If ever there was a case of a manufacturer setting themselves up for failure, then this was surely it. An audio cassette with a picture of a compact disc on the outer packaging, and a boast that the tape could reproduce CD sound like for like. In a world where home CD burning was still some way in the future, being able to exactly copy a CD to an audio tape was a very attractive thought. There was, however, one ever-so-slight drawback… It didn’t work.
And how could it?… I suppose TDK had the argument that if their CDing II high bias Avilyn tape cassette was used in a tape deck of anything less than the precise standard required for optimum performance, then the concept couldn’t be expected to work. But that was the whole point. Everyone would have different cassette decks or recorders, and this would inevitably colour the transfer of sound in different ways. Compact discs were burned with digital information – which would always remain constant. Conversely, the process of recording onto analogue tape was subject to all sorts of factors. So even if TDK had got the CDing to exactly reproduce a CD’s sound in their labs, the chances of actual consumers doing so in their homes would be negligible.
It was also true of course that tapes added noise to a recording, and the CDing was no exception. In fact, I personally found the CDing inferior to the SA Super Avilyns I’d been using almost a decade earlier. It plainly wasn’t as durable and, subjective as sound is, to my ear it didn’t sound as nice. I bought one pack of CDing IIs in 1993, and never bought any more. They even feel cheap.
I don’t know if I’d quite describe the CDing concept as ‘marketing gone mad’, but it really did set customer expectations unrealistically high. It didn’t do the TDK brand any favours with me either. In retrospect, if anything, the whole idea seems even sillier than it did back in the day. But the CDing survived a long time and appears to have sold very well. Maybe a case of people believing what they’re told, over and above what they hear…