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David Ayers

The cassette vs. the Rest of the World debate

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I remember reading, as the CD age began i suppose, that the average household had x (5?) cassette players. So I counted up, including cars, and found 14 in the house between two people. That tells me how truly ubiquitous the cassette was.

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The wonderful days of 'the mix tape'. Making them for friends. Including the tracks you 'knew' they 'must' hear. Friends making them for you.

Or someone making a cassette for you of that rare unfindable album you couldn't live without, and the cassette becoming your most precious object.

Or the sound mixer recording your gig 'through the board'.

I had so many rare Blue Note dates on cassette tapes made for me by various friends. I mean really, until the Mosaic box, how else did you hear Tina Brooks "True Blue"?

The wonderful days of 'the mix tape'. Making them for friends. Including the tracks you 'knew' they 'must' hear. Friends making them for you.

Or someone making a cassette for you of that rare unfindable album you couldn't live without, and the cassette becoming your most precious object.

Or the sound mixer recording your gig 'through the board'.

I had so many rare Blue Note dates on cassette tapes made for me by various friends. I mean really, until the Mosaic box, how else did you hear Tina Brooks "True Blue"?

I just had a chuckle realizing that the last time I was 'in to' cassettes was at the very start of my time on the inter-webs. Meeting other crazy collectors, I started trading copies of recordings but they had to be on cassette since I didn't actually own a PC or burner. Talk about straddling two worlds!

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The Eight Track Museum in Deep Ellum:

http://eighttrackmuseum.com/home.html

I have not entered, merely walked by, but it is there if and when needed.

There's now another one (or is it a branch?) in Roxbury, NY: http://popcultureblog.dallasnews.com/2012/08/dallas-no-longer-the-only-city-with-an-eight-track-museum-as-ny-outpost-debuts-in-october-with-worlds-rarest-tape.html/

Not too far from me, but I haven't yet visited.

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The cassette culture was a different world: the record was considered for plebs, the audiophile was using the cassette deck. Revisionist history tells us differently, and sales say reconfirm this different history again and our experience does not lie.

There was also that wonderful experience of recording or receiving playlists for/or from a friend, of music specifically geared towards an individual. That was a buzz.

I miss it, but I have an Alpine 60 set-up still and some tapes still sound pretty damn good.

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My timing with the fast forward/rewind buttons was second to none.

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And how skilled was your pinky in rolling back in exposed tape? ;)

cassette_tape_resurgance_o_Pt.jpg

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This is my favorite (scroll down to get to the pics) - http://web.archive.org/web/20050212095358/http://homepage.mac.com/danielturek/PhotoAlbum50.html

* Created by Daniel Turek, who no longer maintains the photo album.

Cassettes can last 30 years plus, but if they've been in someone's car deck and have been stopped, started, rewinded and fast forwarded many times, the tape is likely to be stretched. I do like the analogue sound of tape, especially on headphones, its pretty damn loud compared to MP3. But you listen to a lot of 20's, 30's and 40s jazz on cassette issued in the 70s and 80s and its in desperate need of a decent remastering which the golden era of CD reissues brought in.

I have quite a few of the BBC cassettes that issued 1920s and 30s jazz in stereo. Surprisingly, it worked!

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This is my favorite (scroll down to get to the pics) - http://web.archive.org/web/20050212095358/http://homepage.mac.com/danielturek/PhotoAlbum50.html

* Created by Daniel Turek, who no longer maintains the photo album.

Cassettes can last 30 years plus, but if they've been in someone's car deck and have been stopped, started, rewinded and fast forwarded many times, the tape is likely to be stretched. I do like the analogue sound of tape, especially on headphones, its pretty damn loud compared to MP3. But you listen to a lot of 20's, 30's and 40s jazz on cassette issued in the 70s and 80s and its in desperate need of a decent remastering which the golden era of CD reissues brought in.

I have quite a few of the BBC cassettes that issued 1920s and 30s jazz in stereo. Surprisingly, it worked!

Was that Robert Parker? I had the Johnny Dodds and loved the sound.

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Bix Beiderbecke, Jazz Classics in Digital Stereo Vol III (New York: Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Fletcher Henderson, Jimmie Lunceford, Cab Calloway, et al), Fletcher Henderson and a few others.....somewhere.

The sound is superb.

