The end of tape?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Nov 5, 2002.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    From the Washington Post:

    In the Digital Age, The Quaint Cassette Is Sent Reeling Into History's Dustbin

    Fritz Pfleumer's invention, the muse of countless lovelorn music geeks, now fated to obsolescence.

    By Hank Stuever
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, October 29, 2002; Page C01

    In 1923, Fritz Pfleumer, a chemist in Dresden, was coating thin strips of paper with magnetizing chemicals, so that he could attempt to record sound on them. Sixty years after that, a girl said, "Your music depresses me," and handed a boy back the cassette tape he had made for her on the stereo in his bedroom.

    Another 20 years drift by: Someone has left a ripped Dean & DeLuca grocery bag filled with some cassette tapes, a broken telephone, three sweaters and two T-shirts on a sidewalk on Connecticut Avenue. The tapes include, but are not limited to, Squeeze, Willie Nelson, something called "Burning '70s Disco Party," and the soundtracks to "Dances With Wolves," "Dick Tracy" and "Flashdance." There are also tapes by Rufus with Chaka Khan, Tracy Chapman, 10,000 Maniacs, Juice Newton, the Beach Boys, U2, Huey Lewis and the News, Nana Mouskouri, and three pink-and-yellow 60-minute TDK brand cassettes -- two unlabeled, and one labeled "Run." There is also a color snapshot in a plexiglass frame, of three women holding what appear to be tropical-flavored alcoholic beverages.

    Between Fritz Pfleumer and the present nationwide discarding of cassette tapes, something unspools in the heart, gets tangled up in the weeds that grow along the freeway. Wearing something out by loving it too much -- fast-forwarding, rewinding, flipping, dropping, splicing, erasing. Think of the boys who used to come on to girls (or other boys) the only way they knew how.

    Via the tape.

    On the first day of the current fall semester at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, a professor named Rob Jaczko (who has worked on albums with Bruce Springsteen, Eurythmics, Don Henley, the Cars and a number of other artists whose chart-topping cassettes have since ossified under the passenger seat of a 1989 Ford Probe somewhere) was going over course requirements with the students in his production and engineering class.

    He then noticed something very wrong on the syllabus.

    "Everybody take your pencils and draw a line through the word 'cassette' and write in 'CD,' " he told them. "I will no longer be accepting any work on cassette tape."

    "This was kind of a major moment," Jaczko says, now that he considers it, "although I'm not sure any of my students would even think of using analog cassette now. They all grew up burning CDs. It's the end of analog."

    Which means the end of how things once sounded.

    Ones and zeroes sound better than oxide-coated polyester or vinyl. Everyone accepts this, driven to fits of pleasure by iPods, and wonders why a few of us can't: the kid in Best Buy who shrugs when you ask if there are any Sony Walkman cassette players left besides the two models on display; the car salesman who is pretty sure you can't get a cassette deck as standard equipment in any of the models on the lot; and the record industry, which saw the cassette format slip to below 4 percent of total music sales last year (from a mid-1980s high of 66 percent) and has decided to let it quietly hiss into history.

    Someday music will be only air. There will be no objects to hold or fetishize and people will simply collect lists. No disc, nothing spooled or grooved, nothing to scratch or break, no heads to clean, no dust to wipe, no compulsive alphabetizing. Nothing to put away in shoe boxes in spare closets and be embarrassed about.

    The end of hiss.

    The end of the sound system as furniture.

    The end, on some strange and intellectually picky level, of the crucial dialectic between Side A and Side B, and the idea that songs talk to one another and take you someplace.

    Is the death of the cassette as sweetly sad as the death, years ago, of the vinyl record?

    No, the professor sighs. Well, maybe yes. "It's a mixed romance," Jaczko says. "From a fidelity standpoint, I'll be happy to see cassettes go. I never felt the way about tapes that I did about my albums -- the sound, the beautiful art on the cover. Tapes never had that romance, but . . . we do lose something with the romance of making someone a mix tape.

    "My wife," he says, "is the queen of the mix tapes."

    He used to make them so carefully for her, when they were falling in love.

