Author Topic: Cassette ! (and other obselete media nostalgia)  (Read 2769 times)

petekelly

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Cassette ! (and other obselete media nostalgia)
« on: October 03, 2012, 08:14:26 AM »
Cassette ! (and other obselete media nostalgia)

My second hand B & O cassette player player finally died and went off to the recycling tip, which made me revisit that big box of cassettes I’ve carted around from house to house for many years. I grew up (musically) in the era of cassette, when the new fangled Sony Walkman was the must have thing of the day. Like everyone else, I recorded onto ‘tape’ and this was my primary listening medium too.

In the eighties, I lived in houses with fellers who were into Hi-Fi, they had high-end cassette decks such as Nakamichi and Denon models, they who would only use premium metal / Chrome tapes and Dolby C, or more esoteric types of noise reduction. It was the best that people could do at the time without spending insane amounts of money on audio equipment. Even though the dynamic range and frequency response of the format was pretty unacceptable by today’s standards, it didn’t stop people recording music and enjoying it at the time.

After my stint of being in bands in the late eighties, I was very keen to record my own ideas, so I bought a very humble Vestax 4 track cassette recorder. This was the start of my ‘home-recording’ activities, I used that thing until it died and learnt an awful lot regarding making the most of 4 tracks. In hindsight, it was pretty dreadful quality wise, but saying that, even so-called ‘professional’ units of the time weren’t great either by modern standards of fidelity. I dare say tape hiss will not be remembered fondly by too many people !
I tried to get the most out of it by using the best quality tapes that I could. I also used a ‘ghetto-blaster’ to record guitar noodlings and jams I had with other musicians and that was even more awful in terms of sound quality, but very useful nonetheless. In the nineties a friend had a studio set-up based around an Alesis ADAT machine, which was a big step up in recording quality and extra had 8 tracks. We mastered onto a DAT machine, as that was considered to be the best format at the time. I recorded an awful lot of material at the time and was very diligent in documenting it and auditioning it, but I came to the realisation that it was just ‘work-in-progress’. None of these (home) recordings were ever released. However, some snippets of the better stuff have been recycled in my ambient work, ‘Colour my World’ from my ‘Hydra’ album being an example.

Four of my Cassette favourites :




Original Text here:
http://igneousflame.wordpress.com/2012/10/03/cassette-and-other-obselete-media-nostalgia/

ffcal

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Re: Cassette ! (and other obselete media nostalgia)
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2012, 05:58:39 PM »
Hi Pete,

I'm very fond of the cassette, too.  For me it was the beginning of the home taping-DIY era that got me started in the 80s recording my own stuff.  The "cassette culture" scene was embodied in magazines like OP and conincided with the emergence of the industrial and ambient genres during that time, too.  It was a very supportive scene and there was plenty of cross-genre experimenting going on.  I contributed some pieces to a loose cassette collective headed by Ken Klinger; the collective's pieces were compiled on cassettes and circulated to each other.  I also contributed to a cassette chain letter; my music ended up with Mykel Board, who reviewed it in his cassette column for OP.  I still have my Nakamichi cassette player, though I don't use it that much these days.

One little tidbit of cassette trivia:  Robert Rich's Trances and Drones was originally released on cassette.

Forrest

hdibrell

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Re: Cassette ! (and other obselete media nostalgia)
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2012, 08:53:37 PM »
<"I'm very fond of the cassette, too.  For me it was the beginning of the home taping-DIY era that got me started in the 80s recording my own stuff.">                      Me, too!
Never regret money spent on old books, old dogs or old friends.

jkn

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Re: Cassette ! (and other obselete media nostalgia)
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2012, 05:31:03 AM »
I have that Sakamoto tape on vinyl and quite a bit of Killing Joke.  I have a lot of cassette's still though I did purge out a lot of really bad ones before the move.

