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Adventures in Analog: Pioneer CT-W404R Cassette Deck

Updated on April 20, 2017
Jesse Drzal profile image

I am a lifelong music fan and musician, and also enjoy raising analog awareness and promoting the culture.

The Free Table

A pretty cool thing about my town is that we have a community recycling center, which has a free section of items set up on a table which instead of throwing out, people may choose to donate if desired. It's a first come first serve system too.

While many times some of the items are not that great and it's definitely hit or misses, I still manage to find some nice stuff here and there, and some of it happens to be record players, tape decks, tapes, and cassette storage. One such item is my Pioneer CT-W404 double auto-reverse cassette deck.

 Pioneer CT-W404R Cassette Deck
Pioneer CT-W404R Cassette Deck | Source

Cleaning Up The Pioneer

First thing I did with the deck was plugging it in and see if there was power and tested the functions quick with a beater tape, and everything checked out ok. Next, I cleaned up the metal parts of the heads and rollers with my rubbing alcohol and Q-tips and gave the outside of the deck a nice cleaning. It was pretty grimy but everything cleaned up.

One thing I did not do was demagnetize the heads as I don't own a tool right now. After the rubbing alcohol dried, I put it through further use and testing, all functions work great, nice quite playback, it records and does everything it's supposed to do. These decks were produced in the mid to late nineties with this one still going strong.

I like to use the stronger 91% rubbing alcohol when cleaning heads and rollers. I'm always careful as to not drop any loose cotton into the deck, and always wait a while for everything to dry before using.
I like to use the stronger 91% rubbing alcohol when cleaning heads and rollers. I'm always careful as to not drop any loose cotton into the deck, and always wait a while for everything to dry before using. | Source

Pioneer CT-W404R Specs

  • Full Logic
  • Dolby B/C
  • Dolby HX Pro with MXP Filter (Deck 2)
  • Deck 1- Playback/Auto Reverse, Deck 2- Record and Playback/Auto Reverse
  • Large FL Display with Peak Hold (6+1 Seg.)
  • Electronic Tape/Elapsed Time Counter
  • Tape Dubbing (Normal/High Speed)
  • Music/Skip Search /Blank Skip
  • Rewind Auto Play (Deck 1)
  • Auto Space Record Mute
  • Relay Play
  • Auto Tape Selector
  • SR Compatible

Back panel view of the Pioneer CT-W404R
Back panel view of the Pioneer CT-W404R | Source

Reviews

From my other research on this deck, I guess you would call this a mid-level unit, not top of the line but not total budget grade either and is noted for its good playback but may not be your go to for dubbing work. It does lack some of the bells and whistles like pitch control and a headphone jack but does have all of the nice Dolby features.

The lack of headphone jack is kind of a bummer, as I like to lineout quick to a pair of computer speakers or use headphones but it's no big deal I have other decks I can do that with. Overall it's been a great deck and useful to my collection so I'm really happy with it. As another plus the price was right as well, free.

Here is a sample of some of the free cassette carriers I have accumulated through the years, all from the free table at my recycling center.
Here is a sample of some of the free cassette carriers I have accumulated through the years, all from the free table at my recycling center. | Source

Keep On The Lookout

If you like old analog equipment it pays to stop in your local tags sales, flea markets or thrift stores and things of that nature, and keep an eye out for whatever people may be selling or even giving away. Cool equipment is everywhere for the taking when people no longer have an interest in their old decks, record players etc.

You may be able to find something like this or even better with an open eye. Good luck and happy hunting.

© 2017 The Write Life

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