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Carry Your Voice Sixties Style: The Grundig EC3 Dictaphone

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I have heard that the good old Compact Cassette is coming back into vogue for audio listening - being compatible with old Walkman’s and other personal tape players and hi-fi cassette decks but differing in the cassette innards to improve performance. Unfortunately, the cassette that fits my new old gadget is not coming back - just as well that I have a spare one then, bought together with the machine itself.

 

The machine in question is the Grundig Elektronische Notizbuch 3 dictaphone, translated as “Electronic Notebook 3” and shortened to “EN3, and what a chunky lump it is, the measurements of my example, without case, being 16.2cm long X 6cm wide X 3.5cm thick. The Grundig EN3 was one of the first recorders to use interchangeable tape cassettes and it was launched in 1964, a year after the standard Compact Cassette tape came out. In spite of the, now obvious, problem that the EN3 faced with the emergence of the more convenient Compact Cassette, it actually survived in production until some time in the 1970s.

 

 

 

 

The Grundig EN3 dictaphone together with its fitted case, and four other pictures of the same example (pics from arch.callcut.net):

 

vintage-grundig-en3-dictaphone-voice-rec

 

vintage-grundig-en3-dictaphone-voice-rec

 

vintage-grundig-en3-dictaphone-voice-rec

vintage-grundig-en3-dictaphone-voice-rec

 

vintage-grundig-en3-dictaphone-voice-rec

 

 

The EN3 was designed purely for voice reproduction, and it features a large detachable microphone at the top of the device, which doubles up as a speaker for voice output. All functions are controlled by a single thumb-operated red lever on the side which can be locked in the stop position via a black slider switch. A simple two-track recording system was used with the double-sided cassettes such that they can be turned over and thus recorded on both sides, and each cassette held enough quarter-inch tape for up to thirty minutes recording time. The EN3 is powered by 3 AA batteries and is protected by a fitte leather case in such a way that it can be used both with and without the protective case.

 

Over the years subsequent to its launch, the Grundig EN3 gradually became less competitive, such that in the 1970s, with the Mini-cassette and Microcassette, portable dictation machines became smaller and more truly “personal,” with an accompanying improvement in sound quality. When new, the Grundig EN3 was apparently quite expensive, and examples like my own in good condition and working order are seemingly becoming collectible, judging by the prices being asked online. I paid £4 for mine… For the obsessive collector of such things, I should just add that there were apparently optional extras that could be bought for the EN3 including a carry case, typists playback unit, connecting cables and alternative microphones. Finally, Grundig brought out slight variants of the EN3 over it's lifetime. For example, my EN3 does not have the two additional connectors under the base (shown in the above pics of the EN3) which were perhaps added on later examples, and there was also an EN3 Luxus, which featured a sound level meter in the microphone and certain other very slight differences.

 

 

 

 

A Grundig EC3 cassette with box - I too, have a boxed spare cassette - and note that when inserted, the cassette essentially forms part of the dictaphone's body (pic from upload.wikimedia.org):

 

Grundig_EN3_Cassette.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

A differently branded example of the EN3 dictaphone and, on the right, the EN3 Luxus (see text) - pic from vintage-technics.ru at i.ytimg.com:

 

maxresdefault.jpg

 

 

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very interesting, never seen one, but interesting..  video tapes and audio cassets  are still useable today.  vin

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