The Elcaset - Combining Quality with Convenience

Jan 31 09:04 2011 Jeff Noctis Print This Article

The Elcaset was an audio format manufactured during the late '70s. It was a cassette tape about the size of a Betamax tape or an 8-track cartridge. It was developed for the connivance and portability of standard cassettes but the quality of reel to reel tape decks. However, it failed and was discontinued in 1980.

As long as we have had the ability to record music and sound,Guest Posting there has been a continuing drive to improve recording technology for the betterment our listening experience.

In 1935 AEG released the first reel to reel system that functioned using tape. Years following the release, companies continued to improve on the basic reel to reel design and technology in an effort to improve quality. In 1958, RCA Victor attempted to market a user friendly reel-to-reel quality tape format for the average consumer. Like the open reel tape decks, the RCA Victor tape recorder used a stereo, quarter-inch, reel to reel tape - but the tape was inside a cartridge that looked like an oversized standard audio cassette. It was about 5 by 7 inches and was half an inch thick. Unfortunately the design was large, offered few pre-recorded music recordings, and like many tapes of the time - had no fast forward feature (although it did have rewind). Thus, the format commonly known as "Sound Tape" subsequently failed and was pulled from the market in 1962. Philips also looked to develop a compact reel to reel tape and in 1962 improved on RCA Victor's design by inventing the Compact Cassette (commonly known as the standard cassette). It was the Philips Compact Cassette which was released to the public in 1963 (Europe) and 1964 (United States) that would eventually become the dominant and popular means for recording speech, music and even data for computers.

Some pushed back against Philips during this period and in 1976 they attempted to create a cassette tape that would provide the familiar convenience and versatility of the Compact Cassette with the quality that was offered on reel to reel systems. The product was known as the Elcaset, considered a shortening of "large cassette" ("El" replacing the letter "L") because the cassette itself was much larger and the tape within was 1/4" as opposed to the 1/8" tape found in common cassettes.

The Elcaset was actually more than twice as large as a standard cassette tape and contained quarter inch tape running at 3.75 ips - twice the width and twice the speed of the standard cassette that had become so popular during the 70's. This increased speed and tape size provided a higher quality sound similar to that of the open reel tape decks which were considered higher quality than Compact Cassettes.

Other improvements also gave the Elcaset a lot of potential for success because it offered the same perks as an open reel deck including separate heads and various controls. Despite the technical superiority of the product, the Elcaset came at a time when the world was already dug into the concept of the standard Compact Cassette tape and it wasn't about to let go. Much like the 1958 release by RCA Victor the Elcaset from Sony was doomed to fail.

The biggest issue for the Sony product was the fact that the standard cassette tape and tape decks were receiving steady improvements. With new materials being used in production such as Chromium Dioxide along with Dolby B noise reduction the Compact Cassette was quickly becoming the choice medium for recording sounds - especially music (not bad for a format originally intended just for dictation).

The Elcaset was a cleverly designed system that offered superior sound quality. However, the record labels never released prerecorded music Elcasets. Thus no one was interested in investing in the equipment or the tapes save for those audiophiles looking for new innovations in audio equipment and recording. The product had a fast die off and was on a rapid downward spiral by 1978. The company abandoned the product in 1980 and sold off all remaining systems to a supplier in Finland.

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Jeff Noctis
Jeff Noctis

Audible Forensics is a professional forensic audio and audio transfer company. We can transfer tape to CD or to a digital file format you can download from our website. We can also transfer to analog formats such as reel to reel and even 8-track cartridges.

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