    The whole, fraught, goosebumpy methodology of it. The ego involved. Releasing the "pause" button so precisely to start recording. Rewinding and re-recording over awkward and unintended song choices and segues, the way a lover stammers to articulate his emotions. "Fitting the songs just right so they would fill up each side," he says. "The songs titles lovingly handwritten on the inside of the case. I find old mix tapes in drawers now, and they're like a personal record, like finding an old letter."

    He has not yet burned any love CDs for her.

    "There's something about pointing and clicking," he says. "It's not quite the same."

    The Tape Head's Lament

    Long-distance love affair by cassette tape: It happened to me. While digital romances grow increasingly common, our strange fling was quaintly analog. We talked on the phone for hours and enjoyed the occasional mushy rendezvous in the flesh at airports and bookstores and bars. But mostly, we wore out the heads on our respective tape decks compiling Memorex mash notes. I'm not really the scented envelope kind of girl, preferring instead to send yellow Jiffylite mailers packed with whatever song is on my mind.

    -- Sarah Vowell, "Thanks for the Memorex"

    The tape will die, but the tactile nature of it, and some of the lexicon, will remain: "Fast forward" will always mean something, will forever recall the chirpy, panicky sound of tape being sped to and fro, as its surgeon-fingered listeners searched for a particular few seconds of words or music; and how that gibberishy sound came to stand, as aural icon, for haste and excitement, or for admissions of guilt, or certain refrains where you don't know what the singer is singing, so you RR or FF to it, back to it, back to it, back to it, back to it: dweee-deely-wedee-deely-we-dwee-deely-wweeeeee-dweeeep.

    Brown, shiny, unforgiving tape will always recall Richard Nixon's missing 18 minutes on those little reels, and the haunting almost-silence of something that's been taped over. Cartoonists always drew him tangled up in tape.

    Brittle, plastic cassette cases will always have that perfect inelegance about them; sticking the eraser end of a No. 2 pencil into a hole and cranking it around and around to reel in a tangle of belched-up tape.

    The sound of warped tape will always be the acid reflux of the stereophonic realm, the long bwurpy slowdown that rolls around every 2 1/2 seconds.

    And the hiss.

    All those engineers in the 1970s who labored intensively to eliminate the hiss.

    Your ex-brother-in-law and his obsession with the hiss: In that dark, ferny apartment of theirs, tinkering with his high-end system on a bookshelf made of milk crates, playing "Chicago V" on pizza-size tape reels and defying you to hear any hiss.

    Reeling In the Years

    Tape, the fast-forwarded version:

    Oberlin Smith, a cohort of Edison, described magnetic recording in an issue of Electrical World magazine in 1888, conceiving of a magnet and a string dipped in iron filings. The idea had come to him 10 years before that, but he didn't build it. Valdemar Poulsen made magnetic heads in 1894, patented it as the telegraphone, and recorded Austria's Emperor Franz Josef mouthing off at the 1900 Paris Expo.

    Then the Germans. (Always the Germans.) Pfleumer and his magnetic powders, followed by the invention of clunky-looking contraptions like the Stahltonbandmaschine, a steel tape recorder, circa 1930. Then came the wire recorder.

    At the German Radio Exhibition of 1935 (a world away, Elvis was being born; see how unrelated events happen to work together), the chemical conglomerates Badische Anilin & Soda-Fabrik (BASF) and Allgemeine Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft (AEG) unveiled the first mass-produced tape recorder, the Magnetophon. (It looked roughly like the reel-to-reel machines of yore, the kind that later would be set to self-destruct in TV spy shows. The London Philharmonic was the first group to make a tape recording, at a concert appearance in Ludwigshafen.

    Then the war.

    Concentration camp prisoners worked in the BASF factories.

    Later, an American colonel, John T. Mullin, was sent to Germany to investigate Nazi technology. He came back with something that blew the mind of Bing Crosby, who then used tape to record his radio shows starting in 1947.

    Royal Philips Corp. developed the Compact Cassette in 1963, but couldn't quite get the mechanism perfected and standardized until about 1966. The cassette became available -- expensive, and without identity. It was supposed to be the future, but the future of . . . what, exactly? Answering machines? Dictation? Audiophilia?

