Archive for the ‘Cassette Decks’ Category

American inventor who created surround sound remembered as ‘a true visionary’


Ray Dolby, the American audio pioneer and inventor of surround sound, has died at the age of 80.

Dolby, who founded his namesake company in 1965, suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and was recently diagnosed with acute leukaemia. He died in his home at San Fransisco

His work in noise reduction and audio technology created an entire industry dedicated to delivering compelling and thrilling audio. The Dolby Stereo system was responsible for creating unique sounds of films from A Clockwork Orange to Star Wars.

“Today we lost a friend, mentor and true visionary,” said Kevin Yeaman, president and chief executive of Dolby Laboratories.

Dolby’s work earned him a number of notable awards, including several Emmys, two Oscars and a Grammy. Other honours included receiving the National Medal of Technology from President Bill Clinton and an induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in the US and the Royal Academy of Engineers in the UK.

Although his innovations in audio recording and reproduction made a big impact in cinemas, Dolby’s work also found its way into millions of homes. For many his name is permanently associated with reducing the hiss in tape playback.

“Though he was an engineer at heart, my father’s achievements in technology grew out of a love of music and the arts,” said Tom Dolby, a film-maker and novelist. “He brought his appreciation of the artistic process to all of his work in film and audio recording.”

Dolby was born in Portland Oregon, and began his professional work at Ampex Corporation, earning his first patents for videotape recording systems before he’d left college.

He graduated from Standford University and went on to study at Cambridge, founding Dolby Studios in London in 1965. In 1976 he moved to San Francisco where the company established its headquarters.

“Ray really managed to have a dream job,” said Dagmar Dolby, his wife of 47 years. “Because he could do exactly what he wanted to do, whichever way he wanted to do it, and in the process, did a lot of good for many music and film lovers. And in the end, built a very successful company.”

Since news of his passing, tributes have rushed in for Dolby, with co-workers describing him as an inspiring and thoughtful man, who cared passionately about engineering.

“To be an inventor, you have to be willing to live with a sense of uncertainty, to work in the darkness and grope toward an answer, to put up with the anxiety about whether there is an answer,” he once said.

He is survived by his wife, sons Tom and David, and four grandchildren. See below for a video tribute to Dolby’s life and works compiled by Dolby Studios.

Jon Hammond To Record Sessions On His Original Nakamichi 550 Dual-Tracer Portable Recorder.

Hammond says: I bought the Nakamichi 550 new in 1976 at Harvey Electronics on W. 45th St. in NYC for $550, “They didn’t call it the Nakamichi 550 for nothing!”

The machine is now being overhauled by California Historical Radio Society Vice President Scott Robinson, he is an expert Engineer and Dolby specialist. We are very excited about resurrecting the legendary recorder with state of art new microphones from Sennheiser and Superlux to record my upcoming sessions with studio drummer Bernard Purdie, we have a show coming up at the Winter NAMM trade show in Anaheim January 15th on the Hilton-Muzeo stage.
Nothing like the fat sound of the 550 with it’s unique “Blend Channel” 3rd mic gives it a dimensional sound that is still unsurpassed in digital portable recording machines.
Jon also uses the Nakamichi in the field to record segments of his daily radio broadcast HammondCast on KYOURADIO on the CBS Radio Network now in 5th year, best 550 I ever spent says Hammond.

I still have the B3 and custom built Bill Beer Keyboard Products Super Leslie in road cases for tours of Rolling Stones type epic proportions, but since it won’t fit in to a taxi cab and or commercial airline situation, I tour with either my Hammond XK-1 or Hammond XK-3 organ and when I am on the West Coast to complete the vintage sound I use my 1965 Fender Band-Master piggyback amplifier with 2 x 12″ stock Jensen speakers, it really kicks ass, Mr. H Ohno at Suzuki Hammond did an incredible job of designing a portable organ that faithfully reproduces the famous Hammond sound, and the warm sound of Leo Fender‘s tube amps completes the system to my satisfaction. It blows a lot of people’s minds when they realize I’m not at the B3, but it has the same emotional impact, as I can see time after time when I play this rig in hospitals and nursing home situations.

What’s old is new and what’s new is old, I use the best of the new and the old to get the desired results.


One of the first projects I needed to do on the old Mercedes coupe was replace the original Blaupunkt stereo, as although it sounded reasonable, it only offered radio and tape sources.

The main problem anyone with a car like this faces, is finding a head unit that is able to respect the original purity of design – harder than I thought, most units are miniature nightclubs and feature everything including the kitchen sink, nasty, even if the sound quality it there, the style most defiantly isn’t. It would be almost criminal to put one of the aforementioned into a car like the Mercedes Coupe.

After some serious digging, I came up with the Nakamichi CD 500, a relatively old unit by most standards, but with impeccable high end audio heritage. It also comes with the ability to play mp3/wma files, and a direct auxiliary connection for external sources, so all I really needed.

Although rather difficult to get hold of, a very helpful local hifi centre managed to find me one, and made me a suitable ISO connection block. With a bit of work, the new unit is in, and looks stunning, it fits perfectly with the coupes interior, has a crystal clear sound and the cars acoustics seem to really help engage you.

Both my iPhone 3G and iPod connect perfectly but don’t have any head unit control except for volume, not a problem for me, put it on random play, and have access to 160gb’s worth of music. And depending on your level of recording quality, the sounds are just a clear as the cd player too.

I will be changing the OE speakers for some Rainbow IQ ones, as apparently, the sound is great, and most importantly, drop straight in to the Mercedes housings, im looking forward to try these.

Nakamichi BX-300E

Posted: November 14, 2010 in Cassette Decks

I bought this tape deck in 1984, that was when the cassette had reached CD quality. This tape deck is an outstanding piece of equipment, even today after 24 years of use it sounds superb. I always wanted to buy the limited edition Gold Dragon Cassette Deck from Nakamichi, but the cassette died along with the vinyl and quadraphonic. I wonder if anyone still uses the cassette tape for music ?

The Nakamichi ZX-7 Cassette Deck is a very special analogue recording/playback component, pre-dating by two years and contributing to the technological foundation of the refined and highly esteemed ZX-9 cassette deck. The ZX-7 was a leap forward technologically by Nakamichi of Japan, who had created advanced computer assisted cassette decks like the 700ZXL and 1000ZXL, albeit, at a very expensive cost. But then in 1982, the ZX-7 was introduced worldwide and immediately revered by audio critics as a milestone in cassette deck use! An audio cassette deck that was loaded with professional features and quite affordable by the discerning yet cost conscientious audio enthusiast. The ZX-7 comes with an assortment of manual calibration controls, including adjustable azimuth and bias recording adjustment, Dolby noise reduction, extra durable tape transport system with dual capstan drive, and discrete record/monitor/playback head system. Some of the most precise technical specifications Nakamichi ever designed into a commercial cassette deck!