Soundwave is one of the most recognizable characters from the original Transformers line. He had an alternate mode - a microcassette recorder - and possessed a distinctive monotone, computerized voice.
Soundwave is able to detect and jam transmissions across the entire energy spectrum, a talent that makes him suited to his position as Decepticon Communications Officer. Additionally, he has a photographic memory thanks to the vast data storage capacity of the magnetic disks in his chest compartment, and he is armed with a shoulder-mounted radio wave sensor and hand-held concussion blaster. Soundwave is physically strong compared to most Transformers. His alternative form - which involves an apparent loss of mass - is that of an Earthly microcassette deck. Within the tape compartment, which becomes his chest in robot mode, he stores a variety of Decepticon spies, all of which take the alternative form of a microcassette. These spy characters include Ravage, Laserbeak, Buzzsaw, Ratbat, Rumble, Frenzy, Slugfest, and Overkill, all of whom are under Soundwave's command in the original television series. Squawktalk, and Beastbox were additional cassette characters under Soundwave's control in the US toyline, who were never shown in the cartoon.