Welcome! Log In Create A New Profile


Re: Revenge of Analog

Revenge of Analog
March 20, 2024 05:24AM
Lately, I have been seeing an avalanche of articles online and [www.youtube.com] proclaiming a renaissance of the cassette tape. Everyone my age and above have long been using streaming for our music consumption, (although I do break out my cd's and play them when I am feeling nostalgic), so it's rather odd to see younger generations buying them up from thrift stores and second-hand booksellers. Sure, there is a romance about them, they have what some label "a warm sound," they are an antidote for the "sterile" sound of digital media that younger generations have been bombarded with, and they are the most portable music medium of the lp/tape/cd set. But I do not miss the hiss and pops that cassettes bring with them.

However, perhaps in this fervent moment, it might be worth considering selling my 300+ cassettes and cassingles, as they are just gathering dust in a storage unit and I have no inclination of listening to them again. I possess a few rare tapes, such as "National Lampoon's Nixon Tapes" and countless obscure 80's compilations, to name a few. The sound quality of my collection varies due to the process they were transcribed to tape, as some of them don't even have the Dolby insignia on them or the print that states they were crafted using Dolby standards. Dolby B was the standard from the mid-70s till the late 80's, but I failed to hear any significant improvement in sound quality. In the early 90's, they came out with xdr and digalog tapes, which were purportedly lifted from the digital masters and utilized ferric tape, which cut down substantially on the hiss and cracks we were all accustomed to in the past. But by this time, cd's were outselling tapes and digital sound was the new and supposedly next level for audiophiles in the never ending quest to find the ultimate sound (I get it, I'm a bit of an audiophile myself, my new Hidizs AP 80 Pro X mp3 player is incredible, I can hear the clarity of the musical instruments unheard of in standard cd's, I am buying a DAC to bump up the khz even more).

In the end, this regression to analog sound smells like a fad to me...there was a time when 8 track tapes came back in the mid-80's and fizzled out very quickly. Millennials and Gen Z would have to be really serious about such a movement for the major music companies to start pressing cassettes again, and, although contemporary artists like Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish are actually selling their new albums on cassette (which I hear the sound quality isn't that good), I doubt it would rise to the level of new vinyl (which kids don't even listen to after they buy them, they can't seem to find a system to play them on). I actually have 3 or 4 Walkman cassette players from the 80's that still work, I could possibly throw them in the lot with the cassettes as well.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 03/20/2024 05:28AM by Fleeingbandit.
Re: Revenge of Analog
March 20, 2024 12:48PM
Cassettes served a purpose in the days of the walkman and when cassette players were common in cars. Nowadays, not so much. They still have a lot of cred among underground hardcore bands, however, or at least so it seems according to Bandcamp. I still have my collection from the 80s, but like Fleeingbandit, I hardly ever play them anymore, and anything I really like I've replaced with the equivalent cd.
Re: Revenge of Analog
March 20, 2024 01:08PM
When the pandemic began, I began exchanging home-recorded cassettes with two of my old college buddies in Colorado. These guys are seriously into music and the gear to play it -- servicing their own tape decks and even refurbishing a couple of them. As one of them put it, "Very few things are as satisfying as the tactile interface between the man and his music."

Well, I don't know if I'd agree with that, but I did swap tapes with them for a couple years, and I really enjoyed it. As the pandemic receded, though, I found other ways to spend my time.

By the way, new high-quality cassettes are extremely hard to find.
Re: Revenge of Analog
March 20, 2024 01:44PM
If it is a fad, it's been going on for well over a decade now. About 14 years ago, I was pleasantly astounded that the Amoeba buyer took almost all the tapes I was selling (but not the cassingles!) At WFMU, we see a lot of tape releases, tho they are often in conjunction with, say, a Bandcamp release. Pretty short runs, usually no more than a few hundred, but they often sell out. So it would appear that there is a small dedicated base out there that has seemingly turned this into a thriving niche market.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/10/2024 03:13PM by MrFab.
Re: Revenge of Analog
March 21, 2024 10:17AM
I would actually love to get a good cassette deck for my stereo to listen to my old mix tapes and cassettes, but I could never imagine paying money for a new one. (I actually would covet a car stereo with modern Apple CarPlay and touchscreen technology, a CD player, and a cassette deck, but such a thing would be of limited commercial value!)
Re: Revenge of Analog
March 21, 2024 03:06PM
To me the only benefit of cassettes was the portability. Other than the sound quality, my biggest gripe was access. Rewinding and forwarding - I hated it then and I imagine I would still hate it.
Re: Revenge of Analog
March 21, 2024 05:00AM
Have any of you actually gone back to listen to your old cassettes? I have, and some quick thoughts:

The pre-recorded ones sound garbled, hissy, UNLISTENABLE. Granted they’re 40 years old. But my 40 year old vinyl is still listenable.
I guess it was only ever a short term format.

My mix tapes, made on blank tapes by TDK and Maxell, actually are in better shape playability-wise. But it’s a lot of effort to play them.

If you’re a swiftie, I wouldn’t knock you for buying her cassettes… it IS aesthetically cool. But I’ll bet the majority of folks who buy them prefer to listen via streaming.
Re: Revenge of Analog
March 22, 2024 06:28PM
Tapes frequently just snap for no reason. Vinyl and CDs can get scratched, but it's usually a gradual process, while cassettes can fall apart while being played without any warning. I remember how pissed I was when this happened to my copy of LONDON CALLING while on vacation with my parents.

I don't see much value in the format apart from the ability to make your own mixtape, and playlists have superseded it (although a handmade cassette makes a much better gift than a Spotify playlist!)
Re: Revenge of Analog
March 22, 2024 10:37PM
My old cassettes ended up being lost in our move to Seattle. Most of them were not a big loss -- either home-recorded cassettes of albums I still had, or pre-recorded cassettes that hadn't aged well. But one of those cassettes included live shows by my band in 1984 and 1987.
Re: Revenge of Analog
March 22, 2024 07:28AM
Yeah like Mr Fab said, the 2010's were a huge boom for cassettes on bandcamp. I got into collecting them just to support young artists. Tapes were cheap and beautifully designed. I saw them more as pop art and a throw back but eh just got sick of collecting, something I generally don't like to do.
Re: Revenge of Analog
March 22, 2024 10:39PM
I do appreciate all things analog, but I also hate the fad surrounding them. It brings to mind half of a famous Lester Bangs quote, where he said "fashion is fascism," because honestly some of the new analog fanatics approach it with this doctrinal attitude that's obnoxious: turning their noses up at CD's even when they're mastered better than whatever dubious vinyl pressing they have and objecting to any film screening that's on a DCP, even when it's a new restoration, but thrilled to watch anything projected in 35mm, even if the film is terrible or worse if the print sucks.

Cassettes were great, partially by default - it was something everyone could do long before CD-R technology became viable and mp3 devices were fully developed. But I can't imagine ever investing in them for my own use. I still have and maintain an iPod, which thanks to cheap attachments can hold far more data than I'd ever need, and to me they just make cassettes seem completely obsolete - I honestly don't see any real advantage in using them for day-to-day listening.

FWIW, I actually still have a burner and CD-R's, so if I ever want to make something I can play on my system, that's what I'd use. (It also makes a huge difference that I sometimes remaster digital files for my CD-R mixes - it's so much easier for me to adjust volume levels and re-EQ music on something like Adobe Audition.)
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login