Home:  Tape Recorders: KYOTO S600 8 TRACK STEREO PLAYER, 1980's


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The original format for magnetic tape sound reproduction was reel-to-reel audio tape recording, first made widely available in the late 1940s. However, threading tape into the recorders was more difficult than simply putting a disc record onto a phonograph player. Manufacturers introduced a succession of cartridges which held the tape inside a metal or plastic housing to eliminate handling. The first was RCA Victor, which in 1958 introduced a cartridge system called Sound Tape or Magazine Cartridge Loading, but until the introduction of the Compact Cassette in 1963 and Stereo 8 in 1965, none were very successful.

Your comments:

  • I have a working 8-track AM-FM player- RECORDER stereo system with original owners manual and open up schematic diagram. Plus about 80 tapes. The AM-FM radio is as good as my new oriental bedside radio.

    ALL IN WORKING ORDER. Am listening to it now playing 'Alan Freeman' History of Pop.
    .......... Dave, Exeter. England. EX24HF, 30th of September 2011

  • I think your info's a bit off on this one. 8 tracks gained popularity until they were highly popular by about 1973. They continued to be popular mainstream media until later in the 70s, when their technical problems had made pretty much everyone sick of them, and the compact cassette won out. The main problems with 8 tracks were:
    - the tapes had 8 tracks, and head misalignment was common. As a result, in gaps between tracks you could hear muffled other tracks playing. not impressive
    - tape slip was a big problem, especially as the years wore on and crud built up on the rubber wheels in the cartridges. At home you could just press on the cartridge, but their widespread use in shops resulted in, as years passed, increasingly common awful wailing sounds from the PA system as the tape slipped, and was simply ignored. By the end of their days, this was a routine occurrence, and sounded terrible. 8 tracks became a bit of joke primarily because of this.
    - the tapes were inherently not rewindable, and very few machines had ff either. Inability to choose where you were on the tape frustrated people.
    - deterioration of the metal tape join resulted in failure to switch tracks, or multiple switching s. This happened a lot.
    - the tapes were endless loops, and repeated endlessly when people weren't paying attention. More annoyance.
    - Low tape take up tension inherent in the cartridge design made tape spills & tangles familiar to every 8 track owner.
    - over time, the metal tape join sometimes fell off.
    - one 8 track was the size of several cassettes
    - few machines could record. Those that did switched tracks 4 times during one record session, causing multiple sound glitches
    - to fit into 4 equal time slots, albums had to have their tracks rearranged, and long silences on the tape were a routine occurrence.
    - Long tracks, such as classical albums, were unavoidably cut in half
    - No dynamic noise reduction was generally implemented, the tape speed of 3.75ips wasn't fast, and tape quality in the early 70s wasn't good. Result: audible hiss all the time. Treble setting was always a compromise between to dull sound and too much hiss. Cassette OTOH had DNR in the early days, and Dolby b and much better quality tapes later.

    Other than that they were a great system!
    Quadrophonic encoding was sometimes used on 8 tracks, though few quad' players were sold.

    A minority of relatively good players had a very slow ff feature and recorded. Some players auto ejected.

    The unit pictured looks totally like a typical 1970s soso-fi 8 track system. No-one was retailing these by the 80s.

    .......... Nick Thornton, England, 18th of July 2011

  • I have an eight track player/recorder that still works, and a number of music cartridges. I remember this system well. It was the first really practicable playing system for use in a car, which came from the USA. The tape was standard 1/4 inch wide and was arranged in a spiral loop, which took about 15 mins. to go round once. It was called 8 track because there were 4 pairs of tracks across the tape. When the loop had gone around once, a metal foil on the tape would cause the tape head to move across to the next pair of tracks. So the loop would go round 4 times, giving about 1 hour playing time.
    My father-in-law (to be), when I met him first, had a Mercedes saloon with an 8 track player in the dashboard. Was I impressed ! My girlfriend (now my wife)and I used to sit in it just to listen to the music. The tapes were all easy-listening stuff like Ray Connif and Englebert Humperdinck but they sounded brilliant anyway. We still have some of them at home.
    .......... Colin Carroll, Langford, Bedfordshire., 31st of October 2009

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