While cleaning out my grandfathers garage, my father came across the old Soundesign cassette player which his grandmother owned.
Soundesign was a brand used on inexpensive home electronics such as alarm clocks, stereo systems, and yes – cassette players. While they amassed their loyal haters, Soundesign products were everywhere due to their inexpensive price tag. With that being said, not all Soundesign products weren’t too bad – with many still working fine.
This particular example was purchased in the early 1970s and used by my great-grandmother to produce autobiographical cassettes on her life before she passed.
As mentioned, my father was cleaning out my grandfather’s garage when he found in its carrying case. Unfortunately, since it was in the garage – it was exposed to extreme heat and cold. The case seemed to take the worst of the damage. The case has an accessories pouch that has the original earphone and microphone.
The player itself isn’t in too bad of shape… appearance-wise, at least. I plugged it in and tested it. The motor seems to work, and the mechanism seems to run fine. But when I inserted a cassette it would play intermittently before eating the tape. Unfortunately, the test tape was destroyed. But it seems like there’s sign for hope. The motor seemed to run fine, and when it did play it seemed there was just slight fluttering.
Disassembly of the player is fairly easy. Four Phillips-head screws and the back cover pops right on off. (No clips or snaps to worry about.) But I didn’t go any further due to some of the controls being hard-wired to the back cover. (If you own one of these, be careful disassembling it. If you are not careful, you’ll rip those wires right on off.)
There is actually a few things that interested me about this player. The first is how on the information label it clearly states the major components. It has 9 solid state devices, 6 transistors, a diode, a thermistor, and a full-wave rectifier. Considering the time at which this was produced, this isn’t a strange thing. Consumer electronics, like televisions and radios, regularly told you the number of transistors or ICs inside said device.
The other interesting thing is how there is a manual switch for switching from operating on AC (line) power and DC (battery) power. The unit must have not had the capability to determine which to use.
The last interesting thing about this unit is just the plastic. I looked up this particular model and found another specimen on eBay, and both have strange areas where the plastic has slightly warped. I’m guessing the plastic they used wasn’t very high quality.
I’m hoping to get this thing going in the future. It’s a family heirloom; my grandparents purchased it for my great-grandmother to record autobiographical cassettes on her life and raising my grandmother.