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Tape Recorder Terms

A Special note about Dictation equipment. The tape recorders are no longer being manufactured. The replacement is digital dictation devices\recorders. A summary of the Next Generation dictation equipment\explanation can be read on this site. 

2-Speed Record/Playback
gives you the option of recording on 

a standard microcassette at either normal speed of 2.4cm/sec or half the
normal speed (1.2cm/sec), for extended recording or dictation sessions

Auto Reverse

On cassette decks, the unit automatically plays the reverse side upon
conclusion of the first side. Using the direction button, the user can
manually switch the playing side at any time. Continuous auto reverse
from side to side is featured in some models.


Dictation Tape Recorder 




Normal Playback/Record speed = 1 7/8 inches per second or 4.8 centimeters
per second (CentiMeters)

1/2 Speed = 15/16 inches per second or 2.4 CM

1/4 Speed = 15/32 inches per second or 1.2 CM  

is obvious advantage of slower tape speeds is the extended recording
time. For example, a C90 cassette recorded at the normal standard
cassette speed provides a total of 90 minutes of recording time -
45 minutes on each side of the cassette. Recording at 1/2 speed (2.4
CM) doubles the amount of recording time - 180 minutes total - 90
minutes per side. Recording at 1/4 speed (1.2 CM) provides 4 times
the normal speed record time - 360 minutes total - 180 minutes per

recorded in the 4-track format utilize the entire width of the tape
in one direction only. They are never turned over or recorded on the
other side. Thus a C90 cassette recorded in the 4-track format at
2.4 CM provides a total of 90 minutes recording time on one side of
the cassette only. At 1.2 CM the total recording time is 180 minutes
on one side only.

The disadvantage
of slower tape speeds is a loss in audio quality. The speed at which
the tape passes the record/playback head is a large factor in determining
the quality of reproduction. The slower the tape speed, the poorer
the audio quality becomes. When extended record time per cassette
is necessary, a good compromise is 1/2 speed (2.4 CM). However if
the amount of recording time per cassette is not a factor, a much
better recording is produced at normal speed (4.8 CM).

The Sony
BM-146 and BM-246 4-track recorders, frequently used in court reporting,
operate at 2.4 CM or 1.2 CM. Marantz PMD 1 and 2 track recorders may
be modified to operate at 2.4 CM. Transcription of tapes recorded
at these slower speeds requires a transcribing machine modified to
operate at the appropriate speed. Many transcribers and recorders
may be modified to operate at 2.4 CM and some at 1.2 CM. See modifications
for more details.


All microcassette transcribers and recorders currently being manufactured
operate at a tape speed of 2.4 CM or 1.2 CM which is selectable by
the operator. The MC60 microcassette provides a total of 60 minutes
recording time at the 2.4 CM tape speed - 30 minutes per side of the
cassette. At 1.2 CM the recording time is doubled - 120 minutes total
- 60 minutes per side. The rule governing quality of audio reproduction
in relation to tape speed applies to microcassettes as well as standard
cassettes. That is, the slower the tape speed, the poorer the audio
quality becomes.

A common
problem associated with microcassette machines concerns the dual speeds
found on these machines. A tape recorded at the 1.2 CM tape speed
will sound like "Donald Duck" (very fast) when played back
on a transcriber set for 2.4 CM tape speed. Conversely, a tape recorded
at 2.4 CM tape speed and played back on a transcriber set for 1.2
CM tape speed will sound very, very slow. The variable speed control
found on microcassette transcribers does not have enough range to
compensate for the two separate tape speeds. The solution is to match
the tape speed setting on the transcriber with that of the recording.


Tape Recorder

Used for cassette tape recording and playback. There are
single-well and dual-well cassette decks.

Full Logic Controls

Full logic tape transports use IC chips, rather than mechanical
devices, to operate a product. The result is faster operation, smoother
performance, increased convenience, and improved reliability.

Fast Forward

Allows for quickly advancing a cassette tape.


Allows for quickly reversing a cassette tape.

Auto Stop

Automatically disengages the cassette deck transport at
the end of a tape.

Flash Memory

Refers to the amount of built-in Flash memory an MP3 player

Bass Boost

Circuitry that enhances bass output in a portable audio system.

Three Heads and Other Advanced Technology for Great Recordings

1. Three head recording/monitor system with separate erase, record and
play heads permits specialization of function and direct off-the-tape
monitoring for superb results.