    Only in 1979, with the appearance of the Sony Walkman, does it become quite clear:

    The cassette was invented to make sure that you would not have to listen your mother, in any environment, but especially in the car, from the ages of 13 to 15.

    Please take off those headphones.

    I'm not going to tell you again.

    I was talking to you and you weren't even hearing me.

    Can you hear me?

    Nor would anyone have to listen to people on the bus, on the street, or in hallways, or anywhere.

    So-called Generation X, the people born between 1964 and 1981, who don't get credited for much in history, can at least take solace in the fact that they saw the entire lifespan of the cassette. It was born, lived and died in their era. They made it happen, one cassette at a time.

    Mowing endless lawns with a tape of Huey Lewis and the News feeding into their brains. College kids in Replacements or R.E.M. T-shirts with so many cassette tapes strewn across their apartment floors.

    (Upon review, a warpy cassette tape reveals just how little news was reported by Huey Lewis and the News.)

    The history of the cassette must concede this: Old tapes are hard to love.

    High Bias

    I spent hours putting that cassette together. To me, making a tape is like writing a letter -- there's a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again, and I wanted it to be a good one, because . . . to be honest, I hadn't met anyone as promising as Laura since I'd started the DJ-ing, and meeting promising women was what the DJ-ing was supposed to be about. A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You've got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention . . . and then you've got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and you can't have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can't have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you've done the whole thing in pairs and . . . oh, there are loads of rules.

    -- Nick Hornby, "High Fidelity"

    "They're starting to warp a little bit in terms of sound," laments Bree Freeman, a Marist College communications professor in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., whose enormous cassette collection was amassed when he ran an alternative AM station in Pittsburgh in the 1980s. "In terms of the sound, they don't hold it forever. I don't think I ever thought, with my cassettes, 'Gee, you know 10 years from now . . . ' But they still sound okay," he says. "I've got copies I made of tapes I made for girls when we were dating. There's nothing like listening to those. I'm not married yet, so I can still keep those things."

    "I'm one of the defectors," says Jim Januszewski, a Seattle software engineer who runs a Web site in his spare time called Art of the Mix, where visitors submit playlists of mix tapes (now mostly mix CDs) they consider to be a perfect expression of the form. "I just like MP3 better, it's so much easier," he says. "With the tapes you could screw it up. Now you just move it around, when this song doesn't work with that song."

    These matters are still handled with a certain measure of love, Januszewski says. "Only better. People still take time to think of the songs, to design their own covers. Is it a high art form? No. Not really. But it does give agency to the music listener. It makes it something more than a passive experience. That's what we learned with the cassette tape -- you could do it on your own."

    Pocket-Size Revolution

    Vinyl: Soothing, it sounded like velvet.

    Compact disc: Crisp and clean, it sounded like linen sheets.

    Cassette: Frankly, it sounded like acrylic-blend sweaters.

    "I don't buy records in your shop, I tape 'em all, off 'Top of the Pops' . . . I don't need no album rack, I carry my collection on my back," screamed Annabella Luwin, the mohawked teenage lead singer of a British band called Bow Wow Wow, in a 1980 single called "C30, C60, C90, Go!," a homage to the self-recorded cassette tape. (In fact, it is believed to be the first single released only on cassette.)

    C30, C60, C90, Go!

    Off the radio, I get a constant flow

    Hit it! Pause it! Record it and play

    Or turn it on, rewind and rub it away!

    Blank cassettes were supposed to ruin the record industry, the way almost every technological shift is, at first, supposed to ruin the record industry.

    "Statistically, that wasn't borne out," says Peter Brinkman, vice president of marketing at Maxell Corp. of America, the leading manufacturer of blank audiotape. "Cassette tapes, it turned out, were a great enabler of the music industry."

    Maxell, which started selling blank cassettes in 1970, rose to prominence in the early '80s on a reputation of high-bias, low-noise audiophilia of the first order.

