Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cassettes are still a great format

I know, call me crazy, but I think there is still a lot to like about cassettes. People complain about the sound quality and durability and, fair enough, they don't approach the sound of a good LP. But I've owned some tapes that sounded pretty darn good, and found a lot of them in cutouts bins for about three bucks. Like a bunch of Frank Zappa tapes...Uncle Meat, Burnt Weeny Sandwich, Absolutely Free, Sleep Dirt, One Size Fits All...these cost me next to nothing, and not only is the music great, they sound good! I remember years ago when suddenly all of David Bowie's Ryko cassettes were showing up in the 3 dollar bin and I was in heaven.

And that's just pre-recorded tapes. Boy, I'll tell you...I recorded some great TDK SA-90s in my day. Man, if you got the levels just right...hoo boy! You ended up with one good sounding copy of your favorite LP or radio broadcast. There was something so satisfying about the process, and then when the final result made it all worthwhile...just pure magic. You just can't have the same experience burning a CD, I'm sorry. I mean, I still do it, and I'm not a total anti-CD audio purist, but I can really get into cassette culture.

Plus, the blank cassettes just looked so cool. How many blank CDs look cool? I can't think of one. Check out tapedeck.org and if you're not drooling over the array of beautiful multi-colored audio artifacts from yesteryear...well, then I guess you're on the wrong blog. ;-)

Fond memories of Technics

Boy, I used to love Technics equipment when I was a kid. And still do! I know a lot of audiophiles will turn their nose up at this, but really, these guys made some great equipment back in the day. At the moment I am listening to the beauty pictured here, the Technics SA-350, which was made back in 1984, the year that "Owner of a Lonely Heart" was a big hit.

This thing is stunning. It's heavy, especially when compared to these cheap-ass receivers being made today, and it sounds beautiful. A very solid piece of equipment. 40 watts per channel and really low THD. It has a feature called "Stereoplex" which I think is supposed to enhance and widen the stereo image. I don't use it much but on some recordings it actually does sound pretty interesting. The craziest thing about it though is that it has a 'TV' band! So I can listen to my favorite programs on the stereo if I want. Of course this function will sadly no longer work in a few months when TV goes fully digital, but I don't care. This thing is far from obsolete. I've been using it at my office but I might have to find a way to work it into my home system.

If you are a fan of Technics like I am, do yourself a favor and check out the Vintage Technics website if you haven't already. As you can see, that's where I got the photo above. I'm not associated with the site at all, I just think it's a great resource. You can find info and photos there of pretty much anything that Technics ever made.