Do you still listen to cassettes?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Vincent3, Sep 25, 2019.

  1. jusbe

    jusbe Modern Melomaniac

    Auckland, NZ.
    Maintenance and sustaining well-made and designed audio gear is good for the soul. It's certainly good for the tape deck!

    Whatever the scenario, right now I'm having a lot of fun with tape, cassettes and decks. More so than with more modern formats (streaming, or 'DSD arms-race' digital audio). I like getting to use quality cassettes and decks I couldn't afford 30 years ago. And I like discovering music that I missed along the way, while I was doing other things. I accept it's different for others, and that's okay, isn't it?

    If you're worried about the condition of a prospective deck, buy from another enthusiast or engineer on TapeHeads. They've got skin in the game and reputations to maintain. Plus you'd be helping keep the the core of the community going strong.
    Scroller, grbluen, The FRiNgE and 6 others like this.
  2. jusbe

    jusbe Modern Melomaniac

    Auckland, NZ.
    Decided we need some photos and colour in this thread, to cheer us up with #lifeinlockdown. Got these not so long ago, for fun (SKC batch):


    Got these relatively recently too, which are wonderful to have:


    Recent pre-recorded new releases (not my most recent):


    And though I'm far away from my main decks (about 18,000 km), I can still listen:


    And do audiophile tweaks too!


  3. Scroller

    Scroller Forum Resident

    I voted for the second option, but "few" isn't really accurate as I probably have well over 100. I finally decided to order some new belts for my cheapo plastic late 90s Sony cassette deck. It's running good as new again and I'll be damned at how good some of these old tapes still sound. It's like anything with physical formats - if you took pretty good care of it and didn't play it on garbage equipment, chances are it will hold up well over the years. Just like with records, it was all too easy to abuse tapes with constant rewinding, fast-forwarding to play the "hit songs" repeatedly, smashing down of the buttons, leaving them in the car in baking Summer heat or the opposite - in below zero freezing temps and stomping on them with snowy, slushy boots! :laugh: Anyway, I'm having a blast with my tapes once again and here's a recent playlist from this weekend...

  4. Solitaire1

    Solitaire1 Carpenters Fan

    I still have a number of cassette tapes, some DCC tapes, two tape decks, and one DCC deck. I haven't listened to them in a long time. When I was first getting into audio I considered just going with compact cassettes (CC) for my pre-recorded music. However, I decided to buy my new music on LP and 45 since the sound quality of CCs I recorded myself was better than that of pre-recorded CCs (although the sound quality did improve towards the end of its life).
    jusbe likes this.
  5. jusbe

    jusbe Modern Melomaniac

    Auckland, NZ.
    These, just in. A slightly younger version of the ones above...

  6. jenkovix

    jenkovix Forum Resident

    Europe, Hungary
    in February I bought a Sony deck. since then I buy pre-recorded cassettes on the flea market. it is great fun to get music on cassette from my teenager era. I also discover pieces with outstanding SQ!
    I like cassettes :)
    Bruno Primas and jusbe like this.
  7. jusbe

    jusbe Modern Melomaniac

    Auckland, NZ.
    Yes. we're lucky cassettes from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s are still around.

    I buy some NOS pre-recorded of bands I missed, when they look fun. But more often, I buy unusual things from Bandcamp, with 'sound art' on them, or experimental field recordings or weird ambient stuff. There's whole libraries of artists creating new material and experimenting with cassette releases. I make no apologies for the weirdness of it all!

    Cherrycherry and Scroller like this.
  8. Tyler

    Tyler Forum Resident

    When I was a kid, cassettes were all I had. As a teenager I spent hours at my father’s stereo, making mix tapes for my car (which I still have). Other than that nostalgia, I have no use for cassette tapes.
  9. I occasionally listen to my old cassettes but its not essential.
    All my cassettes are recordings from my lps from 1970-79-80. About 85% of them are recordings of albums that are mostly 1st and 2nd generation pressings.
    My most precious ones are recorded on my average joe first front loader Kenwood kx 620. I play them back on my Tandberg 440 and what is so fascinating is how special the timbre on those tapes are.
    All those Beatle records, USA/British, Herb Alpert, so many singles from the 60's and 70's (big 12 inch etc) sound so special. The audio, if a good presssing- many lemons, have for lack of a better word an authenticity that I cant describe or even understand.
    Most were made from Dual turntable of several vintages with Stanton cartridges and a Shure and Pickering every so often but the best were done with an Empire edr 9 around 1979-80.