    Old issues of Rolling Stone are strewn with pages and pages of advertising for tape decks and the latest in blank tape. In 1978, Maxell first ran its trademark ad -- an arty black-and-white photograph of a man in a chair wearing Ray-Ban sunglasses, enduring a high-fidelity torrent of sound that appears to be literally tearing through his living room with storm-force winds.

    "No one could have predicted how it would become this icon," Brinkman says.

    The ad, still used to promote the company's digital products, became an emblem of that new wave, designer rock, audiophilic, MTV personality type: The kind of guy who believed his music choices were always better than yours. His tastes could not be questioned or mucked with. (Neither, for that matter, could yours. Ego was key.) It was a nation of tapeheads, living on some social margin, out past the faint hiss, waiting for nuclear war.

    Ten years ago, Maxell sold "easily" 350 million blank audiocassettes, Brinkman says.

    Last year, the company sold 130-140 million blank cassettes. Projections for future sales, industry-wide, indicate that tape will slide into obsolescence by decade's end.

    Fade Out

    A cassette tape lets you know when it's dying.

    It starts to give off the sound of music that would be played by a very small band in a suitcase, and then it sounds like that suitcase is inside another suitcase. It sounds like the singer is wearing little socks on his teeth. Consonants go away. Dolby Noise Reduction technology gives up, and if you didn't know what "Sussudio" meant in the summer of 1985, then there's no hope of knowing now, not when you pop in the cassette version.

    Everything unspools.

    Tonight you are feeling faithful anyhow. There's a tape in you trying to get out, and you feel like doing it the old way. You will stay home, by yourself, have a drink, and turn your attention to the bulky components stacked like artifacts in homage to bachelorhood. With the teak-colored stereo speakers large enough to rest your beer upon.

    All the important cords are jacked into the tape deck.

    Obsessing into the small hours, pulling record sleeves from the shelves, the LED display pulsing into the red zone when you record. You can nudge the knobs toward more bass. High bias, normal bias, basically you're just biased. You are very careful, like a doctor on the verge on the sheer genius.

    (Or: madness.)

    © 2002 The Washington Post Company
  2. Holy Zoo

    Holy Zoo Gort (Retired) :-)

    Santa Cruz

    Funny, I actually like (er, liked?) the sound of cassettes. Many many years listening to great music in my car, and I don't have an "acrylic" memory of them at all - quite the opposite, I remember those days as being quite warm and smooth (fine cashmere sweaters?).

    Oh well.. sigh.. it's true though, I haven't bought/made/listened to a cassette tape in eons. :(

  3. Gary

    Gary Nauga Gort! Staff

    Thanks for the "end of an era" article, Steve!

    I still miss vinyl album art. CD does not cut it. Ever get poster in a CD? Imagine what Dark Side posters would look like....

    Hey! Most of the Rufus catalogue (and stuff with Chaka Khan) seems to still be in print, too! :)

    I recently bought a car stereo. I chose a CD player over a cassette deck because I wanted to listen to new purchases on the way home. The salesguy told me that this is the last year that cassette decks will be available (in aftermarket).

    Nothing stands still....
  4. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff


    I suppose that someday, down the road, we will truly see the demise of tape. When this day comes, I will see a horrible irony, in that, much of the music still revered and being digitized today (in many formats) was recorded on Analog Reel tape. There is a reason why Audiophiles crave vintage recordings - for their musicality. I believe that I am safe when I predict that 30 years from now (when I am 81), no one will be talking about completing re-masters of Brittany Spears or Eminems catalogs. However, I am willing to predict that people will still be talking about the music of Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, Elvis, The Beatles (perhaps mastered by SH by then), The Rolling Stones, The Who, etc, etc. Interesting, in that, all of these "still" revered classics were recorded on Analog tape and not in the Digital domain.

    Thanks for posting this article.

  5. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Sagamore Beach, Ma
    Cassettes were not only fun, but also the Hamburger Helper to my vinyl and CD collection in the 80's up to 1997. I did some brief calculations and found that my serious investment into ferric oxide and chromium dioxide tapes (including 1/2 track) was almost $9,000. Now, keep in mind, I started "serious" cassette recording with a decent deck and tape starting at 15 years of age, and you all know that teens in the 80's didn't make a $50,000 paycheck.

