Sony TC-K88B

Sony TC-K88

1 9 7 9 may 1979
1 9 8 4 1984

The last pre-Esprit unit to appear.

If the looks are radically different, there is a fair amount of parts sharing between the TC-K80, TC-K96R, TC-K60 or the later TC-FX1010 and the K88B, but the latter really was the higher-end of Sony's '78/80 cassette recorders.

Most visible at first is what makes the K88B almost invisible : the Power Loading Module.
Despite the somewhat overblown name, Sony didn't do this the gimmicky way with a cheap-but-complex arrangement of belts and gears but with a straight hardware system : one motor rotating a big endless screw moves the entire drawer/drive/display assembly, the latter sliding on extruded aluminium rails.

Mechanically simple, frightfully reliable and silent as can be - very elegant.

Most visible also are the LCD meters which Sony already used in 1977's TC-K8B (its largest incarnation) and would be carried on into the professional successors of the PCM-1 (PCM-10 and PCM-100), the extra-rare MX-7000 mixing console as well as in some Sanyo and and Alpine units.

These LCD meters are far more readable than regular VUs or FLs but they do take a fair spot inside to hold the three PCBs, discharge neon and window box plus a log amplifier board, a full-wave rectifier and d/a converter.
Which is probably why Sony's LCD meters weren't used beyond 1980 : too pricey, too big.

The rest is as high-end as can be, for an upper-mid class K7 recorder :
feather-touch keys, S&F heads (for Metal tape compatibility - F&F can't take the needed flux density), four-gap erase head, Sony-built Dolby ICs, three direct-drive BSL motors with Quartz Lock, Magnedisc imprint / reading head, DC rec/play amplifiers and big 2x 2-gang input level pots.

Also two transformers (one for the five regulated power supplies and another for the sole LCD meter), a substantial back heatsink, all steel, metal and extruded aluminium and a typically Sony finish quality, ie. unmatched by anyone.

Features-wise, it's all there in a modern way : AMS search with memory & program, cue mode, digital counter, bias & eq switches, switchable MPX filter etc.

Japanese versions (TC-K88, silver color) had a rec/play timer position added to the power switch (the original vintage knob ;-) which worldwide units didn't have. We obviously weren't deemed advanced enough to use a timer !

However, as Sony really was Sony, the K88B was launched with two different lineup tags : the almost old ESPRIT (1978) and the "new" ES !
The latter began being attached on components only two years later (even if the ES series was as old as 1965), while the former only was there as reminder of a corporate division setup exclusively for a series... to which the K88 didn't belong.
Neither tags are witten anywhere on the K88B itself either : Sony is Sony is Sony is Sony.

Also, despite its high-end pretensions and actual quality, the TC-K88B only is a two-head recorder - no tape/source monitoring possible.

This confusion didn't bother anyone, obviously for the K88B was very well received in Japan and elsewhere and sold very well - Luxman's president didn't use a 5K50 at home but a K88.

I for one own a near new TC-K88B with an RM-50 remote : educated hi-fi at its best.

Sony TC-K88B, image 1 Sony TC-K88B, image 2 Sony TC-K88B, image 3 Sony TC-K88B, image 4
Sony TC-K88B specifications
Title Value
Drive system : 3x BSL motors
Direct Drive system
Tape speed : 4,75cm/s.
FF/Rew. time : 60s. (C-60)
Speed accuracy : ± 0,2%
Wow & flutter : 0,03% (WRMS)
0,085% (DIN)
Frequency response (-20dB) : 30Hz...17Khz (±3dB, METAL)
30Hz...17Khz (±3dB, FeCr)
30Hz...16Khz (±3dB, EHF)
30Hz...15Khz (±3dB, SHF)
Frequency response (0dB) : 30Hz...13Khz (±3dB, METAL)
S/N ratio : 60dB (METAL/FeCr, Dolby OFF, IHF-A, 3% THD)
58dB (EHF, Dolby OFF, IHF-A, 3% THD)
54dB (SHFr, Dolby OFF, IHF-A, 3% THD)
Dolby improvements : + 5dB@1Khz
+ 10dB@5Khz
THD : < 0,9% (METAL, 1Khz)
< 0,9% (FeCr, 0dB, 1Khz)
Crosstalk (tracks) : 60dB (1Khz)
Separation (channels) : 35dB (1Khz)
Erasure : 65dB (400Hz, METAL)
Bias : 105Khz
Inputs : 77,5mV / 50kOhm (line)
0,25mV / low (MIC)
Outputs : 0,435V (fixed)
50kOhm...10kOhm (nominal...minimum)
38,8mV / 8 Ohm (headphones)
METERS : 33-segment LCD PEAK
Frequency response : 20Hz...20Khz (± 0,5dB)
Response time : 1 millisecond
Decay time : 750millisecond (from 0dB to -20dB)
Response range : -40dB...+8dB
PC : 35W max. [45W max ??]
Versions : Type 1 (220V)
Type 2 (240V)
Type 3 (110/120/220/240V)
Dimensions : 48 x 8 x 38,5cm (with handles)
43 x 8 x 38,5cm (without handles)
Weight : 10kg.
Note : The heads should be demagnetized after 20 to 30 hours of use.
Sendust & Ferrite heads
Four-gap erase head
Metal particle tape capability
4-position bias and eq controls
Patented DC head/playback amp.
Exclusive Sony Dolby IC (CX174)
Direct Drive design
Linear three-motor BSL drive system
Magnedisc servo control
X-tal lock
Dynamically balanced oversized flywheels
Power Loading Cassette Module
Microprocessor-IC solenoid-Logic
"Punch-In" record
Automatic Music Sensor (AMS)
Auto-Space/Rec Mute
Auto-Play repeat control
Separate Memory/Cue controls
All-mode Auto-Stop
33-segment LCD with Double Indication System (DIS)
Tape-remaining guide
Dual concentric record controls
Optional RM50 full-function remote-control
Optional rack-handles.
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page online since : august 2005
page updated : october 2010
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