    PreRecorded cassettes in those years were crap sounding. Though the cassette of James Lasts Sax-a-GoGo with the red Polydor lable started my cassette love and getting Saxophone lessons to boot.
    How simple, get the best vinyl, record it on a Maxell tape and all was right with the world. Take care, John M.
    jusbe, Bruno Primas and macster like this.
  10. Daniel Thomas

    Daniel Thomas Forum Resident

    I went through a major cassette tape kick a few years ago. It was mostly nostalgia for the days in the early-to-mid '90s when I had a Sony Walkman and a stack of my favorite alt-rock albums. I lost affection for CDs in the early 2000s as the Loudness War ruined everything, and at the time my turntable system wasn't very good, far too low-budget, and so I found myself looking back to tapes to see if they were still any good.

    I did have a lot of fun playing tapes and even created a couple mixtapes off a Nakamichi Cassette Deck 2, which is a really good model that uses gears instead of belts. I also had a Nakamichi DR-3 and sold it after a month, ironically just when the unit was finally breaking in and sounding very good. The person who bought the unit loved it so much he sent me another $20 just to say thanks.

    The Nak CD-2 was given to my mother as a present, and I then bought a Sony deck that never worked and was just frozen. That frustrated me because I was really looking forward to it, but I couldn't find any place to repair it. I think the problem was the belts, and replacement belts were almost impossible to find.

    After that, I bought another Nakamichi, the 480Z model which was highly praised for its "classic" sound, and it had a richer bass-heavy style that was pretty good. But it had maintenance problems that I couldn't fix, and worse yet, there was a weird battery acid smell that wouldn't go away. In the end, I had to get rid of this deck as well.

    Finally, I bought a Sports Walkman, one of the later '90s models with fairly impressive stats and an AM/FM tuner. It also had some maintenance issues, namely, it would start chewing up tapes. I really hated that, and it was frustrating that I couldn't get it fixed. In the end, the unit locked up and wouldn't work any longer. That's too bad, because the sound was really good with my commercial tapes. Anthrax and Teenage Fanclub got a lot of playtime.

    That's the last of my cassette phase. Every once in a while, I do like the idea of getting another deck or at least another Walkman. I do like the idea of making mixtapes, especially when I have my Blu-Ray player connected to my stereo and could record to tape (I did that on one of my mixtapes with a LaserDisc player, another bit of retro tech that broke down and couldn't be repaired). Some albums sound pretty good on cassette, although I am fully aware of the format's limitations versus CD or digital. My main problem, as you might guess, is maintenance. I'm tired of spending time and money on retro tech just to have them break down, and now that hardly anybody is willing to repair anything, that means the end of the road.

    Now I'm going to look at Ebay for some cassette decks. Thankfully, I have a baby on the way, so I can't afford to splurge on any more toys, but it's nice to look around.
  11. jusbe

    jusbe Modern Melomaniac

    Auckland, NZ.
    There are a few engineers dotted around the US who could repair and service your Walkman for you, Daniel. Certainly some in the EU as well. Also your main decks, if you have any left. I'd recommend joining to spend some time with like-minded folk!
    Daniel Thomas and apesfan like this.
  12. formbypc

    formbypc Forum Resident

    Still got plenty, but many already transferred to digital, remaining are an ongoing project.

    Trying to do this while I still have good machines to do it with. I have a number of mid- to high-end Technics machines, and if I wanted to replace any, I'd have to spend three times what they cost me originally to get suitable replacements. There's no decent new machines to be found anywhere. Apparently there's only one manufacturer of cassette transport assemblies these days, and any Far East maker with a deck on the market uses this transport, which is, by all accounts, nothing special.

    Don't use them as an "active" format, only a legacy one.

    Same with DAT and reel-to-reel, once all transferred, tapes will be sold or disposed of, along with the machinery. Aiming for only two formats - vinyl and digital file replay.
    Daniel Thomas likes this.
  13. Dennis Metz

    Dennis Metz Born In A Motor City!

    Fonthill, Ontario
    I’ve got a couple, but never listen to them. Never really got into cassettes other than home made comps for in the car and Staring at the Beach :cheers:
  14. wgb113

    wgb113 Forum Resident

    Chester County, PA
    Funny that this thread’s come back up as I was just cleaning out some bins and came across what’s left of my old cassettes. My first personal album was on cassette - Thriller by Michael Jackson when I was in 3rd grade and my last was Anthology Vol. 1 by The Beatles. In between there were lots of 80s metal and early 90s hip hop before I got a CD player in ‘95.

    Like @Tyler I remember sitting front of dad’s stereo recording songs off of the radio as well as making mix tapes. I used to love making mix tapes (and later MiniDiscs and CDs) but I find it interesting that I put very little effort into digital playlists. A lot probably due to time but I do think the challenge of editing to a time constraint comes into play.

