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Troubleshooting & Repair of Audio Cassette Players

messed up cassette image by timur1970 from

Audio cassette players may be on their way to either obsolescence or collectibility, but they haven’t reached that point yet. The cassette player is infamous for eating tapes and making weird sounds when something goes wrong, but yours doesn’t have to join that club. Knowing what to look and listen for is the first step in troubleshooting and then repairing your cassette tape player.

Plug the unit in if there is no power or the machine does not light up when you press "play." Plug it into a different outlet if the first outlet doesn’t work. If the second outlet still provides nothing but silence, plug in another device. If that device doesn’t work, reset the circuit breaker or replace the fuse.

Remove the cassette tape and unplug the machine if the sound is sometimes distorted or appears to be playing in slow motion. Dip the cotton swab into the denatured alcohol and use it to clean the audio heads and capstan.

Purchase a demagnetizer if swabbing with alcohol doesn’t improve the sound quality. Plug the demagnetizer into a wall outlet at least two feet away from the cassette player. Walk toward the player until the demagnetizer is within one-half inch one of the player’s audio heads and then draw it another two feet away before turning it off. Repeat for the other audio head as well as the capstan.

Remove the cover and locate the drive belts situated on the transport assembly. Worn or damaged belts can cause distortion of the sound coming from the cassette player. Clean the belts with a foam swab dipped in rubber cleaning compound if the belt is sticky. Use needle-nose pliers to remove the belt for replacement. Hold the new belt loosely enough so that you can wrap it around the pulleys or the capstan wheel, depending on which belt you are replacing.

Remove the cover and locate the eject mechanism if the problem is a faulty eject button. Dip a cotton swab into grease and apply it to the ejection level. Tighten the mounting screw if the eject level has become loose. Use your needle-nose pliers to reconnect the spring if it has come loose. Replace the spring if it is damaged.

Locate the motor speed adjustment screw situated on the back of the machine’s motor. Plug the player into the wall and insert a cassette. Press "play." Allow five minutes for the machine to warm up and then rewind or fast-forward to the middle of the tape. Listen closely to the sound quality while using a small screwdriver to adjust the capstan motor until you have achieved premium-quality sound. You need to adjust the screw either clockwise or counterclockwise to adjust the capstan motor.

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