Category:Mid High Fidelity
Country of Manufacture:Japan
Release dates:1962 - 1965
Speeds: 3 3/4, 7 1/2
Max Reel Size("): 7"
Number of heads: 2
Head Composition: Permalloy
Head Configuration: Mono - Full Track
Frequency Response:(all 3 dB): 7½ ips: 50Hz - 14kHz
Wow and Flutter:less than 0.3% at 7½ ips
Signal-to-Noise Ratio:better than 45db
Sound quality rating:5 / 10
Long-term reliability rating: 5/ 10
A Japanese quarter-track stereo recorder with single motor, two heads, two speeds and internal
5 watt stereo amplifiers.
Hinged speaker flaps projected the sound forward from the two 6″ x 4″ elliptical speakers built into the sides of the cabinet.
Crosstalk separation: better than 50db / Valve complement: 2 x 12AX7, 2 x 6BM8, 1 x 6AR5, 1 x SM150C (selenium rectifier) / Rewind speed: 60 seconds for 1200 ft / Audio output power: 2 x 5 watts / Inputs: high impedance (500Kohm) aux. microphone (50 Kohm) / Outputs: high impedance external amplifier, external speaker & headphones / Speaker(s): two 6″ x 4″ elliptical loudspeakers / Dimensions: 14¾ x 12¼ x 7¾ (375 x 311 x 197 mm) / Weight: 28 lbs (12.7 kg) / quarter-track mono
Tape Recording Magazine, December 1962
The Nicoder “Statesman” model 557 is an attractive, compact machine which at first glance looks like a smaller version of the Sony 521. Capable of recording in stereo or mono using four-track operation, it measures 14¾ x 12¼ x 7¾ inches and weighs approximately 28 lbs. It is housed in a two-tone grey leather cloth case.
The Nicoder will accommodate seven-inch reels, and operate at 3¾ and 7½ ips. At the slow speed, it will provide a playing time of four hours stereo, or eight hours mono, on a 2,400 foot reel of double-play tape.
The mains on/off switch is combined with the speed selector, and the tape transport is operated by five pushbuttons on the right-hand side of the deck. For of these out what, and control “fast forward” and “reverse,” “play” and “stop.” The fifth, red button, selects the “record” mode and must be depressed and held down whilst the play button is actuated to record. This dual operation also illuminates a red warning light.
On the left-hand side of the deck, a further three white buttons switch the amplifier heads for stereo, mono or tracks 1 or 4, and mono on tracks 2 or 3. Two separate gain controls, one for each stereo track, operate on both record and replay, and a ganged top cut tone control operates on both channels in the play condition only. Level indication on recording his bike to professional high volume (V U) meters, which also operation replay. A digital type tape counter is fitted.
Two pairs of inputs are provided, one for the two dynamic microphones supplied with the machine, and the other pair for auxiliary inputs at 500Kohms impedance. Two leads, with appropriate plugs at one end and very useful crocodile clips at the other, are provided for the auxiliary inputs – a feature that seemed unusually sensible.
Playback is via two six by four inch elliptical loudspeakers, built into the sides of the machine. The sound is reflected forward by means of two hinged reflectors, which also serve as protective covers for the loudspeakers when the machine is not in use. It cannot be said that this gives ideal stereophonic reproduction, but a reasonable effect is obtained. For more realistic stereo, two high impedance outputs are provided to feed external main amplifiers. Two further output sockets enable external speakers to be connected to the two five-watt amplifiers contained in the machine.
The machine was given an extended practice trial and the usual technical measurements were made. The maker’s specification quotes frequency response at 7½ ips only and claims 50 – 14kHz giving no tolerances. The measured response of the review model is as shown in the accompanying graph. It will be seen that in the play condition this claim is well justified. In the record/play condition somewhat narrower frequency response is evident but the machine can still give a good account of itself. At 3¾ ips the effective responses from 50 to 7kHz, not an outstanding performance.
Signal to noise ratio quoted by the manufacturers as better than 45dB was achieved at 7½ ips but at 3¾ ips was slightly worse than this. Wow and flutter variations at 7½ ips were quite inaudible but at 3¾ ips again some effect was noticeable, enough anyway that good reproduction of say a piano at the speed was not really possible.
During the practical tests, a number of stereo and mono recordings were made using both the microphones supplied and the auxiliary inputs. From the microphones, carried in a compartment at the back of the machine, some good quality recordings were made. For stereo recording the dynamic type of microphone is best used in the spaced pair system and good results were obtained with the microphones some six feet apart. One disadvantage was discovered which could most certainly lead to damage tape and a marred recording. This could happen as a result of the facility allowing a switch from “fast forward” or “rewind” directly to the “play” position. If this is done, the least that can happen is that the tape will become seriously stretched, and almost certainly will snap. It is obviously desirable that switching from “play” to “fast wind” can take place but the reverse can give the disaster is results. This seems to be the most serious fault on this machine. One other worth mentioning, is that it is not possible to remove the front head cover (the rear one comes off easily enough), in order to mark the tape for editing purposes.
Apart from these two points the machine is a well-designed and may need and is very good value for £92 8s.