    Sadder still, that approximate 9K is only useful to me today by the memory of the albums I "learned". I was too busy to sit down and enjoy Cds and LPs for very long, so the cassette deck in my POS car was my dedicated listening time by far. The tapes that weren't worn went to a college buddy and I haven't looked back on either him or the tape I left to him. I'm sure he placed those puppies in the dump by now.

    If I were to say, "Cassettes were poor and I'm glad they're almost dead" would not be the truth.

    Good reel decks and decent tape sounds fairly amazing. The only reason I haven't invested in something like what Bob has, is possibly I'd rather spend time making CDRs for obvious reasons, and dedicated recording time, 'I just don't gots'.

    Trying to pry a stuck Led Zeppelin IV tape from your car while your girlfriend looks in boredom, on a cheap date under some trees.... Knowing that Stairway To Heaven might get you laid, but the mechanical principles of a moulded-shell Columbia Record service tape are keeping you from getting on with your new sex life. Yep, them's the days.

    Actually, I bet if you lined up how many Ampex or Atlantic stock issue Zeppelin IV tapes were issued, they would circle the earth and moon several times. That and ZZ Top's Eliminator were common issue. Some zit medication, note book paper and an occasional speeding ticket. All very important to a High School kid in my generation.

    It was nice knowing ya Cassette. Come by sometime soon for a visit!
  6. JPartyka

    JPartyka I Got a Home on High

    Re: Re: The end of tape?

    Crap. I'd better get myself a new one for the car NOW. I've been meaning to for a while (I've been using the same one for close to a decade and I fear it's on its last legs).

    I still make cassettes all the time; I listen to them in my car more often than CDs, since I find them easier to handle in that environment, and I even like the way an analog cassette made from an LP sounds in the car. Also, in my particular setup, it's easier for me to make a tape than a CD-R from my vinyl records.

    I typically make cassettes of good clean LPs I pick up (one of my favorites has the recent Hoffman/Gray CCR Bayou Country on one side and Green River on the other), and even the occasional mix (though that seems like such a tedious process after getting used to making mix CD-Rs). It's going to be a long time before cassettes die out in my house and cars.
  7. Rspaight

    Rspaight New Member

    I spent *way* too much of my time in high school and college making mix tapes. And the article's absolutely right -- it's a whole lot easier to make a mix CD out of a bunch of MP3s, but it's nowhere near as much fun.

    Picking out the music you want, ending up with a pile of records. Painstakingly figuring out how to fill up both sides of the tape most efficiently while maintaining the proper dramatic flow. (Blank space at the end of the side was a mark of shame. Obviously, you hadn't put enough thought into it.) Actually *listening* to the tracks as you recorded them. Twiddling with the level controls for consistent volume and so the red lights/needles flickered just the right way. And, the most deliciously nerve-wracking part, watching the last few feet of the tape unspool through that little plastic window, hoping it would all fit just right. (And knowing that if you ran out of tape too soon, you'd have to do the whole side over again.)

    After that, where's the pride of creation in just clicking and dragging?

    Thanks for the great article.


    PS - Oh, by the way, we bought two cars in the last year or so and they both had cassette players in addition to the CD player. They just came that way -- we didn't have to jump through any hoops. I don't think they're quite that endangered.
  8. John B

    John B Once Blue Gort,<br>now just blue.

    Toronto, Canada

    I am looking 30 tears into the future. Members have just contributed to your thread: "Taping Project: 2000 - Vote On SACD v. 5.1 versions - Add CD Tracks! ".
    Alas it will be a short tape (which is just as well because many of the analog tapes you have stockpiled will be flaking). ;)
  9. GoldenBoy

    GoldenBoy Purple People Eater

    Wow, nice article. It makes me feel nostalgic for those old noisy beasts. I remember hte old days when I was a teenager listining to cassettes in my "Walkman". And they were all Walkmans too, regardless of whether the brand was Sony or not. I must have gone through about 6 or 7 of those things from junior high through high school. I remember my best friend and I making mix tapes for the listening while we were hanging out and introducing each other to new music, new bands. The songs would be copied from vinyl, other cassettes and later CD's. I would make mix tapes for girls to impress them or to convey my feelings or, If I knew I was going to be somewhere with a lot of girls like a party or the local park or parking lot where all the kids hung out, I'd make sure I had some nice romantic type songs on there so I could seize the moment to... well, you get the picture. ;)

