This week a very common tape:
TDK SA 90
When tape had the same function in the last century as MP3 had in this, I was more the SONY-type of guy.
However, I never shied away from a good TDK tape. And this was one that a lot of friends handed in for some magnetic treatment. Those were older versions of the SA of course; I’ve picked this version today, because it’s a bit different than the really classic ones, which always had a boxy and rectangular design. But there’s a curve added here.
When I look closely at this tape, all I want is the curve to disappear.
Can you feel it
Did you spot that little dot on the housing? I mean this one.
There’s two more on side B.
For the blind of course, but they’re completely useless. The height of these dots would only be measurable in microns. The ones on the B-side don’t even catch my nail as I try to feel them.
You would think a dot cast in plastic to better a paper bump, but not here.
Any blind user would probably have memorised that the screws were on the A-side. Conveniently placed at the corners, so easily felt.
This tape hails from the time that manufacturers were looking for ways to set their product apart from the competition. TDK tries with this.
So, what’s this then? The print’s not very precise, to start with!
The “Super Precision Rigid Cassette Mechanism II”. You wonder what is the improvement over version I. Any possible explanation might have been printed on the foil (which I don’t have), and this tape is from the period that you didn’t get any tech talk on the inside of the package. So let’s open it up, to check for anything out of the ordinary.
Pretty straightforward stuff here, though it must be said that the bottom bit, the A-side in fact, doesn’t flex a lot when put to the test. So it seems rigid enough. Compared to a 70s budget tape, there seems to be not much of a difference though. Which seems logical, as both are made of two pieces of plastic, held together by five screws. Only so much rigidity to be found in such a basic design. I’m not in the mood for a melting test, and there’s no cassette player in my car, so testing stops here.
The paper work
In these times – mid 90s? – the paperwork has gone boring, also at TDK. Still, there is room for some detail if you write the date small enough.
And you do get a choice between lines and blocks.
Calibrated for success
Maybe the most important thing about this tape is that a lot of cheap cassette decks were precalibrated for the TDK SA. This meant that you would get slightly better results with the TDK SA than with most other tapes on a cheap deck without any calibration tools.
And that’s probably another reason why you see so many of these, when browsing through a random tape collection.