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TCM-600

(1978)

TCM-600, picture by Nick Jarman

The TCM-600 was a compact, high quality cassette recorder suitable for recording interviews or for dictating notes. It was the latest in a line of similar machines, and enjoyed the distinction at its launch of being the smallest tape recorder in the world which used standard cassettes. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

The small metal case housed a well-crafted mechanism that was powered by a miniature core-less FG servo motor. A mechanical device released the play or record keys once the tape ended or if it jammed. The record button acted on its own so it was not necessary to press play as well to start recording. A tape counter was also fitted. As with previous models, there was a pause control, but this worked electrically rather than mechanically, stopping the motor but leaving the recording amplifiers energised and the heads and pinch roller engaged with the tape. Another familiar feature from other Sony recorders was the counter-rotating flywheel. The idea was to have a rotating mass opposing that of the capstan so that the tape speed stayed constant when then machine was rotated on its axis. The densely packed mechanicals of the TCM-600 did not allow for a full-sized second flywheel, so a much smaller one was fitted but was made to rotate proportionally faster to have the same effect. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited. In practice the resulting part looked more like an idler and is best regarded as such!

Recordings could be made from the built-in electret condenser microphone or from an external microphone, which could include a remote stop/start switch. A single LED indicator showed the battery condition as well as giving a rough idea of recording level, which was adjusted automatically. Playback was either through a built-in loudspeaker at the rear of the machine or through an earphone. Playback was possible at a “fast” speed, though recordings could only be made at the normal 1 7/8 i.p.s. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

The TCM-600 aroused little interest in the mass market, it was expensive and specialised. Its importance cannot be underestimated however, as it formed the basis for the prototype Walkman models and was used as the basis for the original TPS-L2 model. It was also highly influential in the design of the WM-D6/WM-D6C, a long running and very highly regarded machine. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.