March 21, 2011
Sometimes the public remains indifferent to new trends and ideas. Almost 20 years ago now they tried (and failed) to convince us that DCC (Digital Compact Cassette) was the next big thing. I’m sure they got the pricing completely wrong. It takes time for new hi-fi to be integrated into car dashboards and portable units weren’t as portable as a Sony Walkman. Throughout the 1990s I remained quite content listening to analog compact cassettes. The DCC equipment I foolishly purchased remains the white (no..black actually) elephant of my hifi system. Without the development of/reduction in price of home PCs, broadband internet connections and all the i-stuff….and if the record labels had managed to keep a tighter grip on their product perhaps we would still be buying digital cassette tapes today……
July 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 !!