Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cassettes to Heritage or Garbage? - お宝かゴミの山か

I left my blog page untouched for a while because I was involved in a concert in the beginning of March and then fully occupied with something at home afterward. It relates with the compact cassette.


Sony TC-KA3ES, the last cassette deck in my home, did not start playing when a friend of mine asked me to copy some tapes into CDs early fall last year. Sony declined the service as the model was too old and the repair components were not in hand. The same mechanism failure was repeatedly discussed in the net and I thought of repairing it for myself, but I found a guy who had the experience of servicing this product. I packed my deck perfectly by cutting some styrofoam and he examined it. The result was unfortunately not repairable because the control circuit was dead: This poor deck turned into a garbage.

それではこの機に代替品捜しを始めようと、2週間くらいヤフオクを物色して一台のデッキに辿り着いた。TEAC V-9000という高級カセット市場末期の製品で、自分にとってはA-20以来何台か愛用してきた懐かしいブランド。送料別で5000円の落札価格は製品がジャンク扱いだったからで、フロント下部の目隠しパネルが壊れて付かない状態。但し性能は調整済みとのことだった。実際に安定動作をしっかり確認できたし、5年くらいは働いてほしいと思う。

Taking this opportunity, I looked for an alternative in Yahoo Auctions for about 2 weeks, and came up with a TEAC V-9000, one of the latest high-end models when the cassette market was fading out. Also, it was from the company I was very familiar with since A-20 and A-450. The winning cost of 5000 Yen was less than a half of possible repair cost, and it was because the product was defined as a junk cosmetically without the hinged front sealer-panel. It was claimed that the deck was fully realigned, and I indeed confirmed it performing stably. My hope is that it lasts for 5 years or so.

友人から預かったカセット8本のCD起こしもさることながら、自分のカセットコレクションもこの際ファイル化しておこうと思い立った。書棚には1箱にカセットが20 本入るボックスケースが1ダースほど並んでいる。写真はそのひとつ。多分40-50本はライブのFMエアチェックだと思う。大学時代の合唱コンサートや練習録音も少し残っている。1本ずつ聞いてアーカイブに値するものはデジタルファイルにコピーするわけだが、もちろん時間のかかる作業だ。作業に取りかかって見ると、エアチェックしたテープには捨てがたい演奏会の録音が次々に出てくる。例えば1975年、長く熱望されたカール・ベームのウィーン・フィルとの来日公演は連日、NHKから生中継された。下って1986年には、デジタル時代の到来とともに、ボストンから小澤征爾のブラームス交響曲のライブ中継イベントがソニー・NTTが主導するデジタル回線を経由して行われ、それらのカセットが手元に残っている。

Apart from 8 cassettes entrusted by my friend, it popped up in my mind to make archive files of my own cassette collection. I have a dozen of box cases in the bookshelf each of which contains 20 cassette tapes. About 40 to 50 tapes must be FM broadcast of live concerts, and I have some recordings by myself of our college choir performances. I continue listening to each of them and save those worthwhile to convert as an archival digital file, but it is definitely very, very time-consuming. Among the tapes were such memorable concerts as Karl Böhm and Vienna Philharmonic in Japan in 1975 that were long waited for by many fans or later in 1986 an attempt of digital live transmission from Boston to Japan was led by Sony and NTT broadcasting Seiji Ozawa’s Brahms Symphony in FM. I have those in cassettes.
Cassettes won’t last eternally considering the fact that the player may not be one day available (just as I suffered this time) for one thing, and the tape itself will age, too. As a matter of fact, I picked up from the storage some old films of college choir activities to scan them in parallel, finding that some of them were stained or moss-grown on the surface as well as faded, and the fact that “100 years of film life” was not a guarantee surely drove me to make archives. I wish others can listen to these memorable concert recordings.

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