Who is still into cassettes or getting back into them? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 18 Old 06-13-2020, 07:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Who is still into cassettes or getting back into them?

I got back into it again 5 years ago. I own a Yamaha, KX-1200, 2 x Yamaha KX800, a Yamaha K720, and a Yamaha KX500. I recently adjusted the tape speed on the first four decks on my list.

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post #2 of 18 Old 06-14-2020, 02:13 AM
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I never did really get into them, except for car listening, back in the day of cassette decks being standard in cars. My 99 CR-V had a cassette deck. When they came out, I replaced it with a minidisc player, then later just a cd player.

I am surprised that there is not more of a resurgence in tape given the interest in vinyl. A friend of mine is into vinyl, he records and album on reel to reel when he first plays it, then leaves the album alone.

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post #3 of 18 Old 06-16-2020, 08:01 AM
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What could you possibly like about cassettes? I have a player as you can see from my signature. I primarily use it to digitize other peoples old personal family recordings. The "quality" cassette recordings that i have, still have no where near the fidelity of the vinyl or digital versions.
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post #4 of 18 Old 06-18-2020, 05:38 AM
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I recently got a like-new Yamaha Kx-390.

Been collecting decks and Walkmans for past several years.

Partly for nostalgia, partly for appreciation of analog and the "tape sound".

re: fidelity- home recorded cassette tapes can readily sound indistinguishable from source vinyl/CD, depending on deck and tape quality and record setting care.

Similar issue to CD/DVD recording to blanks in the 2000's- most posters on forums like this claim CD-R/DVD-R recording is unreliable, error prone, and recordings don't last.

But when quality proven blanks are used and correct process for recording is followed, I've rarely had issues making or using recorded discs.

Cassettes I recorded to quality TDK blanks in the 80's still work and sound excellent now.

Again, quality cassette media and decks can be a great alternative to obtain "tape sound" vs going the large reel-reel route.

Vintage media can be obtained for almost free noways- commercially produced cassette tapes.

However, commercially produced tapes are another pain point re: most consumer's memories of cassettes- poor quality media construction and tape formulation, poor recorded sound quality.

But by the mid 80's, with Chrome and HX-Pro/XDR (Xtended Dynamic Range and similar systems like SR=Spectral Recording) recording (look at tape fine print for XDR/SR/HX Pro), commercial tapes sounded very good to excellent.

Bottom line- lots of great "tape sound" available at thrift/yard sales, coupled with home recorded 100% analog recording on a good deck with good media from vinyl (or CD/SACD/BluRay) are reasons to pursue cassette vs reel-reel if you want that saturated analog tape sound.

Quality cassette media can easily match vintage analog reel-reel at 3.75ips, probably 7.5ips or higher as reel tape never got the better tape formulations cassettes did.

By the late 80s/early 90s, it was common knowledge among audiophiles, demonstrated by blind A-B tests at meets, that a home recorded cassette could sound transparent to vinyl/CD source

FWIW, I also bought into vintage late 70's Pioneer high end serviced 8 track decks (HR99/100) to play original 70's/early 80's 8 track commercial tapes for 100% analog 70s tape sound

8 tracks run at 3.75ips vs cassettes at 1-7/8ips, though 8 tracks never got better formulations that cassettes got in the 80s and later, compensating for the 1-7/8ips speed due to very fine/high energy magnetic particles, ie very high particle/square inch density vs typical vintage reel tape. Hence, more particles/energy could pass over the tape head per unit time on better cassette formulations vs most commonly available reel or 8 track tape for consumers.
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post #5 of 18 Old 06-18-2020, 05:56 AM
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Bottom line- poor quality commercial tape releases and the general poor quality of mass market consumer cassette decks vs higher end top line decks, coupled with the average joe buying the lowest cost/quality cassette blanks that may jam in a low-ish cost car player are all factors that gave bad reputation to cassettes.

By the 90s, automakers stock cassette decks in most cars weren't too bad from a sound and mechanical quality perspective

With higher sampling rates nowadays, I wouldn't recommended younger generations to get into analog tape, unless you are a big fan of 60s-80s music and/or analog tape sound. This assumes the album you are interested in was recorded analog in the studio, as by the late 70s/early 80s, many albums began to be recorded digitally. May as well have the CD is those cases.

Just a fun side hobby for 2ch music, assuming you can get good deals on used/thrift gear in good conditoin and/or you are willing to service up to specs. Otherwise, if what you want is to home record from vinyl or other sources, get a 24/96 or 24/192 SD card recorder like a Tascam /Sony or similar and call it a day.

