What is DCC ?

Jul 15, 2010

Perhaps that should read “What was DCC ?”. Introduced by Philips in 1992 as the digital successor to the (then still immensely popular) compact cassette, it never caught on and was history by 1996.

Perhaps the main reason DCC never caught on was the pricing of the tapes. Pre-recorded ones (when you could find a shop that sold them) were almost £20 each (ie: the same price as CDs) and blank tapes weren’t much cheaper. When I bought my DCC seperate to add to all my other hifi it was the potential for digital recording that attracted me. In 1993 mp3 files were in their infancy. Windows 95 was yet to be released. I probably still had a computer running Windows 3.1 so recording music to its meagre hard drive would have been unthinkable.

So digital recording at CD quality when recordable CDs for domestic use were somewhere in the future sounded a good idea. In practice I hardly ever used the machine for recording. Although DCC tapes were different in appearance to the standard compact cassettes, DCC machines still played (very well actually) the older format. DCC tapes ran at the same 1 7/8″ per second speed as the standard compact cassettes but used a different quality tape similar to video tape.

Philips must have lost £millions in developing this format only to meet such limited interest. In 1998 I found a mail order company that were selling boxes of 100 different pre-recorded DCC tapes for £10 each box. A couple of years earlier they would have cost you approaching £2000. Of course I had to buy a box full, not that I ever played them. They’re filed away with a few Betamax tapes and my 78rpm records !!

3 Responses to “What is DCC ?”

  1. Jeff Says:

    Love your blog! Never got one of these, and with the 20-20 benefit of hindsight it seems that the modest advantage of being able to play existing cassettes on the same mechanism is more than countered by the disadvantaqes of having the digital ones being the same size and speed. What were they thinking? Surely would have been better to have made a new machine for a brand new format with 2 slots – one for the old and one for the new. I’m still a big fan of the old fashioned cassette.

  2. Ashraf Says:

    Hi there,
    Funny enough I still own the marantz DCC player model DD9 and it works quite well. I own this piece since 1996 and I bought new. Ever since I had to replace the head assembly once which happened in 2005 and I sourced out the head assembly from Kong Kong.
    I have more than 120 recorded tapes ( I recorded them over a period of 5 years) as well as prerecorded tapes more hat 30 titles.
    I’m willing to buy more prerecorded/blank tapes if they are still available. I love that marantz deck and the good thing I never put an analogue tape inside this machine this iswhy it performes quite well (touch a wood).
    If there anything that we can share together please dropmw an email.

  3. There are blank DCC tapes currently for sale on eBay. Sometimes pre-recorded ones also.

    The following link gives a useful guide to this interesting if somewhat shortlived format:-


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