Sections

 

DCC900 Home

Back-end connections

DCC tapes (general)

DCC tapes trade/sale

Format comparison

Technical

 

 

 

 

The DCC900 was part of the “first generation” of Digital Compact Cassette (DCC) audio recorders. Introduced worldwide by Philips in the fall of 1992, the DCC900 was Philips’ top-of-the-line DCC deck, part of Philips’ high-end “900 series” audio components.

DCCThe DCC 900 can digitally record music in 16-bit resolution and supports sampling frequencies of 32, 44.1, and 48 kHz. All frequencies are dithered to the 44.1 standard before recording onto tape. A unique feature (to the audio world) of DCC decks was "backward compatibility": the DCC900 is compatible not only with digital DCC tapes, but also with most analog cassettes in playback–only mode. Essentially this means that special DCC tapes can be recorded to specifications that can exceed that of an audio CD, while “normal bias” (type 1) and CrO2 (type III) audio cassettes can also be played back in the DCC900. The DCC900 does not support “metal” (type IV) audio cassettes. Frequency response for analog (CrO2) cassettes is 30-16 kHz, with a S/N ratio equal to or greater than 50 dB. The DCC900 employs Dolby B and C for playback of analog cassettes, which improves the S/N ratio by 10 or 20 dB, respectively.Digital recording options

The DCC900 (and all other DCC decks) uses Precision Adaptive Sub-band Coding (PASC) compression to code the digital information onto tape. This coding method is considered by many to be superior to the ATRAC coding method used in the Minidisc system. Proponents of PASC point out that PASC has a frequency response that is superior to most other audio formats (5-22,000 Hz).

Because the DCC900 is a digital tape recorder, it introduced several new features which were previously unavailable in analog audio recorders. One such feature was the "append" function, which would automatically search to the end of all recorded material on a tape before positioning itself to record. This allows for easier editing of a tape and ensures that existing recorded material is not lost. The DCC900 assigns track numbers to all tracks on a tape, and also incorporates a "renumber" function, to allow the recorder to reassign all track numbers to a tape if necessary.

The DCC900 back panelThe DCC900 offers the flexibility needed to support any digital recording requirement. Philips included connectors to allow easy connection to any consumer-grade digital equipment. Digital inputs and outputs, all conforming to the SP/DIF standard, were included to facilitate easy digital recording. In addition, to ensure compatibility with all existing consumer audio equipment, traditional analog inputs and outputs were also retained. The DCC900 connects easily to any digital recording equipment made for home recording use, whether it is other DCC equipment, PC sound cards or any other equipment used for digital recording.

To find out more about the specific connections available on the DCC900, click here for a closer examination of all of the DCC900's back-end connections.

Some DCC tapesDCC cassettes are special tapes manufactured to meet the DCC standard. DCC tapes use high-quality materials not found in normal audio cassettes. The DCC standard itself is compatible with MPEG layer 1. DCC tapes can be classified into 3 types: Prerecorded, user tapes, and super-user tapes. An outline of each of these types of DCC tapes can be found here.

My personal collection of  DCC prerecorded tapes, does include some duplicates, as well as some tapes that I do not want. I am willing to either sell these tapes or trade them for tapes that I am interested in. To see a list of the DCC tapes that I would be willing to sell or trade, please go here.

The DCC900’s remote is very easy to use. It includes many useful features, such as track search and The DCC900 remote control recording functions. The usual functions one would expect with a tape machine, such as fast forward, reverse, or direction change, are all found here. The control for the variable analog line-level output can also be adjusted from the remote. Even the cassette door can be opened with the remote control, although to insert a new tape the user still must do this manually (!). The remote includes a “standby” function but no “power off”.

The remote control incorporates a "search" feature that is similar to the "fast-forward" or "rewind" in analog cassettes, and also includes "next" and "previous" functions which will bring the user to the next track or the beginning of the current track when activated, in the same way as these functions would work on a CD or MD component. Also included is a keypad for accessing track numbers directly.

The DCC900's remote is a wireless infrared (IR) remote control. The remote control itself can be deactivated using a switch on the back of the DCC900, if the DCC900 is to be used in applications where the remote is not needed. There is no provision on the DCC900 for a wired remote control.

When using prerecorded DCC tapes it is also possible to search through the tape by track name using the remote, if you don't know what number the track is that you're looking for.

The DCC900 incorporates high-quality construction to make it a very reliable machine. Go here to examine some technical details of the DCC900, including views of the internal components, service mode, factory mode, and a block diagram.

Note that I have not attempted to explain many of the technical details of the DCC format itself, because this page is intended to be a page specific to the DCC900 and not the DCC format in general. For more details about how the DCC format itself works, check the links at the bottom of this page.

The DCC900’s recordings sound superb. DCC digital cassettes can be used in a variety of settings to make many very good recordings. For added flexibility, the DCC900 can be used in conjunction with a portable DCC recorder for added flexibility and editing. At present, I personally use the DCC900 with my Surround home system. I have the DCC900 connected to my A/V amplifier using with Paradigm front speakers, Celestion center speaker, and KEF rear speakers. The sound cannot be faulted.

The DCC900 does have a few disadvantages. The DCC900 itself tends to get quite hot, even in standby mode. This problem is typical of early digital recorders. Philips advises that the heat is is not a problem, as the internal components are of high quality. Another disadvantage is that the DCC900 is very heavy, weighing in at a hefty 17 pounds. However, since the DCC900 itself is not meant to be a “portable” unit, this is no real disadvantage. By far the biggest disadvantage however, is that the DCC900 does not allow text editing. The lack of this feature was the cause of much criticism for the DCC900 at its introduction in 1992. This capability was introduced in the later successor model to the DCC900, the DCC951. The DCC951 also records in 18-bit resolution.

Track mark controlsThe DCC900 is a very good machine for making digital recordings. The DCC900’s D/A converter seems to reproduce sound very faithfully, however in compositions which are highly percussive (i.e. have a lot of drums), the DCC does not fare quite as well. For most types of music, however, the DCC900 is very good.

The DCC900 is also excellent for converting old analog tapes into a digital output. When played in the DCC900, the output from analog tapes is converted to digital by the 900’s D/A converter. This can then be recorded through either the digital coaxial or the digital optical connections.

The DCC format is now officially defunct. To purchase a DCC900 (or any other DCC unit) you must find someone who is willing to sell theirs; the chances of finding “new” units for sale is about nil.

 

To learn more about the DCC format, the following links can be studied:

The DCC-L: The DCC mailing list, the official homepage for the DCC and a good resource for information.

The DCC FAQ: A good place to get answers to general questions about the DCC format.

Peter Frank’s DCC page: Pictures of many different DCC models.

Maarten Eijkhout’s page: In-depth information about the DCC175 (a portable DCC recorder with a PC interface) and general DCC information.

DCC-Info: A German DCC site with information and pictures of many DCC models.

Recordable Digital Media: Information about various digital recording formats including DCC.

Digital Compact Cassette: General information on the DCC format.

DCC Japan: A Japanese site with links to a few other DCC sites and information.

Introduction to DCC: A copy of the original information posted by Philips on the DCC format.

The DCC130: My page with information on the portable DCC player DCC130.

The Home Theatre & Stereo Colossus: Information on various Home Theatre components including DCC.

Wikipedia: Digital Compact Cassette: Some general information on the format.

AudioUK.com: Information on various audio formats including DCC.

The Digital Compact Cassette: A Russian site with general details about DCC.

Audiotools.com: Information on various audio formats including DCC.

Questions? Corrections? email me.  
Accesses since August, 1999 Back to home page
Last modified July, 2005.