Ditch The Tapes, Put An Android In Your Deck

While we here at Hackaday never question why an individual took on a particular project, it surely doesn’t stop our beloved readers from grabbing their pitchforks and demanding such answers in the comments. Perhaps no posts generate more of this sort of furore than the ones which feature old audio gear infused with modern hardware. In almost every case the answer is the same: the person liked the look and feel of vintage hardware, but didn’t want to be limited to antiquated media.

That sentiment is perhaps perfectly personified by the TapeLess Deck Project, created by [Artur Młynarz]. His creations combine vintage cassette decks with an Android phone small enough to fit behind the tape door. An Android application which mimics the look of a playing tape, complete with “hand written” track info, completes the illusion.

The output from the phone is tied into the deck where the audio signal from the tape head would have been, so the volume controls and VU meters still work as expected. Watching the meters bounce around while the animated “tape” plays on the screen really does look incredibly slick, though the effect is somewhat hindered by the fact the physical playback controls don’t seem to be implemented. Incidentally, the whole experience works better if the plastic window on the tape door is removed; that way you can utilize the touch and swipe interface [Artur] has in the software.

We’ve seen previous attempts to modernize the audio cassette experience, but they’ve tended to be more of a novelty than anything. But these decks are nice enough that you can like them non-ironically. Though if we’re talking about portable tape players, there’s only room for one in our cold mechanical hearts.

[Thanks to Nikolai for the tip]

43 thoughts on “Ditch The Tapes, Put An Android In Your Deck

  1. I like his taste in music :)

    But YES it does need an upgrade to have it operate via the original controls – that would just make it!

    It looks great – now where did I put that old tape player …..

    1. You’ll never get the sound quality with a magnetic transfer that you get with direct insertion do you? I would expect those pickup elements to have a lot of limitations.

      1. Isn’t that the definition of a transformer, though?

        It’s a pretty weird one, with the left and right pickups being so close together, so you’ll have poor stereo separation. But frequency-wise, I wouldn’t expect it to be overly awful.

  2. funny how things changed. 40 years ago it was damn expensive to put any kind of electronics into a device and most stuff was done with magically engineered mechanic marvels because it was more affordable. nowadays if you need to pay serious bucks for a device that has anything like metal gears/levers/rods or even just physical buttons, but you get all the electronic stuff dirt cheap.

  3. “Perhaps no posts generate more of this sort of furor than the ones which feature old audio gear infused with modern hardware. ”

    Except for 8-track. No one likes those.

  4. Very nice implementation. Great way to make use of the beautiful mechanical-analog marvels of their day. Choice of early 70’s “Compact Cassette” tape labels is interesting too… historical. Anyone notice the “Hitichi” brand? Is that legit or a typo? Hey… you need to have a Dolby C logo in there too… but playback in regular Dolby for crisper highs.

  5. If you like the hi-fi separates looks, or like me you still have a 43 cm hi-fi system there are some stand alone network players with a good hi-fi look like this one from Yamaha

    It’s not an hack, but it’s a beautifully designed system. There’s also a matching integrated amplier, a CD player and a DAB tuner.

    TEAC makes a CD player with streaming capabiliter if one likes hidden fuctionalities:
    Ther are still making a CD cassette compo, but I suppose isn’t the best quality deck you could find: http://www.teac.com/product/ad-850/ Actually I think that those ’80 cassette players will sound better than this one.

  6. The controls on the phone look very intuitive to me and look nice too.
    Funny how this tapedeck can bring back life to such an old phone. This phone (considering how fast these things get declared obsolete) would otherwise go to the landfill, now it has a second life as a music playing device. A bit of a pitty that such a nice tapedeck had to suffer for it.

    But seriously, nice hack, thanks for posting.

  7. Nice project, but I thought the nice part of using cassettes, was the cassettes?

    Cassettes were cool because they were nice handy objects that you can store in neat rows on a shelf or on a stack on top of the stereo system or take with you. Maybe this needs dominos with bar codes printed on them or something. Hold them in front of the camera (only after you push the “eject”button of course) and it will play the corresponding virtual cassette.

    And that way you can run the same program on the phone that you take with you, and play virtual cassettes on the go (as many as fit in you pocket of course :)

    1. “Illusion of…” Would be easier. Empty cassette shells with NFC tags inside*. Reader in deck, with small deck modification to read the controls and there you have it.

      *Contents tied to MP3 player.

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