Adventures In Audio

Cassettes are DEAD (?)

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Cyto Wing:  I see a recurring theme in your videos. Stop everything and just stream. Funny.

METALPHUK:  Hard to talk about normal when it’s a youthful audience who want art not just music. This is about art vs audio. It’s truly not that bizarre if you frame it differently. Zegema beach does some really cool handmade pieces and releases. It’s been an evolving art form and more then just a listening experience. Personally I don’t have any cassettes but it’s not hard to understand how people romanticize physical media in general. It’s such a powerful piece of art too own when you hold a vinyl or cassette. Especially these days.

Glade Swope:  They represent the first time you could do DIY recording without a lot of money. Otherwise, no logical reason for them now, since we have DAWs.

Glade Swope replies to Glade Swope: ​@Audio Masterclass I had a reel-to-reel 4-track and mixer, made in the 1970s, purchased at a second hand store in 1991. It was an elegantly simple system, and I paid about 400 for it. That antique could still crank out near-CD-quality using a few tricks. I used it until the early 2000s (sometimes as a first layer when I did have digital.) In the era before cassette tapes, that is what the best commercial studios had. I had it serviced for brake failure twice, and service became harder to find. Digital was once an expensive luxury. Now, it's the other way around. Long before ProTools, etc., there were simpler four-track DAWs that ran well on early-2000's Celerons, and I still work with that software.

Audio Masterclass replies to Glade Swope: One logical reason is that the Portastudio 244, which I see as the model for all similar devices, had only VU meters and a counter as displays. I couldn't count how many items of information there are in my DAW screen. There is still value in making music with just your ears as a guide. DM

Martyn Lewis:  For sure CD and streaming for quality and clarity. Tape though satisfies something else for me, I love making new mix tapes. A streamed playlist that I’ve created just doesn’t do it for me. I also love minidisc for the same reason.

Mark Philpot:  Hating on any format is useless. Laziness is the reason for poor sound quality if that is a question. Nothing works well if not maintained. Just because some or most don’t enjoy taping is no reason that those who do give one crap about the opinions of the haters. The ones who have high end decks don’t. You either like or don’t like a format. Those who do say drop dead to the haters. I own two cassette decks. They are both super nice and high end. You go your way and cassette deck lovers will go ours. Either way, keep your negative comments to yourself. No one cares what you listen to as long as you are happy with it. Kicking a format is a pretty wasteful way to spend time on any format, YouTube included!

elkartian:  I have an amplifier made by a company called MVL the real music company,the amp is called MVL A2+Integra,it came with an add on called SS option pack(£354 at the time in 1999)sound sentinal ,the tailor the sound to each input phono,cd , Mini disc cassette,Dat ,vcr ,the instructions for cassette were to leave Dolby off as the SS sound sentinel reduced hiss ? Unfortunately the company dont exist any more .have you Heard of SS sound sentinel systems?

sides up:  At a lot of music performances by relatively unknown artists at Arts Festivals etc., they often have a booth where you can buy a cassette of their music. That's another area where cassettes are not dead but thriving. Cassettes at the used lp places around me were priced at $1 for many decades; now their prices have jumped up from $1 (last year) to $4 this year. That indicates an increased demand. But perhaps the main indicator, is that there are companies coming out with new cassette players. One of the ones reviewed plays a cassette and has its own amp and speaker, with an output to power a higher quality external speaker if you wish. It also plays bluetooth. We are at the beginning of a new fad. Not the end by any means. If you think about it, a magnetic head, recording or playing back a cassette, is the exact same process as with reel to reel tapes; only at a slower speed. Many think reel tapes are the ultimate medium for sound quality. Why wouldn't cassette also be good? Since not nearly as much tape passes through the head per second as reel tape, the compromise of limiting dynamic range had to be chosen. Otherwise it would overload the tape with too much signal. The tape is not as wide either. Cassette was intended to give good sound on the go; and it succeeded at that. It was never intended to compete with the dynamics of reel tape. So nothing it intended to be in the first place, ever failed as far as sound performance. It did exactly what was expected of it within its limitations because of the lower tape speed. I am sure that a top Tandberg, Revox or Nakamichi cassette deck sounds way cleaner on factory prerecorded music than an lp on what most people play lps on. With a smoother more lush sound and much more tonal beauty than someone with a $200 turntable cartridge combination.

Factory prerecorded cassettes of different artists vs. cassettes I recorded an lp on with a turntable and a fairly expensive top model Shure cartridge was a dead heat. A tie, is what I would give it. And I have ears and I listened closely to many tapes. I even had a few where I had the factory prerecorded tape and had taped the same album titles from my above mentioned turntable. So except for dynamic range, which is limited because of the slower tape speed, a factory prerecorded cassette played back on a well above average cassette deck should be looked at as roughly the same sound quality as someone playing an lp on a $300 turntable/cartridge rig. There are lower model cassette decks available used for less than $300. Sometimes less than $200. Cassettes at thrift stores and flea markets are dirt cheap. Sometimes half a dollar... Isn't that better than paying near $30 for a new lp, or $6 for a used one whose surface looks like a "maybe" or a "maybe not"

Now at higher price ranges, a well chosen $400 turntable with a $300 cartridge ($700) might give you sound that is more palpable and clear than all but the best cassette decks. At that price, the scale might shift back over to vinyl. But you still might like something more in certain ways about the cassette's sound; a lush smoothmess and continuity. I prefer a faint hiss in the near silent passages to vinyl's ticks and pops. If your tonearm is great, you will hear much less ticks and pops. But your cartridge will have to be great not to hear inner groove distortion and a thinning of the sound towards the end of each side. You will also have to get up to flip the record, brush the stylus etc. Many good cassette decks have auto reverse where it plays through both side without having to get up and mess with it. So cassettes are coming back. It would surprise me if they came back as strongly as lp. On an absolute basis the lp is the higher quality medium. If you chased all around town and on the internet for the choicest pressings. Harry Pearson of The Absolute Sound once compared a Living Stereo reel tape to the lp of the same title. He commented how all lps have a whitish coloration compared to tape. The reel tape also won for clarity and palpable presence Cassette is a viable medium if you don't expect the world from a format that was never intended to challenge reel tape for sound quality. If you have a good moving coil cartridge on a good tonearm/turntable, you will like lps better for clarity and dynamics. But for sumptuousness and tonal beauty, tone colors, smoothness, continuity and some other things, you just may still like the sound of tape,

Not Insane:  To me, playing vinyl records is a bit like driving a classic 60s muscle car. And playing tapes is like driving a Ford model a. They both have their charms, and the former is the only way I listen to music when I'm just listening to music.

That said, I'm completely with you on cassettes. I have several hundred if not over 1,000. However, the way I acquired them was at garage sales and estate sales were people were just giving them away because they were so done with cassettes. I also have a nice pioneer CT f1250 cassette deck that's quite frankly, just fun to watch.

