Hifi News

ELBOW: The new Walkman Cassette player?

It’s a concept piece and so you can’t buy it just yet but I couldn’t resist including it. This is a new mobile cassette player that features modern technology and a compact form

Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 12.33.09

A typical cassette player uses a capstan and a pinch roller to drag the tape along a magnetic head at a constant speed. Additionally, separate pulleys rotate the take-up and supply reels to manage the tape. As tape relocates from one reel to another mechanic clutches, belts and springs adjust the speed to both pulleys. Alternatively, capstan and reel pulleys can have separate motors. All of this results in quite a complex device and takes up a lot of space.

Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 12.32.35

In ELBOW, a single pulley is used to drive the tape. To maintain constant playback rate, tape speed must be tracked by optical sensor and used as a control parameter for motor adjustment.

Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 12.33.36

ELBOW’s most prominent feature is the biaxial arm. It rotates in two directions – upward motion enables the insertion of cassettes, while sideways motion allows manual switching of the playing direction. In a way, the biaxial ar mimics a tonearm of a vinyl record player.

Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 12.32.18

The control wheel has a triple function. On the initial position, the device is off. Turning the wheel left plays the cassette and increases the volume. Turning in the opposite direction fast forwards the cassette, with a gradual increase (the more you turn, the faster the motor goes).

Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 12.32.10

The device has two connections: a standard 3.5mm audio plug and a standard mini-USB port for charging and transferring audio fro the cassette to a computer.

A small pin pushes into the back lid, enabling attachment to clothes an other textile objects.

To learn more, click elbow.co.nf

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  • Reply
    24th March 2017 at 4:18 pm

    amazing device, tho i got my thoughts with the fact there is no reel tension.
    maybe you could add a 2nd reel driver at the back to take care of that.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      24th March 2017 at 4:22 pm

      Yes, it is interesting. Probably make the audiophiles out there shudder and run for cover, though 🙂 That said, for the casual user, if looks good. I have a soft spot for cassette so anything to increase the format’s popularity is, to me, a ‘good thing’.

    • Reply
      19th May 2017 at 6:01 am

      There doesn’t seem to be a pinch roller. No speed control except the take up reel.

      Interesting. Perhaps accurate take up reel coupled with a foam pad, (Teflon, ceramic etc.?) to present the tape to the head while providing measured tension.

      • Reply
        Paul Rigby
        19th May 2017 at 8:40 am

        Yes, I think – in audiophile terms – that there are design issues but I also believe that, if it gets going as a commercial proposition, then it would encourage the resurgence of the cassette as a music carrier, even if that is only as a healthy niche. I like cassettes so, for me, that would be a ‘good thing’. Bit like the sub-budget turntable market introducing new users into vinyl. Another ‘good thing’.

  • Reply
    25th March 2017 at 8:05 pm

    Any way we can get some specs, wow&flutter, speed, frequency range versus distortion, output level@ the 3.5mm jack. How about the output, can it be set to line level to use the player in a car plugged into the AUX jack, connected to a home based audio system, etc? How about tone controls, any available, or is the signal ‘flat’? How is the USB designed to interface with other devices, as a stand-alone unit with included software to connect to say a laptop to rip cassettes to disc? How about the head, which brand and type have you decided to use? Are the audio circuits digital, analog or a hybrid?

    Great Idea, really cool, it will be interesting to see how it stands up to legacy portable/Stereo To go cassette units available one upon a time. Kudos for going out on a limb designing and marketing a really cool device like this in our digital world of today!

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      28th March 2017 at 11:11 am

      The company is doing extensive market research based upon this concept and so will more than likely tweak the design, if they even release it. I’d keep an eye on their site for now and monitor progress.

  • Reply
    Todd Berryman
    2nd May 2017 at 6:23 pm

    Interesting to contemplate that this will be mass-market by the very nature of it, meaning there’s no practical way to handle Dolby NR/dbx tapes of any stripe, let alone chromium dioxide or metal in correct fashion.

    For transfer purposes, it probably should include a software bundle to compensate…

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      2nd May 2017 at 6:35 pm

      Hi Todd – thanks for the message. If it came to market, it wouldn’t surprise me if there were a few modifications and additions. I think that this period is aimed at public consolation for ideas just as the ones you have raised.

  • Reply
    30th May 2017 at 12:37 am


    I want this elbow for X-Mas 2018.
    best regards.

  • Reply
    Parveen Dhawan
    23rd June 2017 at 9:05 am

    where can i get this Elbow cassette player please inform

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      23rd June 2017 at 10:09 am

      It’s not available for sale just yet, Parveen – hopefully in the near future.

      • Reply
        Jean Mosley
        5th August 2017 at 8:45 am

        How much is Elbow Cassette player

        • Reply
          Paul Rigby
          5th August 2017 at 11:15 am

          It’s not available for sale yet, I’m afraid – it’s only a concept. As soon as it emerges into the market, I’ll post the news.

    • Reply
      30th July 2017 at 4:27 pm

      I too am awaiting for this, eagerly!

  • Reply
    30th July 2017 at 10:32 pm

    I am a good music lover n I have good collection of Olay cassettes, plz let me know where should I get it? if it’s not available now plz let me know when I will get it through my email.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      31st July 2017 at 5:02 pm

      This is just a prototype for now: there is no release date as yet.

  • Reply
    Branimir Kolarov
    4th August 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Good idea? may be like spinners,!!!