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post #6 of 18 Old 06-18-2020, 06:06 AM
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I have a (mix tape) cassette library that I have been listening to for over 40 years; I even re-made a few of them a couple of years ago when I bought my latest Nak (see sig). Basically, I have transferred (selected) songs of every album I own to cassette, much like I have ripped (selected) songs of every CD I own to FLAC on a HDD. My tape of choice is (old) 90 minute Maxell UDXL-II and some XL-II. I try to listen to cassettes a couple of times a month to keep the deck in good working order (it has been serviced a couple of times).
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post #7 of 18 Old 06-18-2020, 06:15 AM
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Millennial's are adopting tape (and LP's for that matter) for underground music not easily accessible otherwise. And for the general hipster doofus lifestyle that mandates such obscurity. I hate tape but if it forces people to actually buy real media rather than digital streaming I can't say anything bad about it. I can only pass silent judgement...
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post #8 of 18 Old 06-18-2020, 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Stanton View Post
I have a (mix tape) cassette library that I have been listening to for over 40 years; I even re-made a few of them a couple of years ago when I bought my latest Nak (see sig). Basically, I have transferred (selected) songs of every album I own to cassette, much like I have ripped (selected) songs of every CD I own to FLAC on a HDD. My tape of choice is (old) 90 minute Maxell UDXL-II and some XL-II. I try to listen to cassettes a couple of times a month to keep the deck in good working order (it has been serviced a couple of times).
I assume from vinyl/analog sources to cassette?

To me, the value of keeping cassettes going is if you want 100% analog chain/sound, ie never in the digital domain. Same reason to keep Walkman cassette portables going if what you want is music that never was digitized and want 100% analog sound while mobile (exercise, car, plane, etc). Other top reasons would be to play/preserve (copy to another medium) vintage media- commercial releases or home/live recordings.

Again, for most people, audiophiles included, I think recent vintage, quality 24/192 digital recorders can make recordings from analog sources that most/all audiophiles would find hard/impossible to distinguish from source (ie 50/50 random in a double blind audition), assuming a good playback device/headphones/speakers

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post #9 of 18 Old 06-19-2020, 07:21 AM
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FWIW, I got into MiniDisc circa 1993-94 around their release and started home recording CD/tape/vinyl mixes to MD at that time, and bought a Sony MZR30 portable MD recorder ~1998 for live concert recording.

I couldn't afford a top line cassette deck at the time like a Nak or Yamaha or even the top Pioneer/Sony decks of the 90s, so MiniDisc was a godsend alternative and had an honest 15+ year run among audio enthusiasts/philes, still used by many studios/radio.

Lots of great audience cassette recordings from the 70s and 80s demonstrate what analog cassette could do, see Youtube and search your favorite 70s-80s band bootlegs

Yes, there were high quality Sony/Marantz/other battery operated cassette recorders in the 70s...


(Rerun bootlegs the Doobies with a cassette recorder ~1977-78)

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post #10 of 18 Old 06-19-2020, 08:00 AM
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What's a cassette... ?
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post #11 of 18 Old 06-19-2020, 08:58 AM
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What's a cassette... ?
You asked!

Cassette--a tape format designed by Philips in the early 60's to record voice messages on answering machines. By the late 60's, the 8 track was for music and the cassette was for answering machines. However, the inner theif of youth liked the recording aspect of cassette coupled with them being smaller and not switching tracks was a bonus! Fidelity? Who cares when it's "free"! The 70's rocked on and as more people wanted their own "mix tapes" for love song complations to get their groove on in the back of custom vans--the cassette as a viable sound format took off.

The sound fad started in 1965 and was running out of steam by the mid 70's until the invention of the boombox which pushed cassette to the forfront--it was smaller and used less battery power for the win. Now kids everwhere wanted the cassette so they could have mix tapes, cassettes for the car and so on as "mobile sound" took off. Sony came out with the walkman in 1979 so now people could ignore other annoying people with headphones and a very small (for it's time) box on the belt. Extra bonus, the first electronic gizmo as a fashion statement--cassette crushed 8 track in the marketplace.

Since audio companies put R&D into things that sell, the quality of the tape, noise reduction and transport/head quality improved as the lowly answering machine became a dominant format--the LP sales started falling in 1978 and cassette was on the rise because most music buyers are 12 to 22 years of age, had boomboxes/walkmans and wanted love song mix tapes to get their freak on. The quality jumped up by leaps and bounds that even the audiophile snobs would part with thousands of dollars for a cassette deck Once Nak rolled out a deck that would TURN THE CASSETTE OVER by itself--the audiophiles were hooked! OMG!

