Tape Recorder Terms

Tape Recorder Terms

A Special note about Dictation equipment. The tape recorders are no longer being manufactured. The replacement is digital dictation devices\recorders. A summary of the Next Generation dictation equipment\explanation can be read on this site. 

2-Speed Record/Playback
 gives you the option of recording on 

A standard micro cassette at either normal speed of 2.4cm/sec or half the 
Normal speed (1.2cm/Sec), for extended recording or dictation sessions

Auto Reverse

On cassette decks, the unit automatically plays the reverse side upon 
Conclusion of the first side. Using the direction button, the user can 
Manually switch the playing side at any time. Continuous auto reverse 
From side to side features in some models.


Dictation Machine Recorder




Normal Playback/Record speed = 1 7/8 inches per second or 4.8 centimeters 
per second (CentiMeters)

1/2 Speed = 15/16 inches per second or 2.4 CM

1/4 Speed = 15/32 inches per second or 1.2 CM  

Is the obvious advantage of slower tape speeds the extended recording 
time. For example, a C90 cassette recorded at the normal standard 
cassette speed provides a total of 90 minutes of recording time - 
45 minutes on each side of the cassette. Recording at 1/2 speed (2.4 
CM) doubles the amount of recording time - 180 minutes total - 90 
Minutes per side. Recording at 1/4 speed (1.2 CM) provides 4 times 
The normal speed record time - 360 minutes total - 180 minutes per 

Recorded in the 4-track format utilizes the entire width of the tape 
in one direction only. They are never turned over or recorded on the 
other side. Thus a C90 cassette recorded in the 4-track format at 
2.4 CM provides a total of 90 minutes recording time on one side of 
the cassette only. At 1.2 CM the total recording time is 180 minutes 
on one side only.

The disadvantage 
of slower tape speeds is a loss in audio quality. The speed at which 
the tape passes the record/playback head is a large factor in determining 
the quality of reproduction. The slower the tape speed, the poorer 
the audio quality becomes. When extended record time per cassette 
is necessary, a good compromise is 1/2 speed (2.4 CM). However, if 
the amount of recording time per cassette is not a factor, a much 
better recording is produced at normal speed (4.8 CM).

The Sony 
BM-146 and BM-246 4-track recorders, frequently used in the court report, 
operate at 2.4 CM or 1.2 CM. Marantz PMD 1 and 2 track recorders may 
be modified to operate at 2.4 CM. Transcription of tapes recorded 
at these slower speeds requires a transcribing machine modified to 
operate at the appropriate speed. Many transcribers and recorders 
may be modified to operate at 2.4 CM and some at 1.2 CM. See modifications 
for more details.


All micro-cassette transcribers and recorders currently being manufactured 
operate at a tape speed of 2.4 CM or 1.2 CM which is selected by 
the operator. The MC60 micro-cassette provides a total of 60 minutes 
recording time at the 2.4 CM tape speed - 30 minutes per side of the 
cassette. At 1.2 CM the recording time is doubled - 120 minutes total 
- 60 minutes per side. The rule governing quality of audio reproduction 
in relation to tape speed applies to micro-cassettes as well as standard 
cassettes. That is, the slower the tape speed, the poorer the audio 
quality becomes.

A common 
Problem associated with Microcassette machines concerns the dual speeds 
found on these machines. A tape recorded at the 1.2 CM tape speed 
will sound like "Donald Duck" (very fast) when played back 
on a transcriber set for 2.4 CM tape speed. Conversely, a tape recorded 
at 2.4 CM tape speed and played back on a transcriber set for 1.2 
CM tape speed will sound very, very slow. The variable speed control 
found on microcassette transcribers does not have enough range to 
compensate for the two separate tape speeds. The solution is to match 
the tape speed setting on the transcriber with that of the recording.


Tape Recorder

Used for cassette tape recording and playback. There are 
Single-whell and dual-well cassette decks.

Full Logic Controls

Full logic tape transports use IC chips, rather than mechanical 
devices, to operate a product. The result is faster operation, smoother 
performance, increased convenience, and improved reliability.

Fast Forward

Allows for quickly advancing a cassette tape.


Allows for quickly reversing a cassette tape.

Auto Stop

Automatically disengages the cassette deck transport at 
the end of a tape.

Flash Memory

Refers to the amount of built-in Flash memory an MP3 player 

Bass Boost

Circuitry that enhances bass output in a portable audio system.

Three Heads and Other Advanced Technology for Great Recordings
1. Three head recording/monitor system with separate erase, record and 
play heads permits specialization of function and direct off-the-tape 
monitoring for superb results.