But I think you and I are on the exactly the same page with the cassettes in the cassette resurgence. For what it's worth, I sold Hi-Fi back in the 70s and early 80s. Back in the seventies cassette did have an advantage but all the advantages were completely destroyed when the recordable CD came out.

apislapis:  I expect that your channel will have heaps of participation bias surrounding your survey, because your expertise is 'excellence in audio' and not convenience in audio (and those pesky cassettes are fun as you aptly pointed out in another vlog). Most of the cassettes I have bought in recent years have been new old stock from Sony, TDK, Maxell, BASF et al and (pseudo) chrome prices have been silly for some time. None of the major manufacturers are in a hurry to mass produce cassettes anymore. Junior doesn't own a cassette deck, player or Walkman and she recently purchased a cassette from Fall Out Boy, not because she intended to listen to it, because she wanted to support the artist. She said it was like buying a tour poster, just another form of merch that was tactile, that she could pick up and look at and read the J card. I love my cassettes. I know that they aren't the best format for fidelity, however, you can get some excellent results if you set up your deck properly. I also use MD, vinyl, digital downloads from Bandcamp and CDs and enjoy all as each has its merits and shortcomings. I gravitate towards the older formats because they are tactile in nature. Downloads are not cuddly. If cassettes aren't dead, thay are gravely ill in hospital, much to my disappointment.

poofygoof:  The tragedy is that there is no cassette deck produced today (in 2023) that can reproduce the audio quality of what was produced decades ago in the 90s. It's not like humankind has lost the knowledge to physically produce type II or IV tape stock or a cassette deck with Dolby C or S, but the borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered 80s has reduced the majority of cassette releases to the noisiest (cheapest) type I tape with no noise reduction because that's the current lowest common denominator of available playback units.

The cassette format has limitations, but currently available releases demonstrably do not reflect the state of the art, and that's tragic.

Kudos to the indys still releasing with XDR and Dolby B.

Glade Swope replies to poofygoof: @poofygoof I'm referring to current DIY recordings, not major commercial releases. Since early-2000s, we could be the once (un)holy grail of DDD CDs very affordably! It's not about sounding better, but emulating our roots.

poofygoof replies to poofygoof: @Glade Swope it would be neat to compare current releases with decades-old DIY!

It seems weird to me that could overdub existing commercial releases on my mid-80s tape deck from the digital sources and have them sound better. Is the poor quality an aesthetic choice?

Glade Swope replies to poofygoof: "cassette releases to the noisiest (cheapest) type I tape with no noise reduction" - When sourced from an all-digital recording (now easily available at home), that approximately makes up for the noise that would have occurred if we also had to record the originals in analog on less-than-ideal gear, which was the reality of DIY recording in the 80s and early 90s.

Real Something:  Cassettes not dead... they just leave this planet.

cliz305:  I do have a nakamichi, so…

Spacedogs UK:  no soul tho you audiophiliac ......blimey .....base stuff miserible sod! ...just enjoy all formts in there own way n let live huh my friend

Andrew Hollis:  What a load of unadulterated rubbish. My fully maintained Nakamichi Cassette Deck sounds better than any streaming service period!!

Michael:  Yes, cassettes are a "dead" medium. What that means however, is where we may disagree. For me, it means that all of the time I'm putting into "fiddling" with cassettes, is actually worthwhile. I'm extending the life of some really excellent recordings. I'm listening to mixes and releases that aren't available in other formats. Every form of storage has it's achilles heel. Even the ultimate winner, digital. Hard drives fail, and sometimes it doesn't take much, or give any warning! I'm buying old commercial cassette releases and transferring them to newer tapes. I'm not bothering to import them into the computer as there's not going to be any gain in quality. I do also record digital sources to tape. That works amazingly well. As far as robust longevity, you'll be hard pressed to beat tape. I've got commercial CDs from the 80' and 90's that are rotting right away. They're dying, and there's no way to restore them. The foil is flaking right off. Cassettes ten years older than that, often play just fine. They can also be repaired pretty easily. A 40 year old HDD? You probably won't be able to read it, if it still functions at all.

Andrew Mah:  I got Metallica's newest album, 72 Seasons on cassette tape

greenjelly01:  ...and to think I used a CASSETTE ADAPTER in my first (second-hand) car because it didn't have a CD player!

Daijyobanai:  It's worth noting that a lot of new cassette sales come with a digital download included.
So when you buy the tape, and some bloke freaks out about "you could have better sound quality", you are getting a FLAC DL in the package, as I did with Wet Leg's release and others.
I've bought CDs with the same deal, CD plus zip file to dl.

Audio Masterclass replies to Daijyobanai: It raises the question whether when you're out and about you listen on your Walkman or phone. I suspect Walkman for swag. DM

Daijyobanai:  audiophiles won't understand, but cassettes are FUN. They''re an enjoyable physical product.
Stop gazing into the dark void created by your over-priced gear, and try enjoying something!

Audio Masterclass replies to Daijyobanai: DM

MrStewbee:  Just repaired my Revox B215 for $750. Plays great.

rick cary:  Home recording on pro 4 track cassette machines are getting more popular. Cassette blanks are getting quite expensive now.

elkartian:  I have 3 superb cassette decks, a Nakamichi BX 300E,a Sony professional Walkman DC 6 with amphorus head ,and Bang & Olsen Beocord 5000 all brilliant decks and most importantly with easy access for cleaning the heads ,my cassettes sound fantastic especially the pre recorded Cassettes on Chrome

John Ballentine:  Cassettes are pretty much all I buy now...

Phil Frank:  Has anybody seen what they're charging for new cassettes? Lady Gaga's reissue 10 year anniversary of Born This way was a double cassette thay sold for over $50...just craxy.

Martin Federico:  I would love to get back to cassettes, the only reason I don’t is because they’re not easily available be it the players or the tapes and the troubles of maintaining and repairs. But I would love that it catched on again and anyone could buy a new casette deck or walkman.

Audio Masterclass replies to Martin Federico: I'll have a new video coming out about cassettes soon. You may possibly get your wish. DM

BF BLETHERING:  The right choice is digital but its also the boring choice. Not everything is about the shiniest and newest thing out there. By ignoring that fact you are missing the point. Tapes aren't for audiophiles. So they are going to tell you they hate them. Because many people are insufferable about it all. Nobody is going to come along and get rid of digital but why not have fun making your own tapes? Not everything has to be qualified by how one group of people perceive it. You are allowed and have the luxury of enjoying multimedia formats in this day and age.

