TECHNICS RS-B78R: Programmable Tape Device

Submitted on: 17 Jan 14

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Category: Analog recorders/players

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This is a similar age model as RS-M245X and had a higher list price, around 1.100 DEM. The RS-M245X model has a very nice front plate design but the RS-B78R is at least equally nice. There are many well laid buttons and it also uses membrane type commands for most transport functions which stood the test of time (not like Sony TC-FX1010). There are different color buttons but none of them is irritating, unlike today’s Chinese stuff. In my opinion it is very elegant.

It also has implemented Dolby B and C and dBX. Technics RS-B78R was a top auto reverse model in the list (there were also RS-B68/58/48/28R) and uses head made of amorphous material said to last up to five time longer than standard ferrite head and beautiful display, a little different than one on the RS-M245X but equally efficient.

But the auto reverse isn’t this deck specialty – another one is. It contains microprocessor that can be programmed to search for tunes in desired sequence and play them. Almost like old CD players did in these days. But the RS-B78R can do it on both sides of the tape, looking for the tunes on the A side, and when finished for another on the B side. Small, illuminated buttons under display show which songs have been selected, and also the one the deck is looking for and the one that is playing at the moment. Today nobody would use this feature, but back in eighties’ there were plenty of commercially recorded cassettes and not all liked all songs to play, or liked to repeat just a few ones and wanted to change order of songs played. This deck could do it.

I was scared that the head on my RS-B78R will be worn due to heavy use, but this one has low hours of usage, being a really nice machine.

Inside there is a plenty of electronics because they needed rather complex control and programming sections. But everything is well laid out and the transport is not hard to take from the rest. Talking about it, it is touch of the genius regarding RS-M245X, RS-M250 and similar Technics decks.

Instead of only two motors, solenoid and gear ensemble pretty complicated to maintain when the belts go off, there is a well engineered transport based on two capstans and only two belts which are joy to replace.

The second motor powers the reels via gears so no rubber here. Head up/down servo system is based on the third ancillary motor which works by rotating the cam like on VCR. Everything works fast and smooth. The second belt is connected to a magnetic wheel for auto stop system and counter use. I must admit RS-B78R transport is one of the most clever made auto reverse mechanisms I have ever seen so far.

The sound and frequency response

Technics RS-B78R sounds similar to his brother, Technics RS-M245X but with some improvements. The bass section is better defined and less rounded. Frequency response measurement showed that it doesn’t go any much deeper (again about 50 Hz), but sounds more solid and overall better. Mid frequencies are very good and there is less compression in the mid/high part of the spectrum. Factory set bias was pretty low taking into account standard cassette tapes I used (TDK SA and Sony UX-S) but was 100% compatible with Fuji DRII on which Technics RS-B78R achieved around 18.5 kHz top frequency (-20 dB, 1 kHz ref., -3 dB).

Although this deck is not a champion in recreation of 3D scene, it plays very clear, without any mist I recognized using good RS-M245X. RS-B78R sound is full of harmony (for the price, of course) with no emphasized parts of the spectrum but experienced listener will make no mistake – this is low middle class sounding deck, with clear but pretty coarse upper frequencies – resolution of these details is not something special but is a little better than using RS-M245X and not near the league of Teac R-919X and V-970X for instance.

As a conclusion I can say that Technics RS-B78R is a beautifully designed machine, with many options and the sound to match it’s list price.

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