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Pioneer CT-S610

Stereo Cassette Deck (1992)

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Pioneer CT-S610

Specifications

Type: 3-head, single compact cassette deck

Track System: 4-track, 2-channel stereo

Tape Speed: 4.75 cm/s

Heads: 1 x combination record/playback, 1 x erase

Motor: 1 x reel, 1 x capstan, 1 x assist

Tape Type: type I, CrO2, Metal

Noise Reduction: B, C, HX Pro

Frequency Response: 15Hz to 21kHz  (Metal tape)

Signal to Noise Ratio: 79dB  (dolby C)

Wow and Flutter: 0.023%

Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.6%

Input: 100mV (line)

Output: 0.5V (line)

Dimensions: 420 x 127.5 x 323mm

Weight: 6kg

Year: 1992

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Reviewed Sep 23rd, 2017 by ilkkasuni

Recently bought the CT-S610, as I have this weird tendency to collect certain models by certain brands, and compare them decks with each other. The CT-S610 I bought, appeared to be fully in tact. Them pinch rollers by the looks indicated, this deck has been more than just in random use, yet no problems to tape transportation, let alone wrinkled C90s.

As I gather, the CT-S610 was the cheapest of the Pioneer year 1992 models, with the dual capstan Reference transport mechanism. Just an upper mid-class model by Pioneer. Having owned various Pioneer models with this concept Reference mechanism, ever since I bought the CT-939 in 1989, I dare state this is a remarkably good tape transport. Even though it is belt-driven, and possibly leading into a total systems mess-up, after an unskilled belts renewal:
the mechanism and the operations of the deck may end up as unfortunately, as might an unskilled camshaft belt renewal to a car.

The specifications given for the CT-S610 are good enough. For instance, wow & flutter 0.023 WRMS, frequency response 15-20000....21000 Hz. Hinting, this is a hi-fi deck. And I dare say, the CT-S610 is. Yet, this is not of the very best by Pioneer.

The CT-S610 basicly is the same as the Dolby S model ST-S810S, yet with a lighter and less advantaged amplifier section. What I can say is, the phones amp is not as good as that of for instance CT-939's, CT-979's. But I really cannot state whether the line-out sound is that much lesser than by them best Pioneer models I have experienced. The sound actually is very good, yet propably not of the very best, cassette decks have offered.

There's lots I like the CT-S610 about. The level indicator comes with proper resolution, also in twin-range, offering 1...1,5 dB resolution around the -3...0...+3 dB range [Pioneer top models are with 1 dB resolution]. The deck carries the Super B.L.E. [Bias, Level, Equalisation] which is a fool-proof calibration system for each individual tape, with the disadvantage, one cannot manipulate the bias currency in order to falsely gain more high tones response to the recordings.

I like this deck. It is not of the very best by Pioneer, it is not of the very best cassette decks. But this deck is good, very good, and the sound is pleasantly balanced and refined. Pioneer with success avoided the harshness to the high tones, I have experienced for instance by some Akai, JVC and Technics models, despite of their frequency response given, reaching 20...22000 Hz. Then again, this is just my humble opinion.

The Pioneer Reference transport, as I earlier stated in my opinion is remarkably good. Every dual capstan Pioneer with this mechanism I have acguired in recent years, even after several years of storage and years of not in use, has rolled tapes safely. Especially some Technics and Yamaha models I have bought, have suffered from hardened pinch rollers, resulting in wrinkled tape after them hardened pinch rollers slightly revive when back in action. Hardened pinch rollers can permanently damage one's valuable recordings. I suppose, the material of pinch rollers by Technics and Yamaha may have differed from that of for instance by JVC, Pioneer and Sony.

The CT-S610 is a proper recording device, thanks to the sufficient level indicator resolution, and to the Super Auto B.L.E. calibration, with the reservation one cannot manipulate the bias and level settings. The tape transport is of the best ever. Still, the CT-S610 sound maybe just is not as lively and refined as is that of the very best cassette decks. In stars, this would make a 4...4+ product, and eventually may have served for the one and only deck for others than them ultimate hifi enthusiasts.

Ilkka Suni
Finland
2017-09-23

 

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