Master Cassette Deck (1985-86)
Type: 3-head, single compact cassette deck
Track System: 4-track, 2-channel stereo
Tape Speed: 4.76 cm/s
Heads: 1 x combination record/playback, 1 x erase
Motor: 2 x reel, 1 x capstan, 1 x aux
Tape Type: type I, Cr02, Metal
Noise Reduction: B, C, DBX
Signal to Noise Ratio: 92dB (DBX)
Wow and Flutter: 0.03%
Total Harmonic Distortion: 2.0%
Input: 275mV (line), 0.34mV (mic)
Output: 0.44V (line)
Dimensions: 432 x 163 x 437mm
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Reviewed Apr 27th, 2012 by vqworks
The Teac Z-6000 was apparently Teac's answer to Nakamichi's Dragon back in 1982. Unfortunately, most recording audiophiles greeted it with only lukewarm reception. By 1987, I even noticed that an audio shop in the mid-west U.S. was unloading left-over inventory at a throwaway clearance price of only $375. Undoubtedly, Teac must have suffered some financial loss from the low sales of the limited production Z-6000 and its more automated version, the Z-7000.
As an owner of both Nakamichi and Teac decks, I can say that the lukewarm reception of the Teac Z-6000 was really not justified. I can only guess that part of the issue was that the Nakamichi brand enjoyed much more cachet with cassette audiophiles.
Both had similar build quality. Nakamichi's Dragon and the Teac Z-6000 both have an odd combination of flimsy plastic pieces and solid metal construction. This is an invitation to mishandling from typical users.
The similarities between the decks continue with the innards. Internally, there is nothing to fault. The transport and electronics are built with a staggering attention to detail for long-term reliability and sound quality. Teac's electronics are very quiet and even the control over the bias oscillator is extremely tight, resulting in no audible clicks or pops at the end of recordings. The playback amplifier is direct-coupled (meaning no capacitor in the signal path) to avoid extra noise. Of course, being a Teac from the early 80s, the deck is also loaded with dbx and dbx disc NR options (an NR option that the Nakamichis lack).
The transport quality is also top notch. Apparently, Teac employed the same hold-back tension used in most open-reel decks. Unlike other dual-capstan transports, the supply hub in the Z-6000 (and Z-7000) provide reverse torque that varies along with the amount of tape on the supply pack. This helps to keep tape tension and tape-to-head contact consistent even between sides of the same cassette. This means that azimuth is consistent throughout the length of each cassette and between sides. So this negates the need for the discrete head design used by Nakamichi and Tandberg. The tape guide for the supply capstan is also ceramic for smoother tape travel. The clutchless and gearless 3-motor transport also adds to the long-term reliability. Each hub is direct driven, as is the leading capstan which is belt-coupled to the supply capstan. Like most Nakamichis the heads and pinch rollers disengage and engage through the activation of motor-driven cams instead of loud and clunky solenoids. Changes between modes are also nearly instantaneous. As a bonus, a pitch control on the front panel allows a user the ability to adjust the speed by Â±12 during recording and playback to match the speed of other decks. Most decks with pitch controls only allow for playback speed adjustments.
As mentioned earlier, if there are shortcomings in the Teac Z-6000, it is in the plastic parts on the front panel. The spring loaded headphone, pitch control knobs and the master record level sliding control are surprisingly springy. The most common problems with old Z-series decks are malfunctioning headphone and pitch controls (no surprise).
But how does this deck sound compared to other state-of-the-art decks? Of all the dbx-equipped decks I've heard, the Z-6000 also makes the most accurate dbx recordings. I don't even hear any noise pumping or other noise modulation anomalies. Provided that the deck is calibrated for a flat response and optimum headroom balance (between midrange and treble) using the elaborate bias-level-recording equalization manual controls, recordings on most cassettes sound identical or close to identical to their sources. They're that good. Frequency response is wide and flat - 10Hz - 24 kHz (Â±3dB) - and bass is audibly extended and very tight, high-end transients start and stop as fast as the source demands, and imaging is flawless. For any recording deck, reproduction accuracy is the most important consideration. The Z-6000 delivers it in spades at a fraction of the price of most Nakamichis.