EMI HFX C90 Audio Cassette

1970s EMI HFX C90 Audio Cassette

The things you find lurking in drawers… I was really excited to discover this EMI HFX C90 audio tape yesterday, and couldn’t wait to get it photographed and posted on Tape Tardis.

I couldn’t find any info at all on these around the nether reaches of the Internet, so I’m going to have to wing it a bit regarding the details. These are the facts… It’s a standard ferric Type I, which is clearly recognisable from its design as a good two and a half decades old at least. It’s UK-made. It features a series of recordings of diesel locomotives in action on the British Rail network. I’m going to have to state here that I know rather more about British Rail diesels than it might be credible to admit, but sad as it may be, I know at least one of the recordings couldn’t have been made later than 1980. So provided it wasn’t recorded onto another tape first, and then transferred onto this one, that would make this EMI of 1980 vintage or earlier. The flat-head screws are usually a sign of a pre-’80s product, although I know Memorex were using them on some of their tapes at least as recently as 1983.

But I’m guessing the tape’s probably from the late 1970s. The guy who gave it to me many years back used to make Super 8 movies of trains in the late ’70s, and he’d simultaneously record the audio on a compact cassette. I think this would probably have been one of the original cassettes he was using for that purpose.

Soundwise, the cassette is not too bad. In fact, if it is from the ’70s, it’s actually fairly respectable for a Type I. There’s some tangible brightness, and firm bass. The tape’s not particularly quiet, and it’s prone to the odd bit of warble, as well as one or two isolated drop outs. No worse than I’d expect in a typical ’70s Type I though. All in all, a nice find, and another interesting piece of niche recording preserved courtesy of analogue technology.

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