    You know, they're right, making mix CD's or a group of MP3's just doesn't feel the same, or maybe it's just that I don't make them for the same reasons anymore. Oh well, those were the days.
  10. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff


    Actually, it might read: Data Storage Project: Music - 2000 - Vote on Hard Drive downloads - Add MP3, SACD, 5.1 mixes and (oh! my God) CD tracks!

  11. Beagle

    Beagle Forum Resident

    Death of the vinyl record? When did this happen? :rolleyes:
  12. John B

    John B Once Blue Gort,<br>now just blue.

    Toronto, Canada
    :laugh: :laugh:

    20 - 1 says you'll still be using your reel to reel. There are some certainties in life. ;)
    PS - The demise of cassettes reminds me of the demise of LP's. There was an excitement over the covers that was lost with cee dees. :sigh:
  13. GoldenBoy

    GoldenBoy Purple People Eater

    Well, vinyl may not be dead in the sense that you can still purchase LP's and many new releases can still be obtained on vinyl, but as far as a standard widely available format and sales of that said format and hardware to play it on, it is very much dead. The numbers of vinyl sales are EXTREMELY dwarfed by that of the CD.
  14. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff


    You are probably right!;)

  15. ZIPGUN99

    ZIPGUN99 Active Member

    I think it was when I bought my Saturn with a 6 CD changer in july of '94, was the end of my casette usage. I stopped playing casettes within a couple of months. 8 years later, it still plays great!

    I never got into buying pre-recorded casettes, I only used them to record vinyl to listen in the car, and record all the vinyl from friends and relatives I could get my hands on.

    I saw a couple of nakamichi decks in the late '70's, that made outrageously great sounding copys of records, using chrome and metal
    cassettes. I saved up my dough and bought a nice nakamichi discreet head deck. You can listen to the second head, to see how the already recorded tape sounds, so you know how much you can push the signal without distorting. I made hundreds of casettes.

    I went into the closet and took out a casette at random:
    on the label: 1979 NEW MUZIC Part 1(of 14 tapes)from 45rpm records.
    SIDE 1
    Dream Lover-Plasmatics
    Does Your Mother Know-ABBA
    A Question Of Degree-Wire
    Germ Free Adolescence-X-Ray Spex
    M-Factor- M
    If & When- Db's
    Burning Sand-Dwight Twilly
    Superman-The Kinks
    That's It-The Cars
    The Logical Song-Supertramp
    My Sharona-The Knack
    Tainted Love Boys-The Pretenders
    There But For The Grace of God-Machine
    Corruption-The Plasmatics

    SIDE 2
    So Alone-The Police
    The Rope-David Johanson
    It Wasn't Me-Geo. Thorogood
    Mine Mine Mind-Roky Erikson
    Can't Cry-The Shirts
    Money Changes Everything-The Brains
    Listen To Her Heart-Tom Petty
    Starry Eyes-The Records
    You're Much Madder Than Me-Human Switchboard
    Little Girl-Permanent Wave
    We're In Control-The Last
    1-2 Crush On You-The Clash
    Lady Writer-Dire Straits

    Most of these songs were from stuff I borrowed from other people, a lot of non lp b-sides.

    I should copy them to CD-r's, while the Nak is still at the top of it's game.
  16. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    FWIW, Bob, I believe the article was specifically talking about cassette tapes, not magnetic tape in general. I don't think the use of analog tape in studios will go away quite yet...
  17. Grant

    Grant A 60s, 70s & 90s Lovin' Musical Free-Spirit

    I have five cassette decks in the closet with one double deck still hooked up.

    I still make tapes of my CDs(!) for the car.

    I have boxes of old tapes I can't seem to part with. I enjoy the compilation tapes while driving, but can't bring myself to listen to all the copies I made of my LPs. I spen a good part of my life making tapes. I've gone through literally dozens of decks in my life, cassette, open reel, and even a couple of dozen 8-track tapes. My friend still gives me his 4-track demos, made on his Tascam, for mixing.

