cassette tape unravel

Cassettes Suck

ladies and gentlemen, the amazing high pants driver.

I feel like a terrible dirty hipster. I can’t believe I’m actually writing a post about cassettes. I have maybe two or three crates at most, which is way too many dirty, cracked, and gross cases. While creating this list, I realized I haven’t actually been adding many of them to Discogs either. This just means I have yet another project that will face my wrath in the upcoming months.

The first draft of this post was more smeared than written. The dryness of the air made it hard for my fingers to deal with my touchscreen. It required human blood to function. Cassettes were what happened while everyone was hoping for something better. When I was a kid, records were something that my elders held in high esteem. Holy tablets that they allowed us to touch under supervision. Cassettes were ubiquitous, disposable, and somewhat indestructible.


Cassettes sound terrible now. They didn’t sound much better back then, either. However, they were better than whatever tepid pop/schlock was on the radio. This was especially true if other family members were in the car. Then it was a rare chance to escape into a bubble. I have many a fond memory of riding along the highway listening to later era Grateful Dead on hot summer days with my sister yelling about how awful my taste in music was.

It is too just a corridor

In closing, check out my crud. They may not be the best out there, but they’re mine. If they were records, they’d be something a little more romanticisable. They’re tapes though. That’s about it.

Check Out The Tapes In Foxy’s Collection

Feature image by Daniel Schludi.

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  • […] this format did not thrive in 2017, other formats seemed to fill in the effort vacuum. No thanks to my efforts, tapes are more popular than ever, as are CDs. A good friend of mine and large-scale dealer has […]

  • Jan 11,2016 at 02:54

    All depends on the type of music. For me having mainly rave stuff from 91-99 I still prefer the idea of having it on tape than CD as it was when the dreaded CD packs started coming along in the early/Mid 00s from events that it didn’t seem right!!!!

    So even though I sell both formats from this era I definitely hold tape in higher esteem, although I’m also quite often too scared to play them, so if it is something that I want to keep then I will also try and find on CD.

    However with the holy grail, all the live recorded events, they where only ever available to tape and the values, in the right condition (same as anything else) can go very high.

    So leave tapes alone, (not literally!!!!) For 90s live drum and bass, hardcore etc it is either having it downloaded, which can be handy, or having a lovely collection of tape packs or single or double tapes.

    Long live the tape.

  • Aug 29,2015 at 20:00

    Two or three crates? I have purchased, one, count ’em, one album on cassette. AC/DC TNT, purchased in 1981. And quickly realized the cassette was in all ways inferior to vinyl, in terms of art, sound and listening experience. One cassette was enough and I never purchased another prerecorded album on that horrible format. Of course I had a few dozens vinyl albums recorded to cassette to listen in the car but the CD made those dreadful necessities obsolete. They’ve all been binned long ago and I’m happy to live a life never having to press rewind ever again.

  • Jun 5,2015 at 06:57

    Except a bunch of hi-level record collectors, think common people used tapes to spread music before internet came.

  • Jun 2,2015 at 15:58

    Tapes are the only way anyone should ever record vinyl, period. Digitized vinyl sounds like tinny bullshit. I bought an old Pioneer tape deck and have been making epically fantastic mixed tapes of my 45s. Comparatively, I have hundreds of CDs that I never listen to.

  • Jun 2,2015 at 05:39

    I would say the UK rave scene was built maybe 99% on the fact that cassettes were so cheap and easy to pirate + everyone could afford to buy and own a player. Pirate radio rips and dj mixes were passed around to the point you’d end up with a 50th hand pirate mix from London pirate djs while living 200 miles away. Basically it was how labels promoted their music. Original tapes can cost over £100 now.
    However they sound pretty terrible when compared to vinyl and break a lot although my grandad used to turn up with bags of snapped tapes and pay me to fix them so that was not all bad.
    My view is that I think its outrageous that labels are now charging £20+ for them. They dont cost anything near vinyl to produce. Seems a bit of a hipsters craze but at the same time they are a pretty durable and cheap way to put music out, you can pick up a blank cassette for nothing and they will stand up to being put in a jiffy bag and thrown around a bit.
    Despite the above view, ive still got a tape player in the car and ive got about 300 in a box in the boot(trunk). They are about 10-20p from carboot sales because people just want rid and I usually go home with something every week.