The biggest boost for cassette was CDs--yeah, the cool kid in school would use his dad's CD player connected to a decent cassette deck and the other kids would buy CDs. This lead to massive piles of chrome cassettes being used to make dozens of copies of the same CD--it sounded better than the commercials cassettes and when done right, so close to the actual CD in sound that it worked well. The 90 minute chrome cassette was king because, generally speaking you can get two albums/CDs on the thing for the win. The cassette was like a "shoe leather Napster", you had to physically walk to the cassette deck and make an effort but now kids could have 100 cassettes with 200 albums on them... all is well.

The cassette peaked in sales in 1990 (as did audio at large) then the sales decline hit and CD players went from being very expensive to reasonably priced and were in cars/boomboxes and discmans replaced the walkman by using memory buffers to prevent skipping. Computers then had CD-R or CD-RW, Napster rolls out the MP3 and cassettes and LP's vanished by 2000.

That is basiclally the story of the cassette format, it started as an answering machine format, knocked out the mighty 8 track, became viable for a music format which started the decline in album sales and created a new generation of thieves....errr, "mix tap recording people"

I purchased ONE cassette deck in the late 80's, figured it would be my first "real" cassette deck and my last cassette deck at the same time. The point of it was to record CDs to tape for my car and walkman use--and party song collections to keep the party going. Probably recorded at least 500 cassettes on chrome tape but by the early 90's the writting was on the wall and as my music purchases fell off drastically, I would just pick up CDs here and there and be done with it. Last year I pulled the old Onkyo out, clean the heads and the thing still works! It was truely my first and last cassette deck but I'm not going to fool myself--it is what it is but I have no nostalgic connection that wants to find new chrome tape and make some mix tapes.

Now the cassette, the 8 track and reel-to-reel is just a curiosity of how things were done in the past. The LP is the same way, it had more staying power because it is more durable and has cool album covers. LP sales peaked in 2015 at 5% of sales then fell every year after that and in 2018 was down to around 3%... such is fad life. Yeah, I hear that cassette sales have DOUBLED as LP sales decline in percentage but--the laws of statistics being what they are...it is not "coming back".

In my garage I have my old cassette deck, laser disc and a MiniDisc player/recorder sitting on a shelf. I call it "The land of obsolete toys" and kids like to play with the laser disc the most because of the giant discs! Humans being humans, generally speaking interest in something sparks up AFTER it is officially obsolete. Dolby noise reduction went away in 2012...the MiniDisc stopped production of the format around 10 years ago and now cassette becomes popular. Part of the popularity can be said because it is hard to get a good one now... throw words like "vintage" or "rare" in the listing and plenty of idiots will arrive at your mouse trap! I saw a boombox sell for over $4,000...a boombox! Why not? Find a fool, take their money and run! Hey, some loon purchased a 1978 Ford Pinto station wagon for $30,000...anything can happen.

No, I won't sell my Onkyo or MiniDisc machine--well, if you offered me 10 thousand bucks for the MD? I'd think about it...it is a TASCAM so a pro deck....very VINTAGE and very RARE! Now to find a man bun that falls for that kind of BS...they are out there!

That is 18's global history of the cassssssssette format--because sex sells and teenagers are thieves--for the win. I hear some guy built a MP3 player inside of a cassette shell... that would be a cool thing to install in a broken Walkman for those 80's nights at nightclubs....now THAT would be cool. Not for me, I don't have enough hair anymore and you need hair to have big hair.
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post #12 of 18 Old 06-19-2020, 09:13 AM
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Ah, yes...party mix tapes. I remember making dozens of these tapes. I gave them names like, "Party Tape", "Son of Party Tape", "Grandson of Party Tape", "Cousin of Party Tape", "Great Grandson of Party Tape", etc. etc. which were meticulously produced using vinyl LP's as the source. This transitioned to CD's in the mid 1980's.

I can still remember my first cassette tape--a local FM radio station would have "album night" late at night on Sunday nights and a friend of mine recorded Led Zeppelin II for me. The cassette deck was a Fischer brand owned by his older brother. I would guess this was 1976 or thereabouts.


I just sold off my late 1980's stereo system, including my Sony TC-W550 dual cassette deck.

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I listed it on Craigslist and got four responses. The person that ultimately bought it was in his late 20's, which I found interesting. I asked him why he was interested in a cassette deck and he said he's into vintage stereo gear.

When I gathered up all my old equipment for sale I found a couple of blank, unopened Sony Metal tapes. I was going to throw them in for free with the cassette deck but after Googling them I learned they were going for $20 and up on eBay. So I made a separate listing for them.