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The Eight Track Museum in Deep Ellum:

http://eighttrackmuseum.com/home.html

I have not entered, merely walked by, but it is there if and when needed.

There's now another one (or is it a branch?) in Roxbury, NY: http://popcultureblog.dallasnews.com/2012/08/dallas-no-longer-the-only-city-with-an-eight-track-museum-as-ny-outpost-debuts-in-october-with-worlds-rarest-tape.html/

Not too far from me, but I haven't yet visited.

Don Quixote lives.

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I always liked making mix tapes for the car.

Of course iPods do that much better now with the random facility. I used to hate stopping in a lay by, splicing the tape into segments and then reassembling to get the surprise element.

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the number of cassettes I've bought I could count on two hands - they were usually items you couldn't get on vinyl (exclusively cassette & pre CD)

eg from The Richard Thompson fan club (Flypaper) or the US Roir label (punk/New Wave semi bootleg material) still have them though

post-11057-0-39818500-1369610436_thumb.j

Edited by romualdo

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The cassette culture was a different world: the record was considered for plebs, the audiophile was using the cassette deck.

When the heck was that era. I never encountered it.

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Yeah, if cassettes were ever considered audiophile quality I must have slept through that era.

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Yeah, if cassettes were ever considered audiophile quality I must have slept through that era.

Right. But there have been at least some attempts...One of them was from In Sync. This company was (is still ?) owned by a Mr Silver (not the one from the cd's) who was also the leader of an american vinyl company named Connoisseur.

In the 60's-70's, they released excellent material extremely well recorded but often plagued by the vinyl illness : cracks, popples, hiss, noises...

Some of the Connoisseur Master tapes were released in cassette tape format trying to preserve their quality and remove the noise problems.

I owned only a couple of these featuring the great Ivan Moravec and I must say the sonic results were more than acceptable, with some of the master tape qualities retained and the crackle and pops replaced by a continuous but faint tape hiss (Dolby-ized, of course).

In Sync cassettes have now disappeared but they at least tried to improve upon the very average sound quality of this format. Though they could hardly have been called audiophile by today's digital standards.

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Certainly the major tape companies sold some very high quality blank cassette tapes back in the day.

I know because one of my band mates at the time had a very expensive pocket tape recorder - that he would buy top of the range quality cassettes for -so as to record our gigs.........and also some very well known visiting US Jazz and Blues men (and women). :cool:

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The cassette culture was a different world: the record was considered for plebs, the audiophile was using the cassette deck.

When the heck was that era. I never encountered it.

Well, sales for one: cassettes were out selling records. I was somewhat tongue in cheek there, because I didn't know any audiophiles back then!

But the humble cassette for a long time was out selling vinyl and there was a lot of rubbish pressings in the 80s, remember how flexible Virgin pressing were?

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I still have about 100 cassette tapes left, with some great stuff, but some of the older ones emit a high-pitched squeal as they go through the heads. I've even got a few reel-to-reel tapes left, but no reel to-reel player to play them.

I liked cassette tapes for their editing capabilities.

I used to tape just the melody to a tune, and edit out all the solos I didn't like.

Edited by sgcim

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Maxell XLII was my go to blank tape. Those actually did sound pretty decent.

I used to get that squeal you're talking about. It always came from the tape spindle, but never from the tape itself.

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Yeah, if cassettes were ever considered audiophile quality I must have slept through that era.

Right. But there have been at least some attempts...One of them was from In Sync. This company was (is still ?) owned by a Mr Silver (not the one from the cd's) who was also the leader of an american vinyl company named Connoisseur.

In the 60's-70's, they released excellent material extremely well recorded but often plagued by the vinyl illness : cracks, popples, hiss, noises...

Some of the Connoisseur Master tapes were released in cassette tape format trying to preserve their quality and remove the noise problems.

I owned only a couple of these featuring the great Ivan Moravec and I must say the sonic results were more than acceptable, with some of the master tape qualities retained and the crackle and pops replaced by a continuous but faint tape hiss (Dolby-ized, of course).

In Sync cassettes have now disappeared but they at least tried to improve upon the very average sound quality of this format. Though they could hardly have been called audiophile by today's digital standards.

E. Alan Silver should have simply changed pressing plants to get rid of the clicks and pops. Connoisseur Society records were usually recorded with care but it was awfully difficult to find an acceptable pressing.

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