  • Jun 1,2015 at 13:06

    Cassette tapes, like other media vary with quality (and of course what gets recorded). Although tapes do not age gracefully (stretch/squeak/break) and often the pressure pad goes mysteriously missing, they don’t scratch and warp. Playback equipment is also important. I play mine on a Yamaha Natural Sound KX-W900U RS with amorphous heads and most sound pretty good. One must think about how most music used to, and much still does get initially recorded-ON TAPE.

  • Jun 1,2015 at 04:26

    I like that bands are releasing demos on tapes again, a CD-R demo is infinitely more disposable and fragile than a cassette based on my real time world testing of all the 00s demo CD-Rs I went over while moving.

  • May 29,2015 at 12:23

    The topic “Cassettes” is the same story as with every other recording equipment. OR, hard disc, CD-RW, minidisc. Top of the line equipment, 1a brand for the tapes and media and the result is as good as the original.
    My Nakamichi Dragon supplies playback quality which is on CD level.
    Budget equipment and low priced (no brand) tapes cannot produce sdomething worthwhile.

  • May 28,2015 at 08:54

    Well, when I see kids grow up with music resp. audio dramatizations on CD, I would really want the cassette back. Kids ARE rude with things. They always are. You were, back then, and me too.

    A cassette you could even slam on a tiled floor (kids love that when they’re cross) – nothing happened. The only damage you could make to a cassette is get the tape recorder into a kind of “jam”, so that the naked tape got tangled inside. When untangled, sound remained a little musty at that position ;)
    Today, kids get stuff on CD. Mostly backup copies of them, for safety reasons.
    So they know: I can treat the CD as rudely as I want, Daddy always gonna burn me a new copy. And this is that certain kind of throw-away philosophy I do NOT condone.

  • May 26,2015 at 23:36

    You are not alone in loving tapes. I still have plenty to submit.

  • May 26,2015 at 18:56

    In the main, they’re nothing more than a curiosity for teenagers & 20-something hipsters who reject digital and don’t care for vinyl due to the cost involved.

    I appreciate that cassettes may sound good if you have a professional setup and use professionally recorded tapes, but how many people have access to that? Besides, that goes totally against the cheap, DIY aesthetic we hear mentioned so much about this cassette resurgence.

    It’s a fad. In fact, it may already be passing.

    I have actually seen some people recently on the subway using CD walkmans. Yes, for real. And they were young and “trendy” people.

    I can imagine kids who are 12-13 now becoming infatuated with 128kbps mp3 in 10 years time, and they will shun wav / flac / whatever.

    “It’s all about the lossy compression, dude”

  • May 26,2015 at 11:40

    I also grew up with these sucky cassettes…haha…for me they really never sounded good. And they also died very soon. But i loved them because they helped me finding my favourite sound, while listening to the radio charts and copy the best songs on it…when i was 7 years old.
    Later i was very happy to record tapes with my band and listen to it….I still search for our only regular demo tape: Nosferatu- Left to die….if someone has it…please tell me!!

  • May 24,2015 at 16:00

    [u=2tec], getting some CDR professionally made is a lot cheaper than the tape route. Most Metal bands only do it for “kvlt” reasons. I checked out some recent tape releases and the sound quality was ridiculously bad, much worse than any demo from the 90s (pro-duplicated or home dubbed). Releasing new tapes today is pretty much a lost cause.

  • May 23,2015 at 10:52

    [u=Blumley] Thanks! Glad you liked it.

    I actually had a release myself out semi-recently on tape:

    I got most of my tape collection catalogged this past week. Including a chunk of stuff from like 2006-2009 that never got images. Progress!

  • May 23,2015 at 00:43

    Actually, notwithstanding their fragility and tendency to flake out on you, a tape that plays well can sound good, with dollops of ‘analogue warmth’ and a great bass response, particularly late 80s tapes onwards… As has been said, while it doesn’t beat vinyl, for me it’s superior to CD, and certainly MP3, any day! That said I mostly listen to MP3 burnt to CDs, but that’s just about convenience these days…

  • May 22,2015 at 16:54

    [u=goathorns ] Artists still sell cassette tapes at their shows because often it is still the cheapest way to physically distribute new music in low volumes.

  • May 22,2015 at 16:50

    This is great. Tapes are garbage, and I’ll never understand why some bands I like are selling them at shows.

  • May 22,2015 at 12:57

    Agreed. Tapes are a pain and inferior in every way. Doesn’t mean I don’t have boxes of them. ;)

  • May 22,2015 at 11:26

    Great post. I’m glad your title was ironic!!

