Cassette tapes are under threat, experts warn

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This topic contains 11 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by ubikuberalles ubikuberalles 1 year ago.

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  • #21744
    ZLoth
    ZLoth
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    From Daily Mail:

    Cassette tapes are under threat, experts warn

    They were the must-have item of the 90s, and now, it seems cassettes are cool again.

    The surge in popularity for the device has led to a shortage of magnetic tape.

    National Audio, the only company in the US that produces cassette tapes, says it has less than a year’s supply left.

    Now, its co-owner and president Steve Stepp says he is planning to build the US’ first high-grade tape manufacturing line in decades to help meet demand.

    FULL ARTICLE HERE


    “You can not operate in this room unless you believe that you are Superman, and whatever happens, you’re capable of solving the problem.” – Gene Kranz

    #21751
    Earl
    Earl
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    Um…when I got my stand-alone (set top?) audio CD recorder in 1999…priority #1 was dubbing my cassettes to CDs. I was in bands in high school and college, I had done little multi-track comedy sketches, I had done my own music, I wanted to save that stuff. And then a couple of years later, I ripped those CDs into MP3s.

    I’m just not seeing the appeal of going the other way with that.

    #21776
    ubikuberalles
    ubikuberalles
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    I also fail to see the appeal of bringing back cassettes when there are so many superior alternatives nowadays. I get that some folks prefer it because it’s analog but there are some serious flaws in the technology.

    Back in the day…and I mean long before CDs…cassettes were the preferred media for me. The main reason was portability: I could listen to music on my tape deck in my bedroom or I could put it in my off-brand “Walkman” and take it to school to listen music while studying.

    There was an argument back then that cassettes had superior sound quality over records: they lacked the popping and crackling that is characteristic of records. They also didn’t skip like records were apt to do. However, that argument is only valid is your ignore that cassettes have this habit of going tone dead. Usually it happens over time but sometimes it’s quick (due to poor quality control). That’s why most of my cassette collection contained recordings of albums I either bought or borrowed from friends (worst of both worlds right? Popping and tone dead!). If the recording degraded, I just recorded them again. Many times the commercial cassettes I bought were tone dead when I bought them and I had to exchange them for new ones. I still have most of my commercial cassettes and, over time, their fidelity has degraded, just like VCR tapes.

    Unless they recently improved the technology and came up with a coating on the tapes that radically improved the retention and quality of the recordings, I see no reason to revive this technology. Is this a case of hipsters gone wild? Or a case of ridiculous nostalgia?

    #21785

    Gapporin
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    The only thing I can think of is that cassettes hold more music than a CD (120 minutes vs. 80 minutes), and that most modern tape decks will automatically “flip” the side when it reaches the end for seamless playback. That, and they’re somewhat smaller than a CD. The only time I had cassettes was for that weird couple of years when an album was released on vinyl/cassette but never made it to CD.

    When is the minidisc revolution going to occur?

    #21786
    ZLoth
    ZLoth
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    I can understand why some people would prefer phonographic records over CDs and MP3s, and that people would prefer CRT over LCD monitors. I’m not one of them.

    Granted, some technological progress is filled with compromise, but in many cases, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. The last car model to include a cassette deck as an option in a new car was a 2010 Lexus, and CDs are expected to be phased out as a option in the next few years. You can blame smartphones because they hold a lot more music than a cassette tape. In a car, CD players and tape players are mechanically complex and subject to extreme environments. Who hasn’t had a munched tape story?

    Another nostalgia technology is VHS tapes. I’m going to sit here and blink for a few seconds for the those people. DVDs had twice the resolution of VHS tapes, and were cheaper to manufacture. And, while I am a physical media fan, I have to recognize that streaming media is the wave of the future…. provided you have a good Internet access. And, who hasn’t dealt with a VCR that was best known as “muncher”.

    Yet, we still have people who refuse to deal with newer technology, and hang on dearly to old technology.


    “You can not operate in this room unless you believe that you are Superman, and whatever happens, you’re capable of solving the problem.” – Gene Kranz

    #21787
    Earl
    Earl
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    I am ready for the minidisc revolution.

