Cassettes and Vinyl

Today I received my first package from Scotch Tapes! Inside the cardboard-reinforced padded envelope were five cassettes and three 7-inch EPs:

Terrorbird: We Were Monsters
Whore Business: Never Gave A Shit
Cavebears: Live at the Whiskey 1977
Tayside Mental Health/Great Slave Lake split cassette
Marlo Eggplant/My Cell Phone Is Better Than Your Cell Phone split cassette
Tayside Mental Health/Endometrium Cuntplow split 7-inch
Al Qaeda: Collaborative Works with Mike Watt, Gabe Serbian, Chris Carrico, Occasional Drift 7-inch (on yummy green vinyl!)
MCPIBTYCP/Sunken Landscapes split 7-inch (on clear red vinyl!)

Everything is gorgeous. The cassettes look so good, packaged in soft poly boxes and sealed with the cutouts from the cassette labels, I almost don’t want to open them. I sort of just want to caress them, smell them, look at them with loving eyes. These pretty things play music, too?

My cassette collection is growing. Now I just need to get my hands on a Nakamichi tape deck, dammit. As I move farther away from modern technologies, it seems appropriate to take a look at this blast from the past, “Happy 1985, Music Lovers,” by erstwhile publisher Larry Archibald.

Hmm…maybe a Revox? Or a Tandberg?

rvance's picture

When you get old like me it's hard to create new memories, but fun to think of things we've done and how we felt. Tapes were a way to bring along the medicine man that held us together. Magic magnet machines took the music from the vinyl and plastic and put it in your hand. The little Japanese market Panasonic player with the miraculous alloy case that was SMALLER than a cassette shell would get warm after an hour of play on those cold, rainy walks in Crescent City. Tiny Sony Fontopia earbuds would wire you to the love and pain. Eddie Vedder would wail and you'd wail with him and everyone you'd pass would wonder why you were growling like a crazy man. And now, Stephen, you bring it all back home and it makes sense again. But the critics will cry foul as they jump like fish and take the bait that wasn't offered. Hooked on sonics, you will reel them in, little reel to little reel, 1 7/8 ips, and they will carp over details and hiss and flutter. Wow.

Wes B's picture

Properly done, cassettes can sound astonishing. I still own and listen to a cassette deck -- albeit the state-of-the-art at the time of the medium's "demise" (the last iteration of the mighty Revox). That said, all three of the decks you mentioned (Nakamichi, Revox and Tanberg) are superb machines. I've owned several Naks and loved them all. My preference for the Revox was simply a matter of tape deck to tape deck compatibility... Good luck!

HP's picture

This cassette 'movement' is silly. It's just a marketing ploy to bring back all the warm, romanticized, memories of sharing music when some of us were kids. A nice way to sell product. Sure, it's cool to be different and sometimes it's cool to be retro, but going back to an inferior format makes no sense at all. The format just offers no incremental value to vinyl and digital. What's next in the hipster audiophile agenda? Wax cylinders?

Too Funny's picture

Cassettes? WOW just plain stupid gimmick. LPs are bad enough but Cassettes?!?! and of course Mr Mejias wallows in it all and pronounces it "Nirvana" pun intended. No wonder Stereophile has so little forum chat anymore or subscribers. Embarrassing. I suggest you get some REAL reviewers that know what's what in the REAL word and dump people like Mejias.

Stephen Mejias's picture

Wow, strange comments today. I didn't even realize that hipsters had an audiophile agenda. In this post, I think I explain very clearly why I'm attracted to cassettes: New Year.

Mr Roberts's picture

Yeah we see your reasons Mejias. You're a moron and a hack reviewer

rvance's picture

Too Funny and Mr. Roberts: We are laughing at you, not with you. You've wandered into the wrong blog. You need to crawl back to the Yahoo dipshit pages, where your meaningless hostility can be vented to its proper pedestrian audience. This is a music hobby blog where we discuss what we enjoy and where we celebrate the people, like Stephen, who illuminate, rather than darken, our little corner of the world.

Jim Gilroy's picture

I just happen to have a Nakamichi 1000 that is need of a new home.

