So…I apologize but I lost track about page 4 of this thread…too much going on...Wanted to chime in but was worried I’d not have the time to say what I want to say. So I make this post in light of a lot of catching up to do.
Let’s all just admit the Philips Compact Cassette format is limited okay? But let’s also, please, consider certain manufacturers took it…way…further than the original instigators of the format intended or thought possible. And even the consumer format far exceeded what historical standards of the consumer open-reel formats achieved. It is portable, it’s analog, and was the shit for a long time. The Philips Compact Cassette is arguably the most accessible format of analog tape recording. And though it is NOT an open-reel format, it is still analog tape and I can recall after years of having Compact Disc and other digital formats available, still enjoying being able to listen to my mix tapes in the cassette deck in my early 1990s car. I am a child of the very early 1970s, so I know plenty of years before there was a consumer digital format. I grew up making faux radio shows with my brother on a Sony TC-630, and dubbing to cassette…doing whacky shit with the SOS functionality…had a Radio Shack portable cassette recorder with built-in condenser microphone. And we were into music. And contrived songs using acoustic drums and my brother’s MicroMoog analog synthesizer…and captured these ideas on analog tape…I was, like. 7 or 8 years old. My ears are tuned to analog recording of the 1970s and 1980s. So if the fact that I have boxes of analog Philips Compact Cassette tapes comprised of mix tapes I made, LP dubs, and a whole lotta recordings off the console at live gigs at which I played drums makes me some sort of audio troglodyte, well, screw you. It sounds good. If your ears are tuned to something different, go ahead and do you. I remember after listening to a lot of CDs and doing early multitrack production using a Digidesign AudioMedia III PCI card…basically being around a lot of early digital audio…putting a dubbed cassette copy of Fleetwood Mac’s “dreams” in the cassette car stereo and thinking “How can that sound so nice? How can I just turn that up on this shitty factory car stereo and it sounds so nice?” Yes, it’s limited. Yes there is tape hiss. Oh no, you’re going to get cancer from the tape hiss (sincere apologies to anybody experiencing cancer treatment or loss of a loved one from cancer…I don’t want to offend, I’m just trying to make an obtuse point). Can we stop arguing about a format that has some limitations and get to the really important question “How does it sound?” This is the most important question pertaining to many things, including this thread, and the answer is variably different for everybody and that’s okay…it’s subjective. But if cassette sounds like ass to you consider what it is you are listening to and to what it is you are using to listen. Realize not everybody hears things the same. @famousbeagle has some amazing 4-track productions…he’s probably tired of me tagging him in this, but he and his wife have some, as far as I’m concerned, “it’s the shit” stuff they did on a Tascam 414. Cassette. So…if you think it’s garbage then go to your happy place and leave the folks that dig the format alone. Like, seriously…if you want to troll and say it sucks then you just look like a total douchebag doing that amidst people that enjoy the format. I have high quality digital interfacing at my disposal…and 1/2” 8-track and 1” 8-track/2” 16-track available. I *still* maintain multiple cassette formats in my midst because I like how it sounds in conjunction with how easy it is to use. Sure…some of it is nostalgia. But that’s not the entirety of it and if you want to minimize it to that, then maybe you’ve got other things you need to talk through.
My current stable of Philips Compact Cassette compatible machines:
Well said Mr Beats. The bottom line is that it is all subjective and, as you say, what we grew up with.
I don't HATE cassette, it is fine for 90% of the music people listen to but its limitations show through for 'classical' music where you need a very low noise floor, a wide dynamic range without distortion and solid speed stability. Yes! We got Dolby B and C and DBX but these are but kludges to prop up what you admit is a less than 'hi fi' medium. Dual loop capstans and servo control help with wow&f but can do little to eliminate flutter sidebands.
Of course, those that think the sun shines out of the cassette's A will cite these imperfections as the very things they like about them but my journey through the hi fi world has been for over 60 years is to get the most accurate reproduction I can given my financial constraints. As I said at the top of the post, cassette IS OK but once I had heard my Bach and Mozart on CD sans hiss, distortion and wow there was no going back!
I recently bought a rather high-end portable cassette deck for the purpose of recording vintage-sounding spoken word samples. So far I have achieved some decent results. The funny thing is in the past during the cassette era I craved Chrome Dioxide and Metal tapes where as now the lower rent ferric tapes are giving me the most convincing results.
I've recorded digitally before at animation school, but not for a long time since I got a TSR-8, just don't like working in front of computers; I do like patching cables and twisting knobs. (So I dropped out of animation school and eventually became a vegetable farmer). I use my 4 track cassette recorders way more than my r2r, demoing songs as a solo project. It takes time and lots of takes to write new parts, and the cassette is way faster and cheaper to use, and I don't want to wear out the r2r on demos. In my garage studio I have the Tascam 424mkii, and in the living room I have the Porta02mkii on top the electric piano, so my demos are on normal speed with no NR so I can use both machines (that way I can still work on stuff and not ignore the family too much Once I've gotten a few tracks 'figured out' it'll go onto the r2r.
I've also been doing a cassette recording project with an old friend where we mail the tapes back and forth, taking turns adding to them. We're treating each tape like a mini 10 minute album, it's pretty fast and loose psychedelia, each 'song' is like 30 to 60 seconds, but they all blend together for the duration of the tape. Fuzzed out everything with random samples and field recordings mixed in, improvised lyrics, just a mess. It's a lot of fun! He's got a Fostex x-55 and I'm using the 424mkii, we're using high speed, but no NR, and the two machine seem to be compatible enough together, at least for this project. It's sorta like jamming together, just not at the same time and place....really fun to just let her rip, record into the red, and move on. Tapes.com has new type ii high bias tapes, got 50 recently with cases for about $3 each.
I definitely use the DAW as a mix down deck instead of doing internal bounces.
Cassette vs reel to reel seems so similar to mp3 vs 96k32 bit in terms of how we complain about recording quality.
I think the current topic about the misbehaving Tascam r-r is a good one to remember. As in, all the tape based linear recorders of EVERY type were just so finicky and potentially unreliable. We forget the bad bits and remember the good. Like my first DAT machine chewing the tapes, the ADATs that would drift out of sync and all that stuff