    #21804
    Steve W
    Steve W
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    I wonder if it’s because of the allure of the pop-culture notion of the “mixtape”. I’ve had too many tapes get eaten by a tapedeck in the past, I have no interest in going backwards like that. I used to have a bunch of audio books (mostly Douglas Adams) that I’d quietly play while I go to sleep, but my Pioneer cassette player chewed most of them up. The ZBS Foundation’s The Adventures of Ruby 1-3 were mostly destroyed in the same way. Once all my tapes were ruined I just wired my VCR into my stereo and played MST3K at night instead, since I never lost a VHS tape due to the mechanics of a deck screwing up and mangling it.

    #21805
    ZLoth
    ZLoth
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    Steve, is this Ruby – Galactic Gumshoe by Meatball Fulton? Available on Audible.

    I will admit that I duplicated from records and CDs onto cassette tape. I looked at tape as “disposable”, and if I lost it, so what. But, that was at least, what, 15 years ago? When I had a CD player, I duplicated my CDs onto CD-Rs. Nowadays, I’ll just play the music from the files stored on my phone via Bluetooth.


    “You can not operate in this room unless you believe that you are Superman, and whatever happens, you’re capable of solving the problem.” – Gene Kranz

    #21810
    Steve W
    Steve W
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    Yeah, that’s the one. I bought a Ruby CD bundle years ago to replace all my old tapes. I only bought Ruby 1 through 3, never got into the later ones.

    #21837
    ubikuberalles
    ubikuberalles
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    The only thing I can think of is that cassettes hold more music than a CD (120 minutes vs. 80 minutes), and…

    If that’s the case, then they are better off hooking their old VCR up to their stereo, record a bunch of songs from albums and cassettes and Viola! they have a six-hour mix tape. It’s all analog so that makes the hipsters happy. Personally, I put everything into my Amazon music player by either ripping CDs, cassettes, records, etc. or buying the MP3 files direct from Amazon. I also store my tracks locally so I can play my music while offline (using WinAmp, of course).

    Some years ago I actually did hook up a spare VCR to a radio. I wanted to listen to Art Bell’s coast-to-coast broadcast but I didn’t want to stay up until 4 AM to do that. I programmed the VCR to record during the broadcast and, the next day I’d play it back. It was a sweet setup. I never really used that setup for other broadcasts. Now I kinda wish I did.

    I think a big reason for the rise of popularity of cassettes is not only the allure of mix-tapes but also the movie “Guardians of the Galaxy”. The movie certainly idealized the cassette experience. Fifteen or twenty years of playing that tape and it didn’t get mangled or go tone dead? Awesome but also not likely (unless Peter Quill used some alien hi-tech to fix or improve the technology).

    #21840
    ZLoth
    ZLoth
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    Nowadays, I would use StreamWriter to capture the steaming audio from a radio station.


    “You can not operate in this room unless you believe that you are Superman, and whatever happens, you’re capable of solving the problem.” – Gene Kranz

    #21890
    ubikuberalles
    ubikuberalles
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    Well, that’s Internet radio and it’s digital. Hipsters would look down on you in disdain. Nothing wrong with the software and the content, mind you, I’m just saying it’s not very retro.

    You can, however, get some broadcast radio on the Internet. I have an app that can tune into Police and Fire Department broadcasts anywhere in the country…sort of. It is supported by amateur radio enthusiasts who hook up their Police scanner (more likely an SDR) to their computer and send that to the servers for the app. I used the app to great effect during the days when the Boston Police were hot on the trail of the Boston Marathon bomber. It was awesome when I was able to get connected (the system was overloaded with people trying to get on) because I got better information from the scanners than I was from CNN and Fox News (the cable news were clueless about what was going as it happened).

    No doubt there are other radio stations that amateurs tune into and put on the Internet but I’m not aware of it. Mostly because, when I fancy listening to odd and distant radio stations, I tune in via my old fashioned radio. Maybe, in the future, I should hook up some kind of recording device. I no longer have a spare VCR but my portable cassette recorder is still handy. I also have a portable digital recorder I (probably) can connect to the radio.

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