Audio Masterclass replies to BF BLETHERING: Apparently cassettes are fun. That's why I'll have a video out on this exact topic soon. DM

shangyien:  There are twenty or so CD player models from the mid-eighties that have the option to record and play back at twice the standard speed, bringing a very noticeable improvement in sound quality. I use a couple of these machines to copy my records and move them between my house in Australia and my flat in Spain. So cassettes still have some niche uses.

Audio Masterclass replies to shangyien: The Dual C844 is a double speed cassette deck. One would expect the higher speed to be better. Info at DM

erwin vb:  Cassettes are just perfect. I have acquired quite a stack of new blank ones and use them to record music from my vinyl collection on it to listen in the car or Walkman when I’m out of the house. Yes I could stream via my phone or even use an old iPod, but it’s not just about the music.

Charlie Yang:  I thought Paul (McCartney) is dead😅

marsu37de:  Okay, cassettes are dead for multiple reasons (and right so). But I still haven't found a new medium giving me the good mix of advantages that the cassette had. A cassette may not have the dynamic range of a CD (although with a good chrome dioxide or pure iron ("metal") tape, DOLBY C or DOLBY S and a well-adjusted bias and head position you could come very close to it), and a streaming service with more than 128 kbps mp3 may produce a better sound, a vinyl record may have nicer cover arts to display and give room to the nostalgic and meditative ceremony of unwrapping, cleaning the record and watching the stylus touch down on the beginning of the track... But until today, I haven't found a medium that gives me the following advantages simultaneously:
- a physical device that I can handle myself, present to others, share with others,
- easy recording and playback with the same device (no need to burn disks or use the PC to build my own collection),
- easy handling, compact casing, small overall dimensions,
- robust against dropping down (maybe the outer case would break, but never the cassette itself)
- no need to care for scratches or fingerprints on the surface, decent robustness to dusty or dirty environment,
- easy identification of its content by looking at the inlay sheet (which can be replaced/corrected anytime),
- some place for cover art, even not quite as nice as on the 12" vinyl record covers
- affordable price per piece...
No "newer" media show all of these advantages at once. Maybe it's a sign that today's users do not need or value them, maybe it's a different way how (esp. young) people today "consume" music... I am 58 now and I want to listen to music consciously, with affection (if it is good music, not the mass products for a broad market), I would even say today I listen to it even more attentively and consciously than in my younger days, discovering more and more details in the music. Of course, I do not use cassettes anymore, too, but more because a good, affordable cassette Tape deck is hard to find (and quality cassettes as well). But I will never forget the countless nights with my earphones on in my student's apartment, listening to my recordings (some of which I copied from CD from my friends, admittedly) and diving deep into the details of the arrangements and lyrics...

(Edited because I had written "record player" instead of "cassette tape deck")

Lewis Parker's Channel:  A good Cassette Recording sounds Exellent and full of character

ciocanxxl:  Well my primary and favorite source is still the cassette. The only streaming service for me is youtube and i use it to find new music and occasionally make a mix tape from youtube. I don't listen CD, if i have a CD i rip it and copied on the cassette. A new vinyl i listen one or twice and i copied on the cassette.
So my preference are:
1. cassette
2. youtube
3. vinyl
4. VHS Hi-Fi mix tape (maybe i'm crazy 😋)

Michael Dickson:  I had Akai and Pioneer 3 head Dolby 3 head decks with HX pro and they sounded pretty close the the original Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs UHQR LPs played on a Technics Turntable with a Shure V15III Cartridge.

Dave Totally normal Dawson:  I listed my cassettes on a popular music selling site and they are selling quite well. People seem happy to pay £10 each for them.

Ion-SHIVs:  I was just thinking... I literally have not owned a cassette player since the '80s. Haven't used a cassette since. I got my first CD player. (the original Sony DiscMan) in 1990. And, now, I haven't listened to CD's in over 20 years. (Thanks to MP3s...)

Stephen Pope:  His attitude is almost as miserable as his face..

Jacopo Villa:  I do buy cassettes. I’m fascinated by their peculiar random noises, and by the object itself. What I don’t understand is why people like Kerri Chandler are still using tape to play their perfectly hi-fi mixes. Does anyone have technical explanation for this?

Editing SECRETS revealed!:  In high school in the 80s, pretty good quality blank tapes were cheap enough to copy a few music highlights and give them to a friend. And to make an easier to use good quality backup of a vinyl record for everyday listening, limiting potential damage to the vinyl. All without concern for the expense of the blanks. Also, cassettes were good to assemble favorites to take along in the car.
CD took a while to have affordable car players & changers without skipping. Even longer to have affordable recorders and blank discs.
Minidisc a nice idea a few years later but expensive, hard to find, and very short recording time per disc if you wanted to stay at full CD quality.
At home, I couldn't afford the ultimate, a Nakamichi cassette deck, but had a pretty good Sony deck. I always let it do its 30 second calibration run on a new blank tape.
Today, I share a music playlist by emailing just the links, or parking the mp3's (good enough) on a shared drive.
Lots of room for hours of mp3's on any phone, with an app that lets you enjoy a playlist without needing the cell data plan while taking a walk. I miss my Sports Walkman's waterproof feature and satisfying physical buttons, easy to use by touch to skip a song ahead or back without having to stop what I'm doing to take it out and look at it, unlike any touchscreen phone app. And I also miss the teeny tiny ingenuity of my pop-out mini Walkman, I forget the model number now, that wrapped around half of the cassette. Those gadgets randomly left my life many years ago.

Jorge Martinez:  Streaming is compressed music... unless we pay for the lossless audio Premium Plan. Bluetooth doesn't support lossless audio either.

Audio Masterclass replies to Jorge Martinez: This is true. I look forward to a world where lossy compression is entirely a thing of the past. DM

jarrahdrum:  I like the hiss/nosie of tape, the same as old radios, the noise. these days says, people download noise apps to help them relax. Analogue sounds relax me

Mark James Meli:  Stop it. They're dead.

Retro Rambles:  Yes cassette is dead

But over the last year I've been buying tapes and making my own and buying Walkmans

I need a new deck at some point

But it's making a slight come back in terms of a bit of fun and nothing serious

bob's bit's:  hi very good point about the cassette
note i know you are very hot and know what you are talking about why i watch

note i am a format king and i have tryed them all over time
the thing is there's alot of old formats that have there fan clubs and cassette is on i done some digging in to it it is best to keep away from any new cassettes
as are run of on recorders with very high hrs on the decks and the head line up is just not right

i know a man his mate was in to cassette dubbing game the thing is alot are getting alot older now there are one's in the usa that are still
running of cassette gear i have otari DP2700 units so i can fill all my cassette bodies to the size i need

i payed very little for them be cause they are juck to a ,lot out there

loop bin cassette dubbing is a right pain in the back i been down this road big money pit

note i been looking in to old video decks there was a vhs hi-fi crazy (not good keep away as the decks are wearing out)
i have had some

note the best recording format for my money at this time (and they are wearing out alot slower is betacam hi-fi)
yes i know they are very heavy decks and the fans are not quiet and the face panels need little work
on the bvw 75 decks there are alot of good decks out there in need of homes

and there are 1000's of tape still and some are sealed new bo of 10 for £20 30min tapes some time turn
alcaste was a big no no once look at prices now

betacam could be the alcaste you never know think for your self

bob's bit's:  yes is the word i said to my old mate that on line will change the market place i saw about it on a tec show on c5 we know the one
and later came on line video in HD and incoded 5'1 sound as well

Bishka100:  Well, I'm still using minidisc, but only because my DCC recorder is broken. 🙂

PS. And I don't see what all the fuss is about anyway. I still have my trusty old 5 transistor porable reel to reel.

