GRUNDIG CF-7500: European Lipizzaner

Submitted on: 11 Jan 23

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Category: Analog recorders/players

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I remember the Grundig catalog from way back in 1985. It was, as far as I can recall, the first one I managed to get hold of and it stayed in my possession. As a kid, I looked through it hundreds of times: it featured some very interesting products… the T7500 tuner, XV7500 preamp, and the CD7550 CD player, which was actually a version of Philips’ famous CD304.

The rest of the 75xx series included the V7500 amplifier and the CF7500 cassette deck, which I’ll talk about now.

I still have that catalog somewhere packed away in the attic at my in-laws’, and here’s a part of it (in German) describing the mentioned device:

As far as I can remember, the price of the CF7500 was around 900 DEM, which is about 450 EUR, placing it in the higher class of cassette decks.

This time I have to delve into Grundig’s history and say that they modestly ventured into the market of quality recorders, those small plastic devices called cassettes. As far as I can recall, they had only one model with a dual capstan in a closed loop (CT905, described on my pages) and one respected model before the CF-7500 – it was the CF5500, which I never owned but would have liked to. The third model is… of course, the CF7500. All three mentioned are as different as night and day.



The Grundig CF-7500 is a three-head, three-motor deck with a single capstan. It is externally made entirely classic, with an aluminum front panel and a fairly massive cover that covers the top, sides, and back.

The front panel is a true example of smart control layout: below the large display, which I’ll talk about later, there is a row of basic (and some other) commands, while below them are those that are less frequently used and are set very unobtrusively. On the side of the display are buttons related to the use of the counter as well as autocalibration.

On the far right are the recording level and output level adjustment controls – the mentioned output level button can be manually retracted when not in use, Grundig solved it brilliantly simply and effectively, without springs and mechanisms that can break.

On the left side of the front panel is the cassette compartment. The cassette holder is in one piece, with leaf springs, a carrier, and a lid. There is no disassembly, and access to the heads is more difficult, but the deck lifts the heads even when there is no cassette while the doors are open, which drastically facilitates cleaning. However, it should be noted that the deck’s doors themselves are made of plastic, there are no metal parts except for springs, the quality is like on an ordinary radio cassette player, there is no vibration damper, nothing to indicate that it is a higher category deck. It’s a shame, maybe they didn’t care… Europeans often did that.

The space between the heads and the rollers is enclosed in plastic so that the interior of the mechanism is not visible and protected from dust – completely different from the Japanese, who considered this irrelevant and left it open. Access to head adjustment is difficult, and a special torx screwdriver is needed to adjust the azimuth – imagine, they were still using them in 1985. Speed adjustment is also done with a long screwdriver directly through the hole in the cassette holder lid.

The deck does not have internal cassette compartment lighting, only a metallized sticker in the form of a mirror, but since the plastic doors are already dark inside, you can hardly see anything if the light is not optimal. They could have tried a little harder.

But, the display is very good: two-color markers of excellent size, peak hold, display of everything that is needed – all transport functions, it’s a pleasure. Large digits of the numerical counter (unfortunately, it is quite slow because it has only three digits) add a great impression while playing with this device.

Autocalibration works alternately, on the left and right channels, playing tones of 400 Hz and 10 kHz. In fact, sensitivity and bias are set. The tones are accompanied by peaks on the display.

But, that’s not all…

In addition to the above, the deck also has sequential playback of each track, i.e., what is called intro skip in some other decks. But, the CF-7500 has one rare feature: you can program which songs will be played in sequential order and which will not. For example, if there are 10 songs on the cassette side, you can play the first, third, fifth, seventh, and tenth. So, the order 1, 3, 5, 7, and 10 is possible. The order 1, 7, 3, 10, 5 is not because backward search is not supported, and I’m not aware of any other deck that is programmable and has this option. The selected order is shown by markers on the display.

What is specific here is that the mentioned song programming option is very rare in cassette decks, even rarer than in turntables, for example, especially in three-head decks. I know that Technics RS-B78R, some Philips decks, and Marantz SD9000 have it… maybe I forgot some more. But, the Grundig CF-7500 practically has this feature hidden because it does not use a numeric keypad that catches the eye but only three buttons. Along with autocalibration, it can be said that the CF-7500 was a high-tech product of its time.

