A brief look
National Audio Company (NAC) is a well-known company for cassette enthusiasts because they are the only brand that is still alive and selling cassettes since the old days. They are located in the USA.
Lately their name has been heard many times because they are developing a new magnetic tape aimed to become a high quality type I cassette, and they have been appeared in several videos (and I’ve shown some in the blog).
But in the meantime I wanted to see what are they currently selling, and they are offering two different brand new cassettes. One is a type I and the other is type II, made by BASF. I’ll focus in the former, called Audio Pro. It states “Low noise / high output cassette”. Let’s see if that’s true.
I’ve contacted them and explained that I wanted to make a review and they agreed to give me two pair of cassettes so I just have to pay the shipping. And so we did.
I asked two pairs because I want the first one to make all tests and keep the second unused to make a real music test. But this time there was a problem: one of the samples was simply empty. No tape inside...
At first sight the case looks very nice. I like the design of the J-card. With red and silver the design is clean and attractive.
The case seems well done. It has rounded corners all around and the quality looks fine. The case has the typical thick, so no thin case at all. I don’t understand why in these days there are no new cassettes with thin case anymore. Looks like if it was an improvement too hard to make nowadays... or is it?
As a comparison, the Maxell UR that is still being made and sold is clearly thinner.
The shell doesn’t give the good impression that the case did. It looks like made from cheap plastic and the design is definitely ugly. I don’t care so much of the design but of the plastic quality and the details. The ‘texture’ looks like it was designed with ‘60s standards and to my point of view it makes it look like a kitsch thing. With this ‘old’ texture and a modern design of the J-card it makes a very weird mixture indeed...
Precision is definitely lacking here and you can clearly see it between the two leafs of the shell. The adjustment is not very good and remembers me those cheap chinese toys that you can buy at a street beach store.
The stickers look also nice but to my own taste the upper part of it has a lot of wasted space due to the inclusion of the statement: “low noise / high output”. I don’t think this adds any value to the sticker nor the whole product. It is clearly stated in the J-card, so... why wasting space and leaving just a small space for writing your own text in the label?
Also I highly prefer stickers apart so you can easily write them on the table and then stick them to the shell.
The good thing is that the shell is kept together thanks to 5 screws, and screws usually mean better rigidity in the shells. The screws also look like very cheap ones.
The color of the tape is the typical light brown, but compared to a Maxell UR and to a ’89 SONY HF, the Audio Pro has the lightest color of all them:
Let’s look inside the shell. There are two things that called my attention: the plastic sheet and a particular design of the parts near the pressure pad.
The plastic sheet that keeps the reels in shape shows some damage. I don’t where this damage comes from as I never opened this shell until now. Also I have used this tape very few and only in my K909ES, so I don’t believe it’s due to non-careful usage. So it must be the very same sheet, which probably is made from very thin plastic and maybe when re/winding causes this damage.
The other interesting thing is the design of the part near the pressure pad. Instead of being flat from left-to-right, it has a 3-step design. The left part of it is taller than this half of the shell and fits into the other half. The center is as tall as this half and the right part is somewhat ‘empty’. From my point of view and as an engineer I think this is a smart design and adds some rigidity to the shell.