Roger Gadd:  I believe that several years ago, Disney was playing mind games with people when the opening sequence of a Guardians of the Galaxy movie had ELO's Mister Blue Sky with, according to the story, it being played from a cassette tape. I suspect that on the basis of that some people may have even dusted off their old cassette decks, but only to find that the rubber capstan roller had indeed perished.

Jacques Esprit replies to Roger Gadd: Having had cassette decks since childhood, I have never personally experienced that. I do not have the very first decks that I used to have. But the rollers in the Pioneer CT-91a, the Beocord 8000 and the Tandberg TCD-3014a that I have had for years and years, are the original ones, and they work well. In fact all 3 decks sound great. Only regular cleaning and now time for a quick belt change on the Beocord 8000, is the level of maintenance I have had to do so far. That is by far lower maintenance than I have had to do on my pc, router etc, as well as on my cd-player and LP player as well. Just my own experience.
Kind regards.

Roger Gadd:  I think that this video is a good summary. As it pretty much said, there isn't a single performance attribute of cassettes that isn't beaten by some other format. Well, I can't think of one.

Roger Gadd replies to Roger Gadd: @Audio Masterclass I look forward to it.

Audio Masterclass replies to Roger Gadd: It's been pointed out to me that, despite their shortcomings, cassettes are fun. I'll have a video out on this soon. DM

T Dunph:  I had plenty of tapes in the 80's up to mid 90's. Got rid of then because the older they got, and the least amount played, they were of lesser quality of sound and in some cases, the tape suffered from being "sticky" CD and vinyl never presented this kind of a problem. Personally, with my large quantities of CD's and vinyl, cassettes be damned. I could care less in terms of usual listening.

Seacam Pal:  4:00 I disagree, vinyl records can reach only 60DB of SNR they are wobbly, there is rumble, click's, pops... Ewww.. . 72 DB of signal to noise ratio is feasible with Dolby B only (on many Akaï decks). 94DB is possible with DBX. My Harman Kardon CD 491 vith a Metal tape has a 20Herts to 26 Kiloherts bandwidth. I stopped buying new vinyls! To expensive, poor pressings... One of my hobby is to make a recording on cassettes that actually has better sound quality than CD. To acheive this, i use Super Audio CD as a source and record it to a good cassette. This is my favorite prank on my studio partner. Every time i make a blind test between an original CD and a recorded cassette made with Dolby B, he chooses the copy and not the original: "Why does this copy has a better sound than the original? Why the bass is warmer and the highs are more delicate? I have the impression of listening to the original reel of the album in the studio and not a copy". It must be said that to achieve this result, the deck's are restored, calibrated and of course, these processes require time, money and effort... Just like the original reels of the majority of classic recordings! I'm not talking about the specifications of reel-to-reel tape recorders, which are disastrous to say the least at the W&F level... Apart from the Nagra. :-) Sometimes, i don't use noise reduction and i use a double layer super ferric cassette ( TDK-AR X ) to restore the background noise removed from digitaly re-mastered CD'S; i don't like to hear the pumping effect of the noise gate to remove hiss in quiet passages. I prefer my copy with a constant background noise ( the brain is dealing with) and a clear sound. It's like a time machine to go back in the 60's studio recording console! I hear every detail with the original noise restored. Nature is analog. Long live to analog cassette tape!

Roy Tofilovski:  Back in the "olden days" I liked cassettes a lot. Cheap, portable, and much easier to maintain than vinyl records. I loved them. But today I would never consider listening to music over cassette. I listen to vinyl because I enjoy the ritual involved, as well as the album art. But for sound quality vinyl absolutely sucks, worse than even cassette and that is saying A LOT.

Roy Tofilovski:  Kids are buying music on cassettes, and new albums to boot? Why? If it's about cost, streaming costs around 10 bucks a month, 15 or so for CD quality, and you have every song on Earth at your fingertips. I don't stream music from a service. I like listening to FLAC files from a hard disc, and also vinyl. But if I could not afford that, then I would sign up for a streaming service before I would ever listen to cassettes. Frankly, even listening to songs over YT is better than cassettes.

Todd Hartle:  I prefer to buy digital downloads. How does that quality compare to streaming?

Editing SECRETS revealed! replies to Todd Hartle: @Todd Hartle You've got a number for one side. Then you'd need to compare that to what your streaming provider offers you. Also 256k? Better? Worse? Mp3 or some other type of codec? Does it vary based on moment to moment network congestion, with no guarantees? Finally, how does the same song sound to you from either source, after matching the overall volume level?

Todd Hartle replies to Todd Hartle: @Editing SECRETS revealed! just from Amazon, 256kbps Mp3 files I believe.

Editing SECRETS revealed! replies to Todd Hartle: Depends on the quality level of the download and the stream. Generally the download is higher quality because it doesn't have to be compressed enough to reach you in real time over a limited network. But a deluxe stream might have a higher data rate than a dirt-cheap download.

EX::PG Retail:  Young people? I'm 18 and I LOVE cassettes!

Audio Masterclass replies to EX::PG Retail: That's what I said in the video. DM

Thom Shivers:  Audio cassettes are far from dead. Check out successful cassette artists such as Amulets and Hainbach and initiatives such as Cassette Store Day. You would be surprised of the number of specialised cassette labels worldwide with a wide and eclectic range of music styles only available on cassette!

Editing SECRETS revealed! replies to Thom Shivers: @Audio Masterclass Do it yerselfers might make a lot more money from just a few cassette or vinyl sales than from a million plays on Spotify, if they can even get them.

Audio Masterclass replies to Thom Shivers: Considering it costs next to nothing to release on Spotify and the other digital services, I have to think that cassette releases are a marketing gimmick. There's nothing wrong with that if people enjoy it and I might look into it in a future video. DM

Sven Schwingel:  There was no need for a Nakamichi deck. They were excellent machines but others also knew how to get good high frequency reproduction out of the compact cassette.

Editing SECRETS revealed! replies to Sven Schwingel: Overkill for people who cherish precision engineering at the top of the line, the same way that after a certain point a Swiss watch isn't about knowing what the current time is.