Among the interesting options, there is also post-fading, i.e., gradual erasing of the already recorded tape section. Such systems work simply by raising the erase head voltage and slowly activating it. Usually, during playback, you just press the post-fading button and that’s it. But with Grundig, it’s different: first, the recording level potentiometer is turned to maximum (position 10), and then during playback, the post-fading button is pressed. If you want gradual erasing of the recording, while holding down post-fading and playback, set the recording level button to position 5 before that and gradually increase it from position 5 to position 10. And vice versa, if you want to gradually reduce erasing during post-fading and hear the recording in the end, go from position 10 to position 5. I’ve never seen this on any other deck.



It’s charmingly crafted, with plenty of cables and boards. The dominant feature is a large audio board, with perhaps the most noticeable one being the processor board, positioned diagonally behind the display. The Grundig CF-7500 was manufactured in a factory that the company opened in Portugal, producing very well-assembled devices.

What’s interesting is that the CF-7500 possesses two oscillators for recording: one for the erase head and the other for the recording bias head. This solution is extremely rare and was only applied to some top-tier decks (Teac Z7000/6000, for instance).

But there’s a gem—the original mechanism design, which suffers from aging flaws. It’s based on a massive flywheel coated with plastic at the top, with the belt running over this plastic part— I have no explanation for this technical solution.

It’s powered by a conventional DC motor, but there are two more—for winding/rewinding and servicing the mechanics: lifting heads, brakes, etc., are managed by a large black gear with a cam on it. Simultaneously, it also drives a long lever controlling the multiple switches (similar to dual-capstan decks, only the Japanese would incorporate a louder electromagnet solution) thereby changing the deck’s operating mode.

To ensure the entire mechanism remains quiet, the transfer gears for winding/rewinding and servicing the mechanics are made of rubber plastic—a yellowish material in the pictures. Over time, they deteriorate. After purchasing, my deck “died” within an hour—the gear teeth scattered at the bottom of the housing.

Luckily, replacement parts can be found on eBay, made of (hopefully) durable plastic—red in the picture, Made in Poland. They fit perfectly, but they’re considerably noisier in operation. Lubricating them with silicone grease doesn’t help much—but between the noise and having a broken deck just serving as a coaster, I choose the noise, albeit only during fast winding and raising/lowering of the heads. Upon playback or recording activation, this deck sounds closest to some VCRs, which has its charm.

The cassette ejection button and mechanism are somewhat “creaky,” whether due to age or something else, but they function perfectly.

What drove me crazy was the service manual, which doesn’t explain how to remove the front panel along with the mechanism. I struggled to disassemble it—it was the same with my previous (gorgeous silver) CF-7500.

The recording and playback head of the deck is ALPS, as is the erasing head, while the semiconductors are mostly European, except for specialized circuits.

Interestingly, you can open the door in the middle of playback because the door-opening button activates a special switch that sends a “Stop” command before mechanically opening the door.



The Grundig CF-7500 has a true European sound. A recording made on the Technics RS-M88 with a basic TDK Fe cassette sounded fantastic: clean, smooth, with good extensions at both ends, even unexpectedly detailed. Honestly, I was amazed—I didn’t expect the CF-7500 to perform so well in playing back others’ recordings.

As a recorder, I can say that recordings made on the CF-7500 are excellent: unobtrusive, balanced, detailed, and without HX Pro, which this deck doesn’t have. It’s not a Nakamichi BX300, Dragon, or Revox B215, but it didn’t carry their price tag either. For my ears, it’s a great machine, with a very pleasant, warm sound, good dynamics, and, above all, natural—this is how I remember Grundig devices that I’ve had the chance to listen to.

In my opinion, the CF-7500 more than justified its price of 900 DEM: great features, very rare at the time, discreet and unobtrusive design, mechanically well-crafted, and sonically excellent. Are there better decks than this? Definitely. Does it deserve a place in the history of HiFi? Absolutely, especially in Europe, which at the time practically lacked a manufacturer producing decks in that price class—it was either cheap or very expensive (Revox, Tandberg, I think Eumig had already gone to hell), but on our continent’s market, the CF-7500 practically had no competition in those years. It’s a shame the CF-7500 didn’t have a successor, and even more so that the company couldn’t withstand the onslaught of the Japanese audio companies, and later others from the East.


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