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Author Topic: Critic At Large Vol. V: Record-A-Call  (Read 3288 times)

Klaus Heyne

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Critic At Large Vol. V: Record-A-Call
« on: December 30, 2010, 06:15:52 pm »

Testing... testing... testing...
Plateauing? Calcifying? Past expiration date, at age 59?

What prompted the thought: the damn answering machine has stopped working last week. Answering machine? Yes, my top-of-the-line Record-A-Call 690. Made ca. 1986.

I knew something was up when I tried Googling and eBaying my 690: not a single hit (that will change with this piece!) to help me find parts or spare units. No clue who hordes these, and where.

In the past, whenever one of three predictable defects would creep up in my 690, I would cannibalize one of several spares I had found at Goodwill stores a long time ago; but now the cycle of cannibalization was completed.

I knew something was up, any time I would drop a hint in conversation that I was still using an answering machine, now that cloud-based, digital voice mail is the mode for reaching someone eventually who cannot be reached right away.

Amused but polite, forgiving responses to my praise of the 690 gave me a first hint of myself as generic grandpa. At one point I simply stopped moving with the technology of the time.  Unnoticed, mostly by myself, I had jumped off at the platform of the last technology I could fully comprehend and embrace, and am now standing there, as I watch every new gadget train leave the station with a mixture of stubbornness and bewilderment.

Had I truly arrived on that platform? A lost cause? A Luddite extraordinaire (same sad outcome)?

Was rattling off my arguments for this technology just a clever but ultimately unconvincing attempt at sugar coating my stage in life?

Here is my pitch for the 690:

* total control of message creation and retrieval- when, and how technically creative I make my messages; when, how often and in what increments and to what exact section of a new message I wish to listen to. (Have you ever tried to get to the exact spot in a digital voice message where a digitally truncated, garbled telephone number was left via bad cell phone connection? Impossible!)

* good audio quality that aids intelligibility and promotes intimacy (read: authority and emotional impact) - both on the outgoing and incoming messages, due to relatively decent resolution of the dual-cassette format

* any message length, both incoming and outgoing (I use 1 hr. cassettes on incoming, for extended, unhurried messaging, avoiding annoying cutoffs to callers)

* auto-fax-reception on the same telephone line, which voice mail cannot accommodate (OK, faxing is not exactly cutting edge stuff either)

* no monthly costs; independence from the rapacious reach of telecom conglomerates which will slowly suck you dry, a few dollars at a time, with their voice menu options, and their 'total portability'

* preservation of priceless messages which can be easily transferred to stable, long-term (ha!) digital (ha!) storage: your kid’s first rambling call, treasured aural memories from your late father, “Happy Birthday” sung by dear friends long ago at places far away


I almost gave up last night: carcasses of armatures and motor assemblies, printed circuit boards and plastic casings of three 690s were strewn across the floor, with only one more new combination of assembling these parts left to try.  
Was this mess on the carpet not evidence enough why busy doctors, car salesmen, housewives and anyone else with a hectic life had lost any appetite for reconsidering hardware-based, mechanically intricate and eventually deteriorating message devices like mine? Wasn’t this yet another case where offering a new, if only 75% technically adequate, solution to a problem seemed to fully satisfy 99% of all customers, thus making the less convenient solution obsolete?

I screwed the final case screws into the plastic, and Bingo! the 690 purred again. I found a batch of fresh (!) 60 minute chrome cassettes in the basement, recorded a new outgoing message featuring my newly energized (and relieved) voice, and now I have my personal solution to the problem back.

For how long I can postpone the inevitable, and with what consequence for my (un-) willingness to compromise and embrace future technology will be a subject for another story.

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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks
www.GermanMasterworks.com

compasspnt

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Re: Critic At Large Vol. V: Record-A-Call
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2010, 06:37:11 pm »

Let us all keep a lookout for the Record-A-Call 690...at yard sales, on Ebay, in our friends' attics...

Then we can all send them to Klaus for a 2011 Christmas present...

Right about the time he will need them.
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KB_S1

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Re: Critic At Large Vol. V: Record-A-Call
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2010, 07:05:03 pm »

I just found a box of, still film wrapped TDK SA90 chrome cassettes.
If only I had a Record-A-Call 690.

Klaus, does the machine play back messages at normal 'real time' speed?
I read a great book last year and the author mentioned that many digital voicemail machines would replay messages approx' 25% faster than real time to speed up the process.
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<a href="http://www.parklanerecordingstudios.com/" class="link3">Park Lane Studio</a> Where to find me most of the time<br /><br />

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/kb_s1/" class="link3">Flickr</a>where to see what I have been up to  <br /><br />

Klaus Heyne

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Re: Critic At Large Vol. V: Record-A-Call
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2010, 07:50:01 pm »

Not only does the 690 play at the same real-time speed as it records (it would complicate the mechanics of the machine if the same tape drive were to run at two different speeds) but I calibrated the motor's fine speed adjustment so that cassettes recorded on the 690 would play at the exact same speed on any calibrated cassette player (4.75cm/second).
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks
www.GermanMasterworks.com

Schallfeldnebel

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Re: Critic At Large Vol. V: Record-A-Call
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2010, 06:40:51 am »

I still use a German machine from the early ninetees, brandname Tiptel, and it can call to my cellphone when there is a message, and play the message from a remote location without calling in first. It works with two seperate cassettes, and you can speak in different outgoing messages, for e.g. morning, afternoon and evening. Quite overkill, real German design and quality.

Happy 2011 !

Erik
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Bill Mueller:"Only very recently, has the availability of cheap consumer based gear popularized the concept of a rank amateur as an audio engineer. Unfortunately, this has also degraded the reputation of the audio engineer to the lowest level in its history. A sad thing indeed for those of us professionals."

compasspnt

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Re: Critic At Large Vol. V: Record-A-Call
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2010, 08:55:15 am »

I want one.

Can it speak English as well?
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Bob Jesse

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Re: Critic At Large Vol. V: Record-A-Call
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2011, 02:51:16 pm »

Klaus Heyne wrote on Thu, 30 December 2010 15:15

I [...] recorded a new outgoing message with a newly energized (relieved) voice,



Inquiring mind wants to know:  Did you use the machine's built-in microphone?  If an external mike, which one?

Happy New Year to all, with gratitude for the expertise and love of the art generously shared here.

Bob
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Bob Jesse
Occasional Sound Engineer
San Francisco

Klaus Heyne

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Re: Critic At Large Vol. V: Record-A-Call
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2011, 03:09:41 pm »

This time, I recorded it with a little battery-powered electret stereo condenser that Aiwa used to sell. Very fine for the purpose, and also for stereo field recordings. At other times in the past I used this one:
http://recforums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/t/32810/318/


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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks
www.GermanMasterworks.com

Fenris Wulf

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Re: Critic At Large Vol. V: Record-A-Call
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2011, 06:20:18 am »

I was browsing an old book of DIY electronic projects and one of them is a DIY cassette answering machine. It looks pretty easy to build. Here's the book:

 http://www.amazon.com/More-telephone-accessories-you-build/d p/0810408937
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RESIST THE CYBERNETIC OVERLORDS
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