Audio Masterclass replies to Sven Schwingel: I use Nakamichi as an example because I've heard them and considering the limitations of the format the sound is amazing. I've also used both Revox and Studer cassette decks and they were very good but no more than that. Of course, there may be other decks as excellent as Nakamichi but I haven't heard them (yet). DM

thvsch:  I love audio cassettes and i still have lots of fun playing tapes and recording. I have a Denon 3-head deck and a fully operational Tascam 246 4-track recorder, both in excellent condition. I still buy pre-recorded tapes these days, because some artists only release their music on tapes. Maybe not everybody’s piece of cake but the audio cassette surely has not died in several underground music scenes.

thvsch replies to thvsch: @Audio Masterclass The cassette artists i’m interesting in are mostly artistic, creative musicians. They experiment with loops and speed modulation, even degradation of the tape itself. I have always loved the mechanical part of cassette operation. Actually, i bought two simple but decent quality new portable Sony cassette players for my kids to experiment as well and they love it! Audio isn’t always about sound quality, it’s about interaction and excitement!

Audio Masterclass replies to thvsch: It strikes me that an upcoming band might release an album on cassette because there are people who will specifically search for albums that are only available on cassette. Possibly. DM

Cassette Head:  Cassettes need more love ❤️ I don't care what anybody says about Cassettes and Cassette players.😅I enjoy playing all my cassettes and I take very good care of all my cassettes. I love recording and making mix tapes still in 2023 # It's all about choice ! I say like what you like.Streaming sucks !

Editing SECRETS revealed! replies to Cassette Head: Just like model railroads are a very inefficient way to move stuff around the room, there will always be people who find it a joy to have a tinkering hobby.

Mark Killey:  Most technology has it's day sadly. But I don't think streaming is a good solution. My only problem with cassette player with belts in them they fail.

dvd cd man:  yes tape are DEAD!!! we dont use them anymore

Editing SECRETS revealed! replies to dvd cd man: Pretty clear from the comments that a lot of people still find it a lively enjoyable format.

Wild Weasel:  It’s about owning a physical copy of your favorite music. Most people don’t give a rats a* about sound quality (whatever that may be these days with blue tooth equipment). Btw, reel2reel should have been an option. :) To my ears, a master tape played on a Revox PR99 has sound more convincing than the same album played digitally via a Bryston BDA 3.14 DAC.

Michael Graves:  Cassettes in 2023 are a novelty driven by nostalgia alone. They're not being made. People are paying serious $ for new, old stock cassettes. They were once very popular, which is the only reason there is still a small amount of old stock hiding in corners.

John Ballentine replies to Michael Graves: They actually are being made still.

Musical Neptunian:  OK, as an 80's generation kid I have a stack-load of cassettes. But I have no cassette player. The last one that worked I dropped about 10 years ago and the player broke. One area that you forgot was in education; cassettes dominated universities until the mid 90's. Needed a recording of the lecture because you missed it? It was on cassette. An audio assignment was handed to every student? You all got a cassette copy; I still have my 1993 linguistics transcription assignment cassette tape on my shelf. Need to go to the language library and learn a language? They were all on cassettes. Incredibly CDs didn't get a look in at universities for over a decade despite the CD format being invented in 1982.

Editing SECRETS revealed! replies to Musical Neptunian: The format was originally for speech transcription and information. That it was made stereo and fairly high fidelity was amazing engineering after the introduction. My family had a Norelco Cassette-Corder taken along for music lessons to hear the practice exercises. Today it would be captured on the kid's phone.

Eric Berger:  I ever used cassettes only as "backup" of vinyl, radio and CD, longest for car, walkman and the famous '"girl friend compilations". I bought music I like most as Vinyl and/or CD. I used cassettes for "common" music and mainly for old recordings from older music lovers or musicians. In late 70s and early 80s, Jazz and Blues recordings of the 50s and 60s were hard to find. Original releases of Verve, BlueNote, Impulse etc have been suspended and the back catalogs were only available as compilations, mostly in bad quality. Only Atlantic, later WEA, as major lable was still publishing new recordings. Beginning in the early 1980s the re-releasing of old recordings was boosted by the CD and their possible profit for the lables. Unfortunately with less experience in digital audio and no effort in transfer or remastering. And there the market for used records started tiny and slow. So, the cassettes were needed until CD-burners and AD-/DA-cards for PCs get common.

Beside the hybris of the music industry with streaming, there are good remasters today, also for HighRes-download, and the market for used records is strong. I'm buying older, used vinyl only, and the quality of orignal Vinly from the late 50s to the late 70s on a modern HiFi-set floors me, even if the condition of the copy ist not so good. And I buy used CDs because there are enough releases until the 2020 not avaliable as new CD today, nor as streaming or download. I recovered a lot of my Cassettes content. For the rest, I use my used Denon DRM-800, bought for 200 EUR, for playbak only until the deck or I will die. Cassettes are only sastisfying with CrO2- or Me-tape, Dolby and a maintained Cassettes-Deck, but only Fe2O3 tape is in production today, because for reel-to-reel other tape types never get real common. The development of digital audio started in the late 60s and the development of analog-tape in professional audio came to an end then. Yes, so early. Beginning in 1978 Classical music recordings were made digital, and since 1980-81 all major lables are using digital only for the production masters of all music. Good cassette-decks with noise reduction are also no more in production since 20 years. For me, Cassettes is alive only 2% in deed.

Glade Swope replies to Eric Berger: And that's why the record companies accused the cassette tape of "killing music"!

Editing SECRETS revealed! replies to Eric Berger: @Eric Berger That all makes sense.
"I think, it had not only been done to overcome issues in the production chain or due to traditional workflow." Exactly! To get high frequencies back from vinyl, you have to boost them in the master recording. Took a while for some mastering shops to realize you don't need to do that any more on digital, so some of those early digital releases were too bright.

Eric Berger replies to Eric Berger: @Editing SECRETS revealed! Cassettes can last very long and their content is not so special to spend the effort in capturing as digital transfer until now, despite the fact, that I have two good Audio Interfaces and a DAW.
I also replace releases of the 80's to mid 90's with digital remasters because of the harshness of the orignal release. I think, it had not only been done to overcome issues in the production chain or due to traditional workflow. The quality of control rooms acoustics and monitor speakers was not as today. Only a few studios were using LEDE-design i.e. as standard, and the monitors where no good in the higher bands because it was not needed with analog tape. My most extreme example is 'Tug Of War' by Paul McCartney. Original release as Vinyl recorded at AIR Studios. Cuts your eardrum out. The famous Dire Straits recordings from there, that time, have similar problems. The second issue was "optimization" for car audio and disco in using Exciters excessively. The US productions from that time are more friendly but same sound design.

