• CK

Digital Compact Cassette (DCC)

Updated: Feb 11, 2019


Have you seen these machines before in person? No? Wondering what it is? Read on. :)

Panasonic DCC Player & Philips DCC Recorder



Analog Cassette Background

Compact cassette tape was invented by Philips in 1962 as a medium for music storage. It was one of the most widely adopted music format for over 35 years thanks to the popularity of Boombox and Walkman. Boombox were pretty much on every hipster's list in the mid 70s. In the 1979 Sony introduced the first Walkman in the world. Its portability, sound quality and user friendliness made it highly sought after by people around the world. Today, Over 200 million cassette Walkman have been sold by Sony alone.


TEAC cassette tape

The Sony Walkman TPS-L2 is first Walkman in the world.

The Digital Era

In pursuit of higher sound quality, Philips, Sony and other broadcast companies worked together to create Compact Disc (CD). CD was introduced in the late 80s as the digital music medium. It had become the most popular format for music distribution for over two decades until MP3 and streaming service overthrown its title. In 1992 Sony released yet another new format called MiniDisc (MD) to make music players even more portable.



Sony MZ-1, the first MiniDisc (MD) recorder ever.


Digital Cassette

Around the same period, Philips decided to part ways with its old friend Sony and partnered with Matsushita (Panasonic's parent company) on a magnetic tape based technology called Digital Compact Cassette (DCC) to compete with Sony's MD. DCC wasn't the first digital cassette product on the market. Before DCC was invented DAT (Digital Audio Tape) was already quite successful in the professional audio market, many of the studios around the world chose DAT for recording their master tape. Based on the success of DAT and analog cassette Philips wanted to create a new standard that combine the best of both worlds while adding new some features. In May of 1992, DCC players and recorders were officially released at CES in Chicago.



Sony TCD-D10 PRO II DAT Professional Recorder


Panasonic RS-DC10 DCC recorder



DCC Features


- DCC Player can play analog cassette tapes. Can not record.


- DCC tapes has the exact same width 1/8 in. as analog tapes.


- DCC Player uses stationary head instead of rotating head like DAT to reduce shock and vibration.


- DCC cassette tape can store limited text such as album and track titles.


- DCC cassette tape is fully enclosed inside the case for better protection.


- DCC cassette tapes never require demagnetization because Magneto-resistive heads do not use iron so they do not build up residual magnetism.


- DCC recorders can record from digital sources that use the S/PDIF standard at sample rates of 32 kHz, 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz.


- DCC recorders can record from analog sources at 44.1 kHz.


- DCC has a compression ratio of 4:1 comparing to CD.


- DCC has SCMS protection just like DAT for digital copy, Analog copy is not restricted.


- DCC cassette cases are clam-shell style and has opening on one of the short side. It allows the user to slide the cassette tape in and out of the case using one hand. It also allows album art and label to be display on all sides. Because there's no hinge, or any moving parts, the cases are more durable as well.



Philips DCC900 and Panasonic RS-DC10

Philips DCC170 DCC Recorder


Panasonic RQ-PD7 DCC Player


ABBA DCC Album

Philips 60 Minutes DCC Blank Cassette

DCC Discontinued (1992~1996)

Despite all the great features and the awesome CD like sound quality, most people I talked to regardless of age had never heard of or seen Digital Compact Cassette. MiniDisc (MD) in the other hand although never got popular in the United States, was doing quite well in Europe and Asia especially Japan. Why is that, I asked myself. Well, after owning and using both DCC and MD extensively I came up with a few flaws. First of all, MD is more portable than DCC. Both the portable player/recorder and media are significantly more compact than DCC. Secondly, it is much faster to skip tracks using MD than DCC since MD doesn't require any rewinding. MD generally has better battery life than DCC. It is also easier to edit, remove and combine tracks using a MD recorder. Sound quality wise, MD is comparable to DCC. Most users cannot discern the difference between CD and MD when recorded properly at its highest quality SP setting using the latest ATRACT encoding. DCC was officially discontinued in October 1996 after Philips admitted that it had poor sale.


My thoughts ...

Every machine or format has its flaws and DCC is no exception. However, I felt in love with DCC the first time I touch the Philips DCC170 recorder and listen to it. Ever since then, I've purchased additional DCC players and deck. I have enjoyed recording from various sources to DCC and it sound amazing. The sound is crystal clear and warm, has high resolution, bass is punchy but not muddy, sound stage is wide and sound image is also great. I can also appreciate the thoughtfulness of the cassette tape case design. It feels like a piece of artwork when holding a DCC cassette in your hand. You have to feel it to believe. DCC should be on the list of every vintage music equipment collector's list. I have had a lot of fun with it and feel great owning some of these rare equipments. Please visit the gallery if you are interested.





