Luxman XM tapes

1 9 7 8 1978
1 9 8 2 c. 1982

Very few people know or remember the Luxman XM cassettes.

That brand however really made all-out efforts between 1978 and 1982 to push the cassette forrmat to "ultra" status : the 5K50 and 5K50M recorders were one thing, the XM tapes were the other.
The X-3K prototype would've been the absolute and gigantic killer - although it would have reduced the interest of the XM... It wasn't produced anyway.

Although XM cassettes look like any other, they are very different, inside.

Tape guides are added before the rec head and before the play head, to further adjust tape tension.
These guides are made of metal for smooth movement and are, naturally duplicated for each side - yes.
Each of those also has a preset position, accessible from the other side of the cassette shell.

The head pad is widened to 7mm, with a roll spring suspension instead of the regular leaf. Metal, too, yes.

And the guide rollers are duplicated as well - yes again !
Above the regular rollers, bigger ones are added : they have reflective areas which when seen through a hole in the cassette shell allow decks such as the 5K50 or K-12 to count running and/or elapsed time.
One of those shiny rollers for each side, of course.

So, on top of fiddling with level, bias, eq and azimuth on the recorder side, the Luxman XM user would also set tape Skew separately for the rec and play heads and this for each side on the cassette side.

Providing, of course, the recorder does have holes to access the Skew posts or that its lid can be taken off for on-the-fly adjustment. Make that adjustments. Or adjustmentssss. Or never ending exploration of possible mechanical responses and variables. Or an exponential plethora of certainly never ending explorations of possibly improved results.

Beyond the fact that this was perhaps asking too much from the average recordist, this also required a compatible deck !

And this must have been also rather costly to manufacture for whoever made the XM cassettes for Luxman : metal guides, roll spring suspension, supplementary and reflective roller guides plus four precision two-way screws.

Up to three times more expensive than competing Type IV tapes, it didn't work - even if it did (maybe) work.

Luxman XM tapes, image 1
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