Editing SECRETS revealed! replies to Eric Berger: One thing to add I lived through at the time: CDs were often excessively bright for the format's first few years, as mastering engineers didn't realize they no longer needed the high frequency boost to overcome the high frequency rolloff response of an analog master tape.
I understand the appeal of importing your content only available on cassettes. But what's the advantage of continuing to use it for playback, instead of capturing it all into computer for instant random access and no degradation from repeat plays?

David Jamison:  I must be a odd man out. For now, I discover lots of music on YouTube. I’m relooking at my cassettes again. Back then, cassettes were the most convenient way to play music in cars and other “mobile” devices.

Editing SECRETS revealed! replies to David Jamison: If you mean enjoying music recorded to cassettes many years ago, I can see the point of revisiting old cassettes. I can't imagine any benefit today to recording a cassette mixtape, instead of transferring mp3's to a phone to take with you.

Matthew Humphreys:  I see the cassette resurgence as just another fad. Cassettes are a novelty to those that didn't grow up with them and that's fine. There's no logic in buying new music on cassette, but I can understand the novelty in making a mixtape. Now, excuse me as I go back to listening to a mixtape I recorded off the radio (in mono) back in 1980.

Musical Neptunian replies to Matthew Humphreys: When I was a kid in the 80's my local book library had an upstairs section where you could borrow cassettes. Music, audiobooks etc. Of course now there's no cassette tape to be seen.

Somebloke:  After your video on cassette the other week I dug out my Yamaha KX200 and put it back in my system. The heads have been regularly cleaned and demagnetised. I recorded the CD of Space Shanty by Khan (sans Dolby) onto a CrO2 to compare the two. It sounded surprisingly good. Better than I remember in fact. I've also dug out a box of dub reggae tapes and listened to those too.

David Morley:  Cassettes are fine. They get a bad rap. I’ve mastered releases from cassette. Nobody complained or noticed. Well recorded and well maintained decks can sound excellent.
My bigger problem is the quality of what people are listening to music on these days.

Nic c:  Well reasoned but as a greying old music (or sound) fan here's my perspective. I disliked the high speed duplicated cassettes and the 'Dolby out' trick compensated for the losses even on a well maintained deck. But I also had some non dolby cassettes (tubular bells being one) and despite the hiss, sounded very good. My prime use of cassettes was RECORDING, one off radio programmes, field recordings (the sound of a JT9D engine as a rear passenger in a BAC 1-11), personal life moments, concert bootlegs, Tony Blackburn unable to pronounce "Duran Duran". The only medium available to me. I even blocked off the permanent magnet erase head from engaging on blank tapes on portable recorders. Eventually I bought a Sony D6C. We cannot rewind those times, so the cassette is all I have, to the best recording at the time, no Dolby, an Altai electret one point stereo mic powered by a 1.5V button cell. It definitely is not about the quality, it is not even the nostalgia for the medium, it is the only thing I have, and the original source is just that, and it is cassette. You'll not be surprised to learn I also have DAT recorded in the field as well as later solid state recorder balanced mics with phantom power, but they hadn't been invented when the JT9D jet engine was making its classic sound taking holidaymakers to far off destinations. I've boxes and boxes of the things, and a lot I have 'ripped' to compressed digital format for ease of access cataloguing and listening convenience. Those old ILR commercial - LOCAL - radio stations (remember those?) had some unique output and adverts. Even the BBC local stations, even national output. Preserved (in part) on cassette. You mentioned demo tapes, which were on cassette, never made it to vinyl or CD. Unique, and highly valued by the artists most dedicated fan base and essential inclusion on CD box sets, hiss and all. YouTube, Mixcloud and Soundcloud are sources for others' recordings of rare and unique material, personal recordings when radio really was national or local with character we do not hear today, so I would cite any of those as a source, because it is all we had, all we have, unless I went along to the provider of the material to listen with them, but I am eternally grateful, and humbled that someone else took the time to make a recording, no matter how poor the quality (many of medium wave!) available to a wider audience. If we had waited around for "something better" and simply not used the medium we had, those sounds would have been lost forever, hiss, HF loss and all.

Guitarzan Bikes:  Bands doing limited release cassettes is making a comeback, just like the diy punk days of 70's & 80's, I'm involved with some bands doing this using portastudios etc, part of the appeal is the lofi diy ethic, same as back in the day, photocopied inserts etc, some amazing stuff being produced!

James Carter replies to Guitarzan Bikes: Reminds me of around 1990 when samplers started getting really good and could do CD-quality sampling, and acts like Beck and Cypress Hill used them to make these grainy-sounding creations which sounded awesome with basically 'bad sound quality' used strategically in the mix.

xanataph:  I think I get it. They are doing it for the same reason that teenagers & young adults in the 1970s and 1980s bought originals on cassette rather than vinyl, even though they knew that records were patently better and also knew about dubbing from record to cassette.

It's because they wanted the *original copy*, but they wanted it in a format that is more convenient to carry around (and possibly for storage purposes as well). They were prepared to accept the inferior quality in return for these benefits. Plus, a lot of people's music centres etc didn't do particularly well with the dubbing from record to cassette.

I think it is much the same now, but with the added dimension that they want to be a little bit "hipster" and have their music on an analogue medium, like a record, rather than a digital one but don't want the bulkiness of vinyls. I believe just like back in the day, cassette releases also tend to be a little cheaper than the vinyl versions.

CaptainDangeax:  I like cassettes. I put a compilation into by cassette deck and voilà, one hour and a half of music. I like the pleasure of making complications. I like the physical device. It's not for hifi listening purpose, CDs are better, it's just for background music

Editing SECRETS revealed! replies to CaptainDangeax: If it's just quietly in the background, the noise and distortion artifacts of a cassette aren't noticeable at all.

Adam Machin:  I know Knucks but I’m not an old timer. 30s, so not the youth buying cassettes either. Perhaps Stranger Things on Netflix is responsible for the resurrecting of cassettes, it baffles me. Perhaps the desire for analog audio, and physical media, and vinyl records being too expensive. Either way if history is repeating itself, think of all the joy that’s coming when they discover CDs.

Scott Cortez:  opinions like this are like saying oil painting on canvas is dead and 'painting' on your ipad is superior.

Eddie's Albums:  People HATE surveys, and when forced to do them, they will do whatever they can to finish quickly and give answers that they "think" are mainstream so they don't have to take time to ponder their real opinions.

Audio Masterclass replies to Eddie's Albums: To be clear, no-one was forced to take this survey. DM

Back 2 the 80's:  I listen to high-quality cassettes on a superb Nakamichi deck. Let me say that it's leagues better sound than streaming.

Back 2 the 80's replies to Back 2 the 80's: @James Carter I know what you mean. I also have a Harmon Kardon dual cassette deck and it is in pristine condition. The dynamic range and warmth are unreal. It's always great to meet like-minded friends.