Mr Roberts's picture

Awwwwwwwww lil Rvance got his lil feelings hurt *sniff sniff* Stephen illuminates? Laughs Out Loud. More like he shovels the bullshit and you eat it all up

Joshua W. Miles's picture

Man, Why all the hostility? Stephen? I support you 150% and anyone else out there who still uses and enjoys the good o'l compact cassette. I kept my machines, at first, simply for the day when transferring the tapes of my DJ days to digital, was going to get easier. The day came! Out came the Nakamichi Dragon & BX125, and the Tandberg TCD 440. "WHOLY COW"!!! After a bit of tuning and tweaking, they sing and will stay in the racks now! I Really only need one so, if you want one of them Stephen, Let me know. As for you silly folk who can't have fun with there hobby, or in my case passion, we feel sorry for you and hope you find your way in some other medium. Furthermore, I'll bet you a Mai-Tai and a lobster at Buzzes on the beach in Kailua Hawaii, if just one of you Grumpy people want to fly out here and see if you can tell the difference between a copy made on my Tandberg or Dragon from the original source. Most of my gear is Mac, MF and horn loaded. Very sensitive indeed. You can even bring your own! Aloha!

The Audio Dufus's picture

If Stephen wants to listen to tapes, then let him listen to tapes! Whatever makes you happy! Music is fun to listen to--- don't sit and nitpick the source. If you do---then you are a Stereophool and you should go to that website instead. Check it out. It's really good---for you. Stephen, you just keep listening to tapes and know The Audio Dufus has your back. Over and Out! End of transmission. One last thought---I like the sense of pride when you really nail the recording level setting on your OWN, NEW, RE-MASTERED tape edition. Take it easy.

Joshua W. Miles's picture

Exactly Dufus! Music is fun! Have fun with it! People smile when you play it! They smile even bigger when they see it's coming from an LP! Even more when you point at the tape deck your party mix is coming from and realize how "FRICK'N KILLER" the grooves are, emanating from those horns! They say "TUBE'S"??????? You say "YUP"!!!!! "WOW"!!!! "I HAD NO IDEA"!!!!! An Audiophile is born and the smiles last for years to come. Keep it up Stephen! All you fun love'n music fans too! And "SMILE"!!!!AlohaJ

scotch tapes's picture

jeeez. i didn't realise so many people had nothing more to do than rip on cassettes... i am sorry to everyone. i will quit making them immediately so as not to upset the natural order of music fans which is1. readers of stereophile2. the heads of sony music and celine dion3. the people who do the purchasing for virgin megastores & HMV4. hipsters 5. people who actually make the music people talk about and love doing it.i am sorry for interfering with this order. i will crawl off to a dark corner and kill myself now.i love you, stephen!!! see you soonxoAL

RaeDawnChong's picture

Cassettes... I agree with the whole "hipster" thing..that dumbass thurston moore says something about tapes(I can picture his pretentious smug ass now"all the coolest music is coming out on cassette..jesus.. how contrived does THAT sound??) and the pretentious hipster twits lap it up as if it were so much mugwump juice..cassettes offer no sonic benefit, no benefit in terms of convenience... we are then left with the question, "Why??" the answer is clear. It is trendy. Just like fauxhawks, crocs, iced coffee. I hope to god that this nonsense dies a horrible death, along with "indie" rock and "being ironic"it makes me gag, all of it.

Thurston Moore's Saliva's picture

Everything has its application. I, and many others, listen to music on tapes, vinyl, cd's, sacd's, mp3/flac/ape, etc. What does bitching about a preference on a blog post matter to anything or anyone? I listen to music, not the music player.

Roshan Thomas's picture

Im one of those guys who still cant get over cassettes and cassette decks, I have a Tandberg 440A, a Revox 215 a Beocord 9000 and Im still hankering after an affordable Nakamichu CR7 whenever that comes. I also have rare cassettes like the Luxman XM which had azimuth alignment on the cassette shell. And above all i have a collection of tape that brings back every memory thanks for your blog and keep the flag high for the rest of us!