Cassette is a love / hate thing...  it allowed 4-tracks which allowed me to rent a 4-track and beg and borrow 4-tracks from friends and from the music store I work at and to allow me to record almost everything until I started using a computer in about 1996...  and I hate cassettes because they don't last long - they get eaten - I don't miss road sphaghetti - they wobble, etc..   Then again that lavely tape compression / saturation...  ooooooh.   Yeah .    Ok - Love / Hate.  ;-)

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mgriffin

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Re: Cassette ! (and other obselete media nostalgia)
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2012, 08:19:11 AM »
I have mixed feelings about cassettes. I have very fond music-related memories of the era when cassettes were everywhere, when I had hundreds of cassettes - my own mix tapes, mixes given to me by friends, and even store-bought (though generally I bought vinyl instead when it was available).

I remember making new friends who were into music, and giving each other mixes to spread awareness of music we really loved. Even after CDs came out, well into the 90s, many of us used cassettes to create mixes or to create something to play in the car at a time when most of us drove older used cars without CD players in them.

There all these fond memories of that time, and of all the music I discovered and shared through that format. Still, I feel that format was a thing of its time. I really don't get the present-day love for the cassette format. It has several significant flaws offset by zero advantages. My fondness for cassettes in the 80s and early 90s doesn't make me in any way want to create or listen to new tapes today.
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petekelly

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Re: Cassette ! (and other obselete media nostalgia)
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2012, 08:50:23 AM »
Listened to my 'Brighter than a Thousand Suns' Killing Joke album on cassette in the car yesterday (it's quite an elderly vehicle), quite a buzz after not having heard it for years - didn't get chewed up either !

As has been said by others, I too have a fondness for tape and the tape era, but apart from as an 'art-object', my nostalgia is offset by their flaws in terms of longevity and sound quality.

Speaking of tape, I'II bet not many people will have seen one of these beasties. I knew a chap who worked at Nimbus mastering in Oxford years ago and this is what was required to get a CD made up from in those days - a CD-R at that, if memory serves me ! This thing was considerably bigger than an ADAT tape and pretty pricey.



LNerell

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Re: Cassette ! (and other obselete media nostalgia)
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2012, 10:22:48 AM »
Reminds me of the Sony PCM-F1 machines which used video tape for recording digital audio like this:



We have these at work just for playing back old concerts from the 1980s, I also mixed my first album (Point of Arrival) on the Nakamichi version back in the mid 1980s. State of the art digital recording at the time until DATs took over.
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ffcal

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Re: Cassette ! (and other obselete media nostalgia)
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2012, 12:14:38 PM »
Speaking of tape, I'II bet not many people will have seen one of these beasties. I knew a chap who worked at Nimbus mastering in Oxford years ago and this is what was required to get a CD made up from in those days - a CD-R at that, if memory serves me ! This thing was considerably bigger than an ADAT tape and pretty pricey.




I had some like that (it was a Sony 1630 tape, I think) made for Wolf At The Ruins--my first CD in the late 80s.  It was apparently the only way at that time to get to a CD glass master.

Forrest

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Re: Cassette ! (and other obselete media nostalgia)
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2012, 02:59:56 PM »
Reminds me of the Sony PCM-F1 machines which used video tape for recording digital audio like this:



We have these at work just for playing back old concerts from the 1980s, I also mixed my first album (Point of Arrival) on the Nakamichi version back in the mid 1980s. State of the art digital recording at the time until DATs took over.


Ouch.

I used an F1 for mastering once in my life. I am so happy there are alternative solutions around :).

I still have hundreds of cassette tapes which cover my childhood days (purchased my first cassette player in 1979) until the mid and late 1990s (this is when CDRs took over). Still longing for another Sony WM-DD II... I had one in the early 1990s, and I literally wore it out. Possibly one of the most robust pieces of kit I´ve ever had so wearing it out took quite a while...

Stephen
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Seren

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Re: Cassette ! (and other obselete media nostalgia)
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2012, 04:24:55 PM »
saw an independent music shop at the weekend that was almost half cassettes.....