Test Drive: Technics RS-DC10 Digital Compact Cassette Deck

The next two buttons are where similarities with DAT end. You won't find a DAT deck with a button labeled NEXT MARKER WRITE or REVERSE MARKER WRITE. Unlike DAT cassettes, DCC tapes have two sides, side A and side B, just like their analog ancestors. These marker buttons are used to write sub-codes at the end of a side that will tell the unit to reverse sides. Reverse Markers can only be written to side A. When the Reverse Marker is used, the unit switches to side B and continues recording or playback from that point on side B. This marker would be used to continue a song on side B (if you don't mind the momentary pause while the unit switches sides), or if you simply wanted to avoid the time necessary to fast forward the tape to the beginning of side B before continuing your recording or playback.

Unlike the Reverse Marker, the Next Marker can be written to both sides. When a Next Marker is encountered on side A, the tape is fast forwarded, then playback begins on side B. When a Next Marker is encountered on side B, the unit fast forwards to the end of side B, switches to side A, then stops. These Reverse and Next Markers are functions that would have been nice to have on our old analog cassette decks, but analog cassettes don't have the luxury of a track devoted to sub-codes. That's where DCC offers a big advantage over analog cassettes.

Like DAT, the DCC records Absolute Time. When a Reverse Marker is used, Absolute Time carries over onto side B. On the other hand, when a Next Marker is used, the tape fast forwards to the start of the opposite side and Absolute Time is reset to zero.

Below these marker buttons is the MARKER ERASE button which is self explanatory. Any and all markers can be erased. Below this button is the TIMER switch which is common on just about every cassette deck and enables timer activated playback and recording. To the right of the TIMER switch is the DOLBY NR switch. This simply sets the Dolby de-coding circuitry when playing analog cassettes that have been recorded with Dolby B or C noise reduction.

The large, LED display offers a ton of information. You get tape side and direction indicators, a reverse mode indicator, Dolby NR indicators, and repeat function indicators (all tracks or just one track can be repeated). There are two large level meters (one for each channel) that display recording and playback levels. When DCC tape is used, the meter values range from -50 to zero. When analog cassettes are used, the meter range changes to -40 to +10. There's an indicator to show that a digital source has been copy protected (with SCMS). Indicators show which input is being used: Optical, Coaxial, or Analog. Indicators show sampling frequencies in use: 32kHz, 44.1kHz, or 48kHz. Analog inputs are recorded at 44.1kHz. Digital signals automatically set the sampling frequency.

Finally, there is the Time/Counter display with corresponding indicators to show Absolute Time, Remaining Time on one side of the tape, Remaining Time on the entire tape, and elapsed time of the track being played. The Counter mode can be selected when Absolute Time has not been written to a tape. (The Counter mode is the only mode available when using an analog cassette.) To the right of the Time/Counter display is the Mode display which shows the current operating mode -- STOP, PLAY, PAUSe, RECord, etc.. Regardless of which type of cassette you use, analog or DCC, the RS-DC10 kindly warns you if you've inserted the cassette the wrong way by indicating "CASS BLOCKED" on the LED display, then the cassette drawer opens for try number two.

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