Test Drive: Technics RS-DC10 Digital Compact Cassette Deck

A TEXT button above the display activates another of the special features of DCC. With the extra tracks available on DCC tapes, other digital information besides the audio and time codes can be written. This "text information" can include album title, artist name, titles of tracks, total number of tracks on a tape, total play time, and even song lyrics. And the deck will let you search tracks by title as well as track number. However, this information is only available on pre-recorded DCC tapes. You cannot record this information to a tape. But that's not to say you won't be able to, down the road, with another model.

To the right of the LED display is the input selector, record level control, and balance control. The bottom of the front panel provides the power switch, remote sensor, headphone jack, headphone level control, and the transport controls. A SIDE A/B switch does as you would expect. There are left/right SKIP buttons that operate almost like those on a DAT deck (not to be confused with DAT's Skip ID function). Pressing the Forward Skip button searches the next track on the tape. But, pressing the Reverse Skip button doesn't cue up to the beginning of the current track; it goes to the previous track. If you want to replay a track currently being played, you only need to press the PLAY button. With analog cassettes, the Skip function looks for four seconds of silence to indicate the start of a new track. You get the usual, REW, STOP, PLAY, FF, REC, and PAUSE buttons, along with the common AUTO RECORD MUTE button also found on DAT decks which is used to record four seconds of silence.

One last transport control is the APPEND button. What DAT calls the End Search function, this DCC deck calls the Append function. What DAT refers to as the End ID, the DCC calls the Use Again Marker. This marker is written automatically when a recording is stopped. Then, when the APPEND button is pressed, the unit searches for that Use Again Marker, then sets itself to the Record/Pause mode. (Use Again Markers cannot be written manually.) All of the markers mentioned above only take about three seconds to write to the tape, as compared to nine seconds for DAT IDs. The RS-DC10 does not have Skip IDs like DAT decks provide, though we did see a DCC deck at Radio Shack that did provide the Skip IDs. (This was an Optimus DTC-2000 band sold for $699.) One disappointing discovery was the unit's ability (or lack of) to closely cue up to a track. Using the deck's automatic Start Marker writing function and analog inputs, we recorded a few thirty-second tracks, then used the Pause and Skip buttons to cue up to the tracks. There is about a two-and-a-half to three second delay before the audio starts, even longer than DAT's delay. Sorry, no "instant start" here, but then again, this isn't a "pro" deck.

The RS-DC10 comes with a remote control which provides many features not accessible from the front panel. Along with all the usual transport controls and counter mode and reset buttons, you also get a numerical keypad for random access to tracks. Just one problem, as mentioned, you can't access tracks this way on tapes you've recorded yourself. The "search by number" function is only available on pre-recorded tapes that have TOC (Table Of Contents) information recorded on the tape. The remote control also offers a Music Scan mode which plays back about ten seconds of a track before moving on to the next one.

Yet another feature of the remote control is the ability to control the output level of the deck. Think about that for a moment. How many cassette or DAT decks have you seen that have their own remote volume control (not a volume control for the amp but for the deck itself)? The RS-DC10 accomplishes this remote volume control by providing "Variable Analog Outputs" on the rear panel next to the "Fixed Analog Outputs." Nice touch.

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