TAPES! I LOVE TAPES! =D
I grew up with vinyl and tapes (in that order), but mostly with tapes as vinyl started its decline in my parents’ house during the 1980s. I used to have suitcases full. Most of them I replaced with CDs over the decades thankfully. My parents still have their vinyl collection and I hope to become their caretaker someday.
While I won’t go back to tapes because CDs have proven to be (given my usage/consumption patterns) perfect for me (hiss free and durable with good enough dynamic range), tapes will always have a soft spot because of all the fun had recording the music I played in ad-hoc bands in the neighborhood, or sleepovers with friends.
People might downplay CDs because you can scratch them, but I’ve got CDs that are 20 years old without a single scratch on them. All it takes is basic care and they persist just fine. Cassettes on the other hand don’t retain their audio information as well after 20 years. Analog is what it is…variable.
I remember when doing personal audio recording with my synthesizer(s), and this was just before switching to recording to VHS, I had started purchasing CERAMIC cassettes from Sony. These were cassettes where their case housing the magnetic tape spindles were made out of ceramic. They were heavy, but ridiculously stable and the audio fidelity was fantastic. The cost about $10/ea.
Of all the tapes I’ve had, I think I listened to Chess (soundtrack), Music for the Masses (Depeche Mode) and Dr. Feelgood (Motley Crew) the most. Good times. I started DJing around the time of cassette singles and had 30+ of those in addition to full albums. These were sold in paper sleeves instead of plastic cases to reduce costs.
DJing with tapes was convenient because you could FFWD to a song, hear it start, pop out the tape, stick a pencil in the feed spindle and turn it back an exact distance, pop it back in and get a predictable cue interval every time. Today doing this digitally is even easier but, that was a great feature available decades earlier. It’s also how you fixed tension issues, re-spindling the cassette when used in a magnetically dirty player (one that payed a lot of CrO2 media) that caused the tape to stick to the reader head.
We need to keep fighting to keep analog audio around. The loss of depth in CD conversion is not as bad as it later got with digital lossy files, and our obsession with excessive compression in volume limiting re-packaged and re-sold as a “remaster”. Rare do these sound as good as original releases that were recorded at lower volume ranges to allow for more dynamics (range of frequencies competing in audible space.)
Never buy the remastered version of Motley Crue’s Dr Feelgood on iTunes for example. It’s horrible. That is NOT what the album sounded like at all. That digital anniversary version is a tinny distorted heap of compression crap. Find an unrevised CD, vinyl or cassette. You owe it to yourself if you’re going to truly experience that metal classic.