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post #13 of 18 Old 06-19-2020, 07:32 PM - Thread Starter
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What could you possibly like about cassettes? I have a player as you can see from my signature. I primarily use it to digitize other peoples old personal family recordings. The "quality" cassette recordings that i have, still have no where near the fidelity of the vinyl or digital versions.
Thats unfortunate. Recordings I made on my dbx equipped Yamahas of vinyl comes so close to vinyl that it would be almost impossible to distinguish it from its source in a blind listening test.
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post #14 of 18 Old 06-22-2020, 05:38 AM
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Thats unfortunate. Recordings I made on my dbx equipped Yamahas of vinyl comes so close to vinyl that it would be almost impossible to distinguish it from its source in a blind listening test.
Agreed.

The value of doing cassettes is to make and play back 100% analog domain material- never digital anywhere in the recording-mixing-mastering chain. IMO, if the vinyl you are recording to cassette was recorded or mixed or mastered digitally anywhere in the chain, may as well have a 24/96 or 24/192 DVD/BluRay Audio disc or download, or even just the CD.

An argument could be made that vinyl may retain hi res digital studio recordings/mastering (24/96 or higher) audio characteristics better than 16/44 CD, but double blind test data I've seen is inconclusive. Also assumes your turntable/cartridge/stylus/tonearm/phono preamp can resolve the sound from a quality vinyl pressing. And that's one of reasons all audio went digital a long time ago- yes, analog (tape and vinyl) is awesome when done "right", but getting the entire record-playback chain "right" is complicated and expensive vs excellent sounding digital audio chains.


IMO, the Walkman portable cassette player (and all clone brands) single handedly made the cassette the mass success it was, secondarily the boomboxes and car dash players, plus good quality home decks to make recordings/mix tapes. That said, there were audiophile grade portable recorders and home decks going back to ~1970, FWIW.

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post #15 of 18 Old 06-22-2020, 05:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Shadowed View Post
What's a cassette... ?
Don't know if you were kidding or are really too young to remember or have used cassettes

Cassette decks were common in factory car radios into the 2000's, though even my model year 2000-2002 vehicle had stock CD players by then
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post #16 of 18 Old 06-22-2020, 11:26 AM
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Don't know if you were kidding or are really too young to remember or have used cassettes

Cassette decks were common in factory car radios into the 2000's, though even my model year 2000-2002 vehicle had stock CD players by then
You already advised me on my CD player questions and I see you are a Tape expert too!

I have a lot of tape-only releases that I would like to have an option to play.

I have two tape players and I'm considering having one of them serviced.

1) Sony WM-DC6
I finally found this one hiding in a box the other week. It appears to still play but won't FFWD/Rewind. Found a guy who says he has been fixing tapes for 40 years and said he can probably fix it.

2) TEAC V-770
I replaced the belt several years ago and it worked for a while. though quickly was out of tune. We have a place here who is a licensed Teac repair man that could fix it.

Which would you suggest me to fix? I always liked that Sony one, even though it's more of a big Walkman, it was always solid when it worked.

thanks!
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post #17 of 18 Old 06-23-2020, 05:05 AM
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You already advised me on my CD player questions and I see you are a Tape expert too!

I have a lot of tape-only releases that I would like to have an option to play.

I have two tape players and I'm considering having one of them serviced.

1) Sony WM-DC6
I finally found this one hiding in a box the other week. It appears to still play but won't FFWD/Rewind. Found a guy who says he has been fixing tapes for 40 years and said he can probably fix it.

2) TEAC V-770
I replaced the belt several years ago and it worked for a while. though quickly was out of tune. We have a place here who is a licensed Teac repair man that could fix it.

Which would you suggest me to fix? I always liked that Sony one, even though it's more of a big Walkman, it was always solid when it worked.

thanks!
Both are excellent cassette players.

The "experts" are at tapeheads.net and elsewhere

http://www.tapeheads.net/showthread.php?t=62397
https://www.cassettedeck.org/teac/v-770

THe DC6 is legendary and would be my top pick for restoration/service.
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post #18 of 18 Old 06-23-2020, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Rgb View Post
Both are excellent cassette players.

The "experts" are at tapeheads.net and elsewhere

http://www.tapeheads.net/showthread.php?t=62397
https://www.cassettedeck.org/teac/v-770

THe DC6 is legendary and would be my top pick for restoration/service.
Great. Thank you.
The locals estimated an approx 70-100 bucks based on description/ We are known to overprice here heh.
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