Panasonic/Technics RS-DC10:


Features:

High-quality digital sound: Tape hiss, wow and flutter, distortion and other such problems have, in principle, been eliminated so that the deck can record and play back material with high sound quality virtually on par with that of CDs.

Compatible with conventional analog cassette tapes: The deck can play back even cassette tapes which have been recorded using currently available analog input signals. This means that you can make full use of all the music cassette tapes in your possession.

Digital technology providing a touch of sophistication and greater convenience: The name of the album, names of the tracks and other character information can be displayed for prerecorded DCC music tapes.

More enjoyment and fun from listening to music: A fresh and original design with plenty of space for the labels has been adopted for DCC tapes. they can be removed from their cases with just a flip of the fingers. the cassette tapes have virtually the same dimensions as conventional tapes, and they are extremely easy to handle.


Specifications:

Type: digital compact cassette deck

Track System: 2-channel stereo

Tape Speed: 4.76 cm/s

Recording Time: 90 minutes

Sampling Frequency: 48, 44.1, 32kHz

Frequency Response: 10Hz to 22kHz

Signal to Noise Ratio: 92dB

Dynamic Range: 92dB

Channel Separation: 80dB

Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.005%

Analogue Inputs: 60mV (line)

Analogue Outputs: 0.5V (line)

Digital Inputs: coaxial, optical

Digital Outputs: coaxial, optical

Dimensions: 430 x 153 x 341mm

Weight: 8.3kg

Accessories: remote control



Philips DCC900:


Specifications:

Year: 1992

Dimensions: 435 x 140 x 300mm

Weight: 9kg

Type: digital compact cassette deck

Track System: 2-channel stereo

Tape Speed: 4.8 cm/s

Recording Time: 90 minutes

Sampling Frequency: 48, 44.1, 32kHz

Frequency Response: 20Hz to 22kHz

Signal to Noise Ratio: 92dB

Dynamic Range: 92dB

Channel Separation: 85dB

Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.005%

Analogue Outputs: 2.0V (line)

Digital Inputs: coaxial, optical

Digital Outputs: coaxial, optical

Accessories: remote control


Philips DCC170:


Specifications:

Year: 1994

Tape recording system: Digital Compact Cassette

Sampling frequencies: 48kHz, 44.1kHz, 32kHz (selected automatically)

Coding format: PASC

No. of channels: 2 channel stereo

DCC:

Frequency response:

fs:44.1 kHz: 20 Hz - 20 kHz +0.5 / -1.5 dB

fs:48 kHz: 20 Hz - 22 kHz + 0.5 / -1.5 dB

fs:32 kHz: 20 Hz - 14.5 kHz + 0.5 / -1.5 dB

S/N ratio: >92 dB

Dynamic range: 108 dB

Wow and flutter: Quartz crystal precision

Compact Cassette:

Track format: 4 track 2 channel stereo

Frequency range: 20 hz - 18 kHz

S/N ratio (CrO2): > 50 dB

Digital (Optical) / Line: 3.5 mm jack

Output:

Digital output: optical

Line output level: 1.0V (20 kOhm)

Phones / Remote: 3.5 mm jack

Output: max output power: 10 mW + 10 mW (16 Ohm)

Digital/Mic/Line: 3.5 mm jack

Input:

Digital input: optical/coaxial

microphone input

Battery: Ni-Cd rechargeable battery:

Recording time: approx. 3 hours.

Playback time: approx. 3 hours.

Recharging time: approx. 3 hours.

External:

USA/Canada: SBC 6619/47 120V, 60 Hz

Europe: SBC 6619/30 220~240V, 50 Hz

UK: SBC 6619/35 240V, 50 Hz

Australia / New Zealand: SBC 6619/40 230~240V, 50 Hz

Other countries: SBC6619/31 120/230V, 50/60 Hz

Head: 36 channel thin-film head

Motor: Brushless motor

Tape speed: 4.76 cm/sec.

Dimension: (w x h x d) 111.6 x 38.1 x 99.8 mm

Weight (incl. rechargeable battery) : 420g


Accessories:

In-ear phones: SBC 3179

Remote control: SBC 6270

Rechargeable battery: SBC 6434

Coaxial cable: SBC 1275

Mains adapter

Carrying case

Hifi connection cable


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