    I owned cassettes when I was very young but then moved on to vinyl. I started to picking them up again in Charity Shops in the early 2000s, usually things I already had on vinyl so I could listen in the car or on the little cassette deck in the kitchen. Gradually developed a grudging love for them… haters gonna hate but they’re part of the history of recorded music now, and somehow having late 70s-early90s releases on cassette feel right and satisfying…

    There’s a massive tape renaissance going on. A great way for small-time real world grungey indie bands to get their stuff out on a physical format now the that maturing vinyl renaissance has proved itself to be the preserve of well-healed hipsters and their idly wealthy parents… However there’s also a surge in prices of second hand cassettes. You used to be able to pick up albums by collectable artists such, particularly post-punk through to shoegaze for pennies, now they’re selling for £30 and upwards… Also cassettes at the beginning and end of their reign (say, late 60s and very late 90s and early 2000s) can also command decent prices, and perhaps as well they should given how much more scarce they are then the vinyl editions. In fact, they should command a much higher price based on rarity alone, but people still pay more for vinyl… THEY JUST DO.

    Anyway – I’ve been devoting a lot of time trying to get them on discogs – they’re horribly under represented – so please don’t throw you tapes away, scan ’em and sub ’em (or send them to me!).

  • May 22,2015 at 06:50

    I confess that I still buy cassettes., especially those put out by bands themselves. For quite a few years many new local bands released cassettes rather than vinyl. There’s a treasure trove of rare music on cassettes, many of which are now being sold for next to nothing or even being given away. Cassettes are often an important source of historical music in the local area.

  • May 21,2015 at 15:11

    As a concert taper for 26 years (please don’t call me a bootlegger – I don’t sell!), cassettes were a necessary evil, I suppose! haha. I have a large dresser with 4 drawers full of mostly my master tapes from 400 or so shows before technology caught up to what I was doing and I switched to a digital recording medium.

    I find tapes to be very misunderstood, and misused. There is an art to getting proper reproduction from a cassette – to extract every little morsel of music from that ribbon of rust. When done right, there’s little to complain about…

    I think I’ve owned about 7 or 8 prerecorded cassettes in my life. Meh. Tape duplication en masse wasn’t good. A good high end cassette recorded on a good home deck with a great source passed the test. Of course, my Sony WM D3 Professional Recording Walkman wasn’t exactly a Nakamichi Dragon and the ECM-PC62 mic in my hat at a concert wasn’t exactly the best source material to work from, I pulled some great captures with that rig…

  • May 21,2015 at 12:23

    grew up with tapes and was into tape trading back in the 90s but they’re among the few things I do not miss at all these days. Digitizing them is a crude and tedious process, too. Still have easily 500 tapes flying around that I need to digitize and I’ve been holding back on that for the last 10 years…

  • May 21,2015 at 08:25

    Denon DRS-810 a cassette deck disguised as a CD player!

    They are a much maligned medium, but sound fine as long as the primitive Dolby B is not used. I prefer them to shiny-discs.

  • May 21,2015 at 08:06

    For the record, before I get tarred and feathered, I love tapes.

  • May 21,2015 at 03:56

    Cassettes sound great, way better than CD’s ever will.
    If yours don’t, you are probably using cheap cassettes in an all-in-one stereo or some radio.
    Cassettes are still a great recording medium, if you have any idea what you’re doing that is.
    Here’s a little proof for you non-believers:
    A cheap everyday TDK D90 cassette in a proper Denon DRS-810 cassette deck.

  • May 21,2015 at 00:21

    I have some old tapes, around 100, and want to sell them now. I will soon put them up. If anyone wants the entire box let me know.

  • May 21,2015 at 00:11

    Cassettes are from my non-digital childhood.

  • May 20,2015 at 23:56

    Never liked them, never will. Honestly, I hate cassettes more than MP3s.

  • May 20,2015 at 16:43

    I cannot begin to tell you how much I want that Mickey cassette :P

  • May 20,2015 at 16:43

    Yeah, but long live the mix tape.

  • May 20,2015 at 16:33

    Mickey Unrapped. Oh no.

  • May 20,2015 at 15:05

    I find that tapes are quite magical in the sense that they were so cheaply produced there are all manner of strange records released in that medium. I also love buying blank/home recorded tapes to find out what was recorded on them.

    Even still, I wouldn’t want them back

  • May 20,2015 at 14:54

    A new (hype) craze…

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