Some portable stereo systems feature a clock as part of
their front-panel display.

Built-in Microphone

An integrated microphone used for recording live content.
A built-in microphone is found on many record-capable portable cassette

Normal Playback Time

Refers to the expected amount of playback time with a set
of new batteries.

Battery Requirements

Refers to the type of battery required for an electronic

AC Adapter

Converts AC power from a standard wall outlet into DC (direct
current), allowing battery powered portable products to be operated from
standard house current.

Slide Switch Control

A single switch, controlled by the thumb, that operates all tape functions
in dictation recorders. dictation recorder

Tape Counter

Enables the user to manually index the recorded information on a cassette.

Voice Operated Recording (VOR)

Activates the recording mechanism in a tape recorder only when the user
is speaking and pauses the tape recorder when there is silence.


This stands for Light Emitting Diode. It is placed on some units as
an indicator for various functions.

Voice Mirror

An LED that blinks in response to sounds being recorded. Provides visual
confirmation that source is being recorded.

Cue And Review

An audible high-speed search through a cassette. This enables the
user to locate a particular point in the recorded material.


The number of times in a second a sound wave's cycle is completed?
expressed in Hertz (Hz).

Fast Play Feature (20% Faster than Normal)

 reduces the time needed to review recordings

Built-In Speaker
has excellent quality
to monitor tape playback

One-Touch Recording
for simplified, quick
play/record operation

Sonymatic® Automatic Recording Level Control

uses advanced circuitry to ensure correct recording sound levels
for the particular situation

Automatic Shut-Off
at end of tape reduces
mechanical wear and conserves battery power

DC-In Jack
for two-way operation using
replaceable batteries or optional AC adaptor

Cue Marker Indexing System lets you
place an electronic "mark" at specific tape segments, and provides
rapid access during cue and review.

Microphone Jack
allows connection of
an external microphone

foot control


Foot Pedal
this lets the transcriptionist hear the tape while
changing the mode from Play to Rewind to Fast Forward without removing
hands from the keyboard

Fully Adjustable Automatic Secretarial Reverse
automatically replays the last part of the dictation whenever the user
stops transcribing, to prevent lost dictation, and lets the operator adjust
how much to rewind so tape resumes at the most desirable point prior to
where it stopped

Speed/Tone/Volume Controls are individual
slider type, front-panel mounted, to allow easy one-finger adjustment
for transcribing convenience

End-of-Tape Alarm
signals when the tape end is reached

Auto-Stop Function stops the tape
in Fast Forward and Rewind modes when End-of-Document, Electronic Indexes,
and other special instruction signals on the tape are reached

Built-In erase may be activated to
automatically erase recordings while rewinding the microcassette

Foot Control

Allows for hands-free operation of a transcriber via a foot pedal.

Flat Mic

A microphone that is omni directional to record sounds from
many directions. Ideal for meetings or lectures.

Playback Speed Control

Increases tape speed by up to 20% and decreases it by up to 30% for
quick review or slow study of recorded material.

Double Recording Time

 gives you the option of recording on a standard cassette at
either normal speed or half the normal speed, for extended recording or
dictation sessions

records separate left and right
channels in stereo and provides convenient recording versatility in various

Dual Speakers
for enhanced listening
in stereo sound with distinct left- and right-channel placement

Hand Microphone with slide switch

Slide Switch Control

A single switch, controlled by the thumb, that operates all tape functions
in dictation recorders

2-Speed Record/Playback Transcribers

is compatible with  two-speed microcassette or standard cassette 
recorders, for maximum dictating and transcribing versatility

Electronic Indexing

An electronic mark, identifying the start of a recording session, placed
by the user. This provides easy retrieval of information on dictation

compatible with stereo and mono cassette recorders
allows cassette
tapes recorded in either the monaural format or stereo format to be transcribed

Telephone Record Capability
allows for direct recording of
telephone conversations

Fully Adjustable Automatic Backspace

begins playback prior to where it last stopped, preventing lost dictation

Dolby® B Noise Reduction

Boosts the level of the high frequency range during recording,
and tapers the high frequencies during playback, reducing tape hiss by
8 to 10 dB.

Use of Tape Recorders

An important use of tape recorders
is the recording of video. Video cassette recorders differ substantially
from audio recorders because of the use of a rotating magnetic head that
uses a helical scan of the tape medium. A helical scan is used to allow
for faster movement of the tape surface over the head.


Dictation Recorders for law offices or lawyers