Some portable stereo systems feature a clock as part of 
their front-panel display.

Built-in Microphone

An integrated microphone used for recording live content. 
A built-in microphone is found on many record-capable portable cassette 

Normal Playback Time

Refers to the expected amount of playback time with a set 
of new batteries.

Battery Requirements

Refers to the type of battery required for an electronic 

AC Adapter

Converts AC power from a standard wall outlet into DC (direct 
current), allowing battery powered portable products to be operated from 
standard house current.

Slide Switch Control

A single switch, controlled by the thumb, that operates all tape functions 
in dictation recorders. dictation recorder

Tape Counter

Enables the user to manually index the recorded information on a cassette.

Voice Operated Recording (VOR)

Activates the recording mechanism in a tape recorder only when the user 
is speaking and pauses the tape recorder when there is silence.


This stands for Light Emitting Diode. It is placed on some units as 
an indicator for various functions.

Voice Mirror

An LED that blinks in response to sounds being recorded. Provides visual 
confirmation that source is being recorded.

Cue And Review

An audible high-speed search through a cassette. This enables the 
user to locate a particular point in the recorded material.


The number of times in a second a sound wave's cycle is completed? 
expressed in Hertz (Hz).

Fast Play Feature (20% Faster than Normal)

 reduces the time needed to review recordings

Built-In Speaker
 has excellent quality 
to monitor tape playback

One-Touch Recording
 for simplified, quick 
play/record operation

Sonymatic® Automatic Recording Level Control
uses advanced circuitry to ensure correct recording sound levels 
for the particular situation

Automatic Shut-Off
 at end of tape reduces 
mechanical wear and conserves battery power

DC-In Jack
 for two-way operation using 
replaceable batteries or optional AC adapter

Cue Marker Indexing System lets you 
place an electronic "mark" at specific tape segments, and provides 
rapid access during cue and review.

Microphone Jack
 allows connection of 
an external microphone

foot control


Foot Pedal 
this lets the transcriptionist hear the tape while 
changing the mode from Play to Rewind to Fast Forward without removing 
hands from the keyboard

Fully Adjustable Automatic Secretarial Reverse 
automatically replays the last part of the dictation whenever the user 
stops transcribing, to prevent lost dictation, and lets the operator adjust 
how much to rewind so tape resumes at the most desirable point prior to 
where it stopped

Speed/Tone/Volume Controls are individual 
slider type, front-panel mounted, to allow easy one-finger adjustment 
for transcribing convenience

End-of-Tape Alarm
 signals when the tape end is reached

Auto-Stop Function stops the tape 
in Fast Forward and Rewind modes when End-of-Document, Electronic Indexes, 
and other special instruction signals on the tape are reached

Built-In erase may be activated to 
automatically erase recordings while rewinding the micro cassette

Foot Control

Allows for hands-free operation of a transcriber via a foot pedal.

Flat Mic

A microphone that is omni directional to record sounds from 
many directions. Ideal for meetings or lectures.

Playback Speed Control

Increases tape speed by up to 20% and decreases it by up to 30% for 
quick review or slow study of recorded material.

Double Recording Time

 gives you the option of recording on a standard cassette at 
either normal speed or half the normal speed, for extended recording or 
dictation sessions

records separate left and right 
channels in stereo and provides convenient recording versatility in various 

Dual Speakers
 for enhanced listening 
in stereo sound with distinct left- and right-channel placement

Hand Microphone with slide switch 

Slide Switch Control

A single switch, controlled by the thumb, that operates all tape functions 
in dictation recorders

2-Speed Record/Playback Transcribers
is compatible with  two-speed microcassette or standard cassette  
recorders, for maximum dictating and transcribing versatility

Dictation Machine Electronic Indexing

An electronic mark, identifying the start of a recording session, placed 
by the user. This provides easy retrieval of information on dictation 

compatible with stereo and mono cassette recorders
 allows cassette 
tapes recorded in either the monaural format or stereo format to be transcribed

Telephone Record Capability
 allows for direct recording of 
telephone conversations

Fully Adjustable Automatic Backspace
begins playback prior to where it last stopped, preventing lost dictation

Dolby® B Noise Reduction

Boosts the level of the high frequency range during recording, 
and tapers the high frequencies during playback, reducing tape hiss by 
8 to 10 dB.

Use of Tape Recorders

An important use of tape recorders 
is the recording of video. Video cassette recorders differ substantially 
from audio recorders because of the use of a rotating magnetic head that 
uses a helical scan of the tape medium. A helical scan is used to allow 
for faster movement of the tape surface over the head.


Dictation Recorders for law offices or lawyers