10 January 2015

ELCASET, rise and fall of a Hi-Fi tape system

ELCASET was an analog cassette tape based audio format developed by SONY in cooperation with Matsushita (Panasonic) and TEAC in 1976. It was intended to offer a reel-to-reel system sound quality in a convenient cartridge format. The name comes from the expression "large cassette" or "L-cassette". Although the ELCASET used a 6 mm (0.25 in) wide tape running at 9.5 cm/s (3.75 ips), twice the width and twice the speed of a PHILIPS Compact Cassette it became a complete failure in the marketplace and by 1978 it completely faded-out from the market. This happened mainly because Compact Cassette had a more compact format and the dramatical improvement with the introduction of new tape formulations such as chromium dioxide and lower noise with the introduction of the Dolby B noise reduction circuit.

The revolutionary SONY ELCASET system

SONY introduces the ELCASET system

Below in this SONY advertisement you can see a side by side comparison of an ELCASET (the large cassette) and a Compact Cassette (small cassette introduced by PHILIPS in 1963)

elcaset tape

Below you can see al the ELCASET machines that were manufactured between 1976 and 1979.

SONY EL-4 from 1977 (left) EL-5 from 1976 (right)

sony elcaset

SONY EL-7 from 1977 (left) EL-D8 FROM 1978 (right)

sony elcaset

SONY EL-D8 from 1978

sony elcaset

WEGA E4950 and Lo-D (HITACHI) D-9000 from 1979 - both sony EL-7 rebadges


JVC LD-777


Technics RS-7500U from 1976



For more info about some of the ELCASET prototypes read this post.