    My favorite brand back in the day was TDK and their SA-90. My last deck was also my only proper one, an early 90s 3 head Sony model with Dolby S.
    Daniel Thomas, jusbe and jeffmo789 like this.
  15. Stereo68

    Stereo68 Forum Resident

    I hadn't played cassettes for years. They never were my favorite format, but the convenience and portability gave them a place. Our last cassette deck failed maybe ten years ago, and we sold our last car with cassette capability about a year and a half ago. So, the cassettes were sitting idle. Then last November, we were in a stereo repair shop to have the turntable serviced, and noticed that the proprietor had a few cassette decks fixed up and for sale. Long story short, we bought a Sony TD-K81 deck and it sounds good. The cassettes still don't get the play that our records do, but the deck will go into the basement for entertainment while I practice my other hobby, building fly-fishing rods. There'll be a TT in that system too, but some rodbuilding tasks involve handling varnish, epoxy glue, etc. and I don't want to be handling records when I'm in the middle of those jobs. The Sony isn't the prettiest thing around; it looks like it would be right at home in a rack of instrumentation in some electronics lab:
    Now, if I could find a little portable deck that would plug into a car stereo, we'd be fully back in business and I wouldn't be tempted to find CDs to duplicate those albums we have only on cassette.
  16. guitarguy

    guitarguy Tone Meister

    Planet Earth
    I have not listened to a cassette in probably 15 years. I've never been nostalgic about music formats. I started moving from cassette to CD in 1984 when I bought the Sony D-5. It was still necessary to keep cassettes around - mostly for reference mixes from the studio and for my 4 track mixes in my home studio. Toward that end I kept my Carver TDR-2400 around for quite a while. I never actually bought pre-recorded cassette tapes. I always bought new music on vynil and then did a needle drop off the new LP. Once CD came out I started replacing my library with CD.
  17. mikedifr0923

    mikedifr0923 Forum Resident

    New Jersey
    Got back into cassette recently. I have a ton of bootlegs that I hadn’t listened to in years so wanted to check some of them out and forgot how many commercially released I still had. Some which I feel like sound better than the CDs (Queensryche Mindcrime and Empire, Metallica Black album through Reload, Eric Clapton unplugged, several others). Bought a Nak BX-150 with new belt and idler tire for about $125 and happy with how it sounds. Also grabbed a Walkman that worked great for a few months but now I need to figure out how to replace the belt. Was cheap so will be my guinea pig to start messing with this kind of stuff myself
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  18. bluesky

    bluesky Forum Resident

    south florida, usa
    I listen to them rarely since CDs came out but I still like them. They are... analog! :righton:
    Daniel Thomas and jusbe like this.
  19. jeffmo789

    jeffmo789 Give The Gift of Music!

    New England
    Played Santana's Greatest Hits tape just yesterday!
    gitters and jusbe like this.
  20. nosliw

    nosliw Azunyan! にゃーーー!

    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    I just got this cassette in today, designed to look like a VHS cassette tape of yesteryear housed in a commercial case. Definitely one of those coolest looking in my collection.

  21. macster

    macster Forum Resident

    San Diego, Ca. USA
    I'm listening to Earl Klugh "Living Inside Your Love" and recording some test samples on my #2 Revox B215, and even with cotton in both of my ears it sounds good. Man I lovvvvvve this deck, its weird but it just works.

    jusbe likes this.
  22. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    I have hundreds of cassettes...I hooked up my cassette deck and it's not working...belts rotted off.
    jusbe likes this.
  23. Charles M

    Charles M Forum Resident

    Tampa Bay,Florida
    What's old is new again!

    When I moved about 3 years ago, I packed up my audio system and analog music collection which consisted of vinyl, R2R, cassettes, and 8 tracks. I mostly listen to my 3 r2r decks, or vinyl. Unpacking was a slow process, and finally came across what was left of my cassette collection from the 90s. I primarily listened to them with a Walkman on my motorcycle. The deck I used to record them with was long gone.

    I decided to look for a used deck, so I could listen to the pre-recorded tapes of music that I didn't have on other formats.
    I'm currently at about 1200 pre-recorded cassettes albums and another 200 home recorded tapes, that include the tapes from my original collection. I felt one cassette deck wasn't enough, so I have 7 working decks now.

    I find myself listening just to cassettes the majority of the time now. The best part is, the hardware and tape for this format has become a real bargain on the used market(flea, garage sales, etc.) Practically free!
  24. Cherrycherry

    Cherrycherry Forum Resident

    My setup is a little weird at the moment, but have Tape Player directly to amplifier.
    Led Zeppelin "Physical Graffiti" Side Two
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  25. siebrand

    siebrand Forum Resident

    although they are analog (obviously) I still have some, every now and then I listened to them as well.
    Especially the ones I feel a little attached to (stuff from 45 years ago ....)
    For the moment I can't anymore, I have, for reasons of space, put away the Technics.
    But sooner or later I'll put it back ...
    jusbe and Alan2 like this.

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