For some time now, there have been a number of tape cassette decks available at low prices from mail order businesses and electronics retailers. Such decks do not contain any electronics, of course. It is not easy to build a recording amplifier and the fairly complex magnetic biasing circuits, but a playback amplifier is not too difficult as the present one shows. The stereo circuits in the diagram, in conjunction with a suitable deck, form a good-quality cassette player. The distortion and frequency range (up to 23 kHz) are up to good standards. Moreover, the circuit can be built on a small board for incorporation with the deck in a suitable enclosure. Both terminals of coupling capacitor C1 are at ground potential when the amplifier is switched on.

Circuit diagram:Playback Amplifier For Cassette DeckCassette Deck Playback Amplifier Circuit Diagram
Because of the symmetrical ±12 V supply lines, the capacitor will not be charged. If a single supply is used, the initial surge when the capacitor is being charged causes a loud click in the loudspeaker and, worse, magnetizes the tape. The playback head provides an audio signal at a level of 200–500 mV. The two amplifiers raise this to line level, not linearly, but in accordance with the RIAA equalization characteristic for tape recorders. Broadly speaking, this characteristic divides the frequency range into three bands:
  • Up to 50 Hz, corresponding to a time constant of 3.18 ms, the signal is highly and linearly amplified.
  • Between 50 Hz and 1.326 kHz, corresponding to a time constant of 120 µs, for normal tape, or 2.274 kHz, corresponding to a time constant of 70 µs, for chromium dioxide tape, the signal is amplified at a steadily decreasing rate.
  • Above 1.326 kHz or 2.274 kHz, as the case may be, the signal is slightly and linearly amplified. This characteristic is determined entirely by A1 (A1’). To make the amplifier suitable for use with chromium dioxide tape, add a double-pole switch (for stereo) to connect a 2.2 kΩ resistor in parallel with R3 (R3’). The output of A1 (A1’) is applied to a passive high-pass rumble filter, C3-R5 (C3’-R5’) with a very low cut-off frequency of 7 Hz. The components of this filter have exactly the same value as the input filter, C1-R1 (C1’-R1’). The second stage, A2 (A2’) amplifies the signal ´100, that is, to line level (1V r.m.s.).

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