James Carter replies to Back 2 the 80's: True story, I've got a Technics M11 and it's a very-good but not amazing deck, but it still sounds WAY better than a lot of music online.

MrCowfood:  It so happens professional musicians use cassettes to create their music: Nine Inch Nails for example. Recording on a tascam 424 4 separate tracks, then performing with bringing in parts in and out with the volume sliders. This ends up on your medium of choice. All said, you are listening to cassette in these cases whether you want to, or not.

Editing SECRETS revealed! replies to MrCowfood: As soon as Trent could afford Studio Vision he recorded and rearranged in the box.

James Lewis:  I find this subject painfully hilarious… The first CD I bought was U2’s “Achtung Baby” and I never bought a cassette again, except for blank ones I used for recordings. Not long after getting used to listening to CDs I realized that most cassettes already started to sound worse within the first five times playing them.

D. Wyn:  I understand that streaming is commonplace and convenient, but why not rip music from compact disc to flac if a person is into quality sound. I also understand that space is at a premium, but so is data. I loved cassette tapes, except the rewinding and fast forwarding to search for a favorite song. I like the small form factor too. 🎶

Hello Meat Robots replies to D. Wyn: Why rip CDs when someone else has already digitized them for you? Likely for every CD you own, or ever will own, and in at least CD quality.

summer20105707:  I am. I love cassettes as much as records and cd. The young want the experience of listening to cassettes. And of course cleaning your deck head and using quality cassettes made a big difference. I just bought and listened to Eddie Money released on a chrome cassette from 1977 and it sounded spectacular. Of course I'm middle aged so my ears aren't what they used to be, but I know from experience cassettes can sound awesome.

nagy endre:  I do not belong to any of those cathegories of listeners.
I am buying & downloading hi-res FLAC albums and listen to them from my PC + audio system.
(And yes! Cassettes are dead, for me).

FrequincyRecording:  Love cassettes. Just bought a pristine Revox B215. It’s absolutely amazing. I also have two Nakamichi Dragons👍
Cassettes are alive and well in our household.

Phillip Kelly:  Cd is all i need

SnarkyRC:  I'm glad I'm not most people. Maintenance is important for mechanical devices.

IggyWildcat:  I think “Guardians of the Galaxy” had a part in the up-tick in the format. It generated nostalgia for older folks and curiosity for the kids. It’s not always about the quality of the playback. ▶️

James Carter replies to IggyWildcat: Definitely, and maybe Stranger Things, and the Karate Kid tv show with flashbacks showing Johnny using a 1982 Walkman in 1980 :) I noticed prices on Walkmans really spiked for a couple of years, like brand-new prices for used machines that still worked.

Paul D:  Love CDs and vinyl, but a well recorded cassette played back on a Nakamichi deck still sounds amazing in 2023.

Kjetil A.S. Pettersen:  People recorded the strangest things on cassettes. I'm addicted to thrifting old home recordings, so much weird and interesting stuff. A lot of stuff worth sampling. Cassettes are often like time capsules, with moments of the past you either forgot about or never heard. Is it dead? It depends on who you ask i guess. I love the hiss, the hypnotic reels and the archeological value. 😊

Glade Swope replies to Kjetil A.S. Pettersen: @James Carter Multiple track recording was invented for live surround (quad, Fantasia, etc.), and was discovered later as means to record instruments separately. Before then, even the best commercial studios had to mix it all live. The FM signal probably couldn't carry the 70s quadrophonic format properly, due to it already using a carrier for stereo. Maybe using two stations?

James Carter replies to Kjetil A.S. Pettersen: I have reel-to-reel tapes of a radio station from Portland, Oregon in the early '70s that only existed for like three years, and it's the holy grail of my media collection. There is NOWHERE else to hear this stuff, and I might have the only recordings in existence of some of it. There are advertisements for a popular music store's third anniversary sale, and they've been around for like 55 years. It's unbelievable. KQED, Rockin' in Quad! They claimed to be quadrophonic, but nobody broadcasted in quad.

xanataph replies to Kjetil A.S. Pettersen: There is definitely a good kick in finding some music etc that you haven't heard before that didn't come off the internet! :)

cfjr:  Man your slo-mo face during Betty's part always cracks me up

Audio Masterclass replies to cfjr: I aim to please. DM

Stuart Coyle:  Thanks for announcing the timely death of the cassette. Whatever happened to the 8 track? I used to use these in the studio and had one in my car. Time for the 8 track revival!

Stuart Coyle replies to Stuart Coyle: @Audio Masterclass My call for an 8 track revival was tounge in cheek of course. They were awful clunky things, and you are correct in the studio it was a NAB cartridge, it made a half decent tape loop echo if you wanted.

Audio Masterclass replies to Stuart Coyle: @Editing SECRETS revealed! Yes I agree, very practical. Terrible sound. DM

Editing SECRETS revealed! replies to Stuart Coyle: @Audio Masterclass I used 'em too. The one good thing about a cart is that it's pretty sturdy to shove it into the player and know it will start precisely cued up when you hit the button.

Editing SECRETS revealed! replies to Stuart Coyle: Cassettes are smaller, more convenient than 8 track, easy to make your own recordings, better sound quality. Why in the world stick with 8 tracks? 8 track to cassette is the easiest to understand popular format transition ever.

Audio Masterclass replies to Stuart Coyle: I never used 8-track but professionally I did use the NAB cart which wasn't all that different. Hated it, but there wasn't a practical alternative at the time. DM

Mark Vandenberg:  Thank you for the good memories. I loved the various cassette decks I owned in my youth, though none of them were ever cleaned. Guilty as charged. 😂 It’s water over the dam now, as I don’t have any intention of going back to that format.

Fitzjames Wood:  Later cassette machines were really good, even consumer stuff including Pioneer's 'Digital Noise' reduction. Despite this, technically, cassette was always inferior...just like MP3 or cheaper hifi gear...but that's all irrelevant as most people listen to music on cheap radios, computer speakers or crappy headphones and still derive enjoyment from the music. The fetishistic obsession of engineers and hifi enthusiasts with gear and 'quality' invariably exceeds the capabilities of the human ear to hear it.

Why cassette still rocks?

