The World of Autosound

Taking care of your system

A well installed system shouldn't require much looking after. As long as your wires were properly run and all connections made firmly, you should enjoy years of hassle-free music. This does not mean that the day will never come when you will start to get problems, but there is not much you can do to prevent this (as long as the system was properly installed.)

The only component in your system that will require any sort of regular maintenance is your Cassette Receiver or CD Changer (if it contains a cassette section). The entire tape path must be cleaned. The tape path is really the tape head, the roller and the capstan. The tape head must be cleaned to ensure that the frequency response of the deck is not degraded and the roller(s) and capstan(s)must be cleaned to ensure that the tape speed is constant.

The easiest way to clean the tape path is to use a commercial tape cleaner. I recommend a wet cleaner because they are less abrasive than the dry type (less hear wear). You can get one at Radio Shack for US$4.

If you are handy with tools, and are confident that you know what you are doing, you can open the Cassette Receiver (this will probably void the warranty so don't do it until it's expired) and clean the tape path manually. Use a foam swab dipped in Rubbing Alcohol.

The frequency with which you should clean your tape path is hard to say. Most manufacturers say about every 10-20 hours of use. I tend to clean mine every 2 weeks. It really depends on how much you use your system.

You should also de-magnetize the tape head every so often. This can be done using a commercial de-magnetizer (available a Radio Shack for between US$5 and US$11). This must be done because over time, a magnetic field builds up on the tape head. If this field becomes too strong, an increase in tape-hiss might result. Dropouts appearing on the tape can be another penalty of a magnetized tape head. I generally demagnetize my tape heads once for every three times I clean them.

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