  • Reply
    5th August 2017 at 4:41 pm

    what is price and how it can be avalaible in Pakistan?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      6th August 2017 at 10:07 am

      This item is only a concept design and is not available for sale yet – if and when it is, I will post a news item relating to it.

  • Reply
    Celso José da Silva
    6th August 2017 at 3:49 am

    Gostaria de saber se o Elbow já está no mercado e qual o valor.
    Achei muito legal.
    Desde já agradeço a atenção,
    Celsinho Silva

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      6th August 2017 at 10:07 am

      This item is only a concept design and is not available for sale yet – if and when it is, I will post a news item relating to it.

  • Reply
    Jaffar Taufique
    16th August 2017 at 11:49 am

    Is this available in market?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      20th August 2017 at 9:21 pm

      Sorry for the delay in replying – just returned from holiday: no, not yet. It’s a concept piece at the moment.

  • Reply
    24th October 2017 at 7:11 am

    how do we know when it will be avaialble in market

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      24th October 2017 at 1:27 pm

      Not yet, I’m afraid – will keep an eye on the situation though.

  • Reply
    26th October 2017 at 1:47 pm

    Idea was great. How can i buy in india?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      26th October 2017 at 7:29 pm

      It’s only a concept at the moment – I’ll keep an eye on this and report any progress, though.

  • Reply
    30th December 2017 at 10:05 am

    good idea ..do you have a unit for Hi 8 mm video ???

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      30th December 2017 at 11:30 pm

      It’s just an ‘idea’, at the moment Vic. I’ll pass on any further updates ASAP.

  • Reply
    Mohammed Shabbir
    1st January 2018 at 2:55 pm

    Hi Paul please update me on the Elbow player availability to the general public. THANKS.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      1st January 2018 at 4:03 pm

      This is directly from the design team:
      Dear ELBOW followers,
      It’s time to clarify a few things. We’ve received loads of messages asking about the product price, features and availability. Here are the answers:
      We are currently looking for engineering heads to help us make it happen.
      The project is in very early stage, nothing is clear or set in stone.
      We’re looking for ways to modify or overhaul the design to make
      the project more technically feasible.
      Thanks all of you for the continued support, we’ll do everything in our power to try and make this real. Peace and joy to everyone,
      BrainMonk organisation

  • Reply
    Patrick Patterson
    25th October 2020 at 10:59 am

    Ive found this site again! I sure hope that you have evolved into a product by now. Still, many questions about potential specs. If this is a viable place to find out your progress please let me know. I shall read the other comments and when they were posted. If my inquiries are redundant than good i hope im not the only one thats hoping for your continued progress. I shall check in again the next time you catch my attention.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      26th October 2020 at 10:52 am

      Hi Patrick – I’m afraid I am a mere journalist and have nothing to do with the product itself or the company behind it. Sorry.

      • Reply
        14th September 2022 at 10:28 am

        Hey man, its been a minute. Hopefully enough time has passed that you may have your sights on some new tech like this one or this became a reality. Lemme know whenever you have a minute.

        • Reply
          Paul Rigby
          14th September 2022 at 11:16 am

          Hi Patrick – the Elbow? This one died in the water, I’m afraid and it’s stayed dead ever since. Haven’t heard of anything similar out there unless anyone else out there knows better?

  • Reply
    Patrick Patterson
    26th October 2020 at 12:36 pm

    Well i do appreciate the expedient response anywho. This seems like a great product especially for an old school music fan with an enormous cassette collection that i will never part with. What i miss is the way the magnetic heads will pick up the cell phone search signal so you can tell when someone’s phone is about to ring. Freaks people out when ever you tell them,” its for you” or “if its for me, im in the tub.”

  • Reply
    17th May 2022 at 2:04 pm

    This is an interesting idea, but unfortunately, it simply won’t work well enough to be an acceptable product.
    No tension control is a BIG DEAL and a show-stopper. It’s impossible to control tape speed without it.
    I appreciate everyone’s enthusiasm about the design and the optimism that a product like this might bring to cassette collectors, but PLEASE don’t rely on this to even be a playable option without some extensive revisions and modifications.
    Paul, your reply to commenters imply that the need for tape tension and other features are an “audiophile” thing. That’s just a really a poorly thought-out response. This thing will be out-preformed by a fisher-price tape player from the ’70’s if it’s every produced as it’s designed in this story.
    It’s been 5+ years and still no real product. Every video or review is just a CGI. I appreciate designers and engineers with progressive imaginations, but this is like those concept car designs of vehicles that look advanced and cool, but the designer didn’t bother to include a door.
    Sorry for the rant. I see stuff like this all the time on the crowdfunding sites. Get’s people excited, but it’s an impossible product. I just wish people were a little more realistic.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      17th May 2022 at 4:41 pm

      I’m afraid your “rant” was a little unnecessary. You might want to check out my follow-up news story which declared that it is effectively dead in the water: https://theaudiophileman.com/elbow-portable-cassette-tape-player-news/ A site-based search is to be recommended for such matters.
      As such, I would have thought that any time I may have committed to a written response, based on a product borne of fiction, was not only reasonable but exceedingly generous.

      • Reply
        k. man
        17th May 2022 at 5:46 pm

        Paul, you are right. My own reply was short sited and poorly researched. I apologize for coming across so strongly with this article. No excuses.

        Have a good day.

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