1.Extremely durable format (I play tapes I recorded in 1978..over 40 years old and they work the same as they did in 1978). Compared to Youtube's digitally remastered Dark side of the Moon, Pink Floyd the old cassette of the original vinyl was markedly better sounding...noisier but so much more dynamic.
2. With decent decks, cassette can sound very good (human ears are very forgiving; why mp3 is so popular).
3. Linear. You tend to listen to whole albums and appreciate tracks you would have initially skipped. These overlooked tracks invariably become favourites.
4. The tactile, tangible nature of the format engages you more with the music, instead of distracting with the camera work of a high production video etc..
5. It is great fun making recordings. This is why some young people fall in love with the format. Make your own labels, J cards, opposed to a dry streaming playlist on a remote web page.
6. I have recordings from 1982 and I can still play them, digitise and remaster them. I can not play/find digital stuff I did a few years ago as the latest OS/plugins/ DAW/Computer are now incompatible with it. (Why Steve Albini still uses tape).
7. Top record producer, Trevor Horn recently said; aspiring engineers and producers would do well to learn the craft by starting out on a cassette 4 track machine and with good reason.

Paul Pavlou:  I have a large collection of music on cassette tape (TDK SA-X tape) half of which I recorded on my Nakamichi 600 tape deck from vinyl on a AR XA turntable using either a Stanton 681EEE or Dynavector 50X cartridge, needless to say they sounded pretty good. More importantly was the music that was mixed tapes for the car, parties and various moods from my youth. If I could find a service technician good enough to restore my old Nakamichi tape deck in Sydney Australia, I would do it in a heartbeat- just for the memories as well as the sound quality. I also use to demagnetise and clean the head’s regularly. As I was an audiophile and OCD, so my daughter pointed out to me when she was a teen.

sides up:  Every medium has a different sound. Some people like the cassette's sound. It's warm and smooth and has great continuity, and tape is the only true analog medium which doesn't have ticks and pops. It's coming back. Welcome it.

James Carter replies to sides up: I like tapes too but they do get static sometimes and often have lesser sound quality overall, and records don't all have "ticks and pops" but lots of people never really learned how to use records properly, like cleaning, lubricating and removing the static from them, or picking a good needle and balancing it properly, so that's why there are lots of people whose experience with records is 'lots of noise' instead of what I get, which is very smooth, rich sound quality out of records that are in good shape (because we're not comparing 'good tapes' to 'bad records' here, we're comparing the best of each format, and records win that contest). Tapes are definitely not "coming back" like they're gonna be on the shelf at Target next to the records, but they have their users.

Joe L:  I was speaking to an employee at the local music store (they stock vinyl, CDs, cassettes, even some 8 track, pretty much the last one in my town) and he said "Guardians of the Galaxy" spiked cassette and Walkman sales at his store, and then "Stranger Things" spiked them again last year, and he's been having younger people coming in buying cassettes on a pretty regular basis since then.

Shpater:  I Thank you very much for your series of very interesting topics videos.

Re YouTube as a viable HiFi Streaming:
I specialize in streaming HiRes HiFi Audio Via YT.
The Audio source files I stream Are a Remaster I do for very well known as well as rare music tracks and albums, mostly are sourced from a Vinyl Records from my Private LP Collection.
Theoretically you would not expect an outstanding result as the final product is made of many generations and conversions:
1. Original Master Tape ==>
2. Original vinyl ==>
3. Original Vinyl Playback ==>
4. Hi Res Analogue to Digital Audio conversion and capture ==>
5. Many Digital Audio Processing steps and Remastering to a Digital 96/24 PCM audio WAV File ==>
6. 4K MOV Video File with HiRes 96/24 PCM sound Track ==>
7. Upload to YT ==>
8. YT Processing ==>
9. YT Streaming to the Playback device ==>
10. DAC on Playback machine.

However, You are invited to discover many items on my channel which rivals hi qulity streaming services such as Tidal as well as many original CD versions.

Link to a sample track:



Steven Sawyer:  You keep streaming if it Rock's your boat .The physical format is back 😂

kevin deem:  I just got on ebay new old stock nakamichi bx300, paid 600.00 plus shipping and tax, love it, I got a total of 4 nakamichi cassette decks, and type 2 cassettes, anyway I'm have a lot of fun, wish I had all that in the 80's. I'm more of a vinyl record guy, love analog

Seiskid:  Sure its just a hobby but I still run them. I'm able to get amazing recordings from hifi streaming and they give me a lot of pleasure how good they sound. The decks after all these years are a high maintenance item, I service them myself, and I can imagine this would be a pain if you didn't have the ability to do this. Unfortunately "collectors" got into the game and quality tapes are unaffordable now. I'm fortunate in that I've enough tapes to keep me going for quite a while.

Nicholas DeLessio:  Recently, I bought into the cassette format for some fun. I found a decent Onkyo deck for dirt cheap at a thrift store and was curious how good (or bad) the sound quality would be recording onto the normal, cheap cassettes that most people would actually buy. I serviced the deck and splurged on a set of Maxell UR-90s.

These were my takeaways from the experience:

- Cassettes don't sound great, but they don't sound godawful. With a decent deck in good working order they sound perfectly acceptable. They're a step down from other formats, particularly the noise floor, but if you're not being too critical they're okay. Somewhere in the neighborhood of FM radio to my ears, maybe marginally worse.

- Their main advantage, all but gone in the digital age, seems to be how very easy it is to fire off your own recordings. You set the levels, press the red button, and off you go. I don't think any other mainstream format has ever invited you to record as much as a cassette tape does.

- They're also handy as a portable format. I have an older MX-5 which happens to have a working tape deck (I serviced it so that I could use the adapter) and once I'd gone through with the effort to doctor up a mixtape, it was pretty nice to be able to just grab the tape and listen in the car. There's no having to worry about internet connections or battery levels and stuff, only the small issue of the stability of a fragile 30 year old tape mechanism which could go rogue any moment. The Miata tape deck is even the fancy kind which automatically detects the ends of songs for you. It's impressive in an "awww, you go little guy!" kind of way.

So overall I won't be pouring money into the format. I've had my fun. But I can also see the (limited) appeal to people who never experienced it, as a novelty. I was pretty young when cassettes were in vogue and so had to confirm their performance for myself, but yeah. They're fun as long as you don't expect too much, can service electronics (almost all old cassette decks seem to have something wrong with them), and don't waste too much of your money.

James Carter replies to Nicholas DeLessio: Maxell UR-90 are not particularly good tapes, so your review is unsurprising, but I think the so-so performance you got was because of the tapes and not the machine. I've used quite a few UR series tapes and they're distinctly subpar to the equivalent TDK or Sony standard tapes, and I'm actually starting to purge them from my collection. Just recently I taped something on a UR60 and it just sounded mushy and unfortunate. Then I used a Sony HF and it sounded much better.

tactileslut:  Streaming compression breaks the music more offensively than transit through a good tape mechanism. Few survive and none are being made, but a thirty year old cassette deck beats a Spotify subscription.

ray cochrane:  I still have a couple of Yamaha 4 Track cassette machines, a couple of cassette decks and lots of cassettes. I do use the 4 tracks occasionally, (I like the preamp colour), and play cassettes less often. I still have them and look after them.

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Thursday April 20, 2023

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David Mellor

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

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