs 53 pounds. Although a different format, it adds to the fact that in general things are built cheaper these days. If you want something made recently that is good quality, you have to really pay for it. 18:01 I wonder how long those plastic cogs would last after use? Still very cool to see that these are even made these days.

  14. When you mentioned it was 1/8 tape I was guaranteeing that was going to be a tape deck under there basically.

    Still. Impressive what they accomplished with it, even if the format is basically proprietary

  15. If I had to guess the normal tape was no longer easy to get so they just used cassette tape and heads for availability and deconstructed it for a nostalgic look. Probably just an exploded cassette player and not really anything as proprietary as it may look. Posted before I watched video. lol yup just a normal tape player.

  16. Feels to me like perhaps the manufacturer had an idea for a cheezy reel-to-reel retro device, sent it off to engineering, and the engineers took the spec to heart – and made a reel-to-reel knock off that actually worked properly – and for no reason other than that they had a work ethic.

  17. The RCA factory was down the street from me in Marion, IN and they made cutting edge tech there, the word's best color TV's with 60Hz refresh when all of Europe's TV's were using a seizure-inducing lower rate. Everything they sold made genius sense and was of the highest quality anywhere. But this device has nothing to do with the old RCA factory which closed due to Nixon and elites who stood to profit by opening up China to trade. This POS is clearly a Chinese piece of junk that they put the RCA name on, after the name was long since sullied and meaningless.

  18. Too bad it doesn't have auto reverse. Six hours of playback would be pretty awesome. Convert it to record and play back digital signals would be pretty cool too. I wonder if you could get better quality from the tape that way?

  19. What a flimsy affair for sure. pure junk……No wonder it is no longer made. This makes no sense at all why it ever was manufactured. I must say this video was laughable! I just want to add that your country made a fantastic acoustical phonograph. When I lived in England, I was able to purchase an EMG Handmade Gramophone. It has a Garrard motor and turntable with variable voltage selector on the back. I was able to change it to 110 volts 60 cylcles for the American standard. The reproduction is amazing, and I have several videos of it playing if you so desire to hear it if you have never seen one. The vintage of my EMG Mark IX is 1933. I enjoy your videos, keep them coming! Thanks

  20. Here's a jist of an upgrade… double-up the motor voltage to increase the tape speed to 3.75ips – to improve the audio quality on the tape. Down side… once the belts wear and break, where do you go to get replacements? Quite the novelty item none the less.

  21. ~ 12:20 Seems like it'd be easier to clamp in the little plastic tab first and then thread it.
    ~ 16:50 Yeah, kinda like that.
    I think your experience worked against you here. lol Not that I blame you. If I had half as much experience with reels being held by friction instead of little clamps like you do I'd probably do the same.

    With some minor tweaks to that front cover and if the tape spools under it were normal this could've also played cassettes quite easily. Just make a cassette shaped indentation and a detachable cover with that sponge attached to it. Makes me wonder why they didn't think of that?

  22. A brilliant machine, it almost feels like someone who'd only ever done cassettes was given a picture of a reel to reel machine and told to make that, and by God did they make it work.

  23. ………….yeah and i just found a box of unlabeled cassettes being thrown out in a set, i had to save/rescue them incase they are not all blank? i couldnt let them go to the skip/trash/rubbish/whatever you call it

  24. Techmoan, I can see one reasonable use for the tape portion of this. If you wanted to record a 3 hour long radio show and didn't care about fidelity that much this wouldn't be a bad choice…VHS Hi-Fi or some of the longer 70's RTR tapes would probably be a better choice for run time especially if you cared about fidelity.

  25. it amazes me they even bothered with putting on the compact disc digital audio logo on that cd tray in 2002, which means they had to pay the extra royalty for that to both Philips and Sony for the compatibility certification, because by that time most cd albums released (from as early as 2002/2003 onwards actually) didn't bother with printing that badge on packing nor on the label side of the discs themselves as most labels at that point were saving that cost by avoiding it or of course some still shipped out-of-spec discs laden with copy control mechanisms that break red book standard. (though by 2004 most copy protections had also gone away from most if not all cd's too)

  26. i suppose they almost had to go with 1/8 inch tape and cassette mechanism as 1/8 inch cassette heads were still available, and extremely unlikely any 1/4 inch types in current production at the time

  27. The reel-to-reel mechanism is quite clever. I too am impressed. I'm curious why the cassette you taped onto the machine had so much wow and flutter. Perhaps it didn't lineup quite perfectly. Matt, I enjoyed another informative and entertaining video.


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