    I have since lovingly transferred all of my prerecorded tapes to CD-R, and re-produced many of my old "mix" tapes for CD, going with better sources than I had in the 80s and 90s. Hell, I even made one CD label out of the cassette tape it came from.

    I love tape! BUT, let's get real! The things developed strange dropouts. The Dolby didn't track well on all decks. The frequency responce was always a bit off. The speed wasn't always dead-on. The things weren't robust. One pass on the wrong deck ruined them. Dust and heat were big enemies. They could jam unexpectedly. They had print through...but they were so involving. With digital? You just load up the tracks into the PC, level out the volume by entering some numbers, arrange the songs, and boom. CD. You can do a whole CD in under an hour! Tape? It was always a labor of love, and you spent hours getting things right.

    Generation-Y types are amazed that I know how to make a tape, let alone, have a turntable! It's so much fun setting levels, being careful not to go too far into the red, or yellow, depending on the tape. I like working with the bias and EQ to get the best out of the tape. I marvelled at how close I could make my tapes sound like the source, but enjoyed the way tape changed the sound, much like some vinyl lovers enjoy the way vinyl makes their music sound. Yes, folks, I understand!

    One day i'm going to miss tape.
  18. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Sagamore Beach, Ma
    No. And in fact, many studios are catering to even more people who wish to use and manipulate in an analog source. Digital is used, but many musicians still insist on A.

    So, no. Reel tape is here to stay. You can't replace a master tape. Digital will get better, but tape won't be ignored for a very long long time.
  19. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff


    Upon further review, I did realize this - yes! However, my points are worthy for the long term!

  20. Beagle

    Beagle Forum Resident

    Been to any independent or used music stores lately?;)
  21. Bob Lovely

    Bob Lovely Super Gort Staff


    I am very glad to hear this information in this ever more digital age.


  22. Roscoe

    Roscoe Active Member

    Orange County, CA
    Although I am not a hardcore CD lover (I prefer the sound of vinyl), on this topic I will have to say: Out with the cassettes, bring on the CDRs!

    Like many of you, I used to spend hours making mix tapes and copying my LPs to cassette. And some of those tapes have held up quite well over the years (Denon brand cassettes from the late 80s/early 90s seem to be especially resilient).

    But I LOATHED the level of effort required to make those tapes. For me the fun was in listening, not in the creation process. I love the convenience of CDR.

    As an aside, when I was in college in the late 80s, my campus had a precursor of sorts to Napster: A store called That's Rentertainment where you could rent LPs for a couple of bucks, just like renting a video. Needless to say, I wound up with lots and lots of cassettes taped from rented LPs.
  23. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Sagamore Beach, Ma
    Me too Bob, but still those new and old mics sound cold when played back dry, and that makes some vocalists go berzerk, even in the pop world.

    So when a producer orchestrates a session and the master is passed down, although the product is perfect, the labels are turning the whoop-ass knob to 11 n' 1/2 and blowing all the delicate improvements in A in a large way.

    But yes, digital and analog is an argument even artists persue. I'm glad though, like you. IMHO, I thnk digital recording works well in specific applications only. :/

    How many people think of someone like Bob when they watch Pulp Fiction and Uma throws on a big RTR and the dance scene ensues? Was that a Panasonic or a Ampex?
  24. chip-hp

    chip-hp Cool Cat

    Dallas, TX
    My sentiments and experiences exactly ... except I still have some home made cassettes ... made 20 years ago ... that I still listen to in the car on long trips ... if you think commercial radio is bad in the big cities ... try it out of ear shot of a big city.
  25. Grant

    Grant A 60s, 70s & 90s Lovin' Musical Free-Spirit

    You know, many people complain that their old favorite albums remastered to CD just sound too shrill or edgy. That is one of the reasons. Vintage recordings weren't meant to be played back "dry". They were meant for vinyl. The vinyl is supposed to smooth out that edginess on the tape. They used to plan for vinyl release by adjusting for this during the recording and mixing process.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page