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MajorFubar's picture
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More retro audio: ITT portable (!) cassette recorder
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I acquired another piece of retro audio: an ITT SL-54 cassette recorder, which in its day was considered portable, though weighing-in at about 2.5kg with batteries, most people these days used to iPods and plastic MP3 players would dispute the word 'portable'. I acquired it from the previous owner for nothing but the price of postage, because its belts are shot.

I had the exact same model when I was a kid in the early 80s. Stupidly I gave it away in 1984 because by then I'd 'gone stereo' with my first (naff) music centre. I only needed a mono cassette recorder to use with my computer and the ITT's DIN socket was incompatible with my computer's jack-leads.

While only mono, it is AC bias and it was capable of really good recordings, either with its internal mike or via its (mike level) DIN input. It had an intelligent ALC system which, although not as versatile as a manual control, was I think unique to ITT.

I remember that at the time ('81/'82) I used to boast to my dad that its recordings were superior to those from his Pioneer HiFi system that could take these new-fangled Metal tapes. The mechanism's all-metal build-quality is from a bygone era. It could also rewind C60 in 35 seconds flat.

I've ordered a set of drivebelts from a supplier in Germany. The R/P head has seen better days too I think, so a new one of those will be on the cards. I can't make my mind up whether to buy a generic mono head or hunt-down a good stereo head and wire it for mono.

Either way I'm going to really look forward to recommissioning this (not so little) portable deck. The modern audio era is all about trying to get bits of software and comms-protocols to work seamlessly with each other and swearing at some kind of device's display in the process. In complete contrast it's good to get something 'physically tangible' to fix. Give me a set of screwdrivers, a soldering-iron and some pointed-nose pliers and I'll take on the world.

MajorFubar's picture
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RE: More retro audio: ITT portable (!) cassette recorder

slight update on this: I've now managed to get play and record working using a belt I had in my spares bin. No REW or FF but it plays just as well as I remember. I was right about the head: playing recordings made on this deck on my Nak, the l/h channel is nearly 10db down (!) so a new head is on the cards.

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RE: More retro audio: ITT portable (!) cassette recorder

Good story MajorFubar!!  I like your system - the Marantz -63KISI is still a superb CD player.  You're a tape enthusiast!!  That's great.  If you haven't visited Tapeheads.net, definitely do.  I don't know about your chances getting a mono rec/pb head but a stereo head should still do the job and then the electronics will "monofi" it, so to speak.

What Nak are you using?  And the TD 160 is very fine 'table.  What cartridges are you leaning towards at this point?

 

Marc

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RE: More retro audio: ITT portable (!) cassette recorder

MajorFubar,  Unfortunately, I am coming in on this one late but I hope you read the post.  I can well remember the same cassette player and thinking it was the mutts nuts when I had one as a lad.  I have a vivid memory of me and a mate going to Box Hill on one occasion and meeting a couple of girls who were very impressed with us walking around and playing Led Zep - Houses of the Holy, I think!  The rewards later in the day almost made lugging the thing around worthwhile.  Am I right in thinking it had an unusual 6 pin DIN socket at the back?

 

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RE: More retro audio: ITT portable (!) cassette recorder

How guilty do I feel right now...I hadn't even noticed anyone had replied! My main deck is a Nak DR1, though I have it in my little home studio and not rigged-up with my HiFi. I did eventually source a brand new old stock mono R/P head from a place in Lancashire (Bolton I think). I also managed to source a new FF/RW belt from Germany. So it's offically back up and running again!

Turntable...no idea at the moment, it's too far down the list of things which need my money, even though I have a sneaking suspicion my wife has bought me the new Beatles vinyl box set for Xmas, which I won't be able to play.

As for the ITT's DIN socket, no it's basically just your bog standard 5-PIN DIN wired for mono, though like most DIN connections it's mike level not line level, so to record audio from a line-level device I've soldered-up a step-down cable using a pair of resistors.

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