Cassette Deck Distorted Playback

Discussion in 'Tape' started by Gmm213, Sep 14, 2017.

  1. Gmm213

    Gmm213 New Member

    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    Portsmouth Va
    So I picked up a Sansui D-350W a few months back for $5. Its been working great until the other day. I threw a cassette in one of the decks and hit play. For a few seconds it played normal then became extremely muffled and it sounded off, the tones. The other deck has no issues, as of yet.

    Any help greatly appreciated as I know very little about cassette decks.
     
  2. pustelniakr

    pustelniakr Silver Miner at Large Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,313
    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    What you describe sounds like mistracking (tape not passing over the heads correctly), causable by dirty/bad pinch roller, bad belts, bad capstan bushing, etc

    Enjoy,
    Rich P
     
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  3. Gmm213

    Gmm213 New Member

    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    Portsmouth Va
    Would this happen all of a sudden though? I had been using the deck immediately before that for about 1hr.

    Not questioning your help and input in anyway just trying to narrow it down with as much info as I can.
     
  4. pustelniakr

    pustelniakr Silver Miner at Large Subscriber

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    Things happen when they happen. You may have lost a power supply voltage, or any number of other possibilities. I cannot tell from here.

    Rich P
     
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  5. savatage1973

    savatage1973 Super Member

    Messages:
    4,158
    Location:
    NW Pennsylvania snow belt
    It may be as simple as a thorough cleaning of the heads, pinch rollers and capstans--tapes shed ferrite material--especially older ones, or ones that have been stored under less than ideal conditions. The head gaps are tiny, so a small bit of material can "gum things up" enough to cause a dramatic effect.
     
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  6. dr*audio

    dr*audio Fish fingers and custard! Subscriber

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    Examine the pinch roller. It should be dull black, not shiny and free of any brown oxide band. If not, clean it with ethanol, vodka will do. Clean it until no brown oxide comes off on the Q tip and you may see black start to come off. Thats the rubber, time to stop cleaning. Allow it to dry and examine again. If it is shiny it must be replaced.
     
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  7. MetalFisher

    MetalFisher Semi-Vintage fan

    Messages:
    371
    First, try the easiest solution -
    How do other tapes sound? How does the newly muffled tape sound in other decks?
    If all tapes sound bad, just give the heads, capstan, and pinch roller an honest cleaning. SOMEtimes yeah, it is as simple as something came along and just gummed up the head, something nasty on the tape ribbon.

    Second - mistracking is possible but if the head were to work it's way out of alignment, that is usually a gradual process.make sure the tape seats properly. Make sure the non-adjusting screw of the playback head is secure. It is the one on the right side of the head. I recently picked up a stereo with a built-in cassette and mine was loose. Snugged it, problem gone. Yeah somehow it was pretty loose.

    The screw on the left is to adjust azimuth. Maybe tweak it a bit (if you are comfortable doing so) until you get the best sounding treble. Do not remove it or you may have a time finding it. The safest way to adjust it would be to give it a couple turns in and out and you will hear the treble coming back. Getting it perfect is difficult, as even fractions of a turn can make a difference. You should also hold your face in a special expression while doing this for best results.

    BTW, the door on most cassette players is removable (at least the cover) which will give access to those screws while the tape is playing. Try to use a non-magnetized metal screwdriver though. Those plastic calibration screwdrivers will just break cause those screws are not as easy to turn as one might imagine.
     
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  8. dr*audio

    dr*audio Fish fingers and custard! Subscriber

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    Do not attempt to adjust the head until you have first made sure the heads and pinch roller are clean and pinch roller in good condition.
     
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  9. pustelniakr

    pustelniakr Silver Miner at Large Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,313
    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    A special tool is needed, which will allow you to watch the tape passing through the tape path. If you cannot visualize that, you are shooting in the dark. it is tricky, but you can cut the skirt off of a cassette and get in there with a flashlight and a jeweler's loupe. Moving the heads will provoke a need for electrical calibration to match. If you have excessive reel take-up torque, or an eccentric, dried out, damaged pinch roller, you will damage tapes by dragging them off to one side or the other. If the left side guide has been moved, you will mis-track. If your cassette is poorly spooled, you will mis-track. If the cassette-half-retention is inadequate, you will mis-track. There are more possible